Daniel Smoote Sues Jesse James for Loss of Horse …and Still Lives to Tell About It

Mistaken identity led to murder during the December 7, 1869, robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association. When Jesse James dropped cashier Capt. John Sheets with a bullet, mistaking Sheets for Gallatin’s Samuel P. Cox, James thought he had avenged the death of Confederate guerrilla leader Wm. “Bloody Bill” Anderson. Records show that only about $100 was taken from the simple one-room brick building located on the southwest corner of the Gallatin square.

At the time of the crime, nobody knew with certainty who actually pulled the murderous trigger. In their haste to depart, one of the bandits lost his horse and the bandits escaped southwest toward Cameron by riding double on the remaining mount. Along the way, they encountered a local farmer, Daniel Smoote, and forced a horse exchange. The robbers told Smoote he could have the mare they left behind in Gallatin.

Although the bandits were not recognized, the horseflesh they left behind linked Jesse James to the crime. Soon thereafter, Governor T.T. Crittenden proclaimed a bounty for the arrest of the James brothers — marking the first time Frank & Jesse James were publicly branded as outlaws. Mrs. Sheets, the wife of the murdered bank cashier, offered a reward of $500. Daviess County added $250 for each outlaw, the bank another $500, and the State of Missouri $500 — all a part of the $3,000 total reward offered.

People in those times were known by the horses they kept; horseflesh could be easily recognized by those whose livelihoods and well-being often depended upon horses. Good horses were highly prized. Daniel Smoote wanted his own horse back. And the bay mare he kept – linked to owner Jesse James — was proof enough for Gov. Crittenden to publicly brand Frank & Jesse James as outlaws for the very first time.

Smoote contacted a young Gallatin attorney, H.C. McDougal, to sue the James Boys for damages. McDougal later may have had second thoughts about prosecuting the Jameses.

Gallatin attorney Henry Clay McDougal was just embarking upon his impressive career when he agreed to represent farmer Daniel Smoote in a lawsuit against Jesse James.

In his book entitled, “Recollections,” McDougal relates a harried moment when he thought he might unexpectedly be personally confronted by Jesse James while riding on a train.

As the outlaws became more notorious, McDougal’s worries increased. Ironically, after Jesse’s death in St. Joseph in 1882, McDougal assisted in the prosecution against Frank James during a trial held in Gallatin in 1883.

Soon after that proceeding, McDougal left Gallatin for Kansas City and embarked upon a most fascinating career — a founding partner of what would become the renown law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. McDougal also became a personal adviser and confidant for several U.S. presidents.

The complaint, filed on behalf of Daniel Smoote against Frank & Jesse James, cites a loss in damages totaling $223.50.
This summons was issued requiring the James Boys to answer charges made against they by Daniel Smoote in Daviess County.

Neither Frank nor Jesse James appeared in court. Smoote never got his own horse back. Instead, he kept the James’ horse, named Kate, and subsequently raised several colts from her. The Smoote family eventually relocated to Belton, MO, where today the family lies in the Belton Cemetery.

The only civil lawsuit ever recorded against outlaw Jesse James was filed by a Daviess County farmer, Daniel Smoote, who lost his bay mare “Kate” to the robbers as the fled from their crime in Gallatin in December, 1869. This docket was rediscovered on file in the Daviess County in 2007.

A Modern Footnote…

For over 100 years Smoote’s lawsuit against Frank & Jesse James was filed among other legal documents in the Daviess County courthouse …overlooked and eventually forgotten. Historians came to believe that these papers were pilfered by some collector or unscrupulous historian. But the authentic legal documents were rediscovered in August, 2007.

Authentic legal documents were rediscovered in August, 2007, by James Muehlberger, shown here with Daviess County Circuit Clerk Sue Bird.

On Friday, Aug. 17, 2007, James Muehlberger visited Gallatin to expand upon his research of Henry Clay McDougal. Mr. Muehlberger is preparing text and a display about McDougal for the law firm where Muehlberger is employed. Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLC is the largest law firm in Kansas City with additional offices located throughout the United States.

McDougal is primarily remembered as one of the special prosecutors appointed by the governor during the trial of Frank James held in Gallatin in 1883. McDougal is also the connection which enabled the Daviess County Historical Society to secure funds from an estate which now finances ongoing maintenance and limited operation of the county’s 1889 Squirrel Cage Jail as a visitors’ information center. McDougal also was identified by Mr. Muehlberger a partner to his law firm’s founder, Frank Sebree.

During his research, Mr. Meuhlberger immediately recognized the significance of the legal papers and the historic docket was soon whisked away to a local bank vault for safekeeping.

The legal papers have been elusive to those previously researching Jesse James lore. In fact, it was commonly thought that the paperwork on this lawsuit might even have been stolen by some collector or unscrupulous history buff. Circuit Clerk Sue Bird explains that the legal papers weren’t actually misplaced, just filed in a way that made sense to the court clerk of that time.

Now that these authentic historical papers have been found, they will be properly preserved. The Secretary of State’s office has been notified, and archival specialists will soon be involved in that effort.

 

Jail Escapee’s Freedom Short-Lived

After the unusual rotary jail was modified during the facility’s final years of use, the incidence of prisoner escapes were infrequent but more likely. One escape, which occurred Sept. 9, 1970, even bordered on the humorous.

After the unusual rotary jail was modified during the facility’s final years of use, the incidence of prisoner escapes were infrequent but more likely. One escape, which occurred Sept. 9, 1970, even bordered on the humorous.

Wilburn Earl McAfee, 22, managed to pry his way through the roof of the jail about the time the beauty contest crowd came out of the Gallatin school auditorium, located across the street. He was seen briefly while he was on the roof. But those who noticed simply thought he was a prankster rather than an escaping prisoner, so McAfee successfully made his escape out of town.

Officers searched for him all during that night. About 5 a.m. he was apprehended while hitchhiking north on Highway 13 near Jameson. Gallatin’s night marshall, Doug Roberts, recognized the fugitive while driving home. McAfee didn’t recognize Roberts since the city officer was in plain clothes and driving a pickup truck.

McAfee was in jail on a disturbing the peace warrant issued in Daviess County, as well as for a count of forgery from Caldwell County after he was jailed.

There is irony in the capture of McAfee by Roberts. Wilburn Roberts’ brother, Danny, was the driver of the car that smashed into the Roberts car east of Coffey, MO, the previous June. This resulted in the death of Mr. Robert’s wife and two of their children. Danny’s brother, Delbert, also died in the crash; Mr. Roberts and eight others were injured.

Summarized by Darryl Wilkinson from a news article published in the Sept. 10, 1970, Gallatin North Missourian

Train Robbery

This accounty is reprinted from the July 21, 1881, edition of the Gallatin North Missourian. It’s subheadings were: “Conductor Westfall and Frank McMillen Killed” and “The Express Car Robbed.”

This account is reprinted from the July 21, 1881, edition of the Gallatin North Missourian. It’s subheadings were: “Conductor Westfall and Frank McMillen Killed” and “The Express Car Robbed.”

Friday night the regular Kansas City and Chicago passenger train, on the Rock Island road, was robbed just this side of Winston, and the Conductor, Wm. Westfall and a passenger, Frank McMillen of Wilton, Iowa, were killed by the train robbers. The train was on time, and as it left Winston at 9:30 p.m., three armed men stepped onto the front end of the smoking car. They fired through the glass in the car door, three men disguised with heavy black whiskers entered the car and fired through the windows in the front end of the car. While thus terrifying the passengers they ordered “hands up.” Conductor Westfall was about the middle of the car, taking up tickets when he was shot in the back. He was between S.T. Brosius, Esq., and Joseph H. McGee of this place. They say he dropped his lantern and staggered to the door. Whether he fell off the platform of the car or was pushed off by one of the robbers they do not know. His body was found just this side of the section house at Winston.

J.L. Penn and Frank McMillen were on the platform of the baggage car, and while looking in at the door window he was shot in the forehead and rolled off the car.

Two of the robbers went into the express car and ordered Murray, the express messenger, to open the safe. He began parleying with them, when instantly they knocked him down with a pistol and made him open the safe. It is not known but it is thought they got about $4,000.

They shot out the glass of the cab of the engine and made the engineer stop the train at the Dog Creek bridge. Quite a number of hands are at work at this bridge, and hearing the firing on the train they were aroused, and it is probable for this reason that the robber made the engineer run the train one half mile further to Little Dog Creek where they left the train. Their horses were tied in the brush about 200 yards south of the Dog Creek bridge. They did not take time to untie their horses but cut the halter straps, but before they mounted they threw out the empty shells from their pistols. Our City Marshal, Albert Gibbons, got the pieces of the halter straps left on the trees. He carefully examined where the horses stood and he thinks there were only three horses at that place.

On Friday, two men having very fine horses, got their dinner at Kld. Benj. Machette. They told him that they lived at Plattsburg and were hunting horse thieves. That afternoon Kara Souls was in the brush near the Little Dog Creek bridge., and the same two men who were laying in the woods by their horses. They told him that they lived at Plattsburg, were resting and were going to Ben Matchetts to buy a cow. They had got their dinner at Matchett’s and that is the way they knew his name.

