Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feud Above the Line.

Feuds, Fights, & Fusses

There's nothing better than having a good feud with colorful characters with colorful names like "Poker Tom." The following story is a little over 100 years old from the Baxter Bulletin with meanness on the Missouri / Arkansas state-line.


Feud above the Line.

The imaginary line between Baxter County and Ozark County, Missouri, saved a lot of expense last week in connection with the shooting and cutting affair they had up there. Last Thursday Isaac Crawford and father were with Tom White, better known as “Poker Tom,” on their way to do some work for White. They met Dru Smith in the road, and a quarrel arose. Isaac Crawford was armed with a rifle and Dru Smith carried a double barrel shotgun. According to Smith’s story, Isaac Crawford attempted to shoot him with the rifle, but the weapon snapped, then Smith shot Crawford through the hand as he was holding the gun in position to shoot and the shot tore away Crawford’s chin and knocked out his teeth and plowed through his tongue and neck. Smith turned on Nick Crawford, the older man, and was going to shoot him, but when Crawford begged for mercy and told him that he got his man, Smith lowered his gun. The elder Crawford watched his chance and at an opportune moment grappled with Smith. In the scuffle, Smith dropped the gun, which White quickly secured, taking the lead out of the weapon. Smith and the elder Crawford pounded each other until both men tried to get out their knives. Crawford got his into play and stabbed Smith several times, once very badly in the back, breaking the blade of the knife. Then Smith got away from the elder Crawford and drew a revolver he had in his hip pocket. He shot at Crawford who stumbled and fell. Believing that he also killed the elder Crawford, Smith started to run away. Isaac Crawford, with blood streaming down his face, had in the meantime arose to his feet, and securing a large rock, hit Smith in the head, knocking him down. Before Smith got up, Isaac Crawford was after him with more rocks. Smith turned his pistol on Isaac Crawford, but the weapon failed to explode and Smith then made his escape. White, who had witnessed the whole affair, got possession of both rifle and shotgun and no further shooting was done. Isaac Crawford died Tuesday night from the wounds he received. Up until Wednesday, Smith had not been arrested.

Work Cited:
“Feud Above the Line.” Baxter Bulletin 7.09 (06 Mar. 1908) 1-1. Baxter County Microfilm Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 1 Nov. 2009

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Snaky George

Note: This may be the last blog I will do for the next 2 weeks.
If I get access to the internet, I will keep posting.
In the meantime, I will leave you with a story from my "Ozark Animal Oddities" file.

Rattlesnake Farming…
This may sound a bit odd, but for industry in the Ozarks, the motto is “work with what you’ve got.” Apparently, this is what was going on in Ozark County in 1891. I have come across two gentlemen who were harvesting a deadly nectar for a sweet profit. The first name I came across was Mr. Childs.
Needless to say, this caught my attention, and I decided to look a little further into this commerce and found “Snaky George.”
How far did the fame of this Ozark enterprise travel? “Snaky George” found his way into notoriety & prominence all the way to Biloxi, Saint Paul, and Philadelphia. In quick succession, this Ozark County venture came into distinction half way around the world…“Down Under.” “Snaky George’s” fame haled to the shores of the The Wanganui Chronicle & The Timarn Herald in New Zealand.
Enjoy the article.


There is a strange kind of industry which is being carried on in America just now, which is apparently very profitable to the man engaged in it, but which nobody, we imagine, will desire to see introduced into New Zealand. The business we refer to is that of a rattlesnake farm. An interesting account of the undertaking is given in the Philadelphia Record. It was stated by an old Tennessean named George Jakes, familiarly known as “Snaky George," who is rapidly making a fortune out of rattlesnake oil, which it appears is a great demand among American druggists.

Jakes selected a piece of rocky land in the Ozark mountains, quite useless for agriculture, but, in the midst of a country abounding in rattlesnakes. When he took it the neighbours were astounded at his folly in going on such worthless land, and more, especially when they saw the , remarkable manner in which he sat about " improving" it. Instead of clearing off the rocks, he tried to get more there, and soon he had built a veritable shakes' retreat. He built a house of stone, but cemented it thoroughly inside and out, for, while he made a living from snakes, he did not care to have too close a companionship with them. Having arranged his farm, he set about stocking it, daily bringing home fresh residents for his farm from the surrounding hills. About four years ago he completed his work stocking his place, and now he is reaping the benefit. Snakes are everywhere on the place, and on a warm day the sight on the hills back of the house says the Review, would give a drinking man the impression that "he had'em again." Rattlesnakes of all sizes and conditions are seen lying around in profusion or crawling over the rocks, spuirining and twisting in heaps, while the deadly whirr of the rattle makes music which strikes terror to the heart of one unaccustomed to the situation. Above all is that terrible nauseating odour which fills the whole air and drives away one not accustomed to such an offensive scent. “Snaky George" estimates that there" are 10,000 full-grown rattlesnakes on the place, and says that he kills an average of 2000 every season. He watches for them at a spot where he , has been accustomed to feed them, catches them .with a slip noose of wire, and then, boils them down.. One good sized rattler, we are told, will make a pint of oil, and', this brings 1 dol. 50 cents a pint, or nets Jaques about one dollar after all expenses of rendering, bottling, and shipping are paid. It is evident, therefore, that “there is money in it." Obviously, however, it is a business which only a strictly sober man ought to embark in. And we sincerely hope that it will be strictly confined to the limits of the Ozark mountains.

Works Cited:
“The Strangest Trade in the World.” Wanganui Chronicle, 36.11637 (14 Sept. 1891) 1. Papers Past. National Library of New Zealand 25 Dec. 2009 www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
“A Rattlesnake Farm.” Timarn Herald 54. 5367 (20 Feb. 1892) 3. Papers Past. National Library of New Zealand 25 Dec. 2009 www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
“The Great West.” Saint Paul Daily Globe (23 Sept., 1894) 4. Access Newspaper Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 25 Dec. 2009 www.access.newspaperarchive.com.
“George Jaynes.” Biloxi Herald 8.12 (19 Dec. 1891) 4. Access Newspaper Archive. Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, AR. 25 Dec. 2009 www.access.newspaperarchive.com.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sheriff Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst

Here is my second entry on the History of Baxter County Sheriffs.

Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst

Robert Sims “R. S.” Hurst was born April 11th, 1874, in Yellville, Marion County, Arkansas. In 1900, he moved to Henderson, Arkansas, and became a farmer and raised cattle. “R. S.” Hurst married Pauline Field, daughter of Captain J. M. Field & Onalda (Dyer) Field, in 1902. Additionally, along with his wife, he opened a small mercantile store in Henderson. The old store was located North of the Highway 62 Bridge, on the west side of Norfork Lake.

Robert and Pauline had two children:

• Robert Paul Hurst, born June 16th, 1903

• Mary Noll Hurst, born January 20th, 1915

In 1912, Robert was elected Sheriff of Baxter County and moved to Mountain Home September 12th of the same year in order to fulfill his duties. He served as Baxter County Sheriff from 1913-1921, which culminated in six successive terms. During this time, he oversaw the following incidents:

• January, 30th, 1913: The property dispute between Minnie (McFadden) Siler & the Siler family resulting in the murder of Mrs. Siler. Will Siler, brother-in-law, was convicted of the murder of his sister-in-law and pardoned January 13th, 1917.

• December 25th, 1915: The shooting of Howard Avry by Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Trimble. A grand jury was assembled and found Deputy Sheriff Alonzo Trimble shot in self-defense.

• January 13th, 1917: The shooting and subsequent killing of J. L. Spencer by Joe Frix. Their argument concerned trespassing & dragging logs over property lines. Joe Frix was acquitted.

• December 1st, 1917: The murder of mother & daughter, Ellen Cockrum & May Cockrum Smith, near Shipps Ferry. Ira Wilbur was indicted and was subsequently found not guilty and acquitted on an insanity plea.

