A Re-enactment: The 1883 Trial of Frank James

Gallatin paid tribute to perhaps its most historic moment in 1992 when the Gallatin Theater League resurrected apsects of the 1883 Trial of Frank James. The re-enactment, financed in part through the Missouri Arts Council, was the first ever performed here — over 100 years since the most famous trial of the Wild West unfolded in an opera house on the west side of the Gallatin business square.

Gallatin paid tribute to perhaps its most historic moment in 1992 when the Gallatin Theater League resurrected apsects of the 1883 Trial of Frank James. The re-enactment, financed in part through the Missouri Arts Council, was the first ever performed here — over 100 years since the most famous trial of the Wild West unfolded in an opera house on the west side of the Gallatin business square.

The script was composed by Gallatin newspaper publisher Darryl Wilkinson. The idea spawned by an alumni re-enactment held during the 75th anniversary celegration of the UMKC School of Law. The idea was nurtured by numerous people sharing reference books with staging suggestions inspired by the annual outdoor pageant “The Life & Times of Jesse James” produced at Kearney, MO. Script preparation spanned parts of four years. Several trips to the archives of the State Historical Society at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus yielded dividends, including photographs of the jurists and many of the key witnesss involved in the 1883 trial.

The trial re-enactment became reality through the efforts of 52 performing volunteers (40 males parts alone) under the experienced and capable direction of Sandy Evans and Barbara Wilson. The production far exceeded its 90-minute intended length. Yet, the audience never seemed to mind. The smallest of acting parts carried the potential for viewing interest. A few seats in Courter Theater went unclaimed opening night, but by Saturday’s finale even those seats vacated by the 12 tapped for jury duty were resold. Articles about the production, which appeared in the St. Joseph News-Press/Gazette, brought people from Savannah and Liberty although publicity was mostly local.

Ballads by Mike Arnold were highlights ab both the beginning, intermission, and close of the production. Humor spiced subplots which provided background information and meaning to trial scenes. Freeze action scenes helped main characters divorce themselves from th play to talk directly to the audience and jury. Randy Johnson provided lighting effects crucial to the production on the small Courter Theater stage. Videotape filmed during dress rehearsal and all three performances were edited by Arnel Bruce, using a sound track by Ken Lockridge.

Steve Stout excellently portrayed Gen. Joe Shelby to open the second act. Keith Gay as Judge Goodman, Tim Peery as Prosecutor Wm. Wallace, and Tom Garnett as Counselor Phillips all mastered lengthy parts in convincing style. Steve Adkison as newspaperman John Edward Newman and Tammy Gay as Zerelda Samuels (mother of Frank James) also performed well. These were the main characters, along with Mike Bohannon as Frank James. The $870 spent on costuming helped the audience step back a century in time.

There were surprises for the audience. Twelve men were randomly tapped for jury duty as they prepared to take their seats. At the direction of Judge Goodman, Jim Weldon as the sheriff lifted gun holsters from some in the viewing audience. Zerelda Samuels made her entrance from the balcony, protesting the trial proceedings against her son even before it started. A liquored Gen. Shelby, likewise, initiated Act II from the audience and drew laughs by casually remarking upon some of thes he passed by, including a compliment on (Steve Stout’s own) children during one performance.

Other surprises were from audience reaction. The barber shop scene proved to be a favorite with the antics of Stan Ellis wiggling his cigar while his face was enshrouded with a shaving towel. Allan Lunsford’s lines about witnessing the Winston train robbery were authentically accurate, not fiction. His character, Thomas Brosius, did exaggerate and was later exposed as an unreliable witness on the witness stand. Another line drawing audience laughter was factual rather than fiction, when Gen. Shelby explained he never surrendered to the Union Army but instead went to Mexico. He really did, leading nearly 1,000 men before abondoning the notion and returning to Missouri.

Most information departed through the re-enactment can be linked to fact. The “B.C.” scene is a notable exception. The return of frequent and beloved Gallatin Theatre League characters Maude, Mama and Essie to the Courter stage assured that the re-enactment would not be void of theatrics. The skit uses a familiar plot of miscommunication whereby the “B.C.” is simultaneously thought to mean “Baptist Church” and “bathhouse commode.” Nancy Garnett plays here Mama characer to the hilt, even when she forgets and leaves her cane backstage.

The list of characters is long, and the accolades which are appropriate here could be much longer. Several participants were making their acting debut — Jerry Stewart, Jack Lynch, Steve Evans, Charlie Belshe, Larry Belshe, Krissy Hogan, Janet Sehrt, Steve Bohannon, Nick Walker, Vance Hefley, Mike Bohannon, Brice Terry, Frank Woodruff, Anita Toney, Greg Houghton, Mike Abel, Chris Elbert and perhaps others.

— reprinted from the Gallatin North Missourian

The Legend Lives On…

Daviess County families share James Gang lore, often passed down by word of mouth. No attempt at verifying facts are made here; it is of interest how the legend keeps growing.

Daviess County families share James Gang lore, often passed down by word of mouth. No attempt at verifying facts are made here; it is of interest how the legend keeps growing.

CAROLYN YOUTSEY, “Jameses Helped Out” — “In 1939 there was an old couple in their 80s named May and Cown Jewell (Joanne Smith’s grandparents), who lived six miles south of Kidder. There was a little schoolhouse on the corner named Jewell Schoolhouse, and 1/4 mies west of there was a log cabin where the couple began their married life. Mrs. Jewell says when she was a child they were having a hard time making it. When the James Gang was in the neighborhood many times early in the morning the family would awaken to find a couple of turkeys or deer left on their doorstep by the James Gang. The family knew the James boys and had fixed meals for them when they had passed throgh and became friendly with them. The people who lived in the neighborhood all thought the James Gang were really super because they helped her family out so much.”

MARJORIE TROTTER, “They Fed the Jameses” — “My great-grandparents, Mary and John William Patton, lived about two miles northwest of Altamont. My great-grandfather said travelers came to their home and asked for food. My great-grandmother prepared the food, and my great-grandfather and his son, William, fed the horses. They were well paid. My great-grandfather went to Altamont, heard about eht train robbery and from the description of the men and horses, realized they had fed the James Gang.”

WENDY GATTON, “Related to the Jameses” — “My great-great-grandmother, Mary Beller, was a first cousin of Jesse James.” Wendy’s mother’s name is Wanda Ballard of Gallatin. Mrs. Beller was from the Kansas City area.

AVA PUGH, “They Gave Jameses Water” — Margaret (Tibbs) English, my neice now of Yonkers, NY, is the granddaughter of Elizabeth (Reynolds) Tibbs. Elizabeth was raised in Marion Township, the only daughter of Harvie Reynolds. When Elizabeth was a young girl, Frank and Jesse James stopped at the Reynolds farm home and asked for water to fill their jugs and to water their horses. After doing that, they rode off.”

NORMAN E. O’HARE, “Found Themselves Lost” — “My great-grandfather, Martin O’Hare, homesteaded our farm in 1855. He was discharged from the Civil War in 1865, after which he continued to clear more land for farming. The timber that was cleared was used for building and for firewood, and the process took several years. According to him, and this tale has been passed down through the generations, one day while he and some men folk were in the timber on the east side of the farm where Brushy Creek runs through, some rough looking characters on horses came up. They asked directions to Gallatin, Missouri, and ‘How in the hell do we get out of this brush?’ Being in new territory they found themselves lost, out of the familiar surroundigns of St. Joseph and Platte County. Grandpa thought they were the James Gang, and his assumption became more valid when he heard in a short time (however fast news traveled in the late 1860s) that the Daviess County Savings Association had been robbed, and Captain Sheets had been killed.”

MARGARET M. (Schoonover) MESEBERG, “The Cut Reins” — “The History of Daviess and Gentry Counties (Leopard-McCammon-Hillman on page 77) states the 1883 trial of Frank James was in the buildling owned by Judge Alexander on the west side of the square. Jury went 11-1 for acquittal. Jesse’s fight at Harrisonville is on page 12 of ‘The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of Jesse James.’ The guerrillas were forced to retire, and at Flat Rock Ford on the Grand River, Jesse was shot through the breast, a minnie ball tearing through his right lung. I found the post mortem for Jesse on page 293 interesting. I was shown the sliced tied bridle rein ends from one rider’s bridle that was left at the railroad trestle at Gould Hill east of Winston in 1935 by my dad, Eldia Schoonover. We lived neighbors to the Willis DeFord family who lived where the Martindale family now lives. Willis’ father, Ross DeFord, after the robbery of the train in 1881 found the evidence. I do not think there is evey a chance of anyone knowing the whereabouts of this evidence today, but it made quite an impression on me at the time. I hav quite a scrapbook of clippings about Jesse, Frank and family. I am trying to make the connection between my great-great-grandfather David James and Calvin James of Buchanan County. Calvin James, of barbecue fame, located near the present town of Easton, MO, in 1837. I believe that Mr. Lawrence Barr, one of six grandchildren of Jesse, worked as a part time manager for Katz Drug Store at 12th & Walnut in Kansas City in 1944. I also worked part time while going to school, at Katz. Mr. Barr was a payroll accountant for Hallmark Cards, Inc. I am not saying for certain that this was THE Lawrence Barr, but I have reason to believe it was.”

ROY, VIRGIL J. and GEORGIA SWEANY, “Dinner Guests” — Roy Sweany, a widower who was married to Lulu Opal Brown for 63 years, has one living son, Fred Sweany of Lock Springs. The first Sweany in this area was probably Roy’s great-grandfather, John Sweany, who resided at Civil Bend, where the current owner is Jim Snider. Roy thinks that Georg occasionally had Jesse and Frank James for guests for meals. While one outlaw fed the horses and acted as a sentinel, the other bandit ate a meal with Roy’s grandfather and family. Roy’s father, McIvin Sweany, lived in Altamont; he was a farmer and real estate agent. Melvin died at the age of 58 in 1922.