Sheriff Crozier and our City Marshal Gibbons tracked the three horses about seven miles towards the H & St. Joseph, and the lost the track. Young Caster living south of Winston, says he was up in the night and saw three men loping their horses past his house, and they were tracked past his house from Dog Creek. This is the last that was seen of them so far as we can hear.

About 11 o’clock the word came here of the robbery. Sheriff Crozier waked up about 30 of our citizens and hurried to the depot to get the train going to Winston. It was about 12 o’clock before the train left and then had orders to lay on the Higland switch until the robbed train passed. It was 2 o’clock before they got to Winston. The robbers then had 4 hours the start of them. Sheriff Crozier and Oscar Naylor hurriedly mounted horses and rode to Kidder, and gave the alarm. As soon as it was daylight they watched the road carefully to Winston for tracks of the robbers but did not see any until they came near Mr. Casters.

Mr. Walker, Division Superintendent of the Rock Island RR, was not at home or there would have been an extra through sooner.

Everything looks as if it was the work of the James boys or their gang. Westfall was the conductor on the train which carried the Pinkerton detectives to Mrs. Samuels the time her boy was killed and she lost her arm by the explosion of the shell which the detectives threw into her house. They James boys swore they would kill him, and they or their gang have done it.

Tuesday, Mrs. Samuels, the mother of the James boys, was in Kansas City. She talked freely with the reporters about the robbery. She says Frank and Jesse James are both dead, and could have had nothing to do with the robbery unless their ghosts were there.

Sheriff Crozier was out three days and nights but could get no clue to the whereabouts of the robbers.

The express company has offered $5,000 and the railroad company $5,000 for the robbers.

— taken from July 21, 1881, of the Gallatin North Missourian

Wm. Westfall (Jan. 8, 1843 — July 15, 1881). This photo shows the burial monument for Wm. Westfall, killed during the Winston train robbery by Frank and Jesse James on July 15, 1881. Train conductor Westfall is buried in the old Plattsburg Cemetery; this photo was taken in 1989.

The Unsolved Murder of John Gagan

A terrible crime was committed in the north part of Daviess County in December, 1887, by which a harmless old man was foully murdered, shot down like a dog and left to die alone and unattended. After more than a century, this murder remains unsolved.

A terrible crime was committed in the north part of Daviess County in December, 1887, by which a harmless old man was foully murdered, shot down like a dog and left to die alone and unattended. After more than a century, this murder remains unsolved.

John Gagan, an eccentric old Irishman, who was divorced from his wife last June, has since then lived alone in a large 12-room residence on his farm near McFall, Mo. Since the separation he has reported that he has been disturbed by the discharge of firearms in the vicinity of his residence at night, and has claimed that his wife and children have been trying to drive him out of the country, but owing to his numerous vagaries not much attention has been paid to what he said.

On Friday, about 5 o’clock a.m., the house he occupied and numerous out-buildings were discovered in flames, with the exception of an old smokehouse all were destroyed. The buildings were saturated with coal oil from the outside, and it is believed now that it was the purpose of the incendiary to cremate the old man while he slept. He was awakened, however, in time to escape and saved a few of his household goods, which were moved into the smokehouse, and he announced his intention of remaining there Friday night. The next heard of the old man was the report of his death, and it is not known just when it occurred.

At the inquest a married daughter, Mrs. Addie Pearson, testified that she went over to the home to take him some supper, accompanied by Miss Slaughter, and that they found his dead body lying in the path. She returned to her home nearby and sent for a doctor, and an examination showed that he had been shot, the ball entering near his left collarbone and passing nearly through his body severing a large artery and causing almost instant death. A fence about 12 feet from the body doubtless furnished concealment for the assassin. Gagan’s revolver with every chamber loaded was found on his person, which precludes the theory of his suicide.

An inquest was held the night of the murder before Squire Heath and the jury brought in a verdict of death from a pistol shot at the hands of an unknown person. The ball was extracted and is said to have been fired from a .38 caliber revolver or rifle at close range. The old man was buried on Sunday from the residence of one of his daughters. Sheriff Cox and Prosecuting Attorney Chapman have been indefatigable in their efforts to discover the perpetrator of the crime and on Monday John Pettit was arrested on suspicion. There was no direct evidence against him but parities in McFall claimed they saw him that day wearing a pair of rubber boots, tracks of this kind being found near where the murderer is supposed to have been concealed, and Pettit’s claimed to have been in Stanberry that day. Pettit was brought here by Sheriff Cox on Tuesday and taken to Pattonsbug on Wednesday where his preliminary examination is being held, before Squire Casebolt, G.A. Chapman prosecuting, and Hicklin & Yates, representing the defense.

When the examination closed last night it was the general opinion of those who had listened to the testimony that Pettit was innocent of the murder, although it is very conflicting. A railroad man testified that he saw Pettit at Conception, west of Stanberry, Friday morning, and he would have had to have walked nine miles to Stanberry to have taken a train for McFall in time to commit the murder. It is not known what may be developed today and the evidence may fasten the crime on somebody. Rumors and charges of all kinds may be heard, but it is not our province to give them credence without any evidence. No human eye witnessed the deed, the victim cannot appear in earthly courts to denounce the assassin, and at present it seems that there is no evidence to fasten the crime on any party, but retribution will surely overtake the guilty one.

Gagan had made a will in which all his property was left to the Christian church of Daviess and Gentry county; the will has been offered for probate, but will probably be contested. There was insurance on the property destroyed to the amount of $2,000.

About Crystal Springs…

One of the institutions of Benton township, and we might say of the county, are the famous Crystal Springs. They are situated on the farm of John Gagan, about five miles northwest of Pattonsbug, on Crystal Springs Branch, a small creek which empties into Sampson Creek, not far distant. There is a beautiful grove of forest trees near the springs, which are three in number, and chemical analysis has shown them to possess wonderful curative properties. The last few years they have become famous, and camping parties, numbering thousands, during the summer months, drink of their healing waters. There is yet but one hotel at the springs, but if another large one was built it would probably be filled for three months.

The bed of the creek is mostly dry during the summer months. It has a rocky bottom of limestone formation of a blue cast and very hard. Blue soap stone and soft slate, scaly and easily crumbled, is found near the surface from one to two feet, while at the depth of about three feet a rich clay loam is found. Below this is a soft, dark slate stone, very free, and still further down, slate-stone, hard, and then succeeded by a species of limestone, hard and brittle. The bathhouse is a small building near one of the main springs. The citizens around these springs have known of their great medicinal qualities for years, but they have only been known to the general public for a few years past. In that time, however, they have become famous. Messrs. Wright and Merrill, chemists, of St. Louis, gave the following analysis of the waters of these celebrated springs.
Reaction alkaline, specific gravity 1.0021, carbonic acid abundant, carbonate of lime, carbonate of magnesia, carbonate of oxide of iron, sulphate of lime, chloride of sodium, chloride of potassium, silica, organic matters.

These are the ingredients of the best mineral healing waters to be found, and theses springs in their great medical properties, have few equals, if any, in the country. They will yet become a great summer resort.

More about John Gagan…

Is a native of County Kings, Ireland, born June 24, 1819. His parents, John and Catherine Gagan, emigrated to America and landed in Baltimore county, Maryland, in the year 1835. John lived there till 15 years of age then went to Pennsylvania and worked as a stone-cutter and contractor till 1846. On Nov. 1 of that year, he was united in marriage to Miss Sarah D. Williams, a native of Greenup county, Kentucky, born Feb. 17, 1826. She was a daughter of Lewis and Roxie Williams. Her father was born in Kentucky, and her mother in Virginia; the former died in 1834 and the latter in 1868.

After their marriage they lived in Kentucky for three years then moved to Daviess county and located upon the farm they now occupy. Six children have been born to them; namely, Mary, Ellen, Cornelius F., John, Adelaide, Benjamin F. and Rosa A. Mr. Gagan, by his industry and thrift, has succeeded well and is now the owner of 300 acres of fine land all improved and well stocked. His home farm of 200 acres is a very valuable one; upon it are located the famous Crystal Springs. There are quite a number of these springs and they are said to possess many curative properties, and during the summer season they are visited by many invalids. He has enlarged his residence and made arrangements to accommodate the many who make his place a summer resort.

Mr. Gagan had but little opportunity of attending school in his younger days, but by diligent application to good books combined with a natural talent he has become a well informed man. He has a very fine orchard and vineyard and is acknowledged the champion wine-maker in the county.

— taken from the Gallatin Democrat with information about Crystal Springs from the History of Daviess County 1882

Sheriff S.L. Houghton – Shot to Death

Daviess County Sheriff S.L. Houghton, 65, was shot to death after towing a 16-year-old’s car into Gallatin and taking the youth home.

Daviess County Sheriff S.L. Houghton, 65, was shot to death after towing a 16-year-old’s car into Gallatin and taking the youth home.

According to the report filed by the highway patrol, Sheriff Houghton towed the youth’s vehicle after a traffic violation. He then took the youth and his mother to his home, located about 5 miles northwest of Gallatin, about 3 a.m. As Houghton started to leave, the youth flashed the porchlight, then began walking toward the sheriff’s car. The youth opened the door on the passenger side, pointed a pistol at Houghton and shot him twice. He then reloaded the handgun and fired a third time.

