Maj. Samuel P. Cox — A County Legend

The adventures of Major S.P. Cox (1828-1913) read like a history of our nation including the westward movement, the Mexican War, the West’s early Indian wars, the California gold rush, the Civil War, and the exploits the notorious outlaws Frank & Jesse James.

The adventures of Major S.P. Cox (1828-1913) read like a history of our nation including the westward movement, the Mexican War, the West’s early Indian wars, the California gold rush, the Civil War, and the exploits the notorious outlaws Frank & Jesse James.

Samuel Cox of Gallatin, MO

Samuel Cox was born on Dec. 16, 1828, at Williamsburg in Whitley County, KY. He moved to Daviess County, MO, in 1839 with his father, Franklin Cox. The family settled in the southeastern part of the county near the old Ames Saw Mill and Trosper Lake.

Enlisting in the U.S. Army at age 19, Cox was among the Missouri volunteers ordered to help develop the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail and to protect the Santa Fe Trail. In 1848 he helped complete Fort Kearney, located on the south side of the Platte River in what later became Nebraska.

Cox settled in Gallatin, MO, in 1850, married and worked four years in the mercantile business. Then, with oxen and cattle, he moved his family to Oroville, CA, to work as a teamster for gold diggers. The family prospered but yearned to return to Missouri. So, they sold out and went to San Francisco where they were attracted to a steam ship voyage, a route with Baltimore as a destination by way of Nicaragua. The family survived a shipwreck near Key West, FL.

In 1859 Cox drew national newspaper publicity for an extraordinary feat. While delivering Army dispatches, Cox covered over 1200 miles in 30 days by mule! His trek from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Nebraska City, NE, included one leg of 125 miles without a stop to avoid hostile Sioux warriors led by Red Cloud. Cox’s feat compares favorably against horseback rides in relay and he was a lone rider without companions or support, other than two good mules.

Cox was among the first to publicly declare for the Union soon after the start of the Civil War in 1861. He promptly recruited and commanded “Cox’s Battalion.” He fought guerrillas at Kirksville (Adair County), Lee’s Ford (Chariton County), and Union Mills (Platte County).

Daviess County Savings Association, located on the southwest corner of the Gallatin business square

After the war, the infamous James Gang robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association occurred on Dec. 7, 1869. The murder of cashier John Sheets vaulted Frank and Jesse James onto the wanted list for the very first time and marked the beginning of an assault against law and order of international interest. Samuel P. Cox was a central player in the outlaws’ early plot.

Inscription on the ceremonial saber presented to Lt. Col. Samuel P. Cox of St. Joseph reads: “Presented to Lt. Col. Samuel P. Cox, 33 Inf. Missouri militia, from the Citizens of Gallatin, Mo., Dec. 25, 1864”
Daviess County Historical Society acquired a ceremonial saber and pistol in May, 1992. The saber was given in gratitude for his wartime services. The pistol is a Remington .44 six-shot U.S. Army revolver, authentic and thought to be used by Cox although not of a quality to interest gun collectors. The Remington is from an estimated quantity of 132,000 issued between 1803 and 1875, and was considered the stiffest competitor to Colt’s Model 1860 Army revolver. A leather holster complete with brass Army buckle was also acquired. (Cox obituary, published August, 1913, in the Gallatin Democrat)

Union Major Samuel P. Cox gained widespread fame when he was credited with the killing of William “Bloody Bill” Anderson on Oct. 27, 1864, near Richmond, MO. The City of St. Joseph presented Cox with a ceremonial sword for killing the notorious guerrilla chief (accused of killing 54 Union men). Few knew Major Cox was actually protecting a bugler under his command, Adolph Vogel, who in all probability pulled the trigger that sent Bloody Bill to his death. Vogel was a young family man, mindful of revenge sworn by Jesse James and other guerrillas against whomever killed their leader. So, as commanding officer, Major Cox assumed that personal risk for years after the Civil War …a risk that became bloody reality when the James brothers later robbed the savings association in Gallatin.

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

Jesse James swore he would avenge the death of Wm. “Bloody Bill” Anderson whenever he next saw Samuel P. Cox. Thus, during the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association, John W. Sheets was an unfortunate victim of circumstance when Jesse James mistook him for Samuel Cox. A horse used during the robbery and murder linked Jesse James to the crime. The Governor of Missouri soon offered a bounty for the capture of the outlaw. This was the first time Jesse James was publicly wanted by the law, the start of a 12-year crime spree.

Ironically, a James Gang member, Clelland Miller, was a friend to Cox and actually saved the Major’s life during the Civil War.

The case can be made for Samuel Cox to top our list of military leaders from Daviess County. His escapades and achievements need no embellishment.

