They Thought He Was Frank James

Randles James

I was recently given some old copies of the “Echo” , a magazine that used to be published by the Bollinger County (Missouri) Historical Society. I am already finding some interesting material.

One such story was found in the October, 1979 issue of the Echo, on page 117. The article, titled “They Thought He Was Jesse James’ Brother , Frank” was written by Clyde Willis who writes about a visit to the Randles James farm by two Pinkerton detectives:

“It was Friday, February 13, 1874. Just two weeks after the Gads Hill robbery when the two detectives drove their buggy to the Randles James farm on Cane Creek. They called Mr. James to the door and asked if he had any hogs for sale. They said that they were stock buyers and were traveling about the country buying stock for a large packing company in St. Louis. Both men were dressed in flashy suits with heavy overcoats and derby hats. They looked like typical stock buyers of the day.”

According to Mr. Willis’ article Randles James told the detectives that he had some hogs which were previously grazing on the range but were penned up to feed out and were not ready to sell yet. At the insistence of the detectives, Randles James took them to the pen at which time the detectives pulled their revolvers out and arrested James, who asked if they could stop at the house to tell his family what was transpiring and to get a heavier coat. James’ request was denied and the two Pinkerton agents transported James to Marble Hill as fast as their horses could travel.

There was a region for the urgency, the detectives thought they had captured Frank James, brother of Jesse James. Willis writes that the agents did not arrive at Marble Hill until after dark at which time they awoke Sheriff John Hopkins and informed him they had captured Frank James.

When the detectives asked Sheriff Hopkins to hold the “outlaw” overnight until the train arrived the next morning, he refused.

“Sheriff Hopkins, after one look at their prisoner , informed the detectives that they had made a mistake. “That is not Frank James”, he said. “That is Randles James. I have known this man all my life. He is a good law-abiding citizen. This man never broke the law in his life.”

The Pinkerton agents produced a photograph and insisted that the man they had in custody was Frank James.

Willis writes that:

“At that late hour , Sheriff Hopkins was in no mood to argue with the detectives. He made them release Mr. James and advised them to catch the first train out of Bollinger County. He also threatened to lock them both in the Marble Hill jail if they ever attempted to arrest a citizen of Bollinger County again.”

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Photo Essay of New Madrid, Missouri

Downtown New Madrid
Historical Museum
Observation Deck, Mississippi River
Flag Display at Observation Deck.
Site of Confederate Defenses Against Federal Siege Lines.
Sand Hill Cemetery
Sand Hill Cemetery
Decaying Neighborhood Near East Side Cemetery
Headstone for U.S. Colored Soldier, East Side Cemetery
Monument to Soldiers Killed During the Battle of Island #10, East Side Cemetery
Destroyed Headstone, East Side Cemetery.
East Side Cemetery
Hunter-Dawson Cemetery
Hunter-Dawson Cemetery
Hunter-Dawson Cemetery

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Portrait of the Ozarks: Ronald McQueery Interview

Missouri State University recently published the following interview with Ronald McQueery of Eminence, Shannon County, Missouri on life in the Ozarks and how tourism has effected the region.

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Sasquatch Activity in Reynolds County, Missouri.

Special thanks to Joseph Hayden who shared this documentary on Sasquatch (Bigfoot) activity in Reynolds County, Missouri. Some might chuckle a bit about the headline for this post. Do Sasquatch exist? I don’t know. Whether or not you are a believer in such things, I think you will find David’s story fascinating.

The producer of this documentary has a channel on YouTube called “Sasquatch Theory” and posts the following in the description of the video:

“In this video I will be traveling to an area a couple of miles away to the current river in Missouri! I received a message from David. He explained to me the activity that had taken place and if I would be interested in coming down! A few days later I was on my way down to Reynolds County. I don’t want to give away the exact location just because I respect David and his property! I will warn the viewers now. I have never made a documentary in my life. I only had two days to do research and put a game plan together so please excuse the bad footage in some scenes. Everything was on the spot and I can’t reenact and recreate the things I witnessed! There was so much wildlife in this particular area my mind was blown. I spend hours and hours each year hunting and I seen and filmed more wildlife in 20 minutes in “the killing field!” When David takes me to the spot he is having wood knocks I began to hear knocking. The knocking was up on a ridge behind the thick forest! I somehow knew where the activity would be before David even shows me. You will notice me point to the spot that the knocks end up coming from! After a few years of researching and exploring the bigfoot topic myself I learned the topography that these “creatures/beings” like and where they particularly like to hang out at! Please be respectful of David’s experiences and stories as we were both nervous and doing everything on the spot! There was no reenactment of anything in this video! If you are looking to be entertained and watch something exciting this may not be for you. This is for the thousands of people who are experiencing the same things! It is easy to say someone is lying or full of it but I guarantee none of those people would come out to these spots with me alone at night! I really appreciate David and Linda having me out at their farm home! Thank you for the food you provided me and everything else I did not mention here! Since this documentary David and I have become good friends and keep in contact! We plan to explore the forest and do some research in this area the next time I come over!”