MARY ROGERS, “Frank James Held The Baby” — “Many years ago my aunt, Mary Smith Aldridge, told me this story. One day before Frank James surrendered, some men on horses came to her father’s (D.L. Smith) farm home near Civil Bend. They insisted her mother cook dinner for them. She told them her baby was fussy so she couldn’t cook for them. One of the men said ‘go ahead and cook. I will take care of your baby.’ He held my aunt on his lap and enteretained her while my grandma cooked. A few hours after the men left, the James boys were captured and taken to jail in Gallatin. My grandparents felt sure they were the men grandma had cooked dinner for. When Frank James saw my Aunt Mary, he said, ‘where is my curly-headed baby?'”

MRS. GLENN RIDDELL, “Silhouettes of the Gang” — Mrs. Glen Riddell, an 82-year-old resident at Daviess County Nursing Home, remembers a story her grandfather, Adam Ream, used to tell her when she was a little girl. He was an resident of the Kidder area, doing chores one night, and noticed three riders walking single file, silhouetted in the sunset. The men were headed south where J Highway lies now, which runs from Kidder to Highway 36. Since the neighbors those days recognized each other’s horses, he knew they were strangers to the area. Two or three days later Mr. ream heard the train had been robbed at Winston and quickly recalled the strangers on horseback near his home. Judging the time of day when he saw them, he figured they must have been part of the James Gang.

JACK TINGLER, “A Ride With Frank James” — “My grandfather, Lewis Allen Tingler, lived west of Galaltin and told how one day he was riding down the road. He came upon a stranger, well-armed and riding a fine horse, They rode together a ways, and eventually the stranger rode into the timber. The next day the savings association in Gallatin was held up. My grandfather always thought it was Frank James. After Frank James’ pardon, later in Oklahoma, my father as a small boy witnessed watching Frank James ‘rob’ a stagecoach at a fair held there. Both were at Joe Jump’s hanging. My grandmother hunter her head so she wouldn’t watch it, but heard the crowd groan so looked up just in time to see the actual hanging. She said she’d never go to another.”

OLIVE HOWARD, “Jameses Would Never Relax” — “The most famous characters associated with my family were the James and Younger brothers. My husband’s grandfather, Gibson Howard, and great-grandfather, Mckleborough Howard, were their contemporaries and had come to Northwest Missouri at about the same time. They were all Southern sympathizers and all received much the same treatment from the guerrillas, treatment that was to ahve far-ranging consequences.”

Eye-Witness Account of 1869 Bank Robbery

In October, 1942, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat published an eye-witness account of the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association by Frank and Jesse James. Edward Clingan, 89, of Gallatin was identified as the only living witness to the robbery, which at the time of publication occurred 73 years prior. This newspaper account claimed that Mr. Clingan recounted the adventure “as clearly and as accurately as though it had happened yesterday.”

In October, 1942, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat published an eye-witness account of the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association by Frank and Jesse James. Edward Clingan, 89, of Gallatin was identified as the only living witness to the robbery, which at the time of publication occurred 73 years prior. This newspaper account claimed that Mr. Clingan recounted the adventure “as clearly and as accurately as though it had happened yesterday.”

When his class was dismissed at noon that day, Dec. 7, 1869, Clingan, then a 16-year-old schoolboy, hurried to the post office for the family mail. As he stood in the post office he heard several shots. Thinking that the shots were first by a celebrator who had been drinking too much corn whisky, Clingan ran from the post office to see who was creating the disturbance.

This is an artist’s concept of the 1869 shooting of Capt. John Sheets of Gallatin, allegedly by Frank and Jesse James.

On gaining the street, Clingan saw William A. McDowell, a bank clerk, stumble through the doorway of the bank, which as located directly across the street from the post office on the southwest corner of the town square. McDowell fell, picked himself up and ran toward the post office. A bandit, who later proved to be one of the James boys, appeared in the doorway and fired several shots in the direction of McDowell. None of the bullets struck him.

“Capt. Sheets had been killed,” McDowell shouted several times as he reached safety on Clingan’s side of the street.

The bandit fled from the bank entrance and Clingan ran across the street to the bank. In the rear room of the 2-room brick building he found his brother-in-law, Capt. John W. Sheets, head of the bank, lying on the floor. Another bystander arrived on the scene about the same time as Clingan. Together they propped up the banker.

“Are you hurt, Capt. Sheets?” Clingan asked. Sheets never answered; he had been killed instantly when one of the bandits had shot him twice at close range. One bullet entered his head hear the bridge of his nose and the other lodged in his heart.

Seeing there was nothing he could do for Sheets, Clingan rejoined the crowd that had gathered in the street. The outlaws, who had been identified by the crowd as Jesse and Frank James, were attempting to escape on their horses which they had left in an alley half a block south of the bank. Several of the more daring men entered the alley cautiously. They found that one of the bandits was not in sight and had obviously escaped, but the other had been thrown to the ground when his wrist had become entangled in his horse’s reins. His horse had freed itself and had run away.

As the crowd approached, someone shouted, “Let’s get him.” The bandit drew his gun and pointed it menacingly. Clingan said that the crowd took to its heels almost at once and he thought it was wise to leave hurriedly, too.

He ran to a drug store owned by Chris Gilliland, which had a rear door opening into the alley where the outlaws had been encountered. E. Barnum, a silversmith, arrived at the store about the same time as Clingan, and the borrowed the druggist’s gun and quietly opened the door leading ito the alley. They were just in time to see Frank and Jesse mount the horse of the man who had fled, but later returned to see what had happened to his accomplice. The silversmith fired one ineffectual shot from the alley doorway, but hastily closed the door when a bullet smacked into the wall beside it.

Laying down a barrage of revolver shots, the brothers rode out of town. A posse quickly organized, rode after them, but took the wrong fork in a crossroad near Gallatin and never saw the outlaws again.

Clingan, eager not to miss any of the excitement, commandeered a small mustard-colored mustang and joined the search. Accompanying him was a burly stranger. Clingan had never seen the man before and thought his actions and appearance suspicious. Deciding that the man might be connected in some way with the robbery, Clingan deemed it best to report his suspicions to the posse. Making an excuse for his departure, he left the stranger and went in search of the posse. He met the unsuccessful posse on its way back to Gallatin and reported his suspicions. A search was made but the stranger was never seen again.

Clingan believes that he was a spy stationed by the James boys to report any progress being made in the manhunt.

A few days later farmer Daniel Smoot received a letter from the desperadoes informing him that he was welcome to keep the fine Kentucky mare they had lost during the robbery in exchange for the horse they had taken from him.

On the day following the robbery, Alec Irving and Jess Donohue, both of Gallatin, returning home from a trip, passed through Kearney, MO. Near Kearney they saw Jesse and Frank James. One of them was mounted on Smoot’s horse.

McDowell, the bank clerk, recounting the robbery, said that one of the bandits had entered the bank and requested change for a $100 bill. Sheets stepped into the back room of the building. The outlaw followed him and, seemingly without pretext, fired the two shots that killed him.

The Gallatin bank acted as a branch office for a larger bank in Chillicothe operated by another of Clingan’s brothers-in-law, Judge James F. McFerran. As most of the money transactions were made in Chillicothe, there was little cash on hand at the time of the robbery. Only a few dollars were involved in the crime that cost Sheets his life.

Clingan has spent most of his 89 years in Gallatin.

[NOTE: The memory of Mr. Clingan is questioned concerning the proximity of the post office to the Savings Association building. Apparently, Clingan mistakingly was thinking of the First National Bank building, which operated in years after the James Gang robbery at the intersection of Grand and Main streets. This bank was across from the post office, not the Daviess County Savings Association where the robbery occurred.]

— reprinted from the Saturday, Oct. 17, 1942 edition of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, written by Ed Johnson expressly for the Globe-Democrat.

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.

Unique Find! Civil lawsuit against Frank & Jesse James

Authentic, historical legal papers — the only civil lawsuit ever filed against Frank & Jesse James — rediscovered on Aug. 17, 2007, by James Meuhlberger, an attorney from Kansas City while researching lawfirm originating partner Henry Clay McDougal.

Authentic, historical legal papers — the only civil lawsuit ever filed against Frank & Jesse James — rediscovered on Aug. 17, 2007, by James Meuhlberger, an attorney from Kansas City while researching law firm originating partner Henry Clay McDougal.

The record of a 137-year-old lawsuit  unique to those interested in the lives and legend of outlaws Frank and Jesse James  was unexpectedly discovered last Friday in the Daviess County courthouse. And the find is exciting historians and others who enjoy tracking down authentic details about the notorious outlaws.

The plaintiff, Daniel Smoot, filed charges against Frank and Jesse James in the Common Pleas Court of Daviess County. Smoot sought payment of $223.50 as reimbursement for a horse allegedly taken by the James brothers following the 1869 attempted robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association.

The murder of Capt. John Sheets during that robbery attempt — apparently when Jesse James mistook Sheets for Samuel Cox over a Civil War grudge — normally commands the attention of historians. The ensuing reward announced by Missouri Gov. T.T. Crittenden marked the first time the James boys were publicly branded as outlaws.  Now, with the discovery of this legal paperwork, the unique reality of Smoot’s lawsuit filed against the James brothers may revive widespread attention.

The response by the James boys to Smoot’s accusations foreshadows what was to fuel their emerging legend. Defense attorney Samuel A. Richardson wrote that defendants Frank and Jesse James denied being at or near Gallatin on Dec. 7, 1869. Thus, they denied stealing anything from Smoot. What’s more, the outlaws argued their case publicly by writing a letter published in a Kansas City newspaper, a technique repeatedly used by the Jameses to vault their legendary exploits and self-proclaimed innocence to national and international prominence.

