Bloody Work in Southeast Missouri

The May 24, 1861 edition of the Alexandria Gazette and Virgina Advertiser carried the news of a gang operating in Butler County, Missouri.

The May 24, 1861 edition of the Alexandria Gazette & Virginia Advertiser carried the news of a gang operating in Butler County, Missouri. This is a particularly interesting account for two reasons:

The first is the fact that the Civil War (for the most part) had not yet arrived in Southeast, Missouri.

The second is that the paper states the gang’s leader was from Indiana.

The following is the article in its entirety:

Remarkable and Sad Story of an Early Victim of Sex Trafficking

The September 3,1870 edition of the Memphis Daily Appeal carried the story of a young Southeast Missouri girl who escaped forced prostitution…twice.

The crime of sex trafficking , unfortunately, is a common place news item these days, you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this article from the September 3, 1870 Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper which tells the story of a 16-year-old girl by the name of Mary Austin of Ripley County, Missouri.

Mary stated that her family moved to Helena, Arkansas. Shortly thereafter both of her parents died (she did not elaborate how). It was at this time that she went to work for a planter by the name of Captain Beard working in the cotton fields for a year when she met a young man whose name was Dick Austin. Mary told the Daily Appeal:

“There was a young man named Dick Austin (no kin of mine) visited me then and everyone thought he was a clever young fellow, so about two months I was married to him.”

This would have made Mary Austin at 15 years of age at the time she married (which was not necessarily uncommon at the time). Mary stated that:

“He never did anything toward supporting me from the minute we were married. On the contrary I had to work for him. I worked at a Dutch boarding house for our board for a while, and afterward I went to another boarding house and worked. He left me about a week ago and went on board of a boat on the river.

A few days after leaving to work on the boat Mary’s husband Dick sent for her with news that he had secured a job for her on the boat as well. Once aboard the boat she realized her husband had taken up with another woman and that the vessel was actually a floating house of prostitution. In short, her husband had “pimped her out”.

Mary escaped by waiting for her chance , climbing down to a skiff that was tied to the stern of the boat, cutting the rope loose and drifting aimlessly downstream during which time she was nearly ran over by a steamboat, narrowly avoiding a collision, the boat’s captain swerved to one side. As soon as it was possible a boat was lowered into the river to rescue her.

You would think this would be the end of the story but when they got to Memphis the boat’s captain told Mary’s story to a man who supplied meat to the steamboats, the vendor promised to find the young lady a boarding house to stay.

Unfortunately , after arriving Mary Austin found that the “boarding house” was a front for another house of prostitution, once again, “pimped out” by someone who promised to take care of her but Mary was brave and cunning and like the boat she had been trapped on she waited for an opportunity to escape, which came when someone rang the bell at the door.

Mary Austin fought her way free and was running down the street holding her clothing when a policeman stopped her to enquire what was the matter. After hearing her story the Chief of Police ordered the arrest of Ed Smith (the man who pimped her out the second time) and as Mary Austin stated:

“Now you know my whole story.”

– Clint Lacy is author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” available in paperback ($15) and Kindle ($2.99)

Why Gen. M. Jeff Thompson Changed His Mind About Chalk Bluff

The Thursday May 25, 1865 edition of the Weekly Ottumwa Courier contains information on Gen. M. Jeff Thompson’s surrender.

The Thursday May 25, 1865 edition of The Weekly Ottumwa [Iowa] Courier reported the news of General M. Jeff Thompson’s surrender and it contains information of a particular location to surrender his command.

According to the paper it appears that originally General Thompson had chosen Chalk Bluff , Arkansas to surrender his command but something occurred to change his mind. The paper reported:

“At Cape Girardeau Lt. Colonel Hines was found with 200 of the 17th Illinois Cavalry to escort the flag of truce and messengers to Chalk Bluffs. The Day after the party left the Cape 200 more men of the same regiment with a section of artillery followed the escort party. With the exception messengers and escorts were nearly eaten up by mosquitos nothing occurred worthy of note until the banks of the St. Francois River were reached and Lt. Col. Davis and Captain Bennett and the escort of cavalry encamped at Chalks Bluffs, Mo.

Another detachment of cavalry, the 7th Kansas numbering three hundred men , under command of Col. Beveridge, had gone off toward Doniphan , so as to be prepared for emergencies. They encountered no opposition but arrived in Doniphan, Ripley County, Missouri about the time messenger or flag of truce arrived at Chalk Bluffs.

Upon reaching the Bluff it was ascertained that General Thompson had gone south to meet another flag of truce from General Reynolds, commanding the Department of Arkansas.”

The paper goes on to report that the final surrender and settlement was to be made on May 25th at Wittsburg, Missouri, on the St. Francis River and at Jacksonport, Arkansas on the White River, on the 5th of June.”

