Who Was Henry Clay McDougal?

Henry Clay McDougal was born in Marion County, VA, on Dec. 9, 1844. He enlisted in the 6th Infantry Volunteers a Union regiment, and served through the Civil War. At its close, he came to Missouri and located at Bancroft (Lincoln Township in Daviess County, MO) near Gilman City where his father had settled a short time before. He moved to Gallatin where he read law in the office of Judge Dodge. For a time he took his residence in the brick residence located at East Berry and North Maple streets on today’s map.

Henry Clay McDougal, Attorney

McDougal was appointed city clerk in 1868-69, the first to fill that office after the reviving of city government following its lapse during the Civil War. He was mayor of Gallatin in 1870-71 and also served on the school board. He served two terms as probate judge of Daviess County while at Gallatin. McDougal was admitted in the bar in 1868 and soon became a member of Shanklin Low & McDougal (Low was M.A. Low who was later to become the guiding spirit of the Rock Island Railroad).

During his 15 years of residence here, McDougal was directly involved in the exploits and prosecutions against outlaws Frank and Jesse James. He was a personal friend of Capt. John Sheets, the cashier slain during the 1869 robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association. McDougal subsequently represented Daniel Smoote, whose stolen horse implicated the James brothers in the murder and robbery, prompting the first bounty for their arrest.

Samuel P. Cox (credited with killing William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the guerrilla leader of the James-Younger crew in 1864) was in McDougal’s office the morning McDougal received a telegram reporting the kill of Jesse James in St. Joseph. According to his account in his book “Recollections,” McDougal explains that Jesse James had vowed death to both Cox and McDougal — Cox for killing Anderson and McDougal for attaching Jesse’s prized mare to the1869 robbery and murder in Gallatin. Both men were relieved to learn of Jesse’s death. McDougal recounts Jesse James’s attempts on his life in several instances, usually while aboard a train.

In August and September, 1883, McDougal was special counsel in the background for the prosecution of Frank James in Gallatin. “Suppressed excitement was intense,” writes McDougal in his memoirs, “the evidence such as would have convicted any other man.”

In 1884 McDougal moved to Kansas City and became a partner of Gov. T.T. Crittenden. He authored the history of Kansas City in the city charter. He conducted the city’s case in the acquisition of the National Water Works plant a judicial victory which he counted his best achievement.

McDougal’s acquaintances with men who made American history in the period between the Civil War and 1900 comprise an astonishing list, including Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley plus hundreds of other historical name of significance including Jefferson Davis. He was a personal friend of Gallatin native and Missouri Governor A.M. Dockery.

Henry Clay McDougal died in Los Angeles in December, 1915. Among survivors at the time was a daughter, Mrs. Florence Roosevelt. McDougal was the maternal grandfather of the late Helen Roosevelt, whose estate now lists Daviess County and the operation of the 1889 Squirrel Cage Jail a beneficiary.

— by Darryl Wilkinson for the Gallatin North Missourian

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

 

McDougal Connection Leads to Endowment for Jail

[The following was written by editor and publisher Darryl Wilkinson for publication in the Gallatin North Missourian announcing an endowment to finance operation of the antique rotary jail in Gallatin, MO, as a visitors’ center.]

Though restoration of the 1889 Squirrel Cage Jail in Gallatin is from from complete, financing to operate the unique facility as a visitors’ center and community museum is now assured.

Daviess County has been named as a $125,000 beneficiary in the settlement of the estate of Helen Roosevelt. The Daviess County Historical Society will act as the trustee of the new endowment fund. Interest revenue from the endowment fund is designated for use at the jail as a memorial to Henry Clay McDougal, maternal grandfather of the late Mrs. Roosevelt.

The surprise announcement was made Saturday evening during Chautauqua activities. The legal transaction is expected to be completed soon, climaxing effort made during the past 13 months.

“We are extremely pleased to be among the beneficiaries of the Helen Roosevelt estate,” Daviess County Historical Society president Dan Lockridge says. “Only interest revenue from the endowment can be expended, but this will provide perpetual funding for operating the jail after restoration is completed.”

Connecticut connection

The trust funds derive from the sale of a 6-acre estate located in Connecticut. Although Helen Roosevelt’s father was a cousin of President Teddy Roosevelt, her will directed that proceeds of her estate be given to not-for-profit entities in ways honoring her mother’s side of the family.

Other beneficiaries of the estate include the Missouri Bar Association, the historical Morose House in Michigan, and a medical foundation.