Predictably, Frank and Jesse James never appeared in court. The James boys spent the next decade flaunting their lives in crime. Obviously, no one chanced their wrath by filing claims in court against the outlaws — nobody except Daniel Smoot. Thus, this legal document is the only lawsuit ever filed against Jesse James by one of his victims. But it was also the stuff of considerable worries over revenge during the years that followed, at least to H.C. McDougal, the lawyer who filed the charges against Frank and Jesse James.

Henry Clay McDougal, Attorney

On Friday, Aug. 17, 2007, James P. Muehlberger, an attorney from Kansas City, 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 known locally 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 mainten-ance and limited operation of the county’s 1889 Squirrel Cage Jail as a visitors’ infor-mation center. McDougal, as Mr. Muehlberger explains, was a partner to his law firm’s founder, Frank Sebree.

Mr. Meuhlberger recognized the significance of the legal papers immediately, and the lawsuit was soon wisked 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. Eventually, an informational display spotlighting the only civil lawsuit brought to bear against outlaws Frank and Jesse James will be constructed at the Squirrel Cage Jail in Gallatin. It is hoped that this project will be completed in time for the Daviess County Chautauqua slated for Sept. 14-16.

 Daniel Smoot’s accusation against the James brothers:

As the attorney representing Smoot, H.C. McDougal sought damages in writing the following: “Plaintiff states that on the 7th day of December, 1869, at or near the City of Gallatin, in the county of Daviess and State of Missouri, the defendants Jesse James and Frank James did feloniously steal, take and carry away from this plaintiff, and in his presence and against his will by pulling him, the said plaintiff in fear of some immediate injury to his person, the following personal property to wit: one bay horse, with four white-feet and white stripe on the nose, of the value of $150; one saddle of the value of $15; one bridle of the value of $2; and one halter of the value of $1.50. The property of this plaintiff, by which the plaintiff says he is damaged in the sum of two hundred and twenty three and 50/100 dollars, for which he asks judgement.” In addition, interest and costs of the lawsuit were to be added to the value of Smoot’s personal property.

Detailing Smoot’s Lawsuit… petition presented by Attorney H.C. McDougal on Smoot’s behalf, seeking $223.50 in damages; March 8, 1870 — Writ of Attachment issued to the Clay County Sheriff, to apply $223.50 against the holdings and possessions of the James brothers March 11, 1870 — Clay County Deputy Sheriff J.B. Thomson writes that a copy of the petition was left with a member of the (James) family where Jesse and Frank James usually resideJuly 12, 1870 — Daviess County Common Pleas Court acknowledges that “defendants Jesse James and Frank James have absconded or absented themselves from their usual place of abode in this State, so that the ordinary process of law cannot be served upon them.”

“The history of Daviess County has no blacker crime in its pages than the murder of John W. Sheets.”  — 1882 History of Daviess County

The 1882 History of Daviess County confirms how the James brothers presented their alibi to the public through a Kansas City newspaper, described on page 502: “Miss Susie James, a sister of the accused, swears that her brother Jesse and herself attended preaching in Greenville, Clay County, on Sunday, December 5th, and after their return Jesse sold her bay mare Kate (the one left by the murderer at Gallatin) to a stranger who said he was from Topeka, Kansas.

She further testifies that her brother was at home on the 7th… “Zerelda Samuel, mother of the accused, swears that her son Jesse was at home December 6th, 7th, and 8th, and that he sold his sister’s mare to a man from Topeka, Kansas, for five $100 bills on Sunday, the 6th. Reuben Samuel, step-father of the accused, testifies to the same thing.”

 — written by Darryl Wilkinson, Editor;
published in the August 22, 2007, edition of the Gallatin North Missourian

Lesser Known Jesse James Gunfight at Civil Bend

The 1869 bank robbery at Gallatin, the 1881 train robbery at Winston, and the 1883 trial of Frank James in Gallatin aren’t the only significant incidents involving the James Gang in Daviess County, MO. In 1871 a posse chased the outlaws following a bank robbery at Corydon, Iowa, to exchange gunfire at the Civil Bend school.

The 1869 bank robbery at Gallatin, the 1881 train robbery at Winston, and the 1883 trial of Frank James in Gallatin aren’t the only significant incidents involving the James Gang in Daviess County, MO. In 1871 a posse chased the outlaws following a bank robbery at Corydon, Iowa, to exchange gunfire at the Civil Bend school.

About 1 p.m. on a Saturday, June 3, 1871, the Ocobock Brothers’ Bank in Corydon, Iowa was robbed by four men of $5,224.07 in currency and stamps. The bank’s vault and money drawer were completely emptied. Ted Wock, the only employee in the bank, looked up the barrel of a large Colt revolver, which he described as being loaded with a barrel 8 or 10 inches long. It was held by a thick-set, well-built but not very tall, sunburned man. Another man filled a saddlebag with the money. As many as 90 men followed the gang south to the Missouri line. Some took each trail leading south, some went east to the railroad at Allerton, and still others investigated south to Princeton and Trenton, MO. The C&SW Railroad was under construction and would not be completed to Cameron until late in September. Most good James Gang books state that the gang consisted of Jesse (Blinky Dingus) James, Frank James, Cole Younger, and Clell (Hines) Miller. Miller was arrested at Cameron in 1872 and acquitted of this robbery; however, there was reasonable doubt as to his non-participation. One small group of the posse folowed the trail to Leon, Iowa, on Saturday, then to Pleasant Plains and Eagleville, MO., on Sunday. They were in Bethany and followed them until noon, when a fight occurred at Civil Bend (center school, also called Lee School since it was near the Taylor Lee farm). The posse in pursuit was led by Iowa farmer John A. Corbit. He was followed by Corydon officer Charles R. Wright, hotel owner James D. Coddington, and two Missourians, Carter and Slater. Coddington could identify two of the robbers who had stayed at his hotel in Corydon on Friday night. Coddington identified Miller as one of the men in the gang seen near Civil Bend. The fight took place about noon on Monday, June 5, 1871, at the Civil Bend school (School No. 4) and the school stable. The school was located at a place near 69 Highway Marion Twp, near the center Sec. #26. The posse came from teh north and saw the gang of four men sitting, resting with their backs against the school building. Money wrappers were left at this spot, so the gang may have been dividing the loot in order to split up. The gang jumped up and ran for the stable, where they had left their guns and horses. Farmer Corbit later testified that the day was cloudy and rainy. He said that the school house was four or five rods west of the north-south road and that the stable stood about 180 steps southwest of the school. Officer Wright went with Coddingon to the west of the stable in a wheat field. They got within 60 yards of the stable. Corbit was 120 steps to the east of the stable on the road. Corbit said that when the gang got to the stable they started shooting. Coddington called for a surrender, but one strong fine voice called from the stable, "We cannot see it." The gang mounted their horses in the stable and fled south. About 20 gunshots were exchanged. At least one shot took effect, killing a posse man’s horse. Found at the school house stable was a linen coat, a pair of gloves, four or five large size revolver holsters, a large revolver with "W and W" on the butt. The posse caught the gang again about 2-1/2 miles south at the farm of Boyer (Freeland Boyer near Cottonwood Creek). There an accidental early shot fired by a posse member resulted in another escape before the posse was in position to prevent it. The gang had fresh horses, and the posse turned back. Clelland Miller was later killed by Henry Wheeler on Sept. 7, 1876, during the Northfield (MN) robbery. Miller, 26, had 12 years of high adventure as an outlaw. He was a friend of Col. Samuel Cox of Gallatin, who had saved his life in 1864. Jim Snider, Pattonsburg, provides a twist on this research from the story as told to him by his father and Freeland Boyer (who lived until 1915). This 122-year-old building still exists, including a wooden plaque on the building’s front with the painted words "Civil Bend Center." It stands on the Boyer farm now south of the original location and owned by Mr. Snider. Classes were last held there in 1920-21. Mr. Snider also relates that after the gunfight at the schoolhouse, the James Gang stopped at Freeland’s well to water their horses. When the Iowa posse got there, the gang decided to fight it out. Not surprisingly, posse members told a different story about their loss of interest in overtaking the gang after a long chase.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, for the Gallatin North Missourian published on April 4, 1993

Daviess County’s Inlaws of Some Old West Outlaws

Records show family ties from outlaws Johnny Ringo, James Dalton, the Youngers, and Frank and Jesse James were to families residing here in Daviess County, MO.

Records show family ties from outlaws Johnny Ringo, James Dalton, the Youngers, and Frank and Jesse James were to families residing here in Daviess County, MO.

The first census of Galaltin counted Philip Richard Wirt as a young single man in town, when the total population was just 81. He soon married Mary Cravens, daughter of Dr. John Cravens who founded Cravensville which reached a population of 102. Philip Wirt purchased the temporary courthouse on the northeast corner of Grand and Main Streets in Gallatin. He became a storekeeper in 1842. Wirt’s Store became the primary meeting place in the county and was called "Secessionist Corner" by the start of the Civil War. Philip’s mother, Mary Simms, was a sister-in-law of Zerelda Cole James when she married Benjamin Simms. This made Philip Wirt a newphew of Zerelda and, thus, a cousin of outlaws Frank and Jesse James. Philip Wirt’s sisters married into the Ringo families of Ray and Clay counties, when Elizabeth married Samuel Ringo and Margaret married Andrew Ringo. Philip took his brothers-in-law as partners in Wirt’s Store. The partnership was called Ringo, Wirt & Ringo. They also had stores in Richmond and Liberty. About 1858 Martin Ringo came to Gallatin. He was a nephew of the Ringo partners at Wirt’s Store. Martin rented the Greenfield and Einstein Store, located a half block south from Capt. John W. Sheets and started his own business, known as the Pryor & Ringo Store. Martin also became a partner with Adam Clendenen, located just east of the Cravensville Ferry. Martin Ringo’s wife was Mary Peters. She was a siter-in-law of Thomas Younger, a brother of Henry Younger who was the father of the outlaw Younger brothers. Mary’s mother was Frances Simms, a sister-in-law of Zerelda James Simms. Also Mary’s mother and Philip’s mother were sisters. Martin and Mary’s eldest son was Johnny Ringo of Tombstone fame. Henry Younger’s half sister was Adeline Younger who married James Dalton. They were parents of the Dalton Brothers, most of whose gang were killed in Coffeyville, KS, in 1892. Incidentally, Daniel Smith was one of the John Reno Gang members that robbed the Gallatin’s clerk’s office in 1867; he married Emily Ringo in Ray County in 1836. Johnny Ringo’s best friend in Tombstone, AZ, was "Curly Bill" Brosius. Gallatin’s William L. Brosius, born here in 1853, is the most likely person to be Curly Bill, according to current research. Bill Brosius worked as a bookkeeper for the Daviess County Savings Association until 1873. He then went west. He claims to have worked at the Peoples Bank of Colorado Springs before going back east to medical school. Undoubtedly, Johnny Ringo knew a younger Bill Brosius when he went to school in Gallatin. Wyatt Earp claimed to have killed both Johnny Ringo and Curly Bill but serious research shows that he didn’t. Philip Wirt died in 1866 at age 51. His wife died two years later at age 45. They never knew of their outlaw/inlaws. They had one son, William Edward, who married Ella Marie Stark in Gallatni in 1873. Ella was the daughter of J.C. and Emily M. Stark. J.C. had been a clerk at the Wirt’s Store for many years. William Wirt knew of his outlaw/inlaws and did business with both Gov. Fletcher and Gov. Dockery. William was born in Gallatin in 1847 and died here in 1930. Ella Stark Wirt died in Gallatin in 1889.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, printed in the Feb. 22, 1995 edition of the Gallatin North Missourian.