Gallatin Police Chief Dale Cox, responding to phone calls, found the sheriff lying face up in the road. Houghton was still conscious and an ambulance ws ordered. But the sheriff was promounced dead upon arrival at the hospital at Cameron.

S.L. Houghton previously served as county sheriff for three terms (1956-68), then worked as a lieutenant for the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department and then as a security guard in Daviess County. His father, Ben Houghton, was also a Daviess County Sheriff.

Alma Wilson, a deputy and dispatcher working under Sheriff S.L. Houghton at the time of his death, said: “Everybody respected him. He was just so well thought of. He was old enough to retire; he was 65. But they wanted him to run again. He didn’t have to but he did.”

In a newspaper account, Mrs. Wilson said the sheriff always made calls at night, especially on weekends. She said he kept a police radio in his home and often got little sleep because of late-night calls. Yet, he was never injured before; he had a good relationship with the youth throughout the county.

The Hangings of Joe Jump and John Smith

The hanging of Joe Jump, 19, and John Smith, 22, for the murder of Wm. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885, was Daviess County’s first and only public execution. The crime took place between the trio of “friends” – Jump, Smith and Gladson.

The hanging of Joe Jump, 19, and John Smith, 22, for the murder of Wm. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885, was Daviess County’s first and only public execution. The crime took place between the trio of friends — Jump, Smith and Gladson.

The original 4.5″x7″ card issued by Sheriff James H. Witt of Daviess County, MO.

Both Joe and John were shady characters and had been charged with other serious crimes. Wm. Gladson was a railroad worker and had worked at a grade near the Grand River bridge. Upon the job’s completion he had his pay with him. While in town he met Joe and John and the trio became friends.

Joe knew Gladson had money. He told John they should kill him for it. The plot began and Joe placed a pitman rod near a vacant house with a nearby well. The two men found Gladson and said they should go to the old house and play cards. Once there, Joe took the pitman rod and hit him while John held him. John released him and started hitting him with a slingshot. Gladson laid lifeless and they threw his body in the vacant house’s well.

The two men divided the money. Joe loaned John $50, but he still had $100 of his dad’s money. He’d already decided to leave town with his money. Upon purchasing a suit, he ripped open the top of its drawers, hid his part of the money in them, and sewed them back.

Soon, two negroes, Thomas Dale and Alex Walker, were hauling cheat [oats] to store in the house. Thomas saw a hat laying in the yard and stopped to get it. He saw a small pool of blood and signs of something being drug to the old well. He noticed the rails covering it had been moved and there was blood on its side. One of the men went to town to get help and soon other men arrived and used grab hooks to pull the body from the well and the body was taken to town.

The next morning, John repaid Joe the money he’d loaned him. He told him not to spend any of the money around Gallatin, but to take it to Cameron and exchange if for other money. Before long, Joe had his ticket and waited for the train to Cameron. Constable Gabe Cox walked up to him and told hem he had a warrant out for his arrest for the murder of William Gladson. He was taken to the depot and searched, but didn’t find the three $20 bills in his drawers. However Alex Walker found the money in the band of his hat. Joe was taken to the Chillicothe jail. Smith was given two weeks to prove he was innocence, but failed to do so. He, along with Jump, were found guilty and ordered to be hung.

Preparations for the hanging of Jump and Smith were made. The scaffold was located near the Rock Island railroad and were a special made “double seater” made for the two men to be hung at the same time when two 3’x4′ trapdoors supporting the chairs they would be sitting on would open at the same time. The trapdoors would be sprung with the pitman rod used to kill Gladson.

A rope was attached to a boom eight feet above the platform and spiked together. A fence was placed around the structure which only allowed a few select men to be inside. A black coffin covered with gunny sacks was placed under the steps.

It is not know whether this photo is the crowd witnessing the hanging of murderers Joe Jump or John Smith. This first execution of 19-year-old Joe Jump attracted a huge crowd (estimated between 20,000 and 30,000 people); the Rock Island ran special trains to Gallatin for the benefit of spectators. Two weeks later the hanging of John Smith drew witnesses estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

On hanging day, both regular and special trains were loaded with passengers. Gallatin became a temporary city of 20,000 to 30,000 people. The previous night some 250 wagon loads of spectators camped near the Grand River bridge, and about 100 teams camped northwest of town.

Daviess County Sheriff Witt had issued 50 invitations to other county sheriffs to attend. The sheriffs lined up by twos and marched to the depot to receive Jump. At the appointed time, Sheriff Witt started to strap him and put a black cap over his head. The sheriff unfastened the handcuffs, fastened the rope around his neck, and the murder weapon used to kill Gladson was used to set the trapdoor, letting his body fall seven feet. He was dead in 12 minutes.

Joe Jump, 19, was executed by hanging on July 23, 1886, for the murder of William C. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885. Jump along with John Smith killed the Iowa teamster to steal his Rock Island Railroad weekly paycheck. The public execution was performed just west of Route MM and a few hundred feet north of Highway 6 in Gallatin. A huge crowd (estimated from 20,000 to 30,000) witnessed the event; the Rock Island ran special trains to Gallatin for the benefit of spectators.
This 3″x5″ card enabled the bearer to witness the last public execution by hanging in Daviess County, MO. Written on the back: “Special trains leave seymore at 9 a.m. for round trip $5.60” with the signature partially illegible due to the tear in the card, “A.L. Haw___, Agt”
John Smith, 22, was executed by public hanging on Aug. 7, 1886, for the murder of William C. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885. Smith along with Joe Jump killed the Iowa teamster to steal his Rock Island Railroad weekly paycheck. Smith was executed on the same wooden gallows used to execute Jump just two weeks earlier before a crowd estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

When John Smith’s two weeks were up, the same ground preparations made for Jump’s hanging were used for Smith. The crowd was estimated to be between 8,000 and 10,000 people. At the appointed time the train carrying the prisoner arrived. Smith was escorted to the scaffold and seated by Sheriff Witt and Sheriff Smith. At roughly 12:00, the sheriffs began pinioning him.

Soon, the pitman rod was used to open the trap door and 11 ˝ minutes later he was dead.

About 40 people attended funeral services, which consisted of singing, praying and a short sermon. The body was taken to the Herdon Cemetery, where it was buried by Jump’s grave.

— by Wilbur Bush

Negro Murderer Taken and Burned

The above newspaper caption appeared on a Gallatin newspaper on Jan. 15, 1931.

The above newspaper caption appeared on a Gallatin newspaper on Jan. 15, 1931.

At that time, a mob of nearly 4,000 people, both of spectators and of participants, had either watched or helped in the dragging of a negro man, Raymond Gunn, down the streets of Maryville, and towards a small country school house four miles away where he had assaulted and killed a white school teacher Miss Velma Colter. He’d hid in a ditch waiting for her to dismiss her class for the day. When the children had left the school grounds, he entered the school house where he did his harmful act.

Now, the mob was ready to do their “justice.” Gunn was seized as he walked along with the sheriff and three of his deputies on the way to the courthouse for him to plead guilty to the charge. The sheriff also suffered lacerations and bruises.

A few members of the crowd grabbed Gunn and clipped his ears with snippers. Gunn then confessed to the killing, but indicated another negro known as “Shike” Smith also had a hand in it. Upon reaching the schoolhouse, shingles were torn from the roof leaving the rafters to serve as a ladder. He was chained to the roof with heavy chains, gasoline from one of the cars was used to saturate the rafters, and a match lit. As the flames quickly spread, the schoolhouse roof fell into the fire carrying Gunn’s body with it. Gunn let out a loud screech and then silence occurred.

A group of 50 national guardsmen had mobilized in the armory in case efforts were made to snatch the prisoner from the officers. They didn’t leave the building because there hadn’t been any request for them made by the sheriff which left them powerless to act.

— researched by Wilbur Bush

Murder in the Streets of Gallatin

by Mayna Milstead
(published in the Gallatin North Missourian on Sept. 15, 1993)

What kind of day was it… that day, December 7, 1869, when two members of the James Gang rode into Gallatin, robbed the Daviess Country Savings Association and shot and killed the casher, Capt. John W. Sheets?

by Mayna Milstead
(published in the Gallatin North Missourian on Sept. 15, 1993)

What kind of day was it… that day, December 7, 1869, when two members of the James Gang rode into Gallatin, robbed the Daviess Country Savings Association and shot and killed the casher, Capt. John W. Sheets?

It was, according to an article published in The Booneville Weekly Adventures, “A day ushered in by a cloud and a mist like a pall hung over hill and wood as the brooding winter was spreading its pall and chill. The city resting upon the hills and plateau was veiled from sight by the dense fog that prevailed, and an unusual stillness and quiet pervaded every quarter of the little city.”

The 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association marked the first time Missouri proclaimed Frank and Jesse James as outlaws. The building where Capt. John Sheets was murdered, was located on the southwest corner of the Gallatin business square. This photo was taken shortly before it was demolished. Standing second from right is J.J. Mettle, who owned the building when this photo was taken. Fourth from right is Napolean B. Brown. All others are unknown. As the sign painted on the building indicates, owner Jacob Mettle operated a boot and shoe repair shop from these premises. [Shultz Studio, Gallatin]
At the southeast corner of the town square stood a small brick store house. It was one story high, had a pitched roof, two windows on the north side, a door in front, and a door and window on the south.