Daviess County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Arnold provided legal assistance in setting up the trust fund for use here. The Davies County Commission and the board of directors of the Daviess County Historical Society have endorsed the proposal.

Terms of the trust fund mandate an annual report to be publicly available at the county clerk’s office with annual review by the Circuit Court. Should the Historical Society discontinue, the county becomes trustee of the endowment. Should the jail facility be destroyed or discontinued, the Historical Society will have access to both the interest and principal of the endowment for activities furthering the purposes set down in the endowment agreement.

The $125,000 gift is the largest ever received by the Historical Society, probably among the largest ever received by any not-for-profit group in the county. The 1889 Squirrel Cage Jail attracted the interest of estate executor Renee Tackett Grant since it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Restoration continues

The new trust fund come at a time when work to install a newly fabricated static display of the circular jail cells nears completion. Inmates at Western Missouri Correctional Center are now assembling the last panels in vocational classes at the prison in Cameron. Reassembly of the rebuilt rotary jail in Gallatin could occur within the next month.

Gallatin Rotary Club is presently selling engraved bricks for construction of an exterior sidewalk with proceeds to benefit the jail project. Brick sales will pay for painting the squirrel cage once it arrives in Gallatin and interior lighting. Brick sales currently total half of the announced goal of 75 engraved brick.

“It’s going to take continued fundraisers like that done by the Gallatin Rotary Club and plenty of volunteer work to restore the jail and residence,” Lockridge says. “The endowment will not finance restoration expenses, but it will provide an annual operating budget once the jail project is complete.”

To date approximately $28,000 has been spent on the jail, mostly for rebricking the jail’s exterior layer of brick. The jail account is nearly depleted. Reconstruction of the squirrel cage is a community service provided by WMCC and prison inmates, the only expense being for materials.

After installation of the refabricate jail cells this fall, restoration work will be renewed next spring focusing on the interior sheriff’s residence.

A target date for grand opening festivities has yet to be announced. When that occurs, Renee Tackett Grant will be among those invited.

McDougal: Showdown with Jesse James

The following was written in 2007 by Jim Muehlberger, a Kansas City trial lawyer and former prosecutor, for publication in  the February 2010 issue of Wild West magazine (pp. 50-53). Muehlberger found the long-lost lawsuit filed by H.C. McDougal against the James boys in the back of a dusty file cabinet at the Daviess County (MO) court clerk’s office. He also recommends Henry Clay McDougal’s Recollections: 1844-1909.

Showdown with Jesse James

Frontier lawyer Henry Clay McDougal took on the fearsome outlaw in court — and never backed down

by Jim Muehlberger

Among the most dangerous and feared bad men on the Western frontier, Jesse James frightened folks even in states where he had never set foot. Yes, some people most notably the citizens of Northfield, MN, fought back when Jesse and his famous James-Younger Gang associates started to wave their revolvers around. But it usually wasn’t a very good idea to go face to face with Jesse. While robbing banks and trains, he survived at least nine gunfights and probably killed or helped kill as many as 10 people. He was rumored to have killed an equivalent number during his Civil War bushwhacking days.

Although James was never a gunslinger in the mode of say, Wild Bill Hickock, an it has been more than 125 years since his assassination, his name still strikes a chord with folks. The idea of standing exposed on a dusty main street in a showdown with Jesse sounds about as inviting as shaking hands with Bloody Bill Anderson or turning your back on Robert Ford. Who but someone plumb loco would go one-on-one with Jesse in a six-gun exchange? Even Pinkerton detectives weren’t that crazy. But one brave Missouri lawyer sought satisfaction in a more civilized way — he sued Jesse and won. Even more surprising, he lived to tell about it. Barely.

The lawsuit, actually filed against Jesse and older brother Frank, arose from a Dec. 7, 1869, robbery in Gallatin, MO, during which one of the outlaws, most likely Jesse, shot down John Sheets, cashier at the Daviess County Savings Association. As Jesse and another gunman, thought to be Frank, dashed from the bank, Gallatin’s citizens fired on them. Jesse’s horse spooked and bucked as he leaped into the stirrups. He was thrown from the saddle, but his boot remained caught in the stirrup, and the frightened horse began dragging him down the rutted street. Displaying the horsemanship and coolness under fire that would make him a legend, Jesse whipped out a knife, cut the leather stirrup and freed himself. His horse bolted, so he leaped onto the back of his accomplice’s horse.