Reno Gang Steals $23,000 from Daviess County

In a 1965 book about Detective Allen Pinkerton written by Ornmont, there is an account of the arrest of gang chief John Reno at Seymour, IN, for the Gallatin, MO, burglary of Nov. 17, 1867. The Reno gang was considered the "country’s first great outlaw band." There were as many as 100 members, and headquarters was at Reno’s Hotel in Seymour.

In a 1965 book about Detective Allen Pinkerton written by Ornmont, there is an account of the arrest of gang chief John Reno at Seymour, IN, for the Gallatin, MO, burglary of Nov. 17, 1867. The Reno gang was considered the "country’s first great outlaw band." There were as many as 100 members, and headquarters was at Reno’s Hotel in Seymour.

The Reno Gang controlled Jackson County, IN, since the spring of 1866. The gang included leader John Reno; brothers Frank, William, Simeon and Clinton; and a sister, Laura. The men had fought for the Union but had returned to Seymour by 1863.

During the night of Nov. 17, 1867, the office of the county treasurer in Gallatin, MO, was burglarized and $23,000 was missing. That may not sound like much money now, but this was during a time when a year’s wages were often less than $300. Local men Frank Sparks, Daniel and Silas Smith, and Brandet Clifton were held in Gallatin for knowledge of the crime. But the Pinkertons reported that John Reno was the one who got the money.

The problem was how to arrest Reno and get him out of Seymour, IN, before the gang could help him.

According to Allen Pinkerton, he was asked to help in the capture of Reno. Pinkerton had three secret agents in Seymour to help with the arrest — Robert Winscott, saloon operator; Phil Oates, gambler; and Walter Meara, freight hauler at the railroad station.

A short time before train time (No 29 coming west from Cincinnati toward St. Louis), Phil Oates got to talking to John Reno in Winscott’s saloon. Reno considered himself an authority on trains, so Oates made a $20 bet that No. 31 would be the next train into Seymour. Winscott held the money, and about 10 minutes before train time, Winscott accompanied the bettors to the train station. Meara “emerged from the shadows” at the station and joined the three watching for the train.

As No. 29 pulled into the station, Winscott and Oates pulled revolvers on Reno. Allen Pinkerton, with four Daviess County law officers, got off the train and carried Reno, bellowing for help and kicking, aboard the train which quickly pulled out.

By Feb. 4, 1868, John Reno was in the Missouri State Penitentiary, sentenced to 25 years. Frank became the leader of the Reno Gang, but he was lynched along with William and Simeon on Dec. 11, 1868, at New Albany in Floyd County, IN.

None of the money taken from the Daviess County treasurer was returned. But Daviess County officials Capt. John Ballinger and Sherff and Treasurer Owen McGee had to repay $2,275 to the county for failure to secure some of the money in the county safe. There was some talk about the safe not being locked, since it was opened without damage by the Reno Gang. At any rate, Daviess County soon purchased new safes.

Written by David Stark, printed in the Gallatin North Missourian on March 24, 1993.

Johnny Ringo Called Gallatin Home

Some of the Old West’s most famous desperados have Gallatin in their past, most notably Frank and Jesse James and the lesser known Reno brothers. Now add another name to the list: Johnny Ringo.

Some of the Old West’s most famous desperadoes have Gallatin in their past, most notably Frank and Jesse James and the lesser known Reno brothers. Now add another name to the list: Johnny Ringo.

Research by David Johnson of Zionsville, IN (1992), brought to light information not widely known in Daviess County. Gallatin was the boyhood home of Johnny Ringo, and the Youngers and Jameses had close relaties living in Gallatin before the end of the Civil War.

Who was Johnny Ringo? A Time-Life book entitled “Gunfighters” identifies Johnny Ringo as among Sheriff Behan’s posse which worked to drive Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and their companions from Arizona, following the famous shootout at the OK Corral on Oct. 26, 1881.

A late 1950s TV cowboy series used Johnny Ringo as a main character. Television actor Lorne Greene of Bonanza show fame brought the name Ringo to national attention by recording a song based on Ringo lore (which topped the music charts in 1964). Despite Hollywood’s alterations, Johnny Ringo was no fictitious cowboy.

Census and real estate records confirm that Ringo once lived here. But during his boyhood days spent in Daviess County, nothing seemed to distinguish him from others or indicate his future as an Old West outlaw. Johnny Ringo was born in Indiana. His family left Gallatin in Daviess County, MO, without distinction. Thus, few if any people here ever connected the name of Johnny Ringo to Daviess County until now.

Research by David Stark of Gallatin indicates that Johnny Ringo most probably learned about guns from the father of Capt. John Sheets, the murder victim in the 1869 James Gang robbery in Gallatin. James Gang member Cole Younger would have called Johnny Ringo’s mother “Aunt Mary” (first cousin by marriage to the James boys). Thus, by age and proximity, Johnny Ringo (born 1850) quite possibly played with Frank James (born 1844), Jesse James (born 1847), and the Younger boys. The Ringo family moved to Missouri from Wayne County, IN.

The family first lived at Liberty, MO, in 1856 before coming to Gallatin in 1858. John Peters Ringo was eight years of age at the time. Johnny Ringo’s father, Martin Ringo, leased property south of the store from John Sheets in December, 1858. The location today is on Main Street north of the post office, the lot and building later known as the Arbelia Block (South half Lot #8).

On Dec. 29, 1858, Martin Ringo and his partner, Bennett B. Pryor, rented property in Gallatin for $280 from John W. Sheets who most probably was handling the busienss affairs of his father, Henry. The property was known as the Greenfield and Einstein Store. Included was part of a lot and storehouse in Gallatin. The lease was to run until April 1, 1861.

At the back of the building was a gunsmith shop run by Henry Sheets (John Sheets’ father), 65, which was reserved and not included in the lease. The store was valued a $600 in case of fire and was not to be used as a residence. It is speculation, but certainly in such circumstances a youthful Johnny Ringo would have been attracted to the elderly gunsmith, Henry Sheets.

Johnny Ringo and his cousins, Cole Younger and the James brothers, may have played in make-believe gunfights which they later all so notoriously committed as infamous desperadoes of the Old West. Ironically, 11 years later in December, 1969, the gunsmith’s son, John W. Sheets, was murdered in cold blood, shot twice by Jesse James during the 1869 attempted robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association.

Lines 9 and 21 on this page of the 1860 Census indicate that the Ringo family that included 11-year-old Johnny (later to become a notorious outlaw of the Old West) lived just two houses away from Daviess County Sheriff J.J. Minor. This seems to confirm speculation that Gallatin residents, including the sheriff, knew the young and future outlaw. (courtesy Jason Thomas of Klein, TX, 2017)

Johnny Ringo’s family lived in Gallatin from 1858 through May, 1864. They departed for California to live with Colman Younger. On the trek there, Martin Ringo accidentally killed himself in Wyoming. Thus, in July 1864, Johnny Ringo, as the eldest son, became head of the family at age 14. Ringo worked as a farmer for a time.

No records reveal his activities from 1870 through 1874. His sister, Fanny, married Moses Jackson in Gallatin in 1880 which might have attracted him to return here. But if so, it was as a wanted outlaw. In December, 1874, Johnny Ringo was in Burnet, TX, where he got involved in gun play and ambushes resulting in the death of Jim Chaney at Mason County, TX. Ringo was jailed and awaited prosecution for three years. Records next show Ringo in Arizona in 1879, shooting and wounding Lewis Hancock. No doubt his most infamous escapade followed the famous shootout at the OK Corral at Tombstone, AZ. Johnny Ringo was on the side of the Clantons. He was a member of Sheriff Behan’s posse and helped drive Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and their companions out of Arizona in March, 1882. This was after Earp and Holliday killed Frank Stillwell in Tucson at the train station. Stillwell was believed to have killed Morgan Earp in March in Tombstone, an aftermath of the OK Corral shotout of October 26, 1881.

Thus, Johnny Ringo is remembered as an outlaw, an authentic desperado of legendary proportion. Ringo died on July 13, 1882, at age 32 apparently by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Confirmation of the Ringo family residing in Daviess County also comes in other ways.