This little building had a look of sturdiness about it, an air it may have acquired from once being a bank to which was entrusted the earnings and savings of many of Gallatin’s thriftiest citizens. Within its not overly lofty walls, statesmen, financiers and tradesmen came to deposit their wealth or draw upon their credit from the little iron safe that stood in the back room. Here came slender-fingered women who received from the cashier small sums in payment of drafts and grimy mechanics to receive their weekly wages. The little bank was a blessing and many blessed it, for it was a paved way from want to procurement.

In 1869 Gallatin was a county seat town of less than 1,000 people. There was a public square built around a two-story brick courthouse. The courthouse lawn was surrounded by a fence with built-in hitching posts to accommodate horses, buggies and wagon teams coming into town to do their trading and business.

Around the square, with its board walks and muddy streets, were various business establishments and professional offices. There was a three-story public school house one block from the square. The tower on top of the building had a bell that could be heard for five miles. On the southwest corner of the square was the Daviess County Savings Association. Everyone still called it “the bank,” as that was what it originally had been.

On December 7 the little town was going about its business unaware of the tragedy that was to strike within the next few hours — a tragedy that was to put Gallatin, Mo., forever on the map and was to be written in journals and novels for years to come.

Not too far away, Jesse James and his brother, Frank, guided their horses toward the little town. Although they would rob the bank of $700 while there, Jesse James had but one thought on his mind. He was going to Gallatin with the sole purpose of killing a man.

Capt. John Sheets was murdered during the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association, apparently a victim of mistaken identity.

John W. Sheets was born in Jefferson County, Va., in 1818. He was one of six children born to Henry and Mary Sheets. When he was still very young, the family moved to Missouri and settled in Daviess County. They were among the early settlers and his father was one of the organizers of the town of Gallatin, founded in 1837. In Gallatin, Henry Sheets practiced his trade of gunsmith.

County records, the U.S. Census and family records show that Capt. Sheets was married to Martha Casey on October 30, 1850. There were two children born to this union, Ernest and Mary. Their mother, Martha Sheets, died before 1860.

The 1860 Census shows John W. Sheets and children living in the household of Jonathan Mann, a merchant. In 1860 he was married to Mary Clingan, daughter of Major Thomas Clingan, a prominent businessman.

Sheets served as sheriff of Daviess County for two terms, circuit clerk for six years, county recorder for four years, and also as county commissioner. He was an honorable man and was held in high esteem by the citizens of Daviess County and the town of Gallatin. He served the people faithfully and well in his many years in office. He was also a civic-minded man and was an active participant in all of the activities of the town.

His war record shows that he was a volunteer in the war between the United States and Mexico in 1846. He and Major Samuel Cox were members of Company D. He also fought in the Civil War under the command of Major Cox on the Union side. It was in the Civil War that he earned the rank of captain —  a title that stayed with him the rest of his life.

William T. Anderson (1840 – Oct. 26, 1864) — known as “Bloody Bill” Anderson — was one of the deadliest and most brutal pro-Confederate guerrilla leaders in the American Civil War. Anderson led a band that targeted Union loyalists and Federal soldiers in Missouri and Kansas. He was killed in a Union ambush near Richmond, MO.

On October 26, 1864, Wm. “Bloody Bill” Anderson and several of his men were killed in a Union ambush at the Battle of Westport, near Orrick in Ray County. Major Samuel Cox was the commander in charge of the Union ambush and John Sheets was one of his troops.

Bloody Bill Anderson rode with Quarterly’s Raiders during the border war between Kansas and Missouri and was later a captain in the Confederate Army. Jesse James was 16 when he joined Quinter’s Raiders and rode under Bloody Bill’s command. He was in the Battle of Westport when Anderson was killed and swore that Major Samuel Cox was the man who had shot Anderson in the skirmish, and that someday he would kill Cox.

It was Major Samuel Cox he intended to kill that foggy morning he rode into the little town of Gallatin. He had been told Cox was a cashier at the local bank. What he did not know was that his source of information had confused Major Cox and Capt. Sheets, who both lived in the small town, to be the same man.

Maud Clingan Fitterer, a relative of Mary Clingan Sheets and a neighbor of mine for several years, told me that Mary’s account of the day of John’s murder had been handed down by relatives. Maud was only two years old when Mary Sheets died in 1878, but she remembered the women in her family talking about the murder and how difficult the senseless crime of Jesse James had been for Mary, John’s children, and the other members of the family. Mary had told them she would never forget a single detail of that day, even to what she had made for breakfast.

On December 7, 1869, Gallatin began to come to life shortly before daylight. Chimneys belched smoke from freshly stoked fires that had died down through the night. Lights from the lamps appeared in the houses throughout the town.

According to Mary’s account, Capt. Sheets arose at his usual time at 6:45 a.m. He pulled himself out from under the covers, leaving Mary to sleep a little longer. In his long underwear and slippers, he went into the big kitchen, lit the lamp and started a fire in the wood cook stove. He put on the teakettle to heat water for coffee and shaving, then he went back to the bedroom to dress.

As he sat on the side of the bed, Mary stirred and turned over. She reached up and pulled him down to her and they lay for several minutes embracing each other. They had been married only nine years and were still very much in love.

While Capt. Sheets shaved at the commode in the corner of the kitchen, Mary fixed breakfast.

She got a roll of homemade sausage from the side porch, fresh butter, eggs, milk and home-canned raspberry jelly from the pantry. For breakfast there was sausage, eggs, hot biscuits, gravy, butter and jelly, washed down with strong black coffee.

After breakfast John put on his boots, coat, hat and gloves to go to work. At the door he held Mary and kissed her goodbye. She stood in the door and watched him as he went down the brick path to start the 10-minute walk that would take him to the bank.

So, for Capt. John W. Sheets, the day had begun.

When Capt. Sheets reached the main part of town he did not go directly to the bank. It was his daily ritual to walk around the square and visit with the merchants and greet the citizens on the boardwalk before going to work.

Already there were a few horses and one wagon team tied to the hitch rack around the courthouse. Two black men pushed carts in the street, shoveling up manure and debris from the day before.

Shopkeepers were opening their establishments for the day’s business. Children were coming from all directions in heed to the big bell ringing in the schoolhouse tower, the younger ones being escorted by parents or older brothers and sisters.

It was into the first week of December and merchants around the public square were displaying their special wares for the coming Christmas season. Shop windows were decorated with garlands of holly, paper bells, candy canes, Santa’s, bittersweet, pine cones, wreaths from pine tree boughs and other decorations gathered from the surrounding countryside.

Mann & Crain Dry Goods Store on the east side of the square had a display of china dolls, dressed in the mode of the day, shipped all the way from Chicago. There were also rag dolls, dolls with leather bodies, wooden toy soldiers, story books, a wicker doll buggy, toy guns and rocking horses and many other toys to catch the fancy of bright-eyed children.

Thomas J. Osborn was displaying a brand new buggy in his hardware store. There were also sleds and toys. The grocery store had small barrels of hard candy, many different kinds of nuts and all the ingredients needed for holiday baking.

A freshly butchered hog’s head dangled from a hook outside the butcher shop, the blood dripping into a box of sawdust below. No doubt some thrifty housewife would buy it before the day was out to make up into mincemeat for Christmas pies.

As Capt. Sheets was completing his tour on the south side of the square, he saw two of Gallatin’s attorneys, W.C. Gillihan and William McDowell, coming from the courthouse. He waited for them as they gingerly picked their way across the street trying to avoid the manure and the mud holes.

Circuit court was in session and there were several cases on the docket to be heard. The lawyers were taking a break while waiting for their cases to come up. Capt. Sheets joined them as they went into the Clingan House Hotel and Restaurant for coffee.

The sign on the front of the building read: Clingan House – Major Thos. Clingan Prop. – best Northwestern Hotel – Table Set with Best in County – Clean Beds and Stables. Between 8:30 and 9 the men left the restaurant, and Capt. Sheets crossed the street to the bank on the southwest corner of the square. Throughout the morning he was busy taking care of customers and bank business.

Around 11:30 William McDowell came into the bank. There were no customers in the bank at the time and many of the merchants were closing their shops to go to dinner. Sheets and McDowell sat down in some chairs in the front and visited.

At about the same time, Solomon McBryer and a hired hand were mending fence on the McBryer farm about three miles south of town.

In the distance they heard horses running over the frozen ground. The fog that had prevailed all morning had begun to lift on the hillside but was still dense in the low-lying areas. In the clearing below they could barely make out horses and riders. They could not see well enough to determine the kind of horses nor how many riders there were.

As they passed in the clearing below, McBryer remarked, “They’re sure ridin’ hard and hell bent for leather.”

About 30 minutes later two men rode up to the bank building, tied their horses to a hitching post and entered the bank. Capt. Sheets got up and went behind the counter to wait on them.

The first man asked Sheets if he could change a $100 bill, that he owed the other man some money and needed the change to pay him. Sheets said he could and went into the back room to get the money out of the safe. The man followed him into the room.

The second man asked McDowell for pen and paper so he could sign a receipt for the money paid him. As McDowell went behind the counter to get the pen and paper there was a gunshot. He turned quickly and saw the first man, with gun in hand, standing over Capt. Sheets, who was lying on the floor. As he turned and started for the outside door, he heard another shot.

The second man stood between him and the door with his gun drawn. McDowell made a lunge for the gun, stumbled and fell as the shot went over his head. He scrambled to his feet and ran out the door, dodging the gunman’s bullets and yelling for help.

Aroused by the shooting and McDowell’s yelling, the merchants that were still in their shops and the few citizens on the square grabbed their guns and went running toward the bank.

The bandits came out of the bank with their guns blazing and the citizens pulled back. As the men tried to mount their horses, one of the horses broke loose and took flight. The other bandit came back and pulled him up behind and they left town on one horse.

When the citizens got into the bank, they found Capt. Sheets lying in a pool of blood on the floor. A doctor came hurrying across the square and went into the bank. It is not recorded what doctor attended Capt. Sheets. Some of the doctors known to be in practice at that time were G.W. Brosius, John Cravens, W.M. Givens and W. Fomsbee. John Adkins was coroner, and it is assumed that he was also in attendance.

The doctor’s examination showed that Capt. Sheets had been shot twice, once in the head and once through the heart. The doctor pronounced him dead and gave permission to move the body.

Someone had brought Capt. Sheets’ wife, Mary, to the bank. As she knelt on the floor beside her husband, cradling his head in her arms, her anguished cries could be heard throughout the square.

As people stood solemnly by, shocked and disbelieving relatives and friends carried his body from the bank to the residence.

For Capt. John W. Sheets, the day and his life had ended.

Major Samuel Cox was getting his hair cut in Wm. Irwin’s barber shop on the east side of the square when the gunshots and commotion started on the other side of town. Everyone ran out into the street to see what was going on. Major Cox hurried on over to the west side toward the shooting.

The assassins were already gone and Sheriff William Flint was rounding up all of the men who had horses nearby to go after them. He sent two of the men after the horse that got away and the rest he formed into a posse. Major Cox got his horse and joined the posse.

Just outside of town, the bandits met David Smoot riding toward town. They forced him to dismount and took his horse. Farther on down the road, they overtook a minister and forced him to guide them around the nearby town of Kidder.

Sheriff Flint’s posse scoured the countryside in every direction, but there was no trace of the two men. The James boys were famous for their fast horses, straight shooting, and dodging posses.

The citizens of Gallatin were positive that the two men who shot Capt. Sheets were the James boys and a reward of $3,000 for their capture was posted by the following: Mary Sheets, wife, $500; Daviess County Savings Association, $500; The City of Gallatin, $500; Daviess County, $500; the State of Missouri, $1,000.

An article in The Gallatin North Missourian on Dec. 14, 1869, stated, “The Sheriff of Clay County, accompanied by two citizens of our town, went to the house of Mrs. James and while at the house the murderers rode out of the barn. They were pursued and some 20 or 30 shots were fired without effect, excepting the killing of the sheriff’s horse. About dark the murderers were in Kearney, a village on the Kansas City and Cameron railroad. They told the citizens there that they had killed the sheriff and defied everybody. They are two brothers by the name of James.”

The Weekly Tribune of Jefferson City, Mo., had the following short article about the robbery and murder in their issue of December 14, 1869: “Two robbers attacked the cashier of the Gallatin Bank on Tuesday of last week and killed the former. They robbed the bank of $700 and made their escape with several citizens in pursuit.”

The horse that got away was caught soon after the robbery and it wasn’t long before the detective hired by the Gallatin bank had positive proof that the horse belonged to Jesse James. With this proof, a Grand Jury was called and Jesse and Frank James were indicted for the murder of Capt. John W. Sheets. It was the first time the brothers had been indicted for murder, and “Wanted” notices began to appear throughout the state.

From February 13, 1866, up to December 7, 1869, Frank and Jesse James, the four younger brothers, and other members of the gang had robbed six banks and killed six innocent men. Their first bank robbery was the bank of Liberty, believed to be the first daylight bank robbery ever committed. Their take from this robbery was over $24,000 in Union dollars and $40,000 in bonds. In that robbery Tally Wymore, a young college student at nearby William Jewell College, was killed. None of the gang members were ever arrested or indicted for any of the robberies or murders.

The governor of Missouri kept after the Liberty sheriff to bring the boys in for questioning. The sheriff made another attempt, but again he was out-maneuvered. He came to the conclusion that there was no way to bring them in.

After the Gallatin bank robbery and the murder of Capt. Sheets, there was a lot of feeling stirred up throughout the area against the James boys. The brothers knew that Det. D.T. Bligh and his assistant William Gallagher were still on their trail. Bligh had been hired by the Russellville, Kentucky, bank, which had been robbed of $14,000 on March 20, 1868.

Just as they felt they had nowhere to turn, they found a powerful ally in John Newman Edwards, editor of The Kansas City Times. He was a Confederate major in the war and was a champion of the guerrillas and their part in the Civil War.

Edwards began to write editorials in The Times contradicting the presence of the James boys in Gallatin on the day of the murder. He printed signed affidavits of neighbors, friends and family swearing that Frank and Jesse were at home in Kearney on December 7, 1869. He also printed a letter from Jesse to the governor of Missouri denying that they had anything to do with the crime.

Edwards kept up his barrage of editorials defending the James boys and praising their glorious records in the Civil War fighting for a cause they believed in.

The power of the press worked. The governor of Missouri finally made a statement, printed in The Times, absolving Frank and Jesse James of any participation in the crime at Gallatin, Mo.

They were never brought to trial for the murder of John Sheets.

Although they were relieved by the governor’s statement, the brothers decided it was time to clear out. In 1871, Jesse, Frank, and Cole Younger went to Texas and bought a cattle ranch in the Pecos River country. Other members of the gang soon joined them there, and for the next several years the ranch became their home base. They continued their life as outlaws, spreading out all over the country and adding trains, stage coaches and government payrolls to their list of robberies.

Authors and journalists disagree on many of the facts about the outlaws. However, most of them agree that Jesse James was the one who shot Capt. Sheets, and most of them say Jesse James admitted to many people that he was the one. He always claimed that Cox and Sheets were the same man, and so did some of the authors.

The people of Gallatin and Daviess County knew that Sheets and Cox were not the same man, and the following death notice in The Gallatin Democrat is added proof:

February 14, 1878 — Mary Clingan Sheets, widow of the late Capt. John Sheets and daughter of Major Thomas Clingan, died Wednesday night of cancer. Mrs. Sheets had suffered from the disease a long time. She was 47.

August 21, 1913 — Major Samuel P. Cox died at his home in this city last Friday night. He was 85 years old and had lived in Daviess County for 75 years. He was a potent factor in the development of this section. He was a successful merchant and a veteran of the Mexican and Civil wars. He had been a member of the Christian Church for 55 years. Burial was in Brown Cemetery.

Resting place of John Sheets

Capt. John Sheets and his wife, Mary, were buried in Lyle Cemetery in the southwest part of Gallatin.

It was, as the Booneville newspaper reported, a bleak and dreary day — that day in December 1869 when Jesse and Frank James rode into the small, fledgling community of Gallatin, Mo.

Jesse James is reported to have admitted many times during the following years that he and his brother, Frank, had traveled to the little farming town, about 40 miles from their home near Kearney, for one purpose — to kill Major Samuel Cox, the man he swore to get for shooting and killing Bloody Bill Anderson.

Unfortunately, reports to Jesse James that the man working in the local bank, Capt. John Sheets, and Major Cox were one and the same were erroneous.

Jesse and Frank James never paid for the crime they committed that day. But the descendants of Capt. John Sheets remember it well. It is a story handed down from generation to generation.

It is a story about the day Jesse James rode into town for the sole purpose of killing an innocent man. A man he thought to be someone else.

And his legend lives on.

Sources: Missouri Historical Society, Daviess County Library, Liberty Public Library, Gallatin North Missourian, Gallatin Democrat, Leopard’s History of Daviess County, U.S. Census, county records, James gang novels, accounts from Maud Fitterer and Mary Frances Davis, Sheets family records.

Infamous Missouri Prisoners

Public attention on the 1883 trial of Frank James prodded citizens of Daviess County to look at upgrading its jail, eventually leading to the construction of the Squirrel Cage Jail in 1889. Thus, the most famous outlaw affiliated with Daviess County was never incarcerated in the historic Rotary Jail. Can you name some of Missouri’s other infamous prisoners?

Public attention on the 1883 trial of Frank James prodded citizens of Daviess County to look at upgrading its jail, eventually leading to the construction of the Squirrel Cage Jail in 1889. Thus, the most famous outlaw affiliated with Daviess County was never incarcerated in the historic Rotary Jail. Can you name some of Missouri’s other infamous prisoners?

  • John Reno of the Reno Gang, considered the world’s first train robber, 1860s-1870s
  • Gen. John McDonald, who once served in President Grant’s administration, convicted of a whiskey tax scheme, 1870s
  • Kate Richards O’Hare, a social reformer, 1919-20, convicted of sedition. She was pardoned by President Wilson and helped reform the penal system.
  • Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, notorious bank robber, 1929-33. While at the prison, he was suspected of stealing potatoes to make moonshine.
  • Charles "Sonny" Liston, armed robber, 1950-52. Learned to box at Missouri State Penitentiary, and later claimed the title of Heavywieght Boxing Champion by defeating Cassius Clay in 1964.
  • James Earl Ray, armed robber, 1960 until his escape from prison baker in 1967. Assasinated Martin Luther King, Jr., in April, 1968.