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Foothills Media Heritage Series Cannon Tee

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Our 100% Cotton Heritage Series Cannon Tee is available in sizes Small- 2X. Shirt features a Civil War “mountain rifle” artillery piece with the Missouri State Guard and Missouri Battle Flag. Photo was taken during a Confederate Memorial Day service at the Bloomfield (Missouri) Civil War Cemetery located atop the rolling hills of Crowley’s Ridge. $22.00

Late 19th Century Violence in the Ozarks

Larry Wood, author of Ozarks Gunfights and Other Notorious Incidents, shared the area’s violent history. He talked about feuding groups and infamous criminals from Wild Bill Hickok to Bonnie and Clyde. Originally aired on C-SPAN in June, 2017.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?430434-2/late-19th-century-violence-ozarks

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Impending War

I had a friend message me recently and said, “I loved your article Impending War”.

It took me a minute to realize he was referring to an article I wrote in 2018 for the State of the Ozarks Writers and Artists competition that paired writers submissions with a talented artist who would create an illustration for the story.

“Impending War” was one of my few attempts at fiction and paired me with artist (and Ozark preservationist) Curtis Copeland.

Curtis and I would later work together on an article co-authored by SOTO founder Joshua Heston and I titled “Black Panthers Existence Denied.”

The Ozarks is an inspiration for creativity and a natural destination for artists and authors. Without further hesitation I present “Impending War”. Am I a decent fiction writer? I don’t know, I leave it for you to judge:

Image by Curtis Copeland

Impending War

by Clint Lacy

Cotton was not king in the Ozarks but hard work was. The soil was not suited for farming. If it had been the planters would have bought it up and brought their slaves with them.

Planting was done in small clearings. It was no easy task and the crops grown in the rocky soil were done so for subsistence, not cash.

Some of the corn was used to feed the cattle and some was ground into meal for the family.

News was slow to travel to the Ozarks but when it did arrive it brought word of the impending war.

My father doubted the war would make it to our isolated homestead.

Leaning against a split rail fence he stated, “There is barely enough for us to survive on, much less enough to fight over.”

He was in deep thought. He shifted the rocky soil back and forth with his foot and it was not clear whether he was trying to convince me or himself. With pipe in hand , he pointed at the barn and said, “Harness the mule son. We’ve got a crop to put in”.

From time to time a neighbor would bring news on the current state of affairs. Jim Sutton stopped by one day and stated the Governor had met with Captain Lyon in St. Louis to negotiate a peace and that the meeting had ended with Captain Lyon declaring war on the Governor, the State and every man, woman and child who lived there.

News traveled “through the grapevine” in the mountains, from neighbor to neighbor. Newspapers were a rarity. Partly because of  isolation and partly because more than a few settlers could not read and had very little time for such luxuries even if they could. Despite the rumors of war, there was always work to be done. Wood needed to be chopped, livestock fed and fences repaired.

Most of our neighbors were of Scots-Irish who had immigrated from the neighboring states of Kentucky and Tennessee. They were Southerners of a different social class. A working class who placed more emphasis on necessary labor and taking care of their families and neighbors than the politics of the day.

August brought news of a great battle in the Western portion of the state and another visit from Jim Sutton.

I had just finished my chores for the day and had drew a bucket of water from the well. I dipped the ladle into the bucket and was taking a sip of the cool water when I saw Mr. Sutton ride up on his horse.

“Howdy Elijah”, he said with a smile, “Is John around?”

“Daddy’s in the barn Mr. Sutton” , I said. 

My father walked out of the barn and said, “Howdy Jim. What brings you around?”

Jim Sutton climbed off of his horse and shook Daddy’s hand. “Can I talk to ya?”

They went to the barn but I could still make out part of the conversation. Mr. Sutton was trying to convince Daddy to join the Confederate forces and Daddy countered with, “Who’s going to take care of this farm and this family? This is no war for us besides you said Lyon was dead. There might not even be a threat to us now.”

“I’m going John”, Mr. Sutton said. “Lyon being killed isn’t going to stop what’s comin’, if anything, those Yankees are going to want vengeance and don’t go thinkin’ we’re gonna be safe here. Mark my words. They’re going to swarm over the whole state like a plague of locusts.”

“I wish you luck Jim”, Daddy said.