In 1862 Major Cox served the county as recorder and circuit clerk. In 1874 he was collector for Union Township.

If Cox wasn’t particularly interested in business, he certainly knew how to pick business partners. Local records show a mercantile business at the southeast corner of the Gallatin square called Ballinger, Cox & Kemper. It operated a little more than a year, long enough for the birth of William T. Kemper. The Kemper family fortune became one of Kansas City’s largest. The family controls one of Missouri’s largest financial institutions, United Missouri Bank of Kansas City, and the Kemper name is lavished on Kansas City’s civic arena. By the way, the real estate for the business in Gallatin was purchased by the three partners for $1,500. Evidently, business was good. Partner John Ballinger later purchased Kemper’s interest for $1,250.

Samuel P. Cox died on Aug. 21, 1913, a man who lived history in legendary fashion. He is buried at Brown Cemetery, on the north side of Gallatin.

— written by Darryl Wilkinson, Gallatin North Missourian editor & publisher

Adolph Vogel — The slayer of Bloody Bill Anderson

Adolph Vogel, Civil war veteran to whom the death of “Bill” Anderson, noted guerilla, is attributed by those most familiar with the circumstances, died of heart disease Monday of last week at his home north of Jameson. He was a brother-in-law of James Nelson of Bethany, and was 85 years old.

Adolph Vogel, Civil war veteran to whom the death of Wm “Bloody Bill” Anderson, noted guerrilla, is attributed by those most familiar with the circumstances, died of heart disease Monday of last week at his home north of Jameson, MO. He was a brother-in-law of James Nelson of Bethany, and was 85 years old.

Mr. Vogel had been in poor health for some time, but had been able to up and about the house. He was out in the yard at his home when stricken, and was found a few minutes before he died.

A little more than three years ago it came to public light that the Daviess County man probably was the one who shot as a soldier among Missouri troops during the Civil war was the one which brought the death of Anderson, the guerrilla, and the perpetrator of the Centralia Massacre. Until that time, the fact was known only to members of his family and a few others.

Then, and presumably now, papers taken from the body of the guerrilla when he was killed reposed in Mr. Vogel’s safety deposit box at a Coffey bank,, and the flashy hat which Anderson wore when he was killed was given only a few year ago by Mr. Vogel to a sister, who also lives In Daviess County.

Although Samuel Cox was widely acclaimed for the slaying of Bushwacker “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the bullet that actually killed the Confederate guerrilla probably came from the gun of Adolph Vogel.

It is possible that the fact Mr. Vogel fired the shot that killed Anderson was kept quiet for fear of revenge on the part of Anderson’s friends, among whom were the James boys and the Youngers. Publicly, the killing was attributed to Major Cox of Gallatin, and Captain Sheets of that town was slain presumably by members of the James gang in mistaken identity for Major Cox; the story goes, Vogel was a member Major Cox’s command. Missouri guerrillas held an intense hatred for Germans who fought in the Union army, anyhow, in the belief that the Civil war was not in any sense their fight.

In the late summer of 1924, however, it came to public notice that it was Mr. Vogel who, in all probability, fired the shot that brought Bill Anderson’s end. It came about through the claim of a man at Brownwood, Texas, that he was Bill Anderson; that he had escaped the warring scenes of Missouri of that day, gone to Texas and lived quietly while the public believed him to be dead. His claim was proved false not only by Vogel’s discourses, but also by the fact that the real Bill Anderson would have been much older than the Texas man.

The claim of the Texas man was refuted after Mr. Vogel had told his story to the editor of the Republican, and it was sent out to many newspapers up and down the Mississippi valley and printed by them. Until that time the Texan was getting lots of publicity.

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.

Mr. Vogel would not say he was the man who actually killed Anderson in battle, but made this statement: “It is likely that I was the man who killed him, but you can’t be about such things when they happen in a fight of that kind.”

His story of the affair is as follows:

“It happened south of Richmond, Mo., in some heavily timbered bottom land. I was in the Missouri militia, and we were hunting a force of men who were said to be commanded by Anderson. I was under Major Cox of Gallatin.

“We found out that the other fel1ows were near, and we got off our horses and left them behind our lines. You know the guerrillas had always had always attacked the militia when they were on horses and because the horses were not used to gunfire they would stampede, and their riders would be routed. I suspect that is what would have happened to us if we had not known the fight was about to happen. There were not more than a few hundred men on a side.

“The fight didn’t last very long. As I was a bugler, I was the only other man in our battalion, besides Major Cox, who was horseback. We were attacked, but, kept our ground, and in a little bit the other fe1lows were running, routed.

“I saw the body of a man in front at me who looked like he was an officer. He was dressed well, and in his big wide brimmed hat there was a long feather.