On Oct. 14, 1859, Martin Ringo purchased 120 acres west of Jameson from the county. There is reference in the county clerk’s records of a store in Cravensville (now Adam-ondi-Ahman) in Jan. 3, 1859, called the “Clendenen & Ringo Store House” east of the Cravensville Ferry. Martin Ringo was a partner in this business. Martin’s partner was Adam Clendenen, a very early settler of Daviess County (paid real estate taxes for 1837), who listed himself as a farmer with wife, Mary P., from Virginia. Clendenen did much real estate buying and selling prior to September, 1858, when he turned his business over to Sheriff J.J. Minor.

The 1860 Census shows Martin Ringo and his family in Gallatin. The family included Martin, 36, a merchant, born in Kentucky; wife, Mary Sims Ringo, 30, born in Missouri; and sons John, 10, and Martin Jr., age 6, born in Indiana; and daughter, Fannie, age 3, born in Missouri. Later records show two more children added to this family: Mary Enna, born 1860,and Mattie Bell, born 1862, both in Daviess County, MO.

— written by Editor Darryl Wilkinson, Gallatin North Missourian, July 22, 1992

Gallows for Joe Jump Drew a Huge Crowd

A site a few hundred feet north of Highway 6 at Gallatin, and just west of Route MM, marks the spot where two murderers died in 1886, in what were to be among the last public hangings in Missouri. Joe Jump and John Smith were found guilty of the murder of William C. Gladson, an Iowa man, who was in the Gallatin area as a teamster for the Rock Island Railroad on a track-laying project.

A site a few hundred feet north of Highway 6 at Gallatin, and just west of Route MM, marks the spot where two murderers died in 1886, in what were to be among the last public hangings in Missouri. Joe Jump and John Smith were found guilty of the murder of William C. Gladson, an Iowa man, who was in the Gallatin area as a teamster for the Rock Island Railroad on a track-laying project.

The motive for murder was Mr. Gladson’s weekly paycheck. Two men storing grain in an outbuilding in south Gallatin found a blood-stained hat near an abandoned well. Bloodstains in the well led lawmen to the lifeless body of the victim. The trial produced much publicity and on the day of the Jump hanging, July 23, 1886, the Rock Island ran special trains into Gallatin for the benefit of spectators. Ice water was sold by the glass and small portions of the hanging rope were sold as souvenirs. John Smith gained a brief reprieve from then-Governor John Marmaduke, but public preasure prevailed and Smith was hanged in another public action on August 7. There was a crowd present, but not the thousands who had watched Joe Jump die on the wooden gallows erected near the Rock Island depot. Sometime later the state recognized the right of every man to some dignity in death, and the era of public executions was ended.

Daviess County Jury Sides with Frank James

Jesse James died in the prime of life in a way that could only multiply and strengthen the already internationally-known legend of the James Gang. But what of his soft-spoken brother, the student of Shakespeare? What marked the end of his life in crime? Frank James was tried for robbery and murder in Gallatin in 1883.

Jesse James died in the prime of life in a way that could only multiply and strengthen the already internationally-known legend of the James Gang. But what of his soft-spoken brother, the student of Shakespeare? What marked the end of his life in crime? Frank James was tried for robbery and murder in Gallatin in 1883.

When Frank James surrendered to Gov. Crittenden, authorties in many states besides Missouri were anxious to initiate legal proceedings. From all the places landmarked as victims of a James Gang robbery, it was decided that the best available evidence to convict Frank James might come from the July 15, 1881, robbery of a Rock Island train at Winston, MO, in Daviess County. The most famous trial of the Old West unfolded in Galaltin Aug. 20 through Sept. 6, 1883. Frank James faced charges of robbery and the murders of Conductor William Westfall and stonemason Frank McMillan during the 1881 train robbery at Winston, and also the murder of Capt. John Sheets in the 1869 bank robbery in Gallatin. The indictment against Frank James on the Sheets murder was dropped; a conviction was sought on the train robbery and murder charges only. It was truly a major event. Gallatin’s population of about 1,500 people nearly doubled. Governor Crittenden attended the proceedings, as did U.S. Senators and other officials and notables from many eastern states. Daily newspapers such as the Kansas City Evening Star, the St. Joseph Daily Gazette, the St. Louis Republican, and others sent their own correspodents and played each day’s developments into front page news. A legal issue heightened the already emotional event. Could a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Missouri vacate his post to act as a defense attorney? Political interest was also at stake. Could a prosecutor from Jackson County make good his campaign pledge to put Frank James behind bars? And what might acquittal mean to Gov. Crittenden who was already suspected of promising a pardon in exchange for the surrender of the notorious outlaw? It was literaly a theatrical event. The courthouse in Daviess County at the time was a nearly condemned structure. So, most of the trial was held in the opera house to accommodate the crowds. It was located in the upstairs of the Alexander Building in the middle of the west side of the business square. Judge Charles Goodman of Gentry County, a host of ladies, and representatives of the press sat on the stage. The principals in the trial were situated immediately before the stage. There were 13 prominent lawyers involved, including a former Lt. Governor of Missouri. Over 100 persons were interviewed before a panel of 12 jurists was selected. Over 70 witnesses would be called to give testimony. Tickets were issued so that the throngs of onlookers would not exceed 400 — all the opera house could hold. Judge Goodman instructed deputies to allow no guns into the auditorium, and there was much concern about gunplay in town due to strong opinions on the innocence or guilt of Frank James. Frank James’s defense was a simple alibi. He claimed to be in Texas at the time of the Winston train robbery, visiting a sister. The prosecution’s key witness was Dick Liddell, a convicted horse thief and former James Gang member granted immunity in the case in exchange for his testimony. The trial lasted 17 days. The closing speeches provided a fitting climax. Both sides of the bench agreed to limit their final presentations — four speeches per side spanning two court days. Civil War sympathies were a constant backdrop to proceedings despite efforts by Judge Goodman against reliving the war. Most expected a hung jury. Missouri law assigned guilt to anyone proven to have participated in the crime. Thus, Frank James would be found guilty if jurists believed he were there regardless of whether or not he actually pulled the trigger killing Conductor Westfall and stonemason McMillan. People throughout the nation were in high anticipation over the trial’s outcome. There was shock and utter disgust expressed when an acquittal was rendered, but not necessarily in Gallatin. Cheers went up in the opera house immediately after the verdict was issued, though mostly from the throngs who ventured into Gallatin to offer an old Confederate comrade their support. How could Frank James be declared not guilty? Probably due to a combination of circumstances. Over 16 years had passed since the crime was committed. During this period, the legend of the James Brotehrs as modern day "Robin Hoods" was widely known. Perhaps the death of a younger brother and the maimed arm of his mother at the hands of Pinkerton detectives elicited sympathy for Frank James. Frank James’s own expressed desire to live a peaceful life, and his example of doing so for a period of years, was also an influence. The death of his more notorious brother, Jesse, in St. Joseph meant the end of the James Gang. Many also noted that Frank James surrendered to Gov. Crittenden rather than being captured by authorities. All these points impressed the jury. Perhaps most importantly, however, was the composition of the jury. Prosecutor William Wallace threatened to quit the trial upon learning of Sheriff Crozier’s actions in the jury selection process. He suspected a "stacked deck" of Southern sympathizers for Frank James. Only pressure by Judge Goodman, who feared gunplay if proceedings were suddenly ended, kept the trial intact. This trial was selected for re-enactment during the 75th anniversary of the law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It was also re-enacted by the Gallatin Theatre League in the fall of 1990, near the actual site of the famous 1883 trial.

Written by Darryl Wilkinson, 1989

Sheriff Atch Blair Sends Safe-Cracker to his Death

There are few instances in the history of Daviess County when officers of the law needed to use a gun. One of these happened on Monday, March 29, 1909, when the “Nitro Chism Gang” hit Jamesport.

There are few instances in the history of Daviess County when officers of the law needed to use a gun. One of these happened on Monday, March 29, 1909, when the “Nitro Chism Gang” hit Jamesport.

John Atchison (Atch) Blair, sheriff of Daviess County, was serving papers in Jackson Township. About noon he was informed by telephone that three suspects were headed his way on foot from Jamesport. They were followed by a growing posse led by former Sheriff Hutchison; a posse from Lock Springs was also on the move, heading north. Blair was also told that one of the men had shot unarmed city marshall George Caraway in the back. George had been shot at 11:30 a.m. on the realroad station platform.

Sheriff Blair drove toward northeast Jackson Township and found both posses in a standoff during shooting from the outlaws. This was about three miles southeast of Jamesport. Blair also met a hail of bullets, two of which struck his buggy. He returned fire with a borrowed Winchester rifle, shooting Earl Chism as Chism was firing his gun while laying on the ground. Roy Chism then surrendered. The third man and the youngest, Harvey Chism, took off on his own and escaped from the county.

The crowd at the nearby farmhouse of Maurice Wood threatened to hang Roy Chism until Roy disclosed the gang’s true idenetity. He led the posses to where he had left some loot and equipment.

Earl Chism was identified by witnesses as the criminal who shot Caraway. Roy Chism, 26, and Earl Chism, 22 (alias James Farrel) had new Colt semi-automatic pistols and pockets full of cash and ammunition. Their hidden grip held several small bottles of nitro, caps and long fuses. The grip also contained watches and jewelry taken from stores in Spickard, MO, where they had blasted two safes open the previous Sunday night.

Roy Chism was placed in the Squirrel Cage Jail in Gallatin; Earl Chism was attended by Dr. Doolin. By Wednesday, Harvey Chism had been arrested in Bloomington, IL, and was give over to Grundy County law officers. Two other brothers, Walter and Jesse, came to Gallatin from Bloomington, IL, and posted $1000 bond for Roy and $1000 bond for Earl. Marshal Caraway had been shot through the chest just under his liver but was recovering. The burglars’ father, Merrit Chism, was in prison at Joliet, IN, on murder charges. Earl Chism died on a Friday afternoon, April 2, 1909; Roy skipped out on his bond but was re-arrested at Bloomington, IL. Blair had been informed late Monday night that Roy, Earl, and Harvey were wanted men, and rewards were offered for them by the Bankers Association. The threesome jumped bond before on burglary charges.

