Howell County Returns from Ashes 1865-1875 - Part 2

Despite the Civil War ending in April 1865, Missouri Governor Thomas C. Fletcher would struggle with guerrilla bands and brigands occupying the Arkansas-Missouri border for his entire time in office. In November 1865, he asked the Missouri Legislature for funding for the state militia to suppress outlawry and for authority to offer rewards for the leaders of these groups refusing to surrender and submit to civil authority. The Governor identified some of the targets of his requested action in a message to the General Assembly in November 1865:
"From this and other reliable information, I am satisfied that bands of desperadoes are infesting the counties southwest of Rolla, all of whom are rebel outlaws, who have never surrendered to the authorities of the United States or of this State, and all are bound together under the lead of James Prickett, James F. Gifford, Duke Sommers, Dick Walters, Gideon Martin, Josiah Westlake, Thomas. S. Yates, Peter Sanders, Ishmael Copeland, Joseph Apeley, Dick Ketchem (Kitchen), -- Keeny, Peter Smith, Anthony Wright, Archie Allen, F.M. Chambers, Jos. S. King, Wm. S. Ball, Riley Huddleston, Marvin Huddleston, Jas. Shelton, Sam West, Jesse Huddleston, Josiah Boze, and Sykes, for purposes of robbery and murder. The civil authorities in the sparsely settled counties on the southern border of the State are not able to subdue this organized banditti. I respectfully ask the General Assembly to authorize me to offer suitable reward for the leaders of the band referred to and to make an appropriation for that purpose, and likewise to make an appropriation subject to my order as Commander-In-Chief of the Militia of the State, which will enable me to put in good repair the arms of the State, and put such military forces as it may be necessary to call into active service, from time to time, for the protection of the people of the border counties, and the extermination of robbers and outlaws."
Fletcher's request was approved, and one of his first actions was to appoint former Union Captain William to the rank of Major in the State Militia to lead his effort in cleaning up southern Missouri. Monks eventually received an appointment as Lieutenant Colonel in the Arkansas State Militia after he had conducted an illegal raid into the State and the backlash that followed.
Fletcher was late getting on with the cleanup; some of the "desperadoes" had already been killed or run off without his help. In June 1865, the Union Seventh Kansas Cavalry was called out of Pilot Knob to suppress horse thievery in southern Missouri and conducted raids on the Reed Settlement on Current River in Shannon County and houses in Oregon County, killing men like guerrilla Richard "Devil Dick" Boze on the upper Eleven Point River in June 1865. Josiah Boze, wanted by the Governor for horse stealing, was an uncle of Devil Dick Boze. The Huddlestons mentioned were part of the Dick Boze gang.
Ishmael Copeland operated in Howell and Oregon counties. He fled the area when the heat of Monks' militia and the Oregon County Scouts (composed of many former Confederates) made it too hot to stay. In a like manner, the Guerrilla Bill Wilson, formerly operating south of Rolla, was driven into southern Missouri, eventually leaving the State, and a Monks archenemy, "Genuine" Jim Jamison, went to Texas. Southeast Missouri's Thomas S. Yates of Texas County, formerly a Lieutenant with William O. Coleman's regiment and part of William Coats' company, took to the brush in 1863 and operated as a guerrilla for the remainder of the war and beyond. The Missouri Democrat reported on November 26, 1865, "One by one, they bite the dust. The retributive hand of justice may be for a time evaded but, at last, fastens the felon in its clutch, as has just been illustrated. Captain Monks, Representative from Howell County, has received a letter from home, in which it is reliably stated that the notorious bushwhacker and guerrilla - one of the Republican's estimable citizens - Tom Yates, was killed on the 20th instant by John Keuzer, Deputy Sheriff of Texas County. This is one of the bands of outlaws infesting Southeast Missouri named in the Governor's recent message to the General Assembly, and for whom it was proposed to offer five hundred dollar reward. The reward is thus saved, and the State is rid of a daring and desperate robber and murderer."
Southeast Missouri's most notorious bushwhacker Sam Hildebrand and a notorious Southeast Missouri raider Dick Kitchen were eventually driven out too. 
Amid all this guerrilla hunting and political infighting, the citizens of Howell County briefly paused in November 1869 to collectively meet and propose a railroad through the county. I've been trying to find any other report on this gathering, which must have been strained, as only some of these fellows were getting along with each other at the time. 