Missouri’s old state penitentiary in Jefferson City officially closed on Sept. 15, 2004 — a day when nearly 1,300 prisoners were moved to a new facility outside of Jefferson City. Gone are many of the state’s original penetentiary buildings of beautiful stonework, built when A.M. Dockery of Gallatin served as governor.

Since its beginnings in 1836, the state penitentiary expanded and suffered from growing pains. Riots and murders insde the walls, combined with an explosion in the prison population after World War II and other societal changes, made it necessary to expand and adapt the facility. With new prison buildings came new ideas about rehabilitation — thus educational opportunities, improved health care and recreational services appeared.

The penitentiary once held the reputation as "the bloodiest 47 acres in the nation" (according to a movie magazine in the 1960s). The prison exercise yard was once an old stone quarry, where the rock was cut to make the surrounding walls. The facility once had a slaughterhouse, saddletree factory, harness works, binder twine factory, clothing factory, furniture factory and many shoe factories. More recently, it operated a metal tag shop which produced license plates and adhesive license tags.

Reprinted, in part, from “Lock Down in Time” by Barbara Baird, published in the Missouri Ruralist, November 2006

Fraud at the Street Fair (1899)

Two Gallatin men were once taken in by a fence man, signing “contracts” that later turn up as notes.

Two Gallatin men were once taken in by a fence man, signing “contracts” that later turn up as notes.

Thomas J. Harris (white) and Ace Page (colored) are each bemoaning the fate which made them susceptible to the wily ways and glib tongued entreaties of the sanctified appearing “original” patent fence man.

It was during the street fair times that they became interested in the patent fence business as portrayed by a feminine appearing gent with a piping voice and bearing the sobriquet of “Walter Clement.” Walter claimed to represent the United States Fence Co., and Harris and Page each seemed desirous of engaging in the same avocation. This, of course, interested Walter, who explained in detail how they could make a good thing out of it by the preference he could give them as agents. Not coming to terms, however, at that time, Walter became fearful that they were going to let a good thing go by and went to theri homes near this city, where each was duly ordained as agent and the “contracts for Walter to send them $100 worth of fence to begin on where duly signed.

Later Walter presented the “contracts” at the Farmers Exchange Bank in the shape of two promissory notes, each of $100 due 6 months from date and bearing 8% interest. Walter wanted money on the notes and was willing to allow a good discount for cash. The signatures were undoubtedly genuine and yet bank president Meade was fearful there was something wrong in the matter. He told Walter he would allow $150 for the two notes, but would only pay $25 down on each until they had seen Harris and Page about them.

After considerable pleading for more cash, Walter finally accepted the $50 and a receipt for the notes, leaving his address: 210 Brush Street, Detroit, Mich., for the remaining $100 to be sent him when the genuineness of the notes was attested by the givers.

Harris and Page were duly notified of the notes and while they did not deny their signatures, they said the young man said they were simply signing contracts as agents and they did not think but what he was perfectly honest in the matter as he was “so nice and accommodating.” In the meantime, Walter had disappeared, not even saying good-bye to his landlord, Landon Schwyhart, to whom he is yet indebted for two weeks board. A vigilant search has yet failed to disclose his whereabouts.

From the Gallatin Democrat, Sept. 28, 1899.

20-Years for $800 Bank Robbery, After an Acquittal (1933)

Three days after a jury of 12 found Daryl Hillyard of Bethany guilty of robbing the Bank of Coffey, Judge Ira D. Beals sentences Hillyard to 20 years in the state penitentiary at Jefferson City. But it was the acquittal of Hillyard from a murder charge in Harrison County just months before that may explain Hillyard’s sentence.

Three days after a jury of 12 found Daryl Hillyard of Bethany guilty of robbing the Bank of Coffey, Judge Ira D. Beals sentences Hillyard to 20 years in the state penitentiary at Jefferson City. But it was the acquittal of Hillyard from a murder charge in Harrison County just months before that may explain Hillyard’s sentence.

With an accomplice, Hillyard was fould guilting of robbing the bank of $800. Bank cashier W.T. Siple and assistant, James O’Hare, were in the bank at the time. O’Hare was forced to lie on the floor guarded by Hillyard’s accomlice, while Hillyard, with a gun on Siple, went to the money drawers and into the vault. Positive identification of Hillyard was made by these and a number of other witnesses placing Hillyard near the bank at the time of the incident.

This was Hillyard’s fourth trial in two years. He was accused of the murder of Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow, an elderly lady who lived near Bethany. The first trial at Bethany resulted in a hung jury, as did the second trial which, on a change of venue, was held at Trenton. The third trial, at Bethany, was an acquittal — which caused much public consternation, including the ire of Judge A.G. Knight.

Judge Knight’s criticism of the jury, attorneys later reported, was seldom heard in this courtroom:

“I am humiliated, to say the least,” said Judge Knight on the bench. “I have always been a strong advocate of the jury system, and am yet. I have always believed the judgment of 12 men is better than one. But in this case, the jury had only to apply the admitted facts and there could have been but one result. This is a miscarriage of justice. It is an example of what is bringing the judicial system into disrepute.

“I am curious to know what argument could be put forward to induce men to vote not guilty. I know that jurors are unused to separating wheat from chaff in legal arguments and evidence, but here is an admitted conversation. This case has had a harmful effect on the public.

“Many school children attended this trial. The youth of this land are taught that it is all right to lend your car to a man who is going out to rob; that’s all right. This was just a defenseless old woman murdered in cold blood.”

Judge Knight declared the administraiton of criminal law in Missouri is an anachronism.

“Administration of criminal law is behind the times,” he said. “It needs revision. In these days of racketeering, kidnaping, of murder, of robbery, if the people do not rise to the importance of it, we may as well have anarchy. I am no moralist, but I hate to see justice miscarried. I hope I may never again in this county or in this district or in this state see or hear of anything like this.”

Carlow — Booze Capital of Daviess County (1926)

Sheriff B.B. Houghton and Deputy Novia Doak, accompanied by several others, capture two men in a Carlow booze raid in October. Five gallons of corn whiskey was seized for evidence for use in the prosecution of the men.

Sheriff B.B. Houghton and Deputy Novia Doak, accompanied by several others, capture two men in a Carlow booze raid in October. Five gallons of corn whiskey was seized for evidence for use in the prosecution of the men.

Upon arriving at the scene of action southeast of Carlow, the posse divided and approached while the still was going. A lookout on duty discovered that intruders approached, saying “Boys, it’s time to go” and three of them proceeded to go as fast as their legs would carry them.

The sheriff succeeded in capturing one, Jess Rader, who with one of the largest whiskey plants that has been found was brought to town.

Previously, in January, 1926, Sheriff Houghton led a raiding party to Carlow country and captured a big still along with 12 or 14 barrels of mash. Search warrants had been issued to houses in Carlow. The still was discovered by Deputy Doak, Farley Burge and Ralph Cox on the bank of Little Muddy Creek, just east of Carlow. As they approached, three men made a getaway in the weeds. The third, Loren French, stopped after going about 100 yards. The officers were firing shots lively around the fleeing men.

French was winded from the run, and stated he was coming in from looking after horses over in the pasture. He claimed he knew nothing about the still.

No liquor or evidence was found in any of the houses that were searched. Empty jugs, however, were found thrown in the weeds around a house. Althought the jugs smelled of liquor, none contained any spirits.

The officers report the still operations on the creek bank were quite extensive. The still itself was a big one and would probably handle 50 to 60 gallons. Stoves, funnels, and necessary adjuncts were also present. Only a few hours later and a big quantity of corn liquor would have been confiscated. The mash was poured into the creek.

Former Sheriff Frank Gildow, C.K. Connell, Harrison Worrelll and Taz Helm also accomanied the sheriff to Carlow, and it was reported that ex-sheriff Gildow fell in the creek two or three times making his way around with the search party.

Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian, Oct. 27 and Jan. 7, 1926 editions

Bank Robbery at Pattonsburg (1929)

The Pattonsburg Savings Bank was robbed by two young men from Kansas City in December, 1929. Over $8,000 in cash was taken.

The Pattonsburg Savings Bank was robbed by two young men from Kansas City in December, 1929. Over $8,000 in cash was taken.

The two highwaymen started southward in a Chevrolet sedan with several hundred armed men in pursuit. The getaway car skidded into a ditch near Altamont. The bandits were captured, and the money recovered. The capture was made by C.K. Connell and Gordon Sweany of Gallatin after exchanging a few shots.

Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian, Dec. 19, 1929

Infanticide! (1899)

The sad and wicked deed of a depraved mother from Maryville is discovered at Pattonsburg.

The sad and wicked deed of a depraved mother from Maryville is discovered at Pattonsburg.

Anna McKee of Maryville traveled through Pattonsburg on the westbound Q.O. & K.C. Railroad, taking lodging at the Farmers’ Hotel. About dark she went to the water closet and remained some time, her maneuvers finally exciting suspicion. One of the girls went out to see what was the trouble, and McKee told the girl that she had lost her ring and wanted her to go to the house and get some matches. The landlord eventually went to investigate since the woman had been there two hours or more.