On April 7, 1909, County Prosecutor Fred Fair charged Roy Chism in Daviess County, MO, with felonious assault with intent to kill. Two days later, Roy Chism was on his way to Leavenworth, KS, with a 5-year sentence. The "Nitro Chism Gang" was first spotted about 11:15 a.m. by the conductor of an eastbound freight train before it stopped at Jamesport. The conductor knew of the Spickard burglaries and that the suspects had taken a handcar to Trenton. The brakeman was asked to find the city marshal and to get the suspects off the train. Caraway found one man in a box car and removed him with the brakeman’s help. The other two showed up with food from town and shot Caraway in the back. At 11:47 a.m. an eastbound train came to the station as the three men escaped southward on foot.

Atch Blair (born in Washington County, Pa, on Dec. 28, 1865, to John and Jane Gunn Blair) came to Daviess County in 1871 at age 7, and later married a neighbor girl, Martha Jane Tunnell, in 1888. Atch was raised on a small farm in Section 28 of Salem Township. He took office as Daviess County Sheriff in 1908, moving his family of nine into the quarters at the jail. In 1916 he became sheriff for a second term, and afterwards worked for the Revenue Service in Kansas City. Blair was a Republican and member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge. He died of heart failure in 1928 and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery near Pattonsburg, MO. His wife was buried near him in 1948.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin; April, 1999. Also from the Gallatin Democrat, July, 1928.

An Account of the 1869 James Gang Robbery

This account summarizes the robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association and murder of Capt. John Sheets upon the 44th anniversary of the incident. The following is reprinted from the files of the Gallatin Democrat:

This account summarizes the robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association and murder of Capt. John Sheets upon the 44th anniversary of the incident. The following is reprinted from the files of the Gallatin Democrat:

Artist’s concept of the shooting of Capt. John Sheets

Forty-four years ago, December 7, 1869, the Gallatin bank was robbed. It is said by the James boys and Jim Anderson. It was a dark, gloomy day. The cashier of the bank, Capt. John Sheets, was killed. The robbers got about $100 and left a fine bay mare that was worth more than the money they took from the bank. The mare was taken by Daniel Smoot, who was forced to give up the horse he was riding to his home southwest of Gallatin. The robbers told him he could have the mare left in town. This mare was kept for several years by Mr. Smoot and he raised several fine colts from her.

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]
The bank building stood at the southwest corner of the square, the present site of the Mann & Musselman Hardware Store. The picture, shown here, was taken in 1903, a short time before the authentic bank building was torn down. The marks of one of the bullets made during the robbery was pointed out to school children on their way to school and to inquiring strangers up to the time the building was torn down.

In October, 1876, Governor Woodson of the state offered a reward of $1,000 for the James brothers and under date of Dec. 20, 1878, Jesse James replied from Deer Lodge, Montana Territory, denying the robbery by saying they were not in the state at the time of the bank robbery. He said among other things that if he was offered a fair trial that they would come to any place in Missouri except Gallatin, if the governor would guarantee them a fair trial, and would agree not to honor extradition papers from the governor of Iowa. Nothing came of the offer. Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph, MO, in April, 1882, and Frank now lives on his farm near Kearney, MO, and he is about 70 years old. Mrs. Sheets, the wife of the bank cashier killed, offered a reward of $500. Daviess County $250 each, and the bank $500, and the State of Missouri $500, making a total of $3,000.

The Winston train robbery, for which Frank James was tried in Gallatin in 1883, occurred at Winston in this county on the night of July 15, 1881. By this time, the reward for the capture of the James brothers totalled $50,000. Clarence Height was caught and he plead guilty to the Winston train robbery and was sentenced to a long term in the state prison. He said he was on the engine and looked after the engineer and fireman. He was pardoned and died shortly afterwards from tuberculosis.

MORE DETAILS…

The Sept. 30, 1943 edition of the Gallatin Democrat featured an tribute to longtime Gallatin businessman R.R. Wynne, written by C.M. Harrison upon Wynne’s death at age 84:

“In 1866 the Wynne family bought and moved into a home located where the Democrat office now stands and in the front yard of which he heard the shot that killed Capt. Sheets in the robbery of the Sheets bank in 1869. At that time the population of the town was about 300, and there was not a graded street nor sidewalk in the town except in front of the few business houses. There were no railroads here then, and all merchandise was brought in by a stage line running from Hamilton to Gallatin.

“Outside the courthouse and jail, both of which were in the square, there were only two brick buildings in town, the Sheets bank, which afterwards housed Jacob Mettle’s shoe repair shop, and a brick dwelling where the Bank of Gallatin now stands. Part of this building was occupied by The Tourchlight, a newspaper conducted by the Fram brothers, Thomas and George, his paper was later purchased by the late Harfield Davis and the name was changed to the Democrat.”

— Reprinted from the Gallatin Democrat

1923 Robbery in Gallatin

Bank robbery sprees once brought outlaws Willis and Joe Newton to Gallatin. In 1923, the Newtons left Chicago and was headed for Kansas City when they learned about a packing house payroll being aboard a small passenger train leaving St. Joseph. This became their third robbery. Their fourth was a bank in Gallatin, MO — where one gang member was killed.

Bank robbery sprees once brought outlaws Willis and Joe Newton to Gallatin. In 1923, the Newtons left Chicago and was headed for Kansas City when they learned about a packing house payroll being aboard a small passenger train leaving St. Joseph. This became their third robbery. Their fourth was a bank in Gallatin, MO — where one gang member was killed.

"I don’t know whether we even know or not when we robbed the bank at Gallatin that Jesse James had been there, but it come out in the paper, you know, teling that it had been robbed and that the Jameses had robbed it before that. We sure werent’ trying to do some of the same things Jesse and Frank James did. We went in there at night and blowed it open. They rode in on horseback in the daytime and stuck it up. When we get into a daylight robbery, we’re getting out of our line. We figured the night was a lot safer. It wasn’t so quick and it was a lot more trouble, but it was the safest way. So we went up there to Gallatin and drove a getaway from it. Went into the First National Bank, I did, and there set a little square safe back in the back, a little square Steel Pete. Then there was a new bank across the street on the other side. It had one of them round safes. So we went back to Kansas City and later we all went up there again. We still had Des Moines Billy with us, so I put him over behind that new bank. Doc and Joe covered the rest of the outside, and I went in and blowed the vault door clear out throught the window. There’s a big hotel right up the street, and you could see people. It was one or two o’clock but you could still see people up there. The hotel was all lit up and everything. So they commenced to shooting. We had the wires cut, but they got guns and they was just shooting all around that bank everwhere. Directly, I put another shot or two in there. It was one of them little ones that just took about three shots. It was rotten Steel Pete, an oldtimer, but they’ve got that rubber in there and the grease will just go back so far, so you had to shoot them a little at a time. Then here come the old night watchman down there and Doc hollered at him. We was loaded with birdshot, you know. If we had to shot a guy, we just used birdshot to make him leave. So Doc hollered at him, "Get back there! Get back there!" And just as I run out the door, Doc cut down on him and some of that birdshot. He turned around and started back the other way. I was right here, so when he turned I run in behind him and grabbed him. Just jabbed my pistol in his side, took his and brought him on back down and give him to Doc. There was an awful lot of shooting, an awful lot of shooting. It was coming from the hotel right straight acros the square on the other side, shooting over towards the bank. I was on up there a block and a half, so it wasn’t anywhere close to me and it was too far for me to shoot a shotgun with #7 shot in it, so that left it all up to Doc. He was down there and he was doing a lot of shooting, too, over thataway. When I went back in there, we sacked up the money. I had a sack to put the stuff in. We left the hard and only put the soft dough in. So we got ready to go, and I said, "Come on," and clucked to Des Moines Billy over there down the alley. "Cluck, cluck. Cluck, cluck." And he don’t cluck back. We go over there, and there he lays deader than hell. One of them stray bullets had hit him right in the center of the side of the head. I didn’t know it then, but the night marshal had come out of some building up there and Doc had caught him. Doc kept him up there until they got through, and when they finally did, they come on down where I was at and said, "Let’s go." We went down the alley to where our other guy was and we signaled. We had a little signal we’d give, sort of "cluck, cluck," and you can hear it a pretty long ways on a still night. When we did that, nobody answered. Des Monies Billy, the guy that had give us the information on them two places, was supposed to be there. It was his own fault he came along. He wanted to come, and we let him come alone, but he didn’t know anything about this business. There was shooting coming from everywhere, and some stay bullet was bound to have hit him. Yeah. He was shot dead. Shot dead. I said, "We can’t leave him here." Two of us drug him with us down the alley, and two went back up towards the bank so there ain’ted nobody could come any further. We finally got him out to where we had left the car, and we dumped him in it and took off out of there. We went on down there to where we had to cross a ferry, down below Kansas City, and when we got in that river bottom country, we took him out and put him in the brush. Then we took the ferry and went on into the city and made a deal with an undertaker that we knowed well. He took a coffin for him and we went with him that night and he put the guy in the coffin and everything and was to bury him and we never asked where. We give him $500 and paid for the coffin. I’ve thought about that, but it didn’t bother me because we figured that was just an accident. It just happened. If he’d been up there where we were, this might have happened, but he was back down there where nobody would bother him. It had to be just a complete "freak" accident.

From “The Newton Boys: Portrait of an Outlaw Gang” as told to Claude Stanush and David Middleton. State House Press, Austin, TX 1994

Younger & Cummins Return in Their “After Years”

Cole Younger and Jim Cummins, two of the most noted characters in the Middle West, are spending this week in Gallatin. Younger is here with “That Texas Show” of which he is part owner, and Cummins is selling a pamphlet entitled “Jim Cummins, the Guerilla,” written by himself and recounting his experiences with Quantrell and Anderson during the war and with the James and Younger boys in after years.