About a miles outside Gallatin, as the tandem riders were fleeing the posse, they encountered Daniel Smoote, a well-to-do farmer. The outlaws forced Smoote (sometimes recorded as Smoot) at gunpoint to hand over the saddle horse he was riding. The gunmen then galloped off, leaving Smoote standing in the road. The magnificent racehorse left behind in Gallatin was by mid-December identified as the property of “Jesse W. James, living in Clay County.” James family affidavits filed after the crime referred to Jesse’s mare as “Kate” and claimed Jesse had sold the horse the day before the robbery. Kate, one of the finest and fastest horses in Missouri, had been entered in the St. Louis Fair and won several races.

Kate was the first tangible evidence that led to criminal charges against James. In May 1870 a Daviess County grand jury issued a murder indictment against him, and authorities posted a $3,000 reward for his capture or death. With the murder of cashier Sheets at Gallatin, 22-year-old Jesse James had announced his outlaw presence to Missouri and the nation. He would remain a wanted man the rest of his life.

~~~

Horse theft was nothing new for Jesse, but farmer Smoote’s reaction was. The latter hired a young and ambitious Gallatin lawyer named Henry Clay McDougal, who had only been practicing law for a year, to sue Jesse and Frank James in January, 1870, for the real value of the horse Jesse had stolen. McDougal also sued for possession of the thoroughbred racehorse Jesse left behind. McDougal, recently married, was a Union Army veteran from Virginia who had moved to Gallatin with his family only three years earlier. He was also a friend of the murdered cashier.

Henry Clay McDougal, Attorney

In Gallatin, McDougal had already proved his courage in connection with another notorious outlaw. After the Civil War, much of the nation suffered a period of unemployment and lawlessness spawning a number of notorious outlaw gangs. The Reno Gang from Indiana began to terrorize the Midwest during this time. About a year after McDougal arrived in Gallatin, on November 17, 1867, outlaws broke open the safe in the Gallatin treasurer’s office and stole $23,618 in cash and bonds. John Reno was identified as one of the robbers. Daviess County Sheriff John Ballinger tracked Reno to a hotel in Indianapolis, where he found the outlaw gambling and enjoying the company of a paid “companion.” Ballinger and Pinkerton detectives captured Reno without a shot.

Ballinger brought Reno back to Gallatin and locked him in the stone-walled county jail. Worried that Reno’s remaining gang members would attempt to break Reno out of jail, or that the infuriated citizens of Gallatin would mob the jail and lynch Reno, Ballinger asked 23-year-old Henry McDougal and five other volunteers to stay in the jail and help watch the prisoners. And so McDougal spent Christmas Day 1867 in jail, guarding a dangerous outlaw.

Two years later, after the latest robbery attempt in Gallatin, McDougal soon discovered he was not Smoote’s first choice for counsel — every one of the other eight lawyers in town had turned down the farmer’s request for legal representation. Young, inexperienced McDougal was the only attorney in the town brave — or foolish — enough to take the case, as to prove the case would effectively hang John Sheets’ murder on Jesse James. This was in an age in which it was said, “To raise your voice or hand against the Jameses’ nefarious operations would cost you your life.”

In fact, soon after McDougal filed the lawsuit, attorney Samuel Harwicke of Liberty, MO, and another man took McDougal around the corner of the old Gallatin courthouse and told him Jesse James had sworn to kill him on sight for seeking possession of the outlaw’s famous racing mare. “As Jesse knew me and I did not know him,” McDougal later wrote, “there was nothing left for me but to take my medicine in absolute silence, and I did.” But Jesse had picked the wrong lawyer to threaten. The threats only prompted McDougal to work with the Pinkerton detectives to track down Jesse. McDougal’s law partner, Marcus A. Low, would meet with Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden 12 years later to offer $10,000 in railroad money for Jesse’s capture, which ultimately led to the outlaw’s murder.

McDougal’s suit against Jesse James didn’t hurt the young lawyer’s popularity in Gallatin. In fact, it made him something of a celebrity. On the first Tuesday in April 1870, McDougal was elected mayor of the town without opposition, a position he would hold for two terms before declining a third. Colonel James McFerran, founder of Gallatin’s Daviess County Savings Association, became his first law partner. And in 1872 McDougal was elected the youngest probate judge in county history. He would thereafter be known as “Judge McDougal.”

~~~

Jesse James lawyered up, and the legal fight was on. Frank and Jesse hired Samuel Arbuckle Richardson, the most experienced and successful lawyer in the county, to represent them. Richardson’s knowledge of the law made him one of the most formidable antagonists at the bar to be found anywhere. Men loved or feared him. Richardson’s first move was to ask the judge to squash the service of the complaint, which Clay County Deputy Sheriff John S. Thomason had left at the James family cabin outside Kearney, MO. Richardson argued that Thomason had not established whether a James family member received the lawsuit. The judge granted Richardson’s requested relief, giving the brothers a reprieve. Unless McDougal could somehow serve the complaint on the James boys, the lawsuit was dead in the water.

Meanwhile, in the media storm surrounding Sheets’ murder, Jesse had come to the attention of John Newman Edwards, former Confederal major and founder of The Kansas City Times, who was railing against injustices (perceived and real) being inflicted on former Confederates and encouraging them to jump back into politics. The fiery ad flamboyant Edwards had read about the Gallatin robbery and the notion that Jesse had killed the cashier because he believed the man to be Major Samuel P. Cox, a former Union officer. Cox, who was a resident of Gallatin, had ambushed and killed Bloody Bill Anderson, Jesse’s ruthless Civil War guerrilla leader, in October 1864.

Edwards was fascinated that Jesse had apparently committed murder in the name of the Confederate cause. The publisher arranged a meeting with the outlaw, after which he decided Jesse was a horse he could ride for a distance to further the postwar Southern cause. In June, 1870, Edwards assisted the outlaw in writing the first of Jesse’s many letters to the newspapers. In the letter, Jesse professed his innocence, claimed he was being persecuted for being a former Confederate fighter and offered to turn himself in, if only he would be guaranteed a fair trial. This appeal to the sympathies of former Confederates by waving the Stars and Bars of the Old South was a risky approach — but it worked.

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

Henry McDougal decided to fight fire with fire. As Jesse sought to try the case in the press, McDougal conceived of a novel (at that time) idea to serve Jesse with a complaint: He obtained an order from the Gallatin court that allowed McDougal to inform Jesse of the lawsuit by publishing it in the Gallatin newspaper. So served, the lawsuit was allowed to proceed, and Jesse’s lawyer was ultimately forced to file an answer to Smoote’s accusations. Jesse denied he was in Gallatin on December 7, 1969, and hence denied he had stolen Smoote’s horse.

After two years of legal gunslinging, Jesse found himself outmatched by McDougal’s legal skills and was unable to fight his way out of the lawsuit. When Jesse and Frank refused to appear for trial, the judge ruled in Smoote’s favor on October 20, 1871, awarding him with Jesse James’s prized racehorse. Kate remained an object of considerable interest to visitors over the years, and Smoote raised several fine colts from her. Jesse elected not to appeal but, true to his outlaw nature, twice tried to murder McDougal, narrowly missing each time.

~~~

On April 3, 1882, McDougal was in his office with Major Cox when he received a telegraph from law partner Marcus Low: James Gang member Robert Ford had killed Jesse at his home in St. Joseph, MO. In silence McDougal read the wire and then passed to Cox. After Cox finished reading it, McDougal said, “Major, you don’t know what a load that message takes from my mind.” With the fire of war again blazing in his eyes, Cox astonished McDougal by telling him “By Gad, sir, I do know, and I am perhaps the only living man that has known all about this matter for years.” Cox then told McDougal that back in Kentucky he had known the father of Clell Miller, and that in the battle in which he had killed Bill Anderson in Ray County, MO, in 1864, Cox had recognized Clell, only 14 at the time, who was in Anderson’s command and was severely wounded. Cox had driven away one of his men, who was in the act of finishing the boy.

Miller later told Cox that Jesse had ridden to Gallatin in early 1871 with gang members Miller and Dick Liddell to kill McDougal and Cox — McDougal for filing the lawsuit and taking Jesse’s mare, and Cox for killing Bloody Bill Anderson. When Jesse had told Miller the reason for their ride to Gallatin, Miller replied: “Major Cox is my father’s old friend. He saved my life once, and as long as I live, no man shall harm a hair on his head; but I don’t know or care a damn about the other fellow.”

One evening as McDougal and his wife took a stroll, arm in arm, Jesse, Miller an Liddell had waited in ambush behind a hedge. According to Cox, “Her presence alone prevented Jesse from making good his threat in 1871.” It is unknown whether Southern chivalry — or the desire to avoid leaving a witness — prevented Jesse from taking the shot.

In 1883 Governor Crittenden appointed McDougal as a prosecutor in Frank James’ murder trial, billed as the “Trial of the Century.” McDougal also assisted former Sheriff Ballinger in guarding and protecting Liddell, now turned state’s witness, who received almost daily death threats. Liddell told McDougal that in 1882, on Jesse’s last visit to his boyhood home in Kearney, just before he moved to St. Joseph, the outlaw had tried again to kill McDougal.

Liddell said he was with Jesse when he took a shot at McDougal as the lawyer sat in the smoking car of a Rock Island train shortly after leaving the Kearney depot, near the St. Joseph public road crossing. McDougal had been returning to Gallatin from Kansas City. Jesse’s minie ball shattered a window to McDougal’s right, showering glass on the lawyer’s face. McDougal recalled the incident. At the time he told his wife, who was traveling in an adjacent car, that a reckless boy had thrown a stick at the window, in order not to alarm her. While he always suspected the truth, McDougal had never been sure who had fired that shot until Liddell pointed the finger at Jesse.

