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The Houston Herald
The Houston Herald
Contributed by Gigimo

Description: Looking Backward. Civil War Times in Texas County - "Bushwackers" and Bands of Robbers Infest the Land - Many Terrible Crimes Committed.

Date: June 24 1920

Newspaper published in: Houston, MOl

During the Civil War, those who were exempted from the draft on account of old age, sickness, broken or distorted limbs, etc., and also those who took the non-combatant oath, which deprived them of the right to fight on either side, were all exposed to attacks of violence from both armies, also from the "bushwhackers" and bands of robbers, too. Therefore many of those living in South Missouri and North Arkansas were compelled to seek the less hostile regions of Illinois and Kentucky.

It is difficult to tell where so many robbers came from; but it is easy to establish the fact that they were there. Wherever neighbor army was present, "bushwhackers: and robbers seemed to literally infest the land. They took away everything of value they could find and made night hideous with crimes of murder, torture and arson. If anyone was even suspected of having anything of value concealed, the robbers would murder him by slow torture or have it. One night they came to the home of an old man and demanded a few hundred dollars in "hard money" (gold and silver) which they suspected him of having concealed. He declared he had none but they would not believe him. They stripped him of all his clothing, bound his hands and feet, tore leaves from his family Bible, saturated them with turpentine, spread them over his naked body and burned them off. Then they took a poor orphan boy, whom they suspected of having a sum of money concealed, which was left him by his parents who had recently died. They demanded his money. He told them he had none, which was the truth, but they would not believe him. They put a rope around his neck and threw it over the limb of a tree and hung him until his face turned black, then they let him down. They did this three times in succession and finally left him for dead. Daniel REED, the father of Mrs. Flora BARNES, of Licking, afterward adopted this boy and raised him to manhood. His name was John MACKEY.

Then there was our neighbor, Mr. MAPLES, who lived about a mile south of us on the Batesville road (also called the West Plains road.) Some unknown man rode up to MAPLES' door at midnight and hollered "hello!" Mr. MAPLES opened the door and the man, without a word of warning, shot him down and galloped away without letting himself be known or even stating why he had killed Mr. MAPLES. And there was poor Mrs. MAPLES left a widow with two little helpless baby boys on her hands, in a newly settled and war swept country, with almost nothing in the world to live on. And there were men - yes, married men at that - who took advantage of the poverty and wretchedness of this poor, unfortunate widow to drag her down to the dogs! But she outlived the disgrace, and after the war was over she was married to the Rev. Wash OGLE, a minister of the Baptist church. She also became a member of that church and lived a good clean life ever afterward. She lived in the fear of God and died in the hope of Heaven. She was a good woman and a good neighbor. So I say, "let him that is without sin cast the first stone" at her.

And then, as the war was over, those who had fled to less hostile regions, determined to get back to their former homes again. And as we lived on the public road, we could see these people moving back and for a year or more there was almost a constant stream of moving wagons passing our house. Some of them had good mule teams and wagons, some had horse teams and some oxen. Occasionally we would see an ox and cow yoked together, also two cows yoked up and hitched to a wagon. But man traveled on foot (walked) and some had pack horses, and frequently the pack horse was not a horse. Sometimes it was an ox or a donkey or a broken legged mule.

A few rude culinary instruments, with bread and meat for the journey, constituted the contents of one end of a large bag or sack, called a wallet, made somewhat after the fashion of the old time saddle bags, while a small bed and bedding, with now and then a little boy or girl too small to retain his equilibrium on horseback, were ordinarily stowed away in the other, the head of the little one protruding just far enough for breathing purposes. The mother sat enthroned between this moving kitchen and nursery, guiding the horse and administering to the wants of the babies, while the father, with unerring rifle on his shoulder and his faithful dog by his side, led the way, dreaming of contentment and plenty at the old home place "in Arkansaw, by cracky!"

I now call to mind a family by the name of SHOWNING, who, I believe, had left their home in Oregon county, Mo., perhaps not far from Thomasville, who were making their way back there after the hostilities had ceased. They seemed to be well to do people. They had nice new wagons and good teams of horses and other stock. They got supper at our house and asked the privilege of camping for the night in front of our yard gate; and about midnight they were attacked by a band of robbers, who took from them their money and many other things of value, including a large bolt of nice new woolen cloth which Mrs. S. had woven with her own hands just before they started out on this moving trip. I shall never forget the language Mrs. S. used in remonstrating with the robbers who, with drawn revolvers, were ransacking the wagons and taking everything of value they could find. She was certainly a very brave little woman, but her bravery availed nothing. However, she had the pleasure, if it be a pleasure, of telling the robbers just what she thought of them, with several adjectives thrown in for good measure!

These notorious robbers were all arrested later on, convicted and sent to the penitentiary, and while Mr. and Mrs. SHOWNING did not get all of their money and property back, and especially the bolt of newly woven linsey, they were glad that the thieves were put away where they could not pilfer anymore for a good long while, and they seemed to be as happy as those described in the following lines:

"'I haven't got riches,' said Ezra McGee,
'But, say, I've got Maggie and Maggie's got me'
There's nothin' else counts very much with us two,' -
Then Ezra McGee took a generous chew.
'I see by the papers some feller today
Lost mebby a million by stock market play,
And then, in despair, put a hole in his head -
He had the wrong dope, and he's better off dead.
It ain't what you win and it ain't what you lose,
In dollars or cents, or in peanuts or booze,
That matters the most in this funny old life -
It's love for a husband or love for a wife.
Now, mebby I'm wrong as you see it,' Ez said,
In that case I'd say you've been badly misled;
To my way of thinkin' we couldn't agree,
For, say, I've got Maggie and Maggie's got me!"

J. W. Atkisson, St. Louis, Mo.

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Submitted: 02/11/18

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