Friday, September 30, 2022

Criticism of "Order No. 11" and the Artist's Response

   After notorious Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill and his men raided Lawrence, Kansas, in late August 1863, killing about 150 unarmed men, Union general Thomas Ewing, Jr., commanding the border area of Kansas and Missouri, proposed an order designed to stop such atrocities by requiring all residents living in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties and the northern half of Vernon either to leave the area or move to within a mile of a Federal installation. Such a measure, Ewing reasoned, would cut the guerrillas off from their civilian support system and, thus, force them to leave as well.
   Even some Unionists considered the proposal harsh. One such person was well-known artist George Caleb Bingham, who vowed to make Ewing infamous if he carried out the order. Most Union observers, however, thought the stern measure was necessary, and Ewing went ahead and issued the order.
   The order had the intended effect. Many residents in the designated region complied with the order willingly, albeit grudgingly, but some had to be forced from their homes by squads of armed Union soldiers. The entire border on the Missouri side for a hundred miles south of Kansas City became desolated and depopulated almost overnight.
   True to his word, Bingham soon set out to make Ewing infamous for what the artist saw as the general's cruelty by undertaking a painting depicting a family brutally treated, forced off their land, and having their property burned by a band of irregular Federal soldiers, or Red Legs. The painting shows Ewing in the background calmly watching the carnage. Formally titled "The Civil War," the painting had an uneven reception when it was completed in 1868. Predictably enough, many ex-Confederates and Confederate sympathizers praised the painting, and the work did taint Ewing's legacy to some extent.

                                                             Image from Wikipedia.

   However, just as many, if not more, observers condemned the artist for reviving the bitterness of the recent war, and some critics thought Bingham had sacrificed his art for the sake of politics.
   One prominent critic of Bingham's painting was a writer for the St. Louis Democrat, who editorialized on March 11, 1869, that Bingham had "desecrated his art to perpetuate a diseased idea on an historical event. The picture is not true to the sentiment of the times nor to the facts." The critic thought the painting unfairly depicted Union soldiers in general as heartless villains.
   Bingham wrote a letter the very next day responding to the writer's criticism, calling it "grossly unjust." Bingham thought the critic either completely misunderstood the painting or willfully misrepresented it. Bingham said that he himself was a Union soldier during the war and that he would never disparage regular Federal soldiers. However, he contended that most of the work carrying out Order No. 11 was done by jayhawkers, Red Legs, and other irregular or outlaw Federal bands
   Although Bingham continued to forcefully defend his painting, his career as an artist, in the end, arguably suffered more because of the painting, which came to be called "Order No. 11," than Ewing's political career did. Ewing went on to serve two terms as a US congressman from Ohio and, running as a Democrat in 1879, he narrowly lost a bid to become the state's governor. Whether "Order No. 11" contributed to that defeat is a subject of some scholarly debate. Meanwhile, Bingham's career as an artist suffered after the release of "Order No. 11." During the remainder of his life, his work was never as highly regarded as it had been before the controversial painting, although interest in his art did enjoy a revival long after his death.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Murder of the Malcolm Logan Family and a Subsequent Lynching