~~~

At the August 1883 Frank James trial in Gallatin, McDougal and the other attorneys chose not to prosecute Frank for Sheets’ murder, as the case against him was weak, and anyway, the late Jesse James had most likely killed the cashier. Instead, Frank was charged with killing a man during the gang’s Winston, MO, train robbery. But the jury acquitted him on September 8. After the trial, McDougal moved to Kansas City. In 1885 he entered into a law partnership with former Governor Crittenden, who had pardoned Bob and Charlie Ford after Jesse’s assassination. Crittenden described McDougal as a “first class lawyer, learned in the black-letter wisdom of the books an as pleasant a social companion as ever a man had or could wish to have.”

In 1895 McDougal became Kansas City’s first counselor, and he successfully represented the city before the U.S. Supreme Court over the acquisition of its water supply and plant, which paved the way for the city’s growth. McDougal died at age 71 on December 17, 1915.

Gallatin in many ways represented both the origin and the terminus of the James boys’ outlaw days. As a result of the 1869 murder of cashier John Sheets, Jesse became a wanted man — for the first time and for the remainder of  his life. Gallatin was also the site of Frank James’ 1883 murder trial, in which he was acquitted. The same lawyer, Henry McDougal, prosecuted both the 1870 civil case over the stolen horse and Frank’s 1883 murder trial.

Although authorities were never able to bring Jesse James to justice, second-year lawyer Henry McDougal was able to recompense one of the outlaw’s many victims. McDougal witnessed a remarkable era in the history of Missouri and America, an era in which the gavel eventually won out over the gun. His life story proved more fascinating than any legend. And in many ways, McDougal is the real hero of the story, for surviving his showdown with Jesse James, even though “the Judge” didn’t fire a single bullet before riding off into the sunset.

~~~

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

 

 

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 — were 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 in the Daviess County courthouse. The find exhilarated historians and others interested in authentic details about the notorious outlaws.

The plaintiff, Daniel Smoote, filed charges against Frank and Jesse James in the Common Pleas Court of Daviess County. Smoote 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 at Gallatin, MO.

The murder of Capt. John Sheets during that robbery attempt — apparently when Jesse James mistook Sheets for Samuel Cox over a Civil War grudge — is well known to 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 legal paperwork over 100 years later, the unique reality of Smoote’s lawsuit filed against the James brothers may revive widespread attention.

The response by the James boys to Smoote’s accusations foreshadows what was to fuel the James Boys’ 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 Smoote. What’s more, the outlaws argued their case publicly by writing a letter published in a Kansas City newspaper, a tactic repeatedly used by the James brothers 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. No one dared chance the wrath of the James boys by filing courthouse claims against the outlaws — nobody except Daniel Smoote. 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 was researching information about McDougal to display at the law firm where Muehlberger is employed. McDougal was a founding partner in what grew to be Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLC, the largest law firm in Kansas City with additional offices located throughout the United States.

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

Mr. Meuhlberger immediately recognized the significance of the legal papers and the papers were soon wisked away to a local bank vault for safekeeping for the Daviess County Historical Society.

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 says 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 rediscovered, they will be properly preserved. The Secretary of State’s office has been notified, and archival specialists will soon be involved in that effort. An informational display spotlighting this civil lawsuit against outlaws Frank and Jesse James is now featured at the Squirrel Cage Jail in Gallatin.

Daniel Smoote’s accusation against the James brothers:

As the attorney representing Smoote, 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 Smoote’s personal property.

Detailing Smoote’s Lawsuit… petition presented by Attorney H.C. McDougal on Smoote’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 reside; July 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