It is purely speculation on this writer’s part , but I feel perhaps General Thompson’s reluctance to travel to Chalk Bluff had something to do with the 7th Kansas Cavalry waiting in Doniphan.

The 7th Kansas had plundered their way from Missouri’s western border at the beginning of the war, all the way down to southeast Missouri at war’s end and as I wrote in a “Speak Out” forum on June 14, 2011:

“When the 7th Kansas Cavalry is mentioned most people think of the depredations it committed in Western Missouri; however, the 7th Kansas was very active in Southeast Missouri as well, and every bit as vicious. Thanks to the Reynolds County Genealogy a previously unknown newspaper clip has surfaced that sheds light on how the 7th Kansas viewed Missourians (even from the eastern side of the state).

“DAILY TIMES [LEAVENWORTH, KS], March 4, 1865, p. 3, c. 1

Through the kindness of Mr. A. G. Fraker, of the 7th cavalry, we have been permitted to copy the following items from a letter written by one of the boys of the 7th, now at Patterson, Missouri. It is dated Feb. 24th. Patterson is below Pilot Knob:

“We are getting this country pretty well cleaned out. We have killed several of the most desperate characters within the past two weeks. Have had a few unsuccessful chases after rebels. Most all of the rebel families have been ordered South. We met two families on their road to Dixie on foot. Captain Bostwick is in command of the post. A big scout went out this morning. The citizens are making maple sugar.”

General Thompson might very well have felt the 7th Kansas’ presence in Doniphan, Missouri was a trap and that they were “lying in wait”. One thing is for sure, Thompson was worried for not only his men but for their family members as well.

At 8:00 am on Thursday May 11, 1865 from Liddle’s (an area near Chalk Bluff, Arkansas, Thompson penned a dispatch to Lt. Colonel C.W. Davis , U.S. Army which stated:

“Colonel: Can you inform me whether the officers and men who were surrendered by General Robert E. Lee were permitted to pass within the Confederate lines or not? My reason for making this inquiry is that many of those I am called upon to surrender will prefer to go to Texas and Louisiana to remaining in neighborhoods where private animosities will keep the community in tumult, after the military authorities are withdrawn. Some will desire to take their families. Others think that their families will be safe will be absent themselves after being paroled. This is a very important matter to many on the border of Missouri and Arkansas, and you, will therefore , please let me know your understanding of this case.

M. Jeff Thompson

Brigadier General, Commanding North Sub-District of Arkansas.”

Clint Lacy is the author of Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition available in paperback for $15 & Kindle format eBook for $2.99

The Laflin Store

The Snider Store in Laflin, Missouri on Bollinger County Rd #450

I took this photo of the Laflin Store in July, 2017. If one looks at it long enough they can see a hint of the once prosperous establishment that still remains. That being said, there’s also no denying that the structure is “on borrowed time”.

I found an advertisement for the store in a copy of the January 14, 1904 issue of the Marble Hill Press and thought it would be a good way to show the contrast between the dying state of existence of the store now through this photo and the working establishment it used to be through the advertisement.

Advertisement for the Snider Store, published in the January 14, 1904 issue of the Marble Hill Press.
  • Clint Lacy is the author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” & “A Beginner’s Guide to False Flags: The Deep State Agenda Behind America’s Biggest Events” which can be found by visiting Our Products page.

More on Will Mayfield College

Will Mayfield College located in Marble Hill, Missouri

This is a follow up post to one I published on January 15, 2020 which states, in part that:

“The Will Mayfield College began as the Mayfield-Smith Academy in Sedgewickville (originally called Smithville), Missouri in 1878. In 1880 the school was moved to Marble Hill.

“The new campus was in a healthful location with “pure water” and “beneficial zephyrs.”  In addition, it was free of the vice associated with larger towns. The first main building—Academic Hall—was completed in 1885.  In 1903 the name of the school was changed to Will Mayfield College to honor the son of the founder.”(2)

The college was mainly known for producing teachers and at one point produced more teachers than any state college in Missouri.  Though successful the college’s demise came in the form of a fire destroying the women’s dormitory in 1926 and later the Great Depression.”

An article I discovered in the May 19, 1892 issue of the Marble Hill Press shows that the institution was highly respected, though it appeared to be struggling. The paper reported:

” A large number of people were out to enjoy the excellent entertainment and manifest a due appreciation of the laudable work of Professor E. R. Graham who has had charge of this institution for the past term. He has been laboring under disadvantages that would have discouraged most men, nevertheless his work has been successful to a marked degree.”

  • Clint Lacy is author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” & “A Beginner’s Guide to False Flags: The Deep State Agenda Behind America’s Biggest Events” which can be purchased by visiting OUR PRODUCTS page.