The landlord, Mrs. Swisher, asked what was the matter. McKee replied that she was a married woman and had met with a mishap, but the landlady was convinced that there was something wrong as she accompanied McKee to the house. Mrs. Swisher told McKee that she had better seek other quarters, and called a boy to help carry her things.

McKee went around through town to the livery barn and engaged a team to take her to McFall, but Marshal Fuller advised her to go somewhere to go to bed. This she did, taking a place at the Port Aurthur house.

McKee had telephoned Wm. Gillihan, whom she claimed was her husband. Gillihan arrived by late train and had Dr. Barlow visit McKee in her room the following morning. When Gillihan departed, McKee would only claim the man as her friend. Gillihan was arrested in Trenton, and was held at the jail there until the details of the affair at Pattonsburg were determined.

Later that day, a thorough investigation discovered a fully developed child in the pit of the water closet. Whether or not the infant was alive when deposited there was not immediately known. A coroner’s jury later exonerated Gillihan, but recommended that the mother be held to face charges.

Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian, February 23, 1899.

Preacher With a Temper Fined $75 (1914)

The trial of the Rev. O.H. Campbell of Blake, charged with assault with intent to kill Powell New, attracted a huge crowd. Evidence and testimony assigned the circumstances to an uncontrolled temper.

The trial of the Rev. O.H. Campbell of Blake, charged with assault with intent to kill Powell New, attracted a huge crowd. Evidence and testimony assigned the circumstances to an uncontrolled temper.

Powell New and Byron Maharg, and others, were working the roads in the Blake area. While passing the home of the Rev. Campbell, some joking remarks were made. The Rev. Campbell was in his study at the time and when told of the remarks, left the house and went out on the road to ascertain who the parties were. During the few words that followed, the preacher drew a knife and cut New. The blade of the knife went through the collar of a duck coat that New was wearing.

The preacher apologized afterwards, and the young man was not inclined to carry the matter further. But his father, Thomas P. New, filed the charge and had the case brought to court. Judge Arch Davis, after hearing evidence, fixed his punishment at a fine of $75 and costs.

Taken from the Gallatin North Missourian, Dec. 17, 1914.

Counterfeiting at Jamesport (1931)

Two Jamesport men, Frank Marshall and Robert Miller, given jail sentences after pleading guilty in federal court on a scheme concocted while they were in the Livingston County jail.

Two Jamesport men, Frank Marshall and Robert Miller, given jail sentences after pleading guilty in federal court on a scheme concocted while they were in the Livingston County jail.

A conspiracy to make counterfeit coins was hatched in the Livingston County Jail while Frank Marshall and Robert Miller, both of Jamesport, were serving sentences, the former for counterfeiting and the latter for violating the liquor laws. The two plead guilty in federal court held at St. Joseph; Marshall was sentenced to serve three years in the federal prison at Leavenworth, KS, on counterfeiting and conspiracy while leniency was shown to Miller because of his almost destitute family, including an invalid and one mentlly incompetent dependent.

The case was presented by assistant U.S. District Attorney Chet Keyes. Marshal was a nurse in Oklahoma City prior to 1927 and there read about people counterfeiting notes. He then made some, passing them in Oklahoma City. Later he went to Kansas City where he was arrested in 1927 and was sent to the penitentiary on a counterfeiting charge.

When released he again took up his old profession, this time making smaller change. Again arrested, Marshall was sentenced to serve a term in the Livingston County Jail. While in jail there he met Robert Miller who was serving a sentence on a liquor violation charge. When the two completed their sentences, they went to Miller’s farm and began the manufacture of counterfeit money. The duo were indicted by a federal grand jury in session at Joplin.

Reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian, Jan. 22, 1931

Furniture Feud Results in Murder (1906)

Dr. T.B. Jackson, a prominent citizen and businessman of Altamont almost since that town started (previously of Macon, Mo.), was shot down in his drug store by Don Woodworth. Both men, known to be hot-tempered, apparently were in dispute over ownership of furniture.

Dr. T.B. Jackson, a prominent citizen and businessman of Altamont almost since that town started (previously of Macon, Mo.), was shot down in his drug store by Don Woodworth. Both men, known to be hot-tempered, apparently were in dispute over ownership of furniture.

About 7:45pm Woodworth approached the front of the drug store where Dr. Jackson was seated with Walter Gregg, John Easter, John McCall and Charles Noah. Woodworth asked Dr. Jackson to step inside the store with him. Those still seated outside heard the cash register ring, and the doctor to say "I will take what I need of you." Then the shooting began.

Five shots were fired; four took effect with Dr. Jackson killed almost immediately. Woodworth was discovered coming out from behind the prescription case with pistol in hand, saying something about a knife. Woodworth surrendered to Constable Bobbitt, admitting that he had shot Dr. Jackson but claiming that Jackson approached him with the knife. A one pound weight was found in Dr. Jackson’s right pants pocket, from which it was presumed that Dr. Jackson anticipated trouble with Woodworth.

Woodworth had been occuping the hotel property belonging to Dr. Jackson adjoining the drug store, the latter demanding possession of his property. There was controversy between the two men as to the disposition of furniture, and it is supposed that this is what the murdered man referred to just before his death. The Gallatin Democrat reported that Woodworth bought cartridges from Elzie Kindig just before the shooting, remarking "That — poked a gun in my face and orderd me out a while ago."

Dr. Jackson was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Gallatin and was buried by that order at the Creekmore Cemetery with exercises conducted by Gov. Dockery.

The verdict of a jury in the trial of Don Woodworth of Gallatin for killing Dr. T.H. Jackson of Altamont was the imposition of a fine of $500. The defendant claimed self defense against charges of murder in the fourth degree. Dudley, Selby and John Leopard assisted Prosecutor Hicklin, and the defense was conducted by E.M. Harbor, J.W. Alexander and Cruzen & Britton.

Reprinted from the Gallatin Democrat, Aug. 9, 1906

Prohibition …’Killed by the Blow of a Fist’

A drunken quarrel let to a confrontation just south of Gallatin where just one blow of the fist was enough to cause a death. It was incidents such as this that led to the Prohibition and the damnation of bootlegging in Daviess County.

During Prohibition, the consumption of liquor was illegal from 1920 to 1933 throughout the United States. Jails everywhere were filled with those who defied the “dry crusade” until the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment.

In Daviess County, the small village of Carlow was generally considered the bootlegger capital of the county. A look at the graffiti etched in paint as you enter the Squirrel Cage Jail in Gallatin confirms a prisoner’s lament at the sentence of 135 days in jail for distributing bootleg whiskey.

But sometimes, crime associated with liquor was much the worse.

Killed by the Blow of One Fist

A drunken quarrel let to a confrontation just south of Gallatin where just one blow of the fist was enough to cause a death. It was incidents such as this that led to the Prohibition and the damnation of bootlegging in Daviess County.

George Cox and Bell Clay left Gallatin in a spring wagon about 6pm on Aug. 18, 1914. They had been together drinking that afternoon when differences arose and words exchanged. Marshal C.F. Myers told the men to leave town. They headed south, soon stopping as they approached a party of men returning from working on the road. Since all the men were acquainted, Cox and Clay decided there and then was the place to settle their differences, and no persuasion from any of the road workers could stop the quarrel.

Cox got out of the spring wagon and was standing on the double tree, when Clay started to get out. Clay only got started. When he was climbing down, Cox with a straight forward punch of his fist, hit Clay on the left jaw. Clay’s head gave a quick turn backward and he fell. The blow had broken his neck. He fell near the heels of one of hte mules, and Cox picked him up and gave him two or three more blows, striking him squarely in the forehead.Cox then dropped him at the edge of the roadway.

Clay never uttered a word; the first blow most probably killed him instantly.

Cox evidently did not know he had killed Clay because he got into the wagon and started on towards his home, telling the bystanders to call Dr. M.A. Smith and he would pay the bill. Dr. Smith did arrive, but Coroner A.G. Minnick was called at Lock Springs and the body was taken to the Pettijohn Undertaking rooms in Gallatin.

Cox reached his home located about six miles south of Gallatin, joining his wife and three children. He was brought back to Gallatin the next day to face manslaughter in the fourth degree. Clay was a 58-year-old widower, survived by three sons and four daughters. His burial was in Brown Cemetery, north of Gallatin.

Many people felt sorry for Cox and blamed the abuse of alcohol for the tragedy. The following is an account published by the Gallatin Democrat following the incident: “The man behind the blow that killed Bell Clay was not George Cox. As far as we have been able to learn, Cox is a peaceable citizen when sober. When he left his wife and children to come to town on Monday he had no idea that before his return home he would be chatrged with the awful crime of taking a human life. All the witnesses who saw them testified that the two men were intoxicated. Where did they get the liquor? Who was guilty of “putting the bottle to their mouths,” inflaming their passions and taking away their sense and judgment? Find the bootlegger who sold these men their liquor and you will find the man responsible for the death of Bell Clay. The liquor sellers may not have to answer for the murders committed, the grief-stricken homes, the sad-hearted wives, mothers and children, but there is a day coming when they will have to appear before Him who knoweth all things and who will mete out to them the punishment they deserve. The ‘Man behind the blow’ cannot always escape and there will be no parole in the court of last resort. George Cox will have to suffer for this act, but ‘the man behind the blow’ deserves greater punishment.”