• October 5th, 1919: The robbery & murder of Hughes Jackson by the hand of Sam Williams. After conviction, Governor Brough commuted the death sentence of the electric chair due to nervous disease & unstable mental condition. Sam Williams escaped a year later and was never captured, living the life of a transient.

• November 13, 1919: The shooting and murder of Victor Kleo Loba by the hand of T. T. Lee. While Mr. Loba was dining with his family at the dinner table, T. T. Lee shot the victim from an outside window. After a man hunt ensued, Mr. Lee was apprehended, brought to trail, convicted of murder, and sentenced for life. The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Governor Brough pardoned T. T. Lee.

• April 12th, 1920: The poisoning death of Howard Deason. Mary Kreeger was charged with the offence and found not guilty.

After this long tenure, Mr. Hurst decided to retire as Sheriff and accepted the position as a cashier at People’s Bank in Mountain Home, Arkansas. In 1923, Robert Hurst built a stone building on the east side of the Mountain Home square and opened a grocery store.

In 1925, Mr. Hurst ran for sheriff again; he was elected for his seventh term. During this time, he oversaw the following incidents:

• December 13th, 1925: Working in conjunction with Marion County of the Murder of Sarah Boyd, her granddaughter, and Charles Moore by the accused, Arnold Comer, 14 years of age. After confession and trial, Arnold Comer was sentenced to 21 years.

• May 22nd, 1927: A local farmer, N. W. Geffs, went temporally insane and shot C. M. Miller and Ed Harris. In the attempt to capture Geffs, Sheriff Hurst engaged in a shootout with the accused and wounds the suspect twice in attempting to capture him. C. M. Miller was taken to the hospital in Batesville and died a few weeks later due the infection in his wounds. N. W. Geffs was taken to the State Sanitarium and died a few months later.

• January 2nd, 1928: The arrest of T. C. Farlin, after he was accused of burning his house knowing his children were inside resulting in the death of 3 children. Mr. T. C. Farland was acquitted.

• February 20th, 1928: The investigation of the suspicious death of L. M. “Uncle Buck” Toney. After a preliminary hearing and investigation, a Marion County Justice reached a conclusion the death was due to natural causes.

Robert Hurst served honorably and passed away April 7th, 1928, in his eighth term. He is buried in the Mountain Home Cemetery.

The descendents of Robert Sims Hurst are still living in Baxter County, Arkansas.

Comments? Email me!

Works Cited:
Edge, Mary A. Was it Murder?: the Dark Side of Baxter County History. Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 2005.
Messick, Mary A. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. International Graphics, Inc. Little Rock, AR, 1973.
Edge, Mary A. Of Grave Importance: The Cemeteries of Baxter County, Arkansas. Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 1994.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sheriff Robert “Samuel” Livingston

The Project
The Baxter County Sheriff, John Montgomery, recently spoke at the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society concerning the many uses of the Sheriff's website. He asked the Society to take on the project of composing biographies for all the Baxter County Sherifffs, past and present. When all our biographigies are composed, they will be posted on the webpage entitled:  History of the Sheriff's Office.

I took on the project of researching two sheriffs, Robert "Samuel" Livingston & Robert Sims "R. S." Hurst.  As I post these two biographigies, please email me if there are any corrections, errors, or additions you may find wanting.

Robert "Samuel" Livingston
Robert Livingston was from one of the oldest families in Baxter County.

His father, Col. Robert Livingston (C.S.A.), emigrated from Georgia as a young man and settled on the mouth of Livingston Creek near present day Norfork, Arkansas. Col. Robert Livingston married Polly Finley and raised five children:

• Robert Franklin “Casey” Livingston –Deputy Sheriff in 1892 when Sheriff Bylar was killed by Jesse Roper.
• Sarah Jane (Livingston) Garton
• Millie E. (Livingston) Talburt
• Fannie (Livingston) Woods
• Robert “Samuel” Livingston- Sherriff of Baxter County

The family built several grist mills and a tanning yard to preserve fresh furs and pelts. The Livingston family experience several burglaries of their pelts and vandalisms of their vats; yet, they persevered in their business ventures. It was these experiences that inspired the two Livingston boys to become engaged with the value of the law.