“You too John”, replied Mr.Sutton as he mounted his horse and turned it toward the road. Before riding off he stopped and added, “John. There are a lot of families headed down to Green County, across the state line. If the war visits your place take what you can and get down there.”

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Oklahoma Corruption

I don’t know how I missed this but somehow a year after the fact, I stumbled upon Paulette Jiles review of my book “The Rape of Delaware County”. Many thanks Mrs. Jiles, I am once again honored and humbled.

Oklahoma corruption July1/20

A good little book on how messed up Oklahoma law enforcement can be.

Relates also to the race riots of 1921 — the chief of police of Tulsa was an outright criminal and provided no leadership or control during those riots. Look it up on Wikipedia.

I am sure there are many dedicated policemen in Oklahoma and mean no denigration of the present police forces, especially since one has just been killed in the line of duty, but I am starting on a new work that takes place largely in Oklahoma in 1870 and it started as a lawless territory and sometimes these beginnings are hard to overcome.

The Post-War Betrayal of Missouri’s German Population.

Though often described as an inept leader, Abraham Lincoln promoted Franz Sigel to the rank of Major General, knowing it would entice German immigrants to enlist in the Union army.

I have written many articles on the history of Missouri, specifically, articles about the effect that “Mr. Lincoln’s War” had upon the state.

Missouri was originally settled by the French, then the Scots-Irish, who had also settled the majority of Southern states.

The Scots-Irish who settled the South ( and Missouri) had a much different culture than the English who had settled the North or the Germans who would later immigrate to America.

Fred DeArmond,in an article titled “Scotch-Irish Heritage”, (published in the Summer, 1971 issue of the White River Quarterly), wrote:

“The chief ethnic strain among native Ozarks people is called Scotch-Irish.”1

Katrina Garstka wrote in a 2009 article titled “The Scots-Irish in the Southern United States: An Overview”, described the Scots-Irish as follows:

“Once in America, they formed a more-or-less cohesive unit, if that can be said of a people who nurtured a proud and sometimes argumentative spirit, and a disdain for authority.”2

Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson called Abraham Lincoln’s call for Missouri to furnish four regiments of militia to put down the rebellion ,”illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary “

After the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12-13, 1861, President Lincoln called for the states to supply their share of 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion and it is this disdain for authority which led Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson to issue the following response to Lincoln:

“Sir: Your dispatch of the 15th instant, making a call on Missouri for four regiments of men for immediate service, has been received. There can be, I apprehend, no doubt that the men are intended to form a part of the President’s army to make war upon the people of the seceded states. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in its object, inhuman, and diabolical and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on any unholy crusade.”3

This set the stage for a showdown between Missouri’s Unionists and Secessionists, which can be more accurately described as a showdown between Missouri’s Scots-Irish and the German immigrants who had settled in the state over the past decade.

These German immigrants had concentrated in the area in and around St. Louis and were looked upon with suspicion, long before the outbreak of the war. Dr. Diane Mutti-Burke described the image that Americans (especially Missourians) held of German immigrants during the mid-nineteenth century:

“Louis Gerteis, a Civil War historian, recalls a common image that Americans had of Germans in the mid-19th century: that of a lager-drinking, Sabbath-breaking, and tenaciously proud group of people.”

Unlike the Scots-Irish who held great disdain for authority, the Germans of Missouri embraced it and admired Lincoln’s vision of a strong central government. This did not go unnoticed by leaders of Missouri’s Unionists factions who used them to capture an encampment of the Missouri State Guard at St. Louis named “Camp Jackson” after the Governor of the state.

“[General] Lyon responded to the perceived threat to control of the Arsenal with force. On May 10, 1861, Lyon surrounded Camp Jackson with pro-Union volunteer “Home Guards” (mostly drawn from the German immigrants of St. Louis), and took the Militia prisoner. As the prisoners were marched to the Arsenal, a riot broke out on the streets. During two days of rioting and gunfire, several soldiers, prisoners, and civilian bystanders were killed. Alarmed by the incident, the Missouri Legislature immediately acted on Governor Jackson’s call for a bill dividing the state into military districts and authorizing a State Guard.”4

After the “Camp Jackson Affair” (also referred to as the St. Louis Massacre by Southerners), Missouri’s German population was no longer looked at as simply crude, prideful guzzlers of lager, they were looked at as the ultimate enemy, the killer of innocent parties by the native Missourians, who were now flocking in to the Southern ranks and aligning themselves with the Confederacy.

Lincoln saw the value of using the Germans to put down the rebellion and promoted Germans to leadership positions in the Union army. One such appointment Lincoln made was to Franz Siegle who was made a colonel after the capture of Camp Jackson. Sigel was later promoted  to the rank of Major General. 