   About 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, September 22, 1886, the crew of an eastbound passenger train on the Frisco Railroad about four or five miles east of Cuba, Missouri, spotted a body stretched across the tracks in front of them, but too late to stop. The train passed over the body, severing the head, one foot, and one hand before coming to a stop. Investigation revealed that the victim was already dead when the train passed over him and that he had been murdered. Articles of the man's clothing were found nearby, including a hat. A deep gash in his head that appeared to have been inflicted by a hatchet or similar instrument matched the location of a slit or cut in the hat that had apparently been made by the same instrument.
   About 5 a.m., while investigation into the dead man's identity was still ongoing, a fire was discovered at the home of Malcolm Logan about a mile north of the murder scene on the old St. Louis to Springfield wagon road. Hurrying to the scene, neighbors found the house completely engulfed in flames. They could see the body of a woman inside the house, but the blaze was too intense for them to reach it. After the flames died down, the woman's body and those of four children were dragged from the embers. The woman was identified as 39-year-old Ann Logan. The children were identified as Ann's six-year-old son, her six-year-old adopted daughter, her two-year-old daughter, and her infant child ten months of age. Ann and her husband, Malcolm, also had an adopted son who'd spent the night with neighbors and was among those who discovered the fire. Found among the remains of the fire near where Ann Logan's body had been discovered was a hatchet.
   After the victim found on the Frisco tracks was identified later that morning as Malcolm Logan, it was theorized that the same person who killed him had also killed his family. It was thought that the murderer had somehow lured Logan away from his home, killed him with the hatchet, and then returned to his house and killed the rest of the Logan family with the same weapon, before discarding it and the setting the house on fire.
   Suspicion soon settled on 26-year-old Patrick Wallace, whose father lived near the railroad tracks where Logan's body was found. A witness came forward to say that he had seen Wallace with Malcolm Logan shortly before dark on the evening of September 21. When Wallace was arrested in St. Louis on Thursday, September 23, he claimed he'd been in St. Louis continuously since Monday, but the hotel register did not bear this out. It showed he'd spent Monday night in St. Louis but had been away on Tuesday, the night of the murder, and had come back on Wednesday. In addition, a witness came forward who had seen Wallace on a train bound for Cuba on Tuesday when he claimed he was in St. Louis.
   Authorities thought robbery was the motive for the crime. Logan was known, or at least rumored, to have a lot of money, and Wallace, a ne'er do-well with "an uncontrollable thirst for drink, was well acquainted with this fact.
   Wallace was brought back to Crawford County and lodged in the county jail at Steelville. Rumors of mob violence began to circulate almost immediately, and on the night of September 30, a mob took Wallace out of jail and strung him up until he was almost unconscious in an effort to get a confession out of him. He finally admitted he had come to Cuba on the evening of the murder, but he still insisted on his innocence, trying instead to cast suspicion on a young black man of his acquaintance named Sam Vaughn. Wallace said the reason he'd lied about his movements before was that Vaughn had paid him not to say anything about seeing him (Vaughn) on the night in question. The vigilantes did not believe Wallace's story, but they were not entirely sure of his guilt either, and a local judge and the county sheriff finally convinced them to cease and desist.
   Just a few days later, though, on the late night of October 4, a smaller but more determined mob came back to Steelville and broke the prisoner out of his cell. They took him about two miles north of Steelville and hung him to a railroad trestle over the Meramec River shortly after midnight on the 5th.
   A coroner's jury later on the 5th ruled, not surprisingly, that Wallace had come to his death "by hanging at the hand of parties to the jury unknown."

Saturday, September 17, 2022

SMS Bears' NAIA Championships

   I wrote on this blog a year or so ago about listening to the Southwest Missouri State College Bears' basketball games on KWTO radio in Springfield when I was a little kid. That post was mainly a tribute to Vern Hawkins, the primary broadcaster I remember listening to. I noted in that post that one of the highlights of Hawkins's tenure was the back-to-back national championships that the Bears won in 1952 and 1953.
   This was when SMS was affiliated with the NAIA or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Actually, it was the NAIB (National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball) in 1952, but the NAIB was transformed into the NAIA during the 1952-1953 school year. The NAIA tournament was always played in Kansas City in those days. Actually it is back in KC now, but there were a few years there for a while when it was played in Tulsa.
   Anyway, those two championship years were a remarkable run for the Bears, because they were underdogs and had to overcome some big obstacles both years. In 1952, 8th seeded SMS upset top-ranked and previously undefeated Southwest Texas 70-67 in double overtime in the semifinals and then beat Murray State 73-64 in the finals.
   If I listened the those games on radio, I don't remember them. I would have been only 5 years old at the time. But I do vaguely remember the 1953 championship. In the semifinals that year, the Bears and Indiana State were tied 72-72 with three minutes to play when the fifth Bears player of the game fouled out, leaving the team with just four players. The ten-man roster was already short one player because Jerry Lumpe, who went on to play Major League Baseball, had been called to minor league spring training camp. With their three leading scorers on the bench and playing with just four players, the Bears took the lead and held on for an 84-78 victory. Later dubbed the Fabulous Four, the four players who finished off the victory were Bill "Jinx" Thomas (later a longtime coach at SMS), Don Duckworth, Bill Price, and Ray Birdsong. Then, in the finals the next night, the Bears won their second championship in a row by knocking off Hamline 79-71.
   The 1952 and 1953 championship teams were both inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Memorial High School Burns