Robert “Samuel” Livingston became the Sherriff of Baxter County for one term, from 1892-1894.
During Sheriff Livingston’s tenure, he oversaw the following incidents:

• January 29th, 1892: The feud between the Thompson family & W. E. Rogers resulting in the death of Mr. Rogers.

• August 30th, 1893: The stabbing death of a John Harris by a Ben Sears in Gassville, Arkansas. Sheriff Livingston arrested Ben Sears in Newport, Arkansas.

• December 18th, 1893: The tragic news of robbing & murder of Hunter Wilson. Later, it was discovered Anderson Carter, Bart Carter, and Jasper Newton Montgomery were the accused.

Works Cited:
Edge, Mary A. Was it Murder?: the Dark Side of Baxter County History. Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 2005.
Messick, Mary A. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce. International Graphics, Inc. Little Rock, AR, 1973.
Of Grave Importance: The Cemeteries of Baxter County, Arkansas. Garr, Gene R. (Ed.). Mountain Home, AR: Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society. 1994.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hidden Behind the Fence

I love reading history books. Each page can hold an adventure of discovery, the thrill new born generations, and the agony of lost life & wounded love. Nevertheless, there are more journeys for the one who decides to kick over stumps, hike through briers, and turn over stones in order to come face to face with turning points & markers of the past.

With the last few cold months this past winter, I had a burst of Spring fever. I called my dad on the phone and invited Him to go with me to a couple old Baxter County cemeteries. The one that was an interest to me was the Whiteville Cemetery. Fortunately, this cemetery is a little over a quarter mile from my house… as a crow flies, and it lies about a mile by paved road. The target of my exploration was James “Jacob” Mooney’s grave. I went out about a month ago during the last snow storm and had a dickens of a time in finding him. I spent almost a frozen hour with no avail. His grave site is a little unique.

Why? Here’s a little back history.

Jacob Mooney came from Tennessee to the Baxter County area via the White River on a flat-bottom keelboat in the early 1800’s. He set up an Arkansas Trading Post on the White River a couple of miles north of Cotter, Arkansas. When making his first trek here, he brought a large load of inventory. Here is the list:

1 large bridle cow
2 black & white spotted pigs
1 speckled rooster
6 red hens
2 guineas
1 runty, but friendly bull
1bushel of dried yeast foam
20 kinds of seeds
1 hogshead of black power
10 pounds of flint
1 anvil
1 forge
1 liquor still (He's Irish!)
100 bolts of cloth
144 needles & sewing thread
1 demijohn of live beer seed

By the fall of that year, a large log building for a store and two cabins as living quarters were constructed. Jacob commuted from Tennessee to his Arkansas Trading Post for some years and settled down here after the death of his first wife in Tennessee in 1832.

Accompanying him on the first trip where nine men, including a partner named McDonald, four slaves, and four hired men to help push the boat up stream. The latter four men were called “Lungeons” or “Melungeons” who were believed to be foreigners of mixed blooded Mediterraneans of possible Jewish lineage and who lived prior in America to Columbus’s discovery. This is the one...peculiar thing...that was unique about Jacob Mooney. He mixed with foreigners & slaves. Subsequently, when he died, he was buried outside the cemetery fence with the mixed-bloods who lived with him.

For many years a huge oak tree grew over Jacob Mooney’s grave. This tree was periodically struck by lightning. According to Mary Ann Messick, there were two explanations folks had to this phenomenon.

First… Jacob had taken Indian silver, and the metal was drawing the lightning.

Secondly…God was showing his wrath because Jacob Mooney had lived with foreigners.

If you would like to read the whole story in detail, read Mary Ann Messick’s book, History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973, page 6-7.

So…let’s go to the Whiteville Cemetery.
(Click to enlarge the following pictures.)

