Enter the U.S. Census.
His neighbors listed in the 1900 U. S. Census were: Cowart, Hamilton, and Luna; all three are Ozark County families.
He was 67 years old in 1900; this would make James 75 years old at the time of the feud…tough old knot.
James’ wife was listed as Mariah Crabtree.
James & Mariah were married in 1875
Their age difference may seem a little unusual, but it’s not uncommon.
In addition, Mariah was listed as 45 years old in 1900; therefore, this would make Mariah about 53 years old at the time of the feud.
By best estimation, Mariah was probable one of the women participating in the fight.
Not everything is smooth and clean in this story. For example, some columns stated a three-year-old daughter was at the scene of the carnage. Yet, another claim stated the adolescent was a ten-year-old girl. Plus, I could not find her.
I had also surmised Mr. James Crabtree was Mariah Crabtree from the census. If she was killed, surely I could find her grave in southern Ozark County. That’s what I attempted to do. I went to the Mammoth Cemetery because I thought I remembered seeing a Crabtree gravestone there. A Crabtree was listed, but she’s not there.
How about the Isabella Cemetery? No good.
Then I happened to look in the Pontiac Cemetery. Lo and behold…there was Mariah Crabtree, but her date of death is not in 1908.
She was born April 2, 1855, and died March 11, 1931.
It’s got to be two things.
Either we have the wrong Mrs. Frank Crabtree, or the newspapers were wrong in stating the facts of this vicious crime.
I’m picking…the newspapers have a windbag of a story, and it’s the right Mrs. Frank Crabtree.
The Light Comes On
After working through some of these discrepancies, I started looking for newspaper retractions for further developments on this story.
This was allegedly to be an unbelievable felony.
A trial should quickly ensue.
We have motherless children, and a grieving 75 year old man. - This is not good in 1908. An old man with children needs a wife to survive.
Nevertheless, I had zilch to show on the contrary. No results. Nothing I had nothing for four weeks.
What really happened?
I was at a standstill.
Hallelujah! Hello Nebraska. So, there it is.
The answer had eluded me; there was only one retraction.
Only one newspaper said, “Oops.” “The duel was grossly exaggerated.” I examined and reread later newspaper editions for an apology for this editorial gaffe and blunder to no avail. This story had grown to unknown proportions; it was a grand read in the imaginations of the masses.
Is the truth still out there?
Do I know it all? No, but I’m getting there.
Did sister-in-laws fight. Probably.
Was it bad? Probably.
To the death? No.
Even so, the consequences are rarely weighed when one profits at the expense of another. That is the bitter root in our hearts when wealth is placed over the welfare of our neighbor, rumors and gossip entangle our affairs, and the facts are glossed over in the printed page. That is the bitter root in our hearts when wealth is placed over the welfare of our neighbor, rumors and gossip entangle our affairs, and the facts are glossed over in the printed page.
Through the reflection of our past, let us embrace our flaws and triumphs, and give full evidence of our heritage.
May we all look at each other…
knowing we all need redemption from our Father in Heaven…
giving allegiance to the Truth, even to our hurt…
and chronicle new chapters of our Ozarks’ History.
“A Woman Duelist.” Lowell Sun 61.72 (23 Nov. 1908): 16. Access Newspaper Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 1 Nov. 2009 http://access.newspaperarchive.com/.
“A Woman Duelist.” Quincy Daily Journal 26.64 (24 Nov. 1908): 2. Access Newspaper Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 1 Nov. 2009