   When I first started concentrating my writing on local and regional history about 30 years ago (previously I'd written about first one thing and then another), I didn't like to write about anything that I could remember happening, because it just didn't seem as much like history to me. However, as I've gotten older, I've had to reassess and modify my definition of history. Otherwise, I'd have to exclude, as topics for my writing, a lot of events that happened when people who are now 50-60 years old weren't even alive. I still prefer not to write about recent events (things that happened in the past 10-20 years), but I no longer use my own lifetime as a litmus test as to whether something is history or not. With that in mind, today I'm going to write about something that happened "only" forty years ago, the time Memorial High School in Joplin burned down.
   Well, it didn't actually burn down, but it suffered considerable damage. And this is not actually history but more of a personal reminiscence, because I was there.
   It was Thursday, January 28, 1982, around noon. If I recall correctly, it was the fourth hour of the day. The room where I taught was located in the northeast corner of the three-story building on the second floor. I was standing or maybe sitting at my desk at the front of the room, where I had a clear view of the hallway that ran west from my room on the north side of the building. The offices and a central stairway leading outside through the front exit were located on the north side of this hallway, and the auditorium was on the south side of this east-west hallway, taking up the entire middle part of the square-shaped building, with hallways surrounding the auditorium on every side. The main entrance to the auditorium was located on the hallway that I could see from my room, while the stage was at the south side of the auditorium.
   As I stood there in front of my class, I happened to glance down the hallway and saw smoke seeping from underneath the double doors leading into the auditorium. It wasn't a lot of smoke, but it was enough that I could tell that most of the auditorium was probably filled with smoke. Why else would smoke, which normally rises, be coming out beneath the doors unless there was so much of it that there was nowhere else for it go?
   "Class," I announced in a voice that I tried to keep as calm as possible, "we need to get out of here. I think the school is on fire." Even though we had fire drills periodically throughout the school year, I quickly reminded the students how they should exit the building and where they should reassemble on the far side of the street that ran along the east side of the building.
   Some of the kids may have been a little skeptical at first, thinking I could be pulling some kind of weird joke, but they got up and started filing out of the room in orderly, if somewhat aimless, fashion. As the ones in front started through the door, they could see the smoke coming from beneath the auditorium doors, just as I did, and they knew now that this was no joke. If any doubt remained, it was quickly erased when the fire alarm sounded about the time the last of my students filed through the door. They quickly shifted gears from a desultory promenade to a determined march, but they still proceeded in an orderly fashion, because we could clearly see we were in no immediate danger and had plenty of time to exit the building.
   Not true for some of the Memorial students and teachers that day. Those in two or three classrooms on the second and third floors in the southwest section of the building, where the fire originated, barely got out of their rooms in time, before the intensifying blaze would have blocked their exit.
   Fortunately, though everyone got out okay, and students and teachers huddled together in groups on grounds across the various streets surrounding the building to watch the fire in awe. The fire department arrived within a minute or two after every one was out of the building and soon had the fire under control. But not before smoke and water had inflicted extensive damage to the building. Enough that some of us had already guessed we would not be going back to school in the Memorial building any time soon, even before administrators came around and announced that school had been canceled for the rest of Thursday and all day Friday. Even though the fire was now under control, we were told to go on home without reentering the building. Only if we absolutely needed to retrieve something from the building were we allowed to reenter the building and then only with an escort.
   Over the weekend a plan was announced to hold Memorial High School classes at crosstown Parkwood High starting on Monday. From about 6:30 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m. Parkwood students would attend classes in the building, and then after a half-hour break to allow Parkwood students to vacate the premises, Memorial would hold its classes from about noon until about 5:30 p.m. Both schools would run on an abbreviated schedule with classes lasting 45 minutes or so instead of the usual 55 and no lunch break for either school.
   We (Memorial) stayed at Parkwood for about two months while remediation and renovation work on the Memorial building took place. Looking back on that time now, I recall it as one of the best periods of my teaching career. I've never been an early riser; so, I liked the idea of being able to sleep in and not have to be at work until almost noon. And I liked the shorter periods and shorter school day. Partly because it meant working fewer hours, of course, but also it seemed easier to keep the kids motivated to study and learn. Going to school seemed to take on almost a sense of adventure. Maybe that's just me looking at the experience through rose-colored glasses, but that's how I seem to remember it.
   We went back to the Memorial building in the early spring, but some of the repairs that had been done were just temporary until we could finish out the school year. The rest of the work was completed over the summer, and we started a new school year in the fall of 1982 with the old building almost as good as new.
   In the meantime, an investigation into the fire had determined that it started in a hallway closet on the second floor just off the stage at the rear or south side of the building where drama students stored costumes. Investigators said the fire had been intentionally set, and, as I remember, the culprit was tentatively identified because he'd supposedly set another fire in downtown Joplin just a week or so before the Memorial fire and his teacher stated that he was absent from class with a hall pass at the time the fire was thought to have been set. However, I don't recall the kid's name, if I ever knew it. I do remember some of the other teachers calling him Freddy the Firebug, but I don't know whether Freddy was his real name. And I don't know whether he was ever positively identified as the arsonist or what punishment he might have received, if any.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Killing of Deputy William Hibler