“I told Major Cox about him, an he ordered me to take everything off him. We took his pistols, his hat and papers he had on him that told who he was. The hat was just what I wanted and I took it.”

That it actually was Anderson who was killed at that time is shown by the word of a man who now lives at Bethany, but whose family lived near the scene of the fight. They knew the guerrilla by sight, saw him the evening before he was killed, and knew how he was dressed.

Mr. Vogel was born in Germany, but I came to the United States when three years old. He is survived by widow, and 1 daughter — Bethany Republican.

— Taken from the Gallatin Democrat, 1927; researched by Ron McNeely

A Glimpse at James H.B. McFerran

A letter to the editor submitted to a Colorado Springs, Colorado, newspaper offers a glimpse at the personality of James H.B. McFerran, once a leading citizen of Gallatin, MO, active in Democrat politics and organizer of a Union militia unit which fought in the Civil War.

A letter to the editor submitted to a Colorado Springs, Colorado, newspaper offers a glimpse at the personality of James H.B. McFerran, once a leading citizen of Gallatin, MO, active in Democrat politics and organizer of a Union militia unit which fought in the Civil War.

James H.B. McFerran

To the Editor of The Gazette:

September 21,1891, a human light went out in Colorado Springs. It was the passing of Judge J.H.B. McFerran. Though only 20 years in the world life since today, his name is seldom mentioned. And yet Colorado Springs has had few men, in good circumstances who as quietly and without show came to the relief of so many in the hour of need. During the despair years following the panic of 1873, I doubt if there were any half dozen others in their combined strength who did so much to help the needy to tide over their periods of distress, as Judge McFerran. For many weeks at a time he provided coal and food and shelter. He often loaned small sums when he never expected a return. But for his good offices many in our state, now too proud to acknowledge their former condition of beggary, would most likely today be toiling under unfavorable circumstances for their daily bread.

It was my privilege in the early dark days frequently to be called upon for relief. When I was not able to give that relief myself there were a few to whom, without humbling myself, I could go. Among them were D. Russ Wood, Dr. Culver, F.L. Martin, Dr. Kimball, Judge McFerran, and three or four others. As Judge McFerran could better afford to give than the others, my appeals were generally made to him, or perhaps I ought to say my statement of the case was generally made to him, and that was all the appeal that was necessary.

During a cold spell, in the winter of 1875-6, I think, my attention was called to a poor woman, with three or four little children, living in the south part of our village, who had had no fire in her house for a week. This was confirmed by a neighbor who said that he was practically out of coal himself. Meeting one of the bankers a little later, I asked him to provide two or three tons of coal, for the family. His reply was: “my house is not an eleemosynary institution.” He thereupon undertook to give me a lecture on poverty as a result of waste and idleness. Considering the lecture out of place and untimely I said: “I am here to get money, or something, to keep a poor woman and her children from freezing to death tonight and I have no time to hear a lecture.” With a kind of a Spanish body-twist he said: “So!” and handed me a dollar. At once I hastened to Judge McFerran’s and made the statement I had made to the banker. Without hesitating a moment he replied: “It is too late to order coal from Lennox’s. I will do that tomorrow. My man can take her down some from our bin, at once, a hundred pounds of coal.”

Judge McFerran, however, was not only a sympathetic helper in the hour of real distress, but one of the most far-seeing, at that time, in the direction of the highest interest of Colorado Springs. In 1874, he consulted with K.P.R.R. officials as to the propriety of extending their road from Hugo to Colorado Springs, and he received their assurance that they would do so provided El Paso county would give a bonus in bonds of $200,000. Through jealousy and Republican leadership stupidity the bonds were voted down and there and then Colorado Springs lost her chance of being the great city of Colorado. In 1880, a vice president of the K.P., while speaking of the mineral resources of southern Colorado and the astonishing richness of Leadville, said: “If in 1875-6 we had extended our road to Colorado Springs, 1879 would have found us in Leadville and your citizens who first had control of Leadville would not have been driven to Denver for better railway facilities. Denver is not the natural outlet for Leadville.”

What the gentleman said about the relation of Denver to Leadville was true of the relation of Denver to all southern Colorado. For years the greater part of gold and silver ores reduced in the great smelters, later established near Denver, was carried through our city and over the Divide at extra cost, as well as a large part of the fluxing ores, all the coke not brought from east of the Mississippi River, and all their good coal.

Judge McFerran was also in favor of the city owning South Cheyenne canon, when it was offered for $6,000, and of securing at the same figures the Seven Lakes’ water rights.

We have not one unpleasant thought against Denver. She saw her opportunity and used it; we are proud of her today. We, however, cannot help being more or less ashamed that we allowed contemptible politics and the littleness of our natives to destroy the efforts of the men of experience and foresight.

