Page 2

This is the civil war document presented to the Oregon Co, MO, Genealogical Society
Credit for the hard work and research goes out to: Lou Wehmer and Carl Burkhead

In the fall of 1867, the counties of Oregon and Shannon, were still controlled by those roving bands of outlaws who ruled the counties with an iron hand. A despotism, unequalled at any stage of the war, existed there. There was a public gathering in the fall of 1867 in Thomasville. Col. Jamison, one of the leaders of these outlawed bands rode into town at the head of about fifty men, well armed, shot two men's brains out, paraded the streets and swore that any man that attempted to enforce the civil law against them, would fare the same; rode out unmolested and there was not a single attempt made by the civil authorities to arrest one of them. In a few days Jamison with some of his men rode into town and a man by the name of Philip Arbogast, the father-in- law of Mr. Hill, one of the firm of Hill-Whitmire Mercantile Co., now doing business in West Plains, who had been a Confederate all through the war, remarked in the hearing of Jamison that the war was over, and he believed that the civil law ought to be enforced. Jamison at once dismounted, cocked his pistol, approached Arbogast and commenced punching him with the muzzle of it until he inflicted some wounds remarking to him that if he ever heard of him uttering a word again in favor of civil law being enforced that he would hunt him up and shoot his brains out.

Some time previous to that occurrence, two men who had been discharged from the Federal army and had once resided in Oregon county, came into the county to look at their old homes. Col. Jamison, with about forty men, arrested them, took them to the house of the sheriff, informed the sheriff that no "Feds" could ever reside in Oregon county, and no damn Black Republicans could ever cast a vote at any election that was held in the county; that they were going to make an example of the men, that others might take warning; that they were going to take them out far enough away that their stench would not annoy good Confederates. Accordingly, they started from the house, took them about one-half mile, stripped them naked, shot them to pieces, returned to the sheriff's house with the clothing, which was the uniform they had worn in the service, horse and mule and saddles which they had been riding; gave the mule to the sheriff, took the horse with them, published what they had done, and said that those men shouldn't be buried and that if any Confederate buried them, they would share the same fate.

Capt. Alley, who had been a Confederate all through the war, but was an honest man and wanted to see the law enforced, informed Governor Fletcher of the condition of the county. Governor Fletcher at once appointed him an enrolling officer, ordering him to enroll and organize the county into militia companies, to form a posse-comitatus to aid the sheriff in enforcing the law. As soon as he received his commission, he rode into the different townships, put up his notices requesting the people to meet him for the purpose of enrolling. Jamison, with about forty men, rode into the township where the first meeting was to be, posted another written notice on the same tree, the purport of which was that if Capt. Alley, the old, white-headed scoundrel, appeared on the day to carry out the orders of the Governor, he would meet him and shoot his old head off his shoulders. Alley, being satisfied that he would carry out his threat, went to the place before daylight and concealed himself nearby. About 10 o'clock on the day appointed, Jamison and about forty followers came charging in on their horses revolvers in hand, cursing and declaring that they would like to see the old white-headed scoundrel put in an appearance so they could make an example of him; that they didn't intend to let any man enforce the law against them.

Monks took the Howell County arm of the Missouri State Militia to Oregon County in the fall of 1867. By his own account, it was a brutal campaign. When the militiamen captured four of Jim Jamisonís cohorts, Monks had them lashed to a wagon, at the same time sending word to the outlaw that he would kill the prisoners if the militia were fired upon. Monks then proceeded into the outlawís lair, but Jamison and his gang elected not to test his resolve. Later, some of his militiamen captured the Oregon County sheriff and tortured him by hanging him until he was ready to talk. The militia however did not limit their activities to eradicating outlaws and in many cases these men spent their time hunting former Confederate enemies to settle old scores. The situation go so bad the newly resurrected Oregon County Circuit Court raised its own militia to hunt down the outlaws so they would have reason to get Monks to leave.

Two companies of Oregon County militiamen, nearly all of whom were ex-Confederate soldiers, joined the Howell County company, and the combined battalion dