Bushwhacker Alf Bolin

This is the only picture I’ve ever been able to find of Alf Bolin. Whether this is a true picture of him or not, I do not know. Alf is supposed to be the one on the left and a fellow bushwhacker named Rube Sorells on the right.Tara Wolf

The following article was published on the State of the Ozarks online magazine website and written by Tara Wolf.

I’ve read many stories, books, documents (and heard tales from many Stone County locals) about the infamous Alf Bolin. To decipher fact from fiction is so difficult these days with there being so many tidbits that are slightly different from each other. There are also several spellings of his surname.

I gathered the following information from old news paper articles (Stone County and Springfield), online research, small amounts from the Stone County History books and word of mouth from local Cloud relatives.

Yesterday I paid a visit to a friend who used to own the house in which I live.

The former owner of my house sold this house and moved south of Hootentown in 1996. In the early years of her living south of Hootentown, she ventured around her property to dig up plants and shrubs to move closer to her house and it was then she stumbled upon the old Lee Cemetery where Calvin Cloud and most of his family is buried.

The News-Leader went to her house, took pictures, and published an article about her find back in the late 1990s.

“As Lois Cameron prepared to dig up some shrubs this spring out of her overgrown field near the home she was building,” reads the newspaper article, “she uncovered a long-lost bit of dark Ozarks history.

“Under the yuccas Cameron hoped to transplant closer to her house were the Civil War-era graves of the Calvin Cloud family, who took in and raised Alf Bolin — by all accounts the meanest Ozarker who ever lived.

“Abandoned by parents.

“He was born Alfred Bolden during the winter of 1842 near what is now the village of Ponce de Leon to an unknown father and a woman who didn’t want him. Matilda Bolden ran off with a horse trader, leaving her 11-year old son behind in a one-room cabin on the James River.

“In time, the boy wandered down the creek to the Cloud homestead. Eventually, the Clouds would give birth to 11 biological children, but they took in the boy calling himself Alf Bolin. He learned to hunt and survive in the woods.

“At 17, Bolin left home and joined a band of thieves led by Sam Hilderbrand. Eventually Bolin would lead his own gang.”

With the dates the newspaper gave in their article, I figure Bolin’s age at the time that he killed Calvin Cloud to be 20 years old. He most likely left the Cloud homestead around 1859.

Later in 1862, Bolin and two of his gang members were on the run from Union pursuers. They had a couple of horses and only one gun between them. Bolin galloped back to the Cloud cabin where he grew up. According to stories passed down by the Cloud family, Bolin and his two sidekicks rode up with hoods over their heads to mask their identity and confronted Calvin Cloud.

A master blacksmith, Cloud had joined the Union Army’s 72nd Regiment, Company B. He was called to duty in August, reporting to Springfield the same day as his son James. Calvin had served 57 days when Bolin found his way back home on October 10, 1862.

The hooded figures demanded horses and guns. As the story goes, Cloud told them he had no weapons.

“Calvin, you’re lying,” Bolin said. “You got a good gun and I want it.”

Recognizing the voice of the boy he had raised, Cloud retorted: “Alf, you know you can have anything I got, but get off that horse, take off the hood and ask for it like a man.” Bolin grabbed the only gun the trio had and killed Calvin. Mary Jane,( who was pregnant with Comfort O, their daughter who was born April 17, 1863) ran screaming from the cabin. Bolin fired at her and missed. Mary didn’t know who had killed her husband since Bolin was masked. One of the Cloud boys did run to the Inmon home for help but it was too late for Calvin.

The gang left and went on to neighboring houses — that of Thomas E. Lee (who had gone to warn others of Bolin’s return) and James McGinnis (who was shot in the head by the gang). Alf and his gang left Stone County because too many people knew who he was as he had grown up there. They headed for Forsyth in Taney County.

For several more months the Bolin gang terrorized the countryside, but Alf’s time was running out. A reward on Bolin’s head was offered by the federal commander in Springfield. Varied reports say it was anywhere between $1,000 to 4,000, dead or alive.

It was winter of 1863. Robert Foster, whose home sat about three miles from Murder Rock, remained a prisoner of Union forces in Springfield. His wife offered to help catch Bolin in return for her husband’s freedom. The Union army dispatched Zachariah E. Thomas of the First Iowa Calvary in Forsyth to the Foster home. Disguised in Confederate garb, Thomas pretended to be a sick soldier on parole from Springfield on his way back home. Mrs. Foster told Bolin the soldier might have provisions he would sell cheaply. Thomas told him his story and the men sat down for dinner. Thomas didn’t want to shoot Bolin because he thought the noise would summon gang members nearby. Thomas noticed a plow colter (some folks call these plow blades or a sling blade) near the fireplace being used as a poker for the fire.

After the meal, Bolin went to the fire to get a coal for his pipe. At that moment, Thomas grabbed the colter and whacked Bolin over the head, knocking him out. Thomas and Mrs. Foster than dragged Bolin to a back room, but he began to regain consciousness. Fearing the moans would attract the gang, Thomas continued bludgeoning Bolin until he was dead. The date was February 1, 1863. Alf Bolin was 21 years old.

On Feb. 2, 1863, three Union soldiers from the 19th Iowa Infantry stationed at Forsyth journaled almost identical descriptions of the day Bolin’s body was brought in.

“Boland (Bolin) was a noted character before the breaking out of this rebellion and was a blood-thirsty villain, and the war furnished him with a pretext for carrying on his deeds of crime, rapine, and murder — he espoused the cause of the South and woe betide the Union man who was so unfortunate as to fall into his hands. With a gang as desperate as himself, he pillaged and committed every atrocity in his and several counties adjoining and scarce a dwelling but what was pillaged by him — he boasted of killing forty Union men — I boast I fear too true. Old men of decrepitude and youth of sixteen alike fared a bloody fate at his hands — his name inspired terror, and families fled at his approach. Several attempts were made to rid this country of this monster but without success….

“I went to see the murdered murderer. He was a large sinewy man and must have been of great strength and [e]ndurence – his hair was matted with blood and clotted over his face rendering him an object of disgust and horror. There were hundreds of men who gloated over him, many of whom he had grievously injured. Many of the Missouri troops who were acquainted with him came to rejoice over his end.

“Thus perished a monster — a man of blood who had no mercy for others and died a death of violence, and today hundreds gaze upon his unnatural corpse and exult that his prowess is at an end. He will be sent to Springfield as proof of his death so that the reward offered may be claimed by the proof.” — page 288, Borderland Rebellion by Elmo Ingenthron

Now, whether Bolin’s head was severed prior to the beginning of the trip or in the midst of it, I cannot tell. Either way, by the time proof of Bolin’s had arrived at Ozark, Missouri, the troops only had his head in a gunny sack. Stories say his headless body may have been buried approximately one mile north of Forsyth on the old Mail Trace road. It was the route the guards would have traveled to Ozark.

Mary Jane Cloud (Calvin Cloud’s widow) was notified to come to Ozark to identify his head. She rode horseback from the deep hills of Ponce de Leon during a heavy snow at night. She was seven months pregnant with their last child, the baby girl she named Comfort (April 17, 1863 to September 7, 1868). When Mary Jane viewed the head her response was, “That’s Alf, all right.”

There are a few different stories as to what happened with Bolin’s head once it arrived in Ozark. One is that the head was tied to a pole and paraded through the streets of town. Later it was tied to a pole in public view and children threw rocks at it. During a wind storm the pole blew down and range hogs finished the job.

Another story is that the skeleton was taken “up north.”

The town of Fosyth (from what I recently was told) used to have “Alf Bolin Days” to celebrate his death but recently they have discontinued this event.

— Article first published on https://facebook.com/stonecountymohistory/


An Example of a Different Time

The March 14, 1929 Greenville Sun newspaper [Greenville, Missouri] contained a story that would spark outrage by today’s standards. The headline read “Nigger Minstrel Saturday Night” which announced a comedy show which featured “The Black Face Boys” and guaranteed that the performance would make each and every audience member “forget their troubles.”

Of course this was a much different time in American history. A time in which “black face” performances were a popular and accepted form of comedy.

Thu, Mar 14, 1929 – 1 · Greenville Sun (Greenville, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

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Book Focuses on Crime in Delaware County

April 25, 2020

MARBLE HILL, Missouri – Foothills Media LLC is announcing the publication of “The Rape of Delaware County” by Clint Lacy.