Cox was found guilty by a jury in Daviess County Circuit Court, after a 6-hour deliberation, and was assessed a fine of $500. A large crowd witnessed the trial, and a light sentence was expected. Cox, while on the stand, made a good witness for himself, expressing regret, and corroborated the story as told by witnesses.

— taken from the Gallatin North Missourian, Aug. 20, 1914

Liquor Leads to Newspaper Martyr
1919 — Murder of Publisher Wesley Robertson

Hugh Y. Tarwater entered the office of The Gallatin Democrat on a chilly December afternoon in 1919 and fatally shot its longtime publisher, Wesley Robertson. Missouri history reveals “Uncle Wes” as the only editor shot and killed in the line of duty.

The shooting climaxed a running feud between newspaper publishers Robertson and his partner Robert Ball with Mr. Tarwater, who had been city clerk for four years. Tarwater felt victimized during a crusade by The Democrat to rid the community of bootleggers. An article about Tarwater’s conviction and fine prompted a libel suit by Tarwater who sought $20,000 in damages. There was little concern by the publishers until it was discovered that the police court journal for the day Tarwater appeared in court was missing.

Tarwater was tried for murder in Gallatin on Oct. 4, 1920. Immediately after the shooting of Robertson, Tarwater suffered a nervous breakdown and attended his trial in a wheelchair. The trial lasted eight days. The defense was based on insanity. In failing health heightened by stress, Tarwater was found guilty by a circuit court jury and was sentenced to 35 years.

Robert J. Ball was junior manager of the Gallatin Democrat at the time that outraged city clerk Hugh Tarwater shot and killed Wesley L. Robertson on Dec. 23, 1919. Tarwater also shot at Ball but he escaped without injury during the incident which unfolded in the printing office on North Main Street just off the square. Not long afterwards, Ball departed for Colorado.

Although The Democrat’s campaign against bootlegging in the county never fully succeeded, it seems ironic that a few weeks after Uncle Wes died the following item appeared on the newspaper’s front page, presumably written by publisher Robert Ball. It is entitled, “Good-bye, John!”

“At midnight Friday old John Barleycorn became a fugitive from justice and was outlawed in every state in the Union. National Prohibition went into effect and the entire country is up in arms against John, who reigned supreme for so many years.

“The smiles he brought and the good times he was reputed to have given to so many are things of memory only, but the trail of desolation, heartaches, blasted hopes and ruined lives are the things of reality he has left strewn all over America. They will serve to remind not only this generation but future generations of the curse to mankind.

“Good-bye, John — here’s hoping your likes will never pass this way again.”

 

Little Jennifer Barden Was Never Found Alive (1982)

Even pastoral communities like Gallatin cannot escape the most hideous of crimes. In 1982 an escapee from the Louisiana State Penitentiary abducted 9-year-old Jennifer Barden as she played on her family’s lawn just two blocks west of the public square. The criminal was fatally shot just a few days later while attempting a burglary. Little Jennifer was never found …alive.

Even pastoral communities like Gallatin cannot escape the most hideous of crimes. In 1982 an escapee from the Louisiana State Penitentiary abducted 9-year-old Jennifer Barden as she played on her family’s lawn just two blocks west of the public square. The criminal was fatally shot just a few days later while attempting a burglary. Little Jennifer was never found …alive.

Hundreds of volunteers, organized in groups of five, departed from the Daviess County courthouse to comb areas surrounding Gallatin to search for Jennifer. Student volunteers were released from school to help in the search as efforts fanned out to include Caldwell County. Law authorities used river boats and employed three airplanes from the Missouri Highway Patrol as search efforts continued; conservation department agents, ham radio operators, even liquor control agents worked the search. The FBI was notified. But Jennifer remained missing.

The kidnapping occurred on a Saturday. Jennifer, a brown-eyed, brown-haired youngster, was one of  four children of the Ron Nelson family who lived in a stucco house west on West Jackson Street. Jennifer had a younger brother and a half-brother and a half-sister; she was playing frisbee with a brother when she ran into the street to retrieve the toy. It was about 3:40pm.

Her brother later described a dark green pickup and the driver, first to his mother and then to law officers. No force or weapon is believed to have been used in the abduction. The truck headed north from the Nelson residence, turning on Route MM.

"We immediately put it out over the radio," Daviess County Sheriff Keny Calvin said. "Cass County picked it up, since they had a four-wheel drive pickup with the description reported stolen. Through their investigations, they connected the pickup to two escape prinsoners from Louisiana."

The suspects were Billy D. Wilson, 24, of Carson, Miss., and Roy James Hill, 35. A witness who encountered a man fitting the description of Wilson at the Submarine Tavern (west side of the business square in Gallatin) helped link the escapees here. The same man was also seen to have purchased a toy at a local store.

Wilson and Hill escaped from the Washington Parish Jail in Bogalusa, La. Wilson had been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or pardon. He was awaiting an appeal. The off-shore oil-rig worker was charged with aggravated rape of an 8-year-old girl he encountered on his way home in Carson, Miss., in the summer of 1980. The other suspect, Hill, was facing buglary charges.

Wilson and Hill cut away bars on a small window in their cell in the back of the Washington Parish Jail. Soon afterward, a pickup camper was reported stolen there. This vehicle turned up in mid-Missouri on April 26. A deputy city marshal at Urich, Mo., pursued the speeding truck until it wrecked on a gravel road and the two occupants fled into the woods.

A dark green pickup containing two guns, a deer rifle and a shotgun, was stolen from Garden City, Mo. This vehicle was the dark green, four-wheel drive pickup described in Gallatin.

The two suspects checked into the Rosehaven Motel in Hamilton, Mo., about 11am on April 30. Wilson has relatives from that area and so was familiar to that area. The men gave ficticious names and wrote a phoney license plate number on the motel register. Motel managers say the men came and went frequently while staying there.

Law officers believe only Wilson came to Gallatin. Sheriff Calvin reports that a 30-year-old women was approached by Wilson near Barlow Oil Company on Gallatin’s north side prior to Jennifer’s abduction. The women told authorities, however, that no mention of sex was made. Since the tavern witness encountered the man fitting Wilson’s description just after noon, it is believed that Wilson was probably in Gallatin for three hours if not longer.

On Wednesday following the abduction which occurred on Saturday, Billy Wilson was fatally shot while attempting a burglary in Mira, La. Shreveport (La.) police notified Gallatin authorities that Wilson was shot at 2am by a woman residing in the home where Wilson was attempting burglary. He was killed with a .357 handgun. The FBI provided positive fingerprint identification. Wilson had stolen a 1980 Dodge pickup in Bonham, Texas, the place where fellow escapee, James Hill, was captured. At the time of his death, Wilson was driving a 1980 Monte Carlo stolen from Sulpher Springs, Texas.

Reprinted in part from the Gallatin North Missourian, May 5, 1982

Suicide in the Daviess County Courthouse

Suicide, though technically a crime, is more readily described as personal tragedy. In 1910 citizens throughout Daviess County were shocked to learn of the suicide of “Squire” J.G. McVeigh, found dead in his office inside the Daviess County courthouse in Gallatin.

Suicide, though technically a crime, is more readily described as personal tragedy. In 1910 citizens throughout Daviess County were shocked to learn of the suicide of “Squire” J.G. McVeigh, found dead in his office inside the Daviess County courthouse in Gallatin.

The weapon used was a .38 revolver, the ball passing through his heart and causing instant death. McVeigh was alone in his office, located in the southwest room on the first floor. He was seated at his deask when he fired the fatal shot, and upon discovery the only change in his position was the leaning of the body toward the desk. The fingers of the left hand were powder scorched and it is evident that he opened his vest and held the pistol in position with his left hand and pulled the trigger with his right hand.

The shot was heard by Ray Hockensmith who was doing some plumbing work in the lavatory. But the tragedy was not immediately discovered. The clothing of Squire McVeigh caught fire, and the odor caused the courthouse janitor to investigate further. The janitor, Hillman, found the old gentleman dead; he extinguished the flames and then sounded alarm.

The Gallatin Democrat reports the following: "The usual methodical habits of Mr. McVeigh showed in his preparations to take his own life. On his desk was a neatly folded package of papers with a letter laying on top addressed to John Leopard. A sharp knife and razor were convenient and it is presumed he intended to use them if the revolver failed him."

The message left to Mr. Leopard indicated a few debts and an insight to the direst extremity — old age, sickness, and physical infirmities. His invalid wife was thus left to fight the battle of life alone; the couple had no children.

J.G. McVeigh, 74, was a native of Augusta County, Va., and graduate of the University of Virginia who came to Gallatin in the early 1890s and for several years served as superintendent of public schools. He previously taught school at Carrollton, Cameron and other places and was once a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state superintendent of public schools. He was elected Justice of the Peace of Grand River Township in 1897, the position he held at the time of death. He was a member of the Daviess County bar.

Burial of Job G. McVeigh was at the Brown Cemetery, north of Gallatin, under the auspices of the AF&AM Lodge, of which McVeigh was a member.

Reprinted from the Gallatin Democrat, April 28, 1910.