Cole Younger and Jim Cummins, two of the most noted characters in the Middle West, are spending this week in Gallatin. Younger is here with “That Texas Show” of which he is part owner, and Cummins is selling a pamphlet entitled “Jim Cummins, the Guerilla,” written by himself and recounting his experiences with Quantrell and Anderson during the war and with the James and Younger boys in after years.

Both these gentlemen have a number of acquaintances here and are known, by reputation, to nearly all Daviess Countians. They excite no little interest and curiosity and there is generally a crowd around their quarters at the Woodruff House. We received a call last Tuesday from Cole Younger, the only one of the Younger boys living. Instead of the fierce looking, terror-striking "gentleman of the road" he has always been pictured to us, we found him jolly and good natured with a kindly look and smile for everybody, as we can readily believe that, as he says, he is innocent of many of the crimes laid at his door. While here he has met many old war time acquaintances and called on Maj. S. P. Cox to talk over old times, a conversation which was enjoyed by both these battle scarred veterans, and though on opposite sides they could tell each other of many incidents of the war which were interesting to both. Cole Younger is of large build, rather fleshy but active and young looking considering his age. He has pointed featuers, is bald headed and smothe shaven and looks like an easy-going, successful, satisifed businessman. Cummins is quite a different type of many from Younger. He is of slender build, sandy complected, wears stubby gray-tinged mustache, has piercing, restless eyes and an impetuous, nervous temperament, and rather "grouchy" appearing to the casual observer but quite gential on better acquaintance. The Nichols & Cole Younger Carnival Co., with which these gentlemen are traveling, is playing a week’s engagement here — so greatly handicapped by inclement weather. They have a goodly number of clean, entertaining shows and some splendid free attractions. The tent shows are along the east and south side of the park in the street south of Venable & Co.’s in front of the Townsend block and north of Casteel’s hardware store. The merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and flying dutchman are at the southwest corner of the park; high dive tower on north side park and balloon is sent up from east Jackson Street. Excellent music for the shows and entertainments is furnished by two uniformed bands. The minstrel show is said to be the best one ever put on here. While "The Girls From Dixie" and "Th Electric Theatre" and "Younger’s Roman Coliseum" are all worth the money as entertaining features. The animal shows are "The Deep Sea Monster." The Snake Show and Monkey House — each especially interesting to the children. Cane racks, novelty stands, shooting galleries, fortune tellers’ tents, striking machines, etc., are distributed along the streets and the noise of their "barkers" adds to the tumult and gives a needed tinge to the "gaiety" of this festival of fun and frolic. The music box on the merry-go-round plays "Dixie" with all the trills and variations. It sounds like "the call to arms" to Cols. Lynn, Shultz, Estes, Luther Robertson and the other "Confeds" — causing a perceptible renewing of their youth.

Reprintd from the Gallatin Democrat, 1910

The Flint Brothers: A Sheriff Turned Outlaw?

The reputation of onetime Daviess County Sheriff William F. Flint was tarnished by an unexplained theft of over $16,000 — plus $2,000 in tax money for the county’s School Fund — in 1871. Were the Flint brothers victims of circumstance or unconvicted robbers? The truth may never be known.

The reputation of onetime Daviess County Sheriff William F. Flint was tarnished by an unexplained theft of over $16,000 — plus $2,000 in tax money for the county’s School Fund — in 1871. Were the Flint brothers victims of circumstance or unconvicted robbers? The truth may never be known.

The Flint Brothers came to Daviess County in 1841 with their parents, the Rev. and Mrs. George Flint. William F. Flint was the oldest child and Thomas J. (Tom) Flint was the second son. There were four other boys and two sisters in the family.

Bill and Tom Flint became school teachers in Daviess County. Both became Union infantry officers during the Civil War, commanding mostly Daviess County men. Both then became county officeholders in November, 1868, Bill as Sheriff and Tom as treasurer. In 1870, Tom became sheriff replacing Bill in that office.

Bill Flint was named after his grandfather, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He was elected Lt. Colonel of the 33rd Regiment E.S.M. in 1862, the same unit commanded later by Samuel Cox while “Bloody Bill” Anderson was killed. Two months before the Battle of Westport (Aug. 1864), Bill commanded Company F of the 43rd Reg. M.V.I. comprised of Daviess County men. Tom was an officer in that same unit. Both served until June 30, 1865, with Bill as captain and Tom as 2nd Lt.

Bill was Daviess County sheriff when Capt. John Sheets was murdered during the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association, allegedly by outlaws Frank and Jesse James. Bill married Mary Ford; the family, with seven children, lived in Gallatin in 1869.

On March 4, 1871, when Tom was taking over as sheriff, Bill was reportedly robbed while in Kansas City. Bill and Tom were on their way to deliver the 1870 tax money payable at Jefferson City, totalling $16,780. Bill also had $2,000 in Daviess County School Funds when he was hit on the head and robbed near the Gillis House Hotel. All the money was reportedly taken from under Bill’s shirt after the disabling blow to his head, from which Bill recovered. Tom was not with Bill at that place and time.

Kansas City Police did not find the money nor the robbers. One newspaper report hinted that the robbery was staged, and questioned if the robbery, as described, ever took place. The state funds did not have to be replaced because of a law waiving liability for funds lost to robbers. Since Bill should not have had the school funds with him, however, he was required to replace the money and pay the court costs. The total $3,000 was settled in September, 1873.

The hint of suspicion was compounded when the Daviess County Court demanded that Tom Flint have his bonding increased to $240,000. This indicated a lack of trust in Tom as sheriff. After the 1872 election, Tom’s accounts were found to be over $9,000 short, and Tom was unable to explain the shortage. He sold all that he had, and his bondsman had to pay part of the final settlement totalling $13,500. This was settled in February, 1874.

Col. William F. Flint died in 1892 and his cemetery stone lays unattended in the north Coffey Cemetery.

Prepared by David Stark

Jim Warford, alias Jim Lambert

Daviess County links to legends of America’s Old West are many. During the mining wars between owners and workers in Colorado during the first decade of this century, no gunfighter was more feared than Jim Warford, alias Jim Lambert.

Daviess County links to legends of America’s Old West are many. During the mining wars between owners and workers in Colorado during the first decade of this century, no gunfighter was more feared than Jim Warford, alias Jim Lambert.

Jim Lambert became well known and much feared in Cripple Creek, Colo., from 1903 to 1912. These were times when gunplay and dynamite punctuated showdowns between the Mine Owners Association and the Western Federation of Miners.

After August 1903, Jim lived at Independence Camp near Stratton’s Mine and associated with the mine owners and prominent members of  the Citizens Alliance. He soon became a troubleshooter to aid in the effort to rid the district of unionism. Jim evidenced that he was in the pay of the owners but may secretly have been in support of the miners.

His reputation spread with the shooting of Deputy Constables Miller and Lebo in the streets of Goldfield, Colo. Jim Lambert killed Miller and Lebo in self-defense at the polling place “in an action of true grit.”On that election day, Nov. 9, 1904, in Teller County, Colo., Lambert was reportedly the “quickest and best revolver shot in the state.” He was not yet 40 years old.

A cousin of the desperado, Tom Lambert of Pattonsburg, says both men were shot at the same time, one gunshot each from two guns in the hands of a man wearing a white hat. Both shots took effect at about the same place on both men.Jim Lambert was born in Liberty, Clark County, Iowa about 1865. But beginning at age 3, he spent his childhood on his father’s farm west of old Pattonsburg and Elm Flat Station in Benton Township, Daviess County, Mo.

Daviess County records indicate that Jim tried farming on his own in the summers of 1886-87. He may have gone west in 1888 at age 23. He reportedly worked as a ranch hand and cowboy for the Cattlemen’s Association of Carbon County, Wyo., during the Range Wars. He is thought to have been a warm friend of gunfighter Tom Horn.

Jim was at the Union Miners War at Telluride, Colo., about 1900 and at Cripple Creek in 1902. The election day gunfight in 1904 as described above brought Lambert five years of trouble until his pardon from the Governor of Colorado.On April 17, 1912, Jim Warford’s body was found frozen on Battle Mountain near Victor in Teller County. He was riddled with bullet holes. His Savage 30-30 rifle and someone’s sack of dynamite sticks were found near the body. The Teller County Sheriff said he believed Warford was killed the night of April 11 since Warford’s Colt .45 revolvers were pawned in Colorado Springs the next day by a person using Jim’s name.

Jim Warford’s murder was never solved despite much investigation.James Hanover Warford was buried April 21, 1912, at the Sunnyside Cemetery. Mr. R.E. Maupin, a Pattonsburg banker, paid for the services. Jim’s effects included a signet ring, a belt with buckle reading “Deputy Sheriff of the Black Hills,” and a star showing Jim may have been a deputy sheriff of Elkhorn, Nev. He had also been a deputy sheriff of Teller County with the county seat at Cripple Creek.

Gen. Sherman Bell, who commanded the Colorado Militia during the Mining Wars, said that Warford was the quickest and best revolver shot in Colorado. Warford had easily won state shooting contests, including a challenge from revolver expert Captain Hardy.

Jim was the oldest son of Hanover Pitts Warford and Malinda Lambert Warford. They lived in a three-room log house west of Pattonsburg near Samson Creek until about 1884 when Pitts built them a new frame house which still stands. Jim probably helped with the farming and construction of the house, learning some of Pitts’ woodworking skills.

Jim’s mother was the third child of John and Mary Lambert, who came to a farm west of Pattonsburg the year Jim Warford was born. Both farms were north of the Grand River in Section 21. Pitts Warford purchased 240 acres there in 1875 and had it all paid off by 1880.

Despite his part in frontier times and his violent death, Jim Lambert Warford was described in Colorado records as “a peaceable and quiet non-drinker (who) seldom engages in controversy and makes friends quickly.”

Information provided by Lyle Warford and Tom Lambert supplemented research for this article by David Stark.