The move worked and Germans joined to fight for him. During the war, Sigel:

“…developed a reputation as an inept general, but his ability to recruit and motivate German immigrants kept him employed in a politically sensitive position. Many of these soldiers could speak little English beyond “I’m going to fight mit Sigel”5

By the time the war ended , Missouri was controlled by the Radical Republicans who implemented harsh Reconstruction policies through the adoption of the Drake Constitution. The Germans would soon learn that authoritarianism wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Charles Drake, was the namesake for Missouri’s constitution of 1865. Through his leadership and proposals the “Drake Constitution” ensured the Radical Republican rule of the state through its disenfranchisement of Missouri’s former Confederates as well as the State’s loyal German immigrants.

The Drake Constitution’s namesake was Charles Drake, a Cincinnati, Ohio born lawyer who had moved to St. Louis in 1834.

Drake was a staunch opponent of slavery and a staunch proponent of the disenfranchisement and harsh treatment of Southerners. He was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1859-1860 , became a delegate and Vice President of the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1865 and was influential in implementing his authoritarian vision for the state:

“The new Constitution was adopted [in 1865 ] and became known as the “Drake constitution.” The Radicals maintained absolute control of the state from 1865 to 1871, with Drake as their leader. 

To maintain power, Drake and the Radical Republicans disfranchised every man who had supported the Confederacy, even indirectly. 

They made an 81-point checklist of actions. The United States Supreme Court reversed the imposition of the oath on ministers, and became a highly controversial political issue across the state. 

The German Republicans in particular were angry.To further bolster his voting base, he secured the franchise for all black men in Missouri, despite qualms held by many Republicans. “6

Kristen L. Anderson, in an article published in the Fall, 2008 issue of the Journal of American Ethnic History noted that one particular point of contention of the Germans concerning the Drake Constitution were the religious provisions of the document. Anderson writes:

“More upsetting to most was the provision requiring priests and ministers to take the same loyalty oath as voters in order to preach or perform marriages.”

Anderson notes that Conservative Germans:

“Mocked radical Germans for finally realizing that the politicians they helped elect did not share their views on religion.”

Anderson quoted one newspaper correspondent who stated his opinion of Charles Drake noting that:

“[Drake] has been all his life time a religious and political fanatic and has never concealed his hatred against the “German infidels”.

The correspondent also added that:

“Republican politicians, including B. Gratz Brown, were just as bad and were trying to establish the dominance of Puritan Christianity in Missouri.”7

Andrew L. Slap, in his book “The Doom of Reconstruction: Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era”, writes:

“Despite cooperating with him to keep Missouri in the Union, the German had distrusted Drake since the 1850’s, when he belonged to the anti-immigrant Know – Nothing Party. 

The German community saw new signs of Drake’s prejudices in several of the proposals for the new constitution, particularly restrictions on churches, exclusion of immigrant suffering, and realignment of voting districts in St. Louis. Not only would priests and ministers be forced to take a Loyalty Oath to preach but Drake wanted to give the State the right to tax churches. He singled out the Catholic Church , to which many Germans belonged, as a “money making” machine that was generally disloyal during the Civil War.”8

Though the Germans were loyal to the Federal authoritarian government in Missouri during the war, after the war they suffered the same fate of their former foes, Missouri’s Scots-Irish settlers and continued to suffer with them until 1871 when the state stopped forcing its citizens to take the “Loyalty Oath.”

In 1875 Missouri adopted a new , less stringent constitution, thus officially ending the Reconstruction era of the state allowing former Confederates , their sympathizers and their foes, the Germans, to once again hold political office, bringing an end to the Radical Republicans authoritarian regime in Missouri.

Bibliography:

  1. “Scotch-Irish Heritage”, Fred DeArmond, Summer, 1971 issue of White River Heritage.
  2. “The Scots-Irish in the Southern United States: An Overview”, Katrina Gatska, Archives (online) magazine, October 16, 2009.
  3. Christensen, Lawrence O., Dictionary of Missouri Biography, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 423–425
  4. Christensen, Lawrence O., Dictionary of Missouri Biography, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 423–425
  5. Wikipedia, Franz Sigel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Sigel
  6.  “Enforcing a Vision of Community: The Role of the Test Oath in Missouri’s Reconstruction.” Civil War History 40.4 (1994): 292-307.
  7. “German Americans, African Americans, and the Republican Party in St. Louis, 1865-1872”, Journal of American Ethnic History, Fall, 2008, pp. 34-51, Kristen L. Anderson
  8. “The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era”, Andrew L.Slap, pp. 3-4.