   Sometimes initial reports about certain incidents, especially those in which crimes are alleged, differ markedly from later reports. In many cases, the later reports are more accurate, having the benefit of additional testimony and evidence. That might be what happened in the killing of Deputy William Hibler of Crawford County, Missouri, in 1934, although it's hard to say for sure, since the later reports came from the alleged killer's hometown newspaper.
   In late February of that year, nineteen-year-old Edith Johnson of Cuba, Missouri, left her husband, thirty-one-year-old Walter, after the couple got into a serious argument. On Saturday the 24th, she returned to the Johnson home, accompanied by her brother and Deputy Hibler, to retrieve some of her belongings, and a confrontation ensued between her husband and the deputy. According to a report filed soon after the incident happened, Hibler was attempting to serve a subpoena on Johnson when the man pulled a rifle and shot the deputy as soon as the lawman announced his mission. Hibler died on the way to a hospital at St. James, and the sheriff came to Cuba, arrested Johnson, and took him back to the county seat at Steelville.
   A report from later that night gave additional details. Shortly after being lodged in jail, Johnson tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists with a tin can, but the physician who treated him said the wounds were not life threatening, despite a considerable loss of blood. Then, that evening, a coroner's jury rendered a verdict that Hibler came to his death from a gunshot wound inflicted by Walter Johnson and recommended that the accused be held for a preliminary hearing on a charge of murder. Soon after the jury rendered its verdict, the sheriff took the prisoner away from Steelville to a more secure jail in a neighboring county in response to "quiet rumors" of mob action. This second report on the night of the 24th, citing both Mrs. Johnson and her brother, agreed with the first report that Johnson was angered by the deputy's visit, but it made no mention of Hibler attempting to serve a subpoena. It implied instead that he was just accompanying Edith for her safety.
   However, the Cuba Review, a weekly newspaper at Cuba, where Johnson's father was a prominent businessman, gave a markedly different account of the fatal incident a few days later. The Review declared that the shooting was accidental, even though a preliminary hearing had not yet been held. According to this account, when Edith arrived at her residence with her brother and the deputy, her husband wanted to talk with her in private, and when the request was denied, he grabbed a rifle and threatened to "end it all." Edith immediately grabbed hold of her estranged husband from behind to try to prevent him from shooting himself, and Deputy Hibler, standing in front of Johnson, grabbed hold of the barrel of the weapon. During the ensuing struggle, the rifle accidentally discharged, with the bullet striking Hibler in the abdomen. When Mrs. Johnson and her two companions first arrived, according to this report, Johnson even thanked Hibler for accompanying his wife home. This despite the fact that he supposedly did not know that Hibler was a deputy.
   Two weeks later the Cuba Review reported that, after his preliminary hearing, Johnson was released on $7,500 bond. Apparently, the judge was lenient because he was inclined to believe the defendant's claim that the shooting was accidental, and the newspaper predicted that Johnson would be found not guilty at trial. The charges might even have been dropped prior to trial, since I have been unable to find any later reports on this incident. Either way, Walter and Edith, who was Johnson's second wife, apparently reconciled, because six years later, at the time of the 1940 census, they were back living together in Crawford County. So, it seems the later reports might have been closer to the truth than the initial ones, even though they originated from the accused assailant's hometown.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Lynching of Mose Kirkendall