Two family stories about Jesse James

Jesse James stories shared by Moses Orr and his wife, Liza, of Hamilton, MO. (taken from “The Orr Family — Then and Now” printed 1978 by Beck Printing in Richmond, MO. Page 80.)

Jesse James stories shared by Moses Orr and his wife, Liza, of Hamilton, MO. (taken from “The Orr Family — Then and Now” printed 1978 by Beck Printing in Richmond, MO. Page 80.)

Jesse James, rideing a very weary horse and being pursued, stopped by their home and bought a horse. After he left, the family was afraid he might return for the money so they hid it in the clock. Days, months, or years later, he returned, again weary but not hotly pursued, and he stayed overnight. This time he was very relaxed and sat around through the evening with children o?n his knee and probably spinning stories.

Another incident credited to Jesse but not absolutely confirmed was an unusal occurrence. o?nce when Jesse had been there, he had wanted to buy a certain horse but Moses refused to sell because it was the girls’ pet. After an unusual plea for the horse, James rode off. o?ne monring sometime later, the family went to the barn and found the pet horse missing. In its place was a mare about to foal. The girls were obviously heartbroken but the family believed they at least had an honest trade. A month passed, the mare had foaled and had a nice healthy colt at her side. o?ne morning the Orrs found the horses had been exchanged again. The girls were happy to have their pet returned in good health and the family never knew who had switched the horses.

These stories are certainly not meant to make a hero of James but merely prove a point that he could not operate in a hostile countryside and the Orrs possibly qualified as "friends."

Should we apologize for Frank & Jesse James?

Gary Chilcote, speaking before the Gallatin Rotary Club in 1996, makes no apologies for Jesse James. Neither does he defend him. Mr. Chilcote simply notes that Missouri is most widely known for two historical realities: the Pony Express and Jesse James. “You folks here in Gallatin have one of the two most important things the world knows about Missouri,” says Chilcote. “Don’t ever be ashamed of the name Jesse James. History is what wise men agree once occurred. And nobody today will ever exactly know what caused Frank and Jesse James to lead the life that they did.”

Gary Chilcote, speaking before the Gallatin Rotary Club in 1996, makes no apologies for Jesse James. Neither does he defend him. Mr. Chilcote simply notes that Missouri is most widely known for two historical realities: the Pony Express and Jesse James. “You folks here in Gallatin have one of the two most important things the world knows about Missouri,” says Chilcote. “Don’t ever be ashamed of the name Jesse James. History is what wise men agree once occurred. And nobody today will ever exactly know what caused Frank and Jesse James to lead the life that they did.”

The notoriety of the outlaw still commands public attention today. Conflicting allegations between families claiming to be descendents of the outlaw prompted the body buried under the Jesse James tombstone at Kearney to be exhumed this past July 19. The event attracted widespread publicity, even television crews from England.

"I knew that the body would be exhumed long before the notion became public," Mr. Chilocote says. "I sat o?n the story for six weeks, something really hard for a retired newspaper reporter like myself since this undoubtedly would command national attention. But when word finally leaked out, it was no surprise to me that interest was so widespread."

An autopsy o?n Jesse James was performed in 1882 after his shooting in St. Joseph. Chilcote believes the outlaw’s brain was probably removed during that official proceeding. Unfortunately, those records have been lost. That allowed speculation to simmer until accusations prompted this most recent effort to positively identify the remains.

Grave diggers took three days to exhume the body. There were surprises. Chilcote said the coffin was made of wood and had collapsed to a height of about six inches. The body apparently was buried face down, but seemed anatomically correct.

"Perhaps Jesse really had turned over in his grave over some of the things said about him over the years," Mr. Chilcote quips. Chilcote expects a determination to be announced Feb. 23, 1996. Studies are being performed by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Nashville, TN. The work involves DNA identification, tracing through the female line of the family. This is the same method which was used to identify remains of military veterans during the Vietnam war.

Mr. Chilcote was personally involved in the reburial ceremonies for Jesse James. He finds it odd to be a pall bearer for a man who died 113 years ago. This was James’ third burial; 20 years after his murder his mother, Zereld Samuel, moved to town and eventually, in 1902, Jesse was buried beside his wife in the cemetery at Kearney.

The number of people who attended the funeral, the continuing controversy it stirs, and the interest in the forensic report yet to come all underscore Chilcote’s point that people?– especially cultural and historical tourists — are interested in anything authentic about the James Gang.

"Gallatin is going in the right direction in renovating your county’s Squirrel Cage Jail," Chilcote says. "You’ve got so much James Gang history in this area to work with, but you need something for visitors to actually visit. Two years ago, for instance, I brought members of the national James-Younger group to visit here. They were excited about it although we could actually do little more than share an enjoyable meal here at McDonald Tea Room.

Mr. Chilcote applauds the idea of reconstructing the Daviess County Savings Association builing robbed by the James brothers in 1869. He suggests that Courter Theater might be put to some use as a backdrop to focus o?n the 1883 Trial of Frank James which occurred in Gallatin, since the trial was actually held in an opera house here.

"You need to get something together to display your James Gang history, even if nothing other than devoting a corner in a store somewhere to local history, legend and lore. A tourist is someone who travels more than 50 miles and spends a few bucks. That’s what tourism is all about, and it’s an economic tool just waiting to be fully used here."

Mr. Chilcote speaks with some authority. He is o?ne of the founders of the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph with over 33 years of volunteer service.

He notes that museums don’t necessarily share in attracting tourism dollars. Admissions into the Patee House during 1995 were down by 7 percent, he said. But admissions into the Jesse James home nearby was up by 11 percent.

"The town of Northfield, MN, hosts an annual event called "The Defeat of Jesse James" to commemorate that historic event," Chilcote says. "It attracts over 200,000 people. Perhaps some of that success is due to

Northfield’s proximity to the Malls of America. But regardless of the scope, it does prove that people continue to be genuinely interested."

Gunfighter Jim Lambert grew up at Pattonsburg, MO

Daviess County links to legends of America’s Old West are many. During the mining wars between owners and workers in Colorado during the first decade of this century, no gunfighter was more feared than Jim Warford, alias Jim Lambert.

Daviess County links to legends of America’s Old West are many. During the mining wars between owners and workers in Colorado during the first decade of this century, no gunfighter was more feared than Jim Warford, alias Jim Lambert.

Jim Lambert became well known and much feared in Cripple Creek, Colo., from 1903 to 1912. These were times when gunplay and dynamite punctuated showdowns between the Mine Owners Association and the Western Federation of Miners.

After August 1903, Jim lived at Independence Camp near Stratton’s Mine and associated with the mine owners and prominent members of the Citizens Alliance. He soon became a troubleshooter to aid in the effort to rid the district of unionism. Jim evidenced that he was in the pay of the owners but may secretly have been in support of the miners.

His reputation spread with the shooting of Deputy Constables Miller and Lebo in the streets of Goldfield, Colo. Jim Lambert killed Miller and Lebo in self-defense at the polling place “in an action of true grit.”

On that election day, Nov. 9, 1904, in Teller County, Colo., Lambert was reportedly the “quickest and best revolver shot in the state.”

He was not yet 40 years old. A cousin of the desperado, Tom Lambert of Pattonsburg, says both men were shot at the same time, one gunshot each from two guns in the hands of a man wearing a white hat. Both shots took effect at about the same place on both men.

Jim Lambert was born in Liberty, Clark County, Iowa about 1865. But beginning at age 3, he spent his childhood on his father’s farm west of old Pattonsburg and Elm Flat Station in Benton Township, Daviess County, Mo.

Daviess County records indicate that Jim tried farming on his own in the summers of 1886-87. He may have gone west in 1888 at age 23.

He reportedly worked as a ranch hand and cowboy for the Cattlemen’s Association of Carbon County, Wyo., during the Range Wars. He is thought to have been a warm friend of gunfighter Tom Horn. Jim was at the Union Miners War at Telluride, Colo., about 1900 and at Cripple Creek in 1902. The election day gunfight in 1904 as described above brought Lambert five years of trouble until his pardon from the Governor of Colorado.

On April 17, 1912, Jim Warford’s body was found frozen on Battle Mountain near Victor in Teller County. He was riddled with bullet holes. His Savage 30-30 rifle and someone’s sack of dynamite sticks were found near the body. The Teller County Sheriff said he believed Warford was killed the night of April 11 since Warford’s Colt .45 revolvers were pawned in Colorado Springs the next day by a person using Jim’s name.

Jim Warford’s murder was never solved despite much investigation. James Hanover Warford was buried April 21, 1912, at the Sunnyside Cemetery. Mr. R.E. Maupin, a Pattonsburg banker, paid for the services. Jim’s effects included a signet ring, a belt with buckle reading “Deputy Sheriff of the Black Hills,” and a star showing Jim may have been a deputy sheriff of Elkhorn, Nev. He had also been a deputy sheriff of Teller County with the county seat at Cripple Creek.

Gen. Sherman Bell, who commanded the Colorado Militia during the Mining Wars, said that Warford was the quickest and best revolver shot in Colorado. Warford had easily won state shooting contests, including a challenge from revolver expert Captain Hardy.

Jim was the oldest son of Hanover Pitts Warford and Malinda Lambert Warford. They lived in a three-room log house west of Pattonsburg near Samson Creek until about 1884 when Pitts built them a new frame house which still stands. Jim probably helped with the farming and construction of the house, learning some of Pitts’ woodworking skills.

Jim’s mother was the third child of John and Mary Lambert, who came to a farm west of Pattonsburg the year Jim Warford was born. Both farms were north of the Grand River in Section 21. Pitts Warford purchased 240 acres there in 1875 and had it all paid off by 1880.

Despite his part in frontier times and his violent death, Jim Lambert Warford was described in Colorado records as “a peaceable and quiet non-drinker (who) seldom engages in controversy and makes friends quickly.”

Note:  Information provided by Lyle Warford and Tom Lambert supplemented research for this article by David Stark, Daviess County Historical Society.