The Springfield Patriot reported, "A Railroad Meeting in Howell County." "At a large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of Howell County, held in West Plains, on the 27th inst. (27th of October) to have the Memphis, Springfield & Kansas City Railroad run through Howell County, the following proceedings were had and made:"
"The Chairman briefly and pointedly explained the object of the meeting and declared it open for business. Loud and repeated calls were made for Colonel Sam Williams of Rolla to address the meeting, who came forward and, in a speech of unusual felicity, humor, and logic, portrayed the grand future of Howell County in case she went to work to get the line of the road through the county. He alluded most humorously to the benign countenance of Judge Waddill's old horse 'Bill," whose laborious trudging for the past ten years had excited his sympathy and was destined soon to cease, for the reason that the iron-shod horse of modern projection would soon traverse the beautiful hills and vales of Howell. Those neighing shrieks would soon echo and re-echo the length and breadth of her beautiful domain."
"Colonel Williams concluded in powerful peroration (I looked it up - peroration means the finish or conclusion) of eloquence, making a strong appeal to the citizens of Howell to come up nobly to the work. At the conclusion of Colonel Williams' speech, loud, long, and repeated calls were made for Judge Waddill, who came forward and, in a brief and eloquent speech, entreated the citizens to take immediate action on the question of subscription of stock to the Company, and showed unanswerably the necessity and advantage of the road. He alluded very happily to the fatigue he had endured together with his tried and trusty steed 'Bill' in twenty-five years of traveling and trudging over flint hills and dirt roads, and said a better time was dawning, and hoped the day would soon be here when the immense resources of this country would be developed and brought into close connection with the great markets of the whole country."
"At the conclusion of Judge Waddill's speech, stentorian calls were made for Judge (John R.) Woodside, who came forward and, in a speech of eloquence and sound logic, showed conclusively the immense benefits which would accrue to Howell County if the road could be brought through it. The Judge, with unparalleled generosity, offered to give acres if the road would run through the county and exploded the erroneous impression that a subscription on the part of the county would materially increase the burden of taxation. The Judge's remarks were most happily received, and he concluded in a stirring appeal to the people to come nobly up to the work and help build the road."
"When Judge Woodside concluded, on motion, the following committee were appointed by the Chairman to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting: Honorable Ben Alsup, Colonel William Monks, Daniel Nicholas, Nathan Brigs, Captain J. H. Maxey, D. Shuttee, and William H. McCowan."
I've wondered what I would give to have been a fly on the wall in that committee meeting. Monks and Woodside tangled during and after the war, contesting for Circuit Judge with Woodside, the victor. A couple of years earlier, Monks had been arrested and illegally imprisoned without trial Judge Woodside's son Posey. Waddill was a law partner of Monks specializing in land speculation. Ben Alsup had just beaten Monks in a run for State Representative. 
Just ten months earlier, in January 1869, the Springfield Leader sized up one of the group members' conflicts. They reported, in a letter written from Howell County, "The fight between Judge Alsop (Ben Alsup) and Major Monks for a seat in the Legislature as Representative of the 'Empire of Howell' still continues with the prospects decidedly in favor of the Judge. The point at issue being 'rebellion' not of the contestees but of those that voted for them. Aksop today turned his attention to some of Monks' followers and took evidence before the justices showing that one of the men who voted for the Major having to leave here during the war went to Arkansas where he played the part of 'loyalty,' but not towards the United States. Two others were proved to have hauled goods from Rolla to this place (Springfield), where they sold them to rebels. And a fourth proved not to be 'white.' These men are fair samples of Monks' Militia so loyal that it is dangerous to speak to them now. They, during the 'late unpleasantness,' went South first, then North, and since have joined in all militia operations that promised plunder. It is said that Monks seriously thinks of turning over his command of this county to a subordinate, but this is only in the event of his securing a permanent domain in Arkansas.
The result of the meeting was a pledge to support the building of a railroad and a promise for Howell County to donate one hundred thousand dollars to the railroad, payable in twenty years via bonds yielding six percent per year. It would be another thirteen years before the first train ran through the county, but the committee proved visionary. The railroad was the biggest thing to happen to Howell County besides the Civil War.
While the county was in political and physical turmoil, I find it amusing that a Buffalo, Missouri newspaper echoed a report of, "A large buck with five points on each horn recently wandered into the town of West Plains. Men and hounds gave chase and brought him down a short distance from the village."
In August 1876, the Phelps County New Era reprinted a report from Howell County: "The West Plains Journal man has not been idle. He records the birth of a chicken having three bills, two throats, and three eyes. It lived only twenty-four hours." 
Apparently of lesser importance was a line mentioning a special agent from the United States Postal Department had just been to West Plains to arrest the postmaster for robbing the mail. Even Custer's "Last Stand" took backstage to the chicken story. Such are the insights into our activities for a decade where few sources are available. 
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