The book is the result of several months of communication with Delaware County, Oklahoma, resident Edwin Turlington, who on April 14, 2014, shot a convicted felon who attacked him on his family’s property. The result is that Turlington launched his own investigation and fought the charges for over five years before they were finally dropped.

Through countless hours of interviews and research, a picture of protected informants, abusive jailers, and a lawyer who made international news when he was arrested in a murder-for-hire plot is presented. Delaware County used to be a safe-haven for outlaws, and, as Edwin Turlington found out, it still is. Lacy has also authored “Blood in the Ozarks.”

For more information, visit www.foothillsmedia.net.

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The Fate of Adam Bollinger

In my previous post I talked about Adam Bollinger a former slave who was arrested for the murder of a fellow slave in 1862.

This was a unique case in Missouri courts as Bollinger offered a brilliant defense stating that if he was considered property in 1862, how could one piece of property murder another piece of property?

I had not found what fate befell Adam Bollinger but thanks to an inquisitive reader we now have the answer!

According to the Case Law Access Project at Harvard Law School:

“The State’s Bight of Appeal in Criminal Cases. Where a motion in arrest of judgment in a criminal case has been sustained, and the prisoner ordered discharged, on the ground that at the time of the commission of the offense the defendant was a slave, and as such not liable to punishment, the State cannot appeal. Her right of appeal.is limited to those cases, where, either on motion to quash, on demurrer or on motion in arrest of judgment, the indictment has been adjudged to b.e insufficient either in form or substance. *578Appeal from, Madison Circuit Court. — Hon. ¥m. N. Nalle, ■Judge. J. L. Smith, Attorney-General, for the State. Duchouquette § Fox for respondent.” State v. Bollinger, 69 Mo. 577 (1879)”

Thank You to our helpful reader!

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A Pre-War Predicament in Post-War Fredericktown

The January 8, 1879 issue of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat carried a fascinating story which was originally published in the Fredericktown [Missouri] Plaindealer.

The story involves a former slave named Adam Bollinger who murdered another slave named “Jack” (no last name was provided in the report) in 1862.

According to the paper both men had wives and “Jack” had become a little too familiar with Adam’s wife. One day as they were leaving the field at the end of the day Adam Bollinger chased “Jack” who fell trying to escape at which time Adam stabbed “Jack” to death with a butcher knife.

The paper reported that Adam Bollinger had been living in St. Louis, Missouri for nearly 16 years under the name of John Allen and that it was the son of the late “Jack” who had vowed to find Adam and see that he paid for his crime.

In an ironic twist Adam Bollinger brought up the fact that the murder had happened when both he and “Jack” were slaves and since they were both considered “property” at the time asked the question, “Could being property, like a horse, be any more guilty of killing a slave likewise property, than one horse in killing another horse?”

The paper stated that the Supreme Court had never tried such a case. I will be on the “lookout” for what fate befell Adam Bollinger.

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More Gold in Southeast Missouri

From the February 4, 1862 Daily Missouri Democrat

I posted an article on January 28, 2020 in which I talked about gold discovered in Dallas (present day Marble Hill) Bollinger County, Missouri in 1866. Recently I discovered that gold has been found elsewhere in Southeast Missouri in 1862. The February 4, 1862 issue of The Daily Missouri Democrat contains information about the discovery of gold in neighboring Madison County, Missouri.

I don’t know if the evidence of gold in the area ever resulted in any additional prospecting but I am confident that further research of the archives of the time will result in more information of the subject.

Below is the (very lengthy) article.

Gold discovered in Madison County, MissouriGold discovered in Madison County, Missouri Tue, Feb 4, 1862 – 1 · The Daily Missouri Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com Gold discovered in Madison County, Missouri: Part 2Gold discovered in Madison County, Missouri: Part 2 Tue, Feb 4, 1862 – 1 · The Daily Missouri Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

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How To Cover Up War Crimes: Governor Fletcher Vacated All Positions of Law and Order.

Protected snitches, dirty cops and a defense lawyer who made international headlines in a murder for hire plot. This is the stranger than fiction, real life story of Delaware County, Oklahoma.

