Murder in Mississippi County…

Rush Ridge Cemetery near Wyatt, Mississippi County, Missouri

An article published in 1987 by the Missouri Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans newsletter , “The Missouri Partisan” carried the article of two Confederate soldiers killed near Norfolk, Missouri and that they were buried at Rush Ridge Cemetery near Wyatt in Mississippi County, Missouri.

“Killed near Norfolk, Miss. Co., Mo. Give me the
death of those who for their Country dies, be
mine like their repose when cold and low they lie.
Their loveliest Mother Earth enshrines the fallen
brave, in her sweet lap who gave thee birth they
find an honored grave. The love of liberty with
life is given and life itself the (inf) gift of Heaven.
(See also Strickland. These were two
Confederate soldiers found dead near Norfolk and
buried at Rush Ridge under a single stone.)

An article published by “The Missouri Partisan” newsletter in 1987.

I have yet to find exactly how these two soldiers died but I did find their names on the Rush Ridge Cemetery website, they are W.E. English and the other’s last name was Strickland but no first name is given.

Looking through the records I found something else very interesting. It appears that an entire family was wiped out during the course of the war and buried in Rush Ridge Cemetery:

Ema Heard was born in July 3, 1861 and died on December 16, 1861 she was the daughter of G.A. Heard and Rebecca Heard she was just over 6 months of age.

Her mother Rebecca Heard was born on March 21, 1840 and died on March 19, 1865 at the age of 25.

Emma’s brother M.J.T. Heard was born on January 8, 1862 and died on July 1, 1865 at the age of 3 1/2 years.

The April 10, 1865 edition of the Charleston Courier reported flooding that isolated the residents of Rush Ridge, it also reported the mandatory enrollment of local men into the militia to combat guerrilla fighters.

I have not been able to find the cause of death for the Heard family or what happened to the head of the family A.G. Heard. I did find that the April 10, 1865 edition of the Charleston Courier (Charleston, Mississippi County, Missouri) reported:

“Many of our citizens in the lower end of the County and also on Rush’s Ridge have been blockaded from our town on account of high water, and consequently, are not posted as to the arrangements being made to put down guerrilla warfare in our area for the next twelve months. Gen. Pope issued an order a short time ago for each County in the State to raise at least one company for the purpose of home protection and the carrying out of law and order in our courts throughout the State. In conformity with this order, Mississippi County has raised her Company, who will be mustered on Wednesday next.”

Since the Heard family did not all die at the same time I can only speculate what happened. Was it starvation? The flooding? Sickness? Or did a rogue element of militia from one side or the other take them out one by one? I’m not sure but it certainly seems systematic in nature and something I will continue to research.

– Clint Lacy is the author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” Available in paperback for $15 and Kindle eBook for $2.99
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