Respect Escaped Leeper

William Leeper of Wayne County, Missouri

By all accounts William T. Leeper was an ambitious man. Through my research a picture begins to form of him. He was a man who desired to be a man of means, someone of prominence, of importance, a man of authority. In this picture are shadows of darkness, which if examined closely, reveal a man who was willing to do anything to achieve these goals. He was a driven man who chased his dreams with reckless abandon.

The official narrative for Leeper can be found in “Wayne County Place Names 1928-1945” archived at the Missouri State Historical Society which states:

“Colonel William T. Leeper moved to Wayne County in 1857 and purchased 225 acres of land. In 1858 he was elected County Surveyor and served until the beginning of the Civil War. He organized Company D. of the Twelfth Regiment of Missouri Militia and was made captain.”

That is a sanitized summary of the man. In a previous post I quoted a story from the Wayne County Historical Society about Leeper which states:

“History has not ignored Leeper’s methods or actions. In an account published in the Wayne County Journal Banner and shared on the Wayne County Historical Society’s social media page on August 1, 2018 , Captain William Leeper’s actions while he was in the 12’th Missouri Militia Cavalry (the 3’rd’s predecessor ) so much so that Leeper is labeled the “Chief Jayhawker” himself.

“Captain Leeper, I have no doubt, is wishing to merit and obtain a higher command than he now holds”. This was sent from Greenville and dated February 27, 1862, eleven days after the [Greenville] raid. A telegraph to General Gray at Pilot Knob was sent from Patterson soon thereafter. It read; “I have ordered Captain Leeper of CO B to Pilot Knob. Keep him and learn him to be a soldier”. One historian previously wrote about Leeper: “Captain Leeper’s methods of ferreting out and interrogating men to determine their loyalties were direct and brutal. He was known to shoot anything that moved and burn anything that would light. In February 1863 (almost exactly a year since the Greenville raid), Leeper and the 12th Missouri Militia participated in what was called by some “The Battle of Mingo Swamp” and by others as the “Mingo Swamp Massacre.” The McGee boys had just left the confederate army and returned home; ironically, to protect their home from Captain Leeper’s reign of terror. The McGee’s and their friends, the Cato’s sat unarmed at their camp at the McGee home when they were set upon in the early hours of February 4, 1863 by Captain Leeper and his “militia”. All 29 men were mercilessly gunned down in a barrage of gunfire. Captain Leeper’s report differs somewhat in that he reports “engaging a Union camp” on this date”.

 This account of Leeper is significant as it details his brutality (calling him the “Chief Jayhawker”) but also his gaffs. In this account , a quote of one of Leeper’s after action reports calls attention to Leeper referring to a Confederate camp as a “Union” camp.

Another instance can be found in Ivan McKee’s book “Lost Family, Lost Cause” which states:

“Some of the letters he wrote seem almost pathetic and his hatred must have bordered on the ruminations of a paranoid mind. An example: He had seen a report of a black Union group of soldiers in the general area. He wrote that he would like to see southern chivalry subdued by the African, and continued on that he would like to make a “flank” movement with black soldiers . The term, flank movement, as he used it showed unfortunately he had little or no concept of what a flank movement is in military tactics.”

Another , more humorous account of William T. Leeper’s gaffs , or Leeperisms (as I call them) can be found in the Wednesday February 28, 1872 , Lexington Intelligencer newspaper (which also shows how others viewed him), when Leeper was a Missouri State Representative.

The paper states that Leeper moved to amend everything and would move to amend the decalogue were it introduced in the House and that:

“The business of the House in particular would be greatly facilitated, if not improved, were some three or four [representatives] at home or bereft of speech.”

All of which prove that while that while William T. Leeper was willing to go to most any lengths to achieve success and become a man of means he was unable to achieve what he most wanted from many of his contemporaries, which was respect.

Clint Lacy is author of Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition which is available in Paperback for $15 and Kindle format for $2.99. It can be ordered by clicking this link or the image above.

More Murder in Wayne County!

The Saturday May 28, 1881 Fair Play newspaper (St. Genevieve , Missouri) reported the murder of New Madrid County, Missouri Deputy Sheriff Robert LaForge by three individuals who then made their way to Wayne County, Missouri at which time they murdered Sheriff John T. Davis and mortally wounded County Collector James F. Hatten.

The paper also reports that William T. Leeper formed a posse killing one of the perpetrators and mortally wounding another. Below is a clipping of the full account.

  • Clint Lacy is the author of “Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition” and ” A Beginner’s Guide to False Flags: The Deep State Agenda Behind America’s Biggest Events” which can be purchased by visiting Our Products page.