By the cemetery is the Whiteville Baptist Church.

So, where is his elusive grave?

Find the fence...under the trash & leaves.

 Tombstone inside the fence…grave outside the fence.
Who & where are the others outside the fence?
Notice the hills of the White River in the background.
We cleared the debris.
Rest in Peace.
Closing Thoughts...
As we left the cemetery, I started to reflect on what I have left outside the fence.

Who have I left outside the fence because I could not see past their faults or the commotion in their life?

Is there a speck of sawdust in my neighbor’s eye that irritates me while I have an old tree trunk in my own eye?

Have I become lethargic in my purpose in this short trek of life?

Have I disregarded what was given as a gift of life and relegated it by only acknowledging its’ headstone?

I ask you too, Dear Reader, are there fences we need to destroy and walls we need to build…together?

Are we accepting today's circumstances as God’s wrath…when it is Him giving us an opportunity to mend a fence with a neighbor or assist in pulling the debris away that would tarnish their name?

Wrath is for the future...today is a day of mercy.

I find it is probably better to ask these questions now…in order to hear…on that Last Day…”Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Comments?  Email me!

Works Cited:
Messick, Mary A. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition 1873-1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, 1973. Lithographed by International Graphics, Inc. Little Rock, AR.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Traditional Naming Patterns

hen teaching genealogy classes, there are mysteries we come across in finding birth order names. There is a naming pattern that I have discovered that works…sometimes, but it is not a given. I discovered this at a conference a few years ago from Dr. Wendy Bebout Elliott, and I have been teaching it for the past few years.

I give full credit to her.

So, here it is.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The War of Northern Aggression-Part 4

FEBRUARY 1620, 1865.Scout in Ozark County, Mo., and Marion County, Ark.
Report of Capt. James H. Sallee, Sixteenth Missouri Cavalry.


Lebanon, Mo., February 22, 1865.
   CAPTAIN: I beg leave to submit to you the following facts connected with a scout made by, me with a detachment of Company B, Sixteenth Missouri Cavalry Volunteers, in obedience to the order of Lient. Col. John F. MeMahan: I left this place on the morning of the 16th instant, with fifteen days rations, and proceeded to Little North Fork, in Ozark County, Mo. Here I met with four citizens of Douglas County, Mo., viz, Isham Lamar, Johnson Lamar, William Lamar, and George Lamar, who reported to me that they had been to White River, near the Widow Magness, and had found some rebels in a cave and wanted assistance to catch them. I immediately started in search of the cave, the Lamar’s accompanying me as guides. On arriving at the cave I found three bushwhackers, Williams and Riddle, one unknown, who on our approach started to run, but Williams was killed and the others wounded, who made their escape in the bluffs and brush. After this affair I prepared to move on down the river and did so, but the Lamars would not go any farther, and on the day following they were seen driving twelve head of cattle up the Little North Fork through a Union settlement. I mention this, as I am reliably informed that these men are in the habit of driving off stock from that county and converting it to their own use. After leaving the cave I went down the river crossed at the month of the Little North Fork at Mr. Yochans. I learned that there were four rebels up the river four miles, and also three miles down the river there were four others. On agreement with Captain Piland, Forty-sixth Missouri Infantry, I took a few men and went up the river, and he took some and went down the river. On arriving at the house where they were reported to be I found two rebels, whom we killed. Captain Piland found two and killed them. I then heard there were eight rebels on the head of Musicks Creek, in Marion County, Ark., near Pine Mountain. I proceeded to the place, but found no one there except women and children. I found six rifled guns. The rebels have lately built a grist-mill here and I think it is a good place to catch a bushwhacker almost any time. This was the 18th instant. I then started back, came to White River, at the mouth of Big Creek, but could not cross, and had to go down to the mouth of the Little North Fork, where I crossed, and proceeded to this place, arriving on the 20th instant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, JAMES II SALLEE,
Captain Company B, Sixteenth Missouri Cavalry Volunteers.

Assistant Adjutant- General, District of Southwest Missouri.