Missouri and Ozarks History

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Banishment of Ellen Catherine Tucker

In the fall of 1864, in the aftermath of Confederate general Sterling Price’s failed invasion of Missouri, Union general William Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri headquartered at St. Louis, issued an order banishing a number of individuals from the state for their alleged disloyal activities during Price’s raid. When Lewis Tucker, parish priest of St. Michael’s Church in Fredericktown, learned that his cousin, Ellen Catherine Tucker, was one of the proposed exiles, Father Tucker took up his pen to plead with the general to rescind what he considered an unjust punishment in Catherine’s case.
Catherine was the daughter of Apollinarius Tucker. Originally from Perry County, the family moved prior to 1850 to Ripley County, where Apollinarius owned a mill near the confluence of Buffalo Creek and the Current River. In 1852, when Catherine was a young girl, Father John Joseph Hogan, a Catholic missionary in Missouri during the Civil War and pre-Civil War eras, made a trip into the southeastern part of the state and called on the Tuckers, the only Catholic family in the area. Upon his arrival, Father Hogan found Mrs. Tucker mortally ill. He administered the last sacraments, and she died shortly thereafter. Following her death, Apollinarius and his family moved to Fredericktown to live with Father Tucker, who was Apollinarius’s first cousin.
At the time of Father Tucker’s letter to General Rosecrans, Catherine was a twenty-five-year-old, unmarried schoolteacher. Father Tucker explained that she had been living under his roof since she was twelve years old, and he felt he was in a better position than those who had accused her to know her disposition. She had been charged with traveling to Pilot Knob after the battle there in September of 1864 to treat the Confederate wounded, and Father Tucker assumed this was the main reason for the expulsion order. He did not deny that she had made such a trip and that she might have cared for some of the Confederate wounded while she was there, but he did not understand why that was considered a crime rather than an act of charity.
Besides, treating the Confederate wounded was not her primary reason for making the trip, Father Tucker explained. A few days after the battle, Tucker had been summoned to Pilot Knob to administer last rites to two mortally wounded Confederate soldiers, and Catherine insisted on accompanying him. There were roving bands of men in the area at this time, and Father Tucker agreed to let her go along, thinking that her presence might deter theft or other acts of violence against him.
Father Tucker and his young cousin arrived safely, and he called on the wounded Confederate men who had summoned him. He then visited the Federal hospital but spent little time there because there were no Catholics among the wounded. He and Catherine spent the rest of the day in Pilot Knob and stayed overnight. Promptly the next day, however, they returned to Fredericktown.
Father Tucker did not understand how his cousin could be considered disloyal for having made this trip or for having visited the Confederate hospital. However, he added that he had also heard that she allegedly visited General Price’s camp one time while the Confederates were encamped near Fredericktown about two hundred yards from the Tucker home. Tucker said he didn’t see how this could be a crime when many others of all political persuasions had done the same thing, and in any case he did not think it was cause for banishment.
The priest closed his letter by stating that Catherine was not only “a nice and dear cousin” but also a great help to him in his home and at the church. “So, I trust, General, you will not consider me unimportant in addressing you and beseeching you to revoke the sentence.”
No record appears to survive showing whether General Rosecrans was influenced by Father Tucker’s letter to revoke Catherine’s order of banishment. At the time of the 1870 census, however, Catherine was still living in Missouri. So, if she got banished, she obviously returned to the state after the war.

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