Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Shobe (aka Shobetown or Shobe Town) is an extinct town that was located in Bates County, Missouri, about two miles northwest of Rich Hill. Similar to Rich Hill, it was founded during the early 1880s as a mining town when coal was discovered in the area. In fact, the original mines were mostly located in the Shobe area, even though they were usually called the Rich Hill mines. According to a couple of sources, Shobe was named after Haley Shobe, but the best evidence I can come up with seems to indicate that it was actually named after Haley's older half brother, Hudson Shobe. A businessman living in Butler when the mines started up, Hudson Shobe moved to the area and opened a store. He was also an early postmaster of the place; so presumably the post office was located in his store, which was a common arrangement for small communities in the 1800s.
Like most mining towns, Shobe had something of an unsavory reputation in its early days. One citizen of the place complained to the Butler Weekly Times in mid 1885 that there was a petition circulating at Shobe to get another saloon for the place. If the effort succeeded, the correspondent said, "Shobe will be one of the most noted places in the county, as it is now hardly fit for respectable people to live in." The writer concluded that he hoped the county court would keep the law-abiding folks of the area in mind and require that such an initiative have a two-thirds majority vote of the township's citizens for passage.
The most notorious incident in Shobe's history occurred on the evening of November 16, 1896, when miner John "Pussy" Young shot and killed fellow miner Frank Terrell at Abe Tetlock's saloon located about a half-mile west of Shobe. The saloon was about midway between two mines, and the miners from both places would usually gather there at the end of each day's work to drink beer and swap lies. On the evening in question, Terrell was in the saloon, having already had a drink or two, when Young, who'd owned the saloon before Tetlock bought it, entered the place. Hearing Terrell say that he was raffling off a shotgun, Shobe spoke up and said he'd take a chance on the gun. Terrell told him, "No, you will not take a chance on my gun."
This angered Young, and the two men got into a heated argument and had to be separated by Tetlock. After the barkeeper stepped aside, though, the quarrel was renewed, and it escalated into a violent confrontation. Terrel threw out his hand as if to emphasize one of his points, and Young immediately drew a revolver, which had been concealed, and shot Terrel in the forehead. Terrel slumped to the floor gravely wounded. Two doctors were summoned from Rich Hill, but Terrel was beyond help when they arrived. He died about two hours after he was shot.
Meanwhile, Young went directly to Rich Hill and turned himself in to the city marshal about nine p.m. Later that night, a deputy took the prisoner via train to Butler, where he was lodged in the Bates County jail. He was charged with first-degree murder, but the trial, originally set for March 1897, was continued until the June term. I have found no record of Young having ever been convicted of murder or having ever served time in the Missouri state prison, which indicates to me that either he was acquitted or the charges against him must have been dropped or reduced. If he had been convicted of murder, newspapers of the day would surely have noted this fact.
Shobe lasted only another couple of years after this murder. By the turn of the twentieth century, it was pretty much a ghost town.

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