   I don't know whether I've ever written on this blog specifically about the Harrison (AR) race riots of the early 1900s or not, but I think maybe I've at least mentioned them. Anyway, that was not the first time that Harrison experienced racial violence. There was a lynching in Harrison more than 25 years earlier.
   On Tuesday night, July 16, 1878, a young woman living at Bellefonte, about five miles southeast of Harrison, awoke from her sleep to discover 22-year-old Mose Kirkendall, her father's black hired hand, standing in her room. She screamed, and Kirkendall ran off. Answering the young woman's calls for help, her brother rushed to the scene and fired a shotgun at the retreating figure, wounding him in the right arm.
   The next morning, Kirkendall was located in Harrison, arrested, and taken back to Bellefonte for a preliminary hearing. He waived examination and was placed in the calaboose at Bellefonte. It was reported that mob violence that very night was prevented only by a heavily armed guard.
The prisoner was taken back to Harrison, presumably on Thursday, and lodged in the county jail to await trial.
   On Saturday night, July 20, a mob of about 30 disguised men made an attack on the jail and after about two hours of labor with an ax and a battering ram managed to break into Kirkendall's cell and took him into the street. Looping a rope around his neck, they started off on horseback, leading Kirkendall by the rope, and he was forced to run along behind them to try to keep from being dragged. After about a half mile, he fell down exhausted, and the vigilantes promptly threw the other end of the rope over a tree limb and drew him up. They tied their end of the rope to the trunk of the tree or some other anchor and left their victim hanging. Kirkendall's body was still hanging on Sunday morning about 9 a.m. when a deputy placed a guard around it to prevent mutilation and sent for the coroner.
   One interesting tidbit about this case clearly shows the typical mindset of white men in the late 1800s and early 1900s concerning any encounter or interaction between black men and white women. Even though Kirkendall's offense apparently was only that he appeared in the young woman's room or at her doorway, his action was described in newspaper reports as an attempted rape.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

The Murder of Willie Gaines

   Most people probably think of white mobs hanging black men when the subject of lynching in the late 1800s and early 1900s comes up. However, it wasn't unheard of for a black mob to lynch a black man. That almost happened in the case of Tobe Lanagan.
   On Saturday morning, December 26,1896, the body of Willie Gaines, a 14-year-old black girl, was found at the rear of Stampfli's furniture and undertaking establishment in Jefferson City by an employee of the place. The body was in "terrible condition." The girl had been "ravished," her head was cut as if struck by a blunt instrument, and her stomach was "cut almost entirely away."
   Tobe Lanagan, who was also an employee of the undertaking firm, was immediately suspected of the crime. He'd been seen walking with Willie about 5:30 the previous evening toward the alley that ran behind Stamplfi's, and that was the last time the girl had been seen alive. Described as "half-witted," Lanagan was arrested and lodged in the Cole County Jail. He said he had left the undertaking office about 6 p.m. and did not return, but his claim was contradicted by a white man who said he'd seen Lanagan coming out of the alley about 9 p.m. In addition, Lanagan's past record was against him, because he'd previously been charged with attempting to rape a 9-year-old girl and he'd been in jail a couple of other times on minor charges. It was reported later that traces of blood were also found on Lanagan's clothing and that he had given away a knife, thought to be the murder weapon, on the morning Willie's body was discovered before he was taken into custody.
   The "excitement among the negroes" was at fever pitch throughout the day on the 26th, while, according to one report, "the white people of the city did not seem to take much interest in the case." Early Saturday evening, the knots of men who'd been on the streets discussing the crime all day grew larger and soon formed into a mob that moved toward the jail. Before any actual effort to lynch the prisoner had been made, Missouri governor William J. Stone arrived on the scene and managed to talk the mob down. Most of them dispersed after receiving an assurance that Lanagan would get his just deserts if he was found guilty of the crime. Lanagan was then taken under guard to the nearby state prison for safekeeping and was kept there for some time before it was thought safe to bring him back to the jail.


    Lanagan was convicted of first degree murder in Cole County on May 1, 1897, and sentenced to death a couple of days later. He was originally scheduled to hang on October 1, but the execution was stayed until June 22, 1898, when Lanagan and another black man were hanged together from a scaffold erected inside a stockade on the yard outside the Cole County Jail. It was reported that Lanagan "held his nerve well" but that the other man had to be dragged to the scaffold.

Criticism of "Order No. 11" and the Artist's Response

   After notorious Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill and his men raided Lawrence, Kansas, in late August 1863, killing about 15...