— James Hutchinson Kerr, October 1, 1911

 

— This letter forwarded from Tom LeCompte of Cambridge, Mass. (July, 2005)

Col. James H.B. McFerran — Union Leader of Daviess County

The man who organized and led Union soldiers from Daviess County in the Battle of Westport was also the county’s prosecuting attorney and a circuit court judge. James H.B. McFerran helped initiate the Daviess County Savings Association, and served as its president when this banking institution was later robbed by Frank & Jesse James in 1869. McFerran eventually left for Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he died.

The man who organized and led Union soldiers from Daviess County in the Battle of Westport was also the county’s prosecuting attorney and a circuit court judge. James H.B. McFerran helped initiate the Daviess County Savings Association, and served as its president when this banking institution was later robbed by Frank & Jesse James in 1869. McFerran eventually left for Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he died.

James H.B. McFerran

James H.B. McFerran was born in Washington County. Maryland, September 17, 1819. At the age of six years his father died, and he remained with his mother until his 17th year, attending school part of the time.

On reaching the above age he engaged in the stone cutting business under a contractor by the name of Andrew Small, receiving seventy-five cents per day for the first year. Owing to an aptitude for the work, the second year he was given the position of superintendent, at a salary of one dollar and eighty-seven and one-half cents per day, and continued as superintendent until he was 20 years of age. At that time he went into business for himself, taking a contract first on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and then on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and continued some six years, at the close of his last work going back to his mother’s in 1845. He then decided to study law, and living with his mother he attended school and studied law under the instruction of the Hon. Samuel A. Lowe of Hagerstown, Maryland, afterwards the governor of the State. He remained there until 1848, when he became a citizen of Gallatin, and Daviess County.

Having been admitted to the bar he practiced his profession, and in June, 1855, was appointed prosecuting attorney of Daviess County, at a salary of $100 a year, payable in quarterly installments. Mr. McFerran held many offices of trust, and was for a number of years county commissioner, and, also, superintendent of public buildings.

In 1856 he was elected to the legislature, serving one term, when, in 1858, he was elected to the State Senate. In this latter position he attended but one session, when he resigned, having been elected judge for the judicial circuit composed of the counties of Worth, DeKalb, Harrison, Daviess and Livingston, in the year 1859, which he held for a full term of six years, acquitting himself with honor, and the good will of the bar for the prompt manner he conducted the business of the court, and the justness of his decisions. Mr. McFerran’s competitor for the judgeship was William Y. Slack, a prominent attorney of Livingston County, and for a long time circuit attorney of this judicial district. Col. Slack became, in the Civil War between the States which soon commenced, a volunteer on the Confederate side, and rose to the rank of Brigadier-General for gallant service. He was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge. In the election to the several offices above named, Mr. McFerran was elected as a Democrat.

In April, 1862, Mr. McFerran organized the First Cavalry Regiment of Missouri State Militia, and received his commission as colonel April 9, 1862. Alexander M. Woolfork of Livingston County, being lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. The company continued in the service under the command of Colonel McFerran until the close of the war, and was honorably discharged. Colonel McFerran then returned to Gallatin, and took up his residence. Previous to the war, he was engaged for a few years in the mercantile business, his partner being Jonathan E. Mann, the style of the firm being Mann & McFerran.

Soon after his return from the war, in 1865, Colonel McFerran went into the banking business, organizing the Daviess County Saving Association, yet a prominent banking institution, and of which he remained president until 1879. In 1867, however, Colonel McFerran removed to Chillicothe, in Livingston County, Missouri, where he was instrumental in organizing the People’s Saving Bank, of that city; and was elected president, which position he held until he retired in 1873. During all these years he was in the active practice of the law.

In 1873, Colonel McFerran concluded to make his home at Colorado Springs, Colorado, and removed to that place the same year. He is still a resident of that city and engaged in the banking business, having established the well-known People’s Bank, of that flourishing city. He visits often his old home, Gallatin, where he is greeted by his numerous friends most cordially. Colonel. McFerran is of fine personal appearance, being over six feet in height and of large frame. He is in the sixty-third year of his age and in good health. In 1854 he married Miss Emily Lewis, of Gallatin, by whom he has three children, daughters: Blanche, wife of George W. Trimble, of Denver, Colorado; Estelle, wife of Absalom Y. Hunter* of Leadville, Colorado: and Maud who is living with her parents. Colonel McFerran is at this time a member of El Paso Lodge No. __,, A. F. & A. M., of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

 

—  from The 1882 HISTORY OF DAVIESS COUNTY, pp. 550-551.
(other references on pages 214, 272, 275, 311, 494, 486, 488, 528, 556, 566)