On Jan. 31’st, 2020 I published a story asking “Who Murdered the Patterson Family?”. It was an attempt to find out who could have murdered Confederate Officer William Patterson and his entire family outside of Dallas (current day Marble Hill, Missouri).

As I stated in the previous article I had found information in a clipping from the June 28, 1866 Daily Union and American newspaper reporting Bollinger County Sheriff James Rogers was appointed by Missouri Governor Fletcher and that he was being charged with murder for acts he committed during the Civil War. The paper reported:

“General J.R. McCormack, who is a candidate for the Conservative nomination for Congress in the third district, delivered a speech in Dallas, Webster County [Editors note: mistake by newspaper, Dallas present day Marble Hill, Missouri is in Bollinger County] on the 14th inst. , and he was attentively listened to. Shortly afterward a squad of five or six ruffians surrounded him, when one of them, named James Rogers, without provocation, knocked the Doctor down, the blow for a time rendering him speechless.

On recovering , he found the ruffians had left. Rogers is Sheriff of Bollinger county, an officer of the peace, appointed by Governor Fletcher. He is also charged with committing murder during the troubles in Southeast Missouri, and to have been guilty of swindling the Government in some lead and beef contracts down there.”

Governor Thomas Fletcher
served as from the later part of
Civil War-Reconstruction.

I wondered how James Rogers was “appointed” the Sheriff of Bollinger County, Missouri or how Erich Pape was “appointed” sheriff after Rogers. These questions were answered when I stumbled upon a March 18, 1865 issue of the Chicago Tribune which reported:

“The State Convention passed an ordinance today, vacating all offices of Circuit Judges, Circuit Attorneys, Criminal Judges, Sheriffs, Probate Judges, and clerks, and All Courts of Record, from and after May 1’st, by a vote of forty-three to five. The offices are all to be filled by the Governor. By this ordinance, eight-hundred offices eight hundred offices are made vacant at one blow. Governor Fletcher promises to reappoint all the loyal men, elected by the people, the object being to get rid of the disloyal.”

I get the distinct feeling that disloyalty was a very weak excuse and that the main object was to get rid of all forms of Civil Government in order to insulate and protect themselves from being prosecuted for war crimes.

Governor Fletcher vacates all courts, judges and sheriffs.Governor Fletcher vacates all courts, judges and sheriffs. Sat, Mar 18, 1865 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

More on Will Mayfield College

On the September 13, 1929 the Republic Tribune (Union, Missouri) carried a lengthy article about the Will Mayfield College stating that:

“Due to hard times in the Mississippi Valley the Will Mayfield College of Marble Hill, Missouri had some hard struggles this last year and there was some doubt in the minds of many as to the future of Will Mayfield.”

Despite the doubt of many about the forthcoming year the headline of the paper read “Will Mayfield College Opened With Fine Attendance.”

Will Mayfield College, Marble Hill, MoWill Mayfield College, Marble Hill, Mo Fri, Sep 13, 1929 – Page 4 · Republican Tribune (Union, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

More Murder in Bollinger County, Missouri

On July 17, 1885 Grainfield, Kansas’s newspaper, the Grainfield Cap Sheaf, reported the capture of a Bollinger County, Missouri murderer.

According to the paper, a man by the last name of Salisbury had went to another farmer’s residence and “cooly called him out”, informing him that he was going to kill him. Salisbury shot the farmer in the leg, demanded he stand back up and delivered a second fatal shot. The paper reported that the murder had taken place seven years prior and was said to be over a dispute of stock.

Salisbury then traveled to Kansas and was ultimately tracked down when he sold his property in Missouri. He was also suspected of taking part in another murder in Kansas.

Fri, Jul 17, 1885 – 1 · Grainfield Cap Sheaf (Grainfield, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

The Last of the Moonshiners

The July 13, 1878 St. Louis Globe-Democrat published an article entitled “The Last of the Moonshiners” about John Bollinger, a moonshiner who was over 70 years of age. Bollinger might have been in “advanced age” as the paper describes him, but he still had plenty of fight left in him. The paper stated , “When captured Bollinger was very violent in his language toward the officers and swore that if he had been at the distillery when they came they never would have taken it; he would have shot them down like dogs.”

Last of the Moonshiners in Bollinger CountyLast of the Moonshiners in Bollinger County Sat, Jul 13, 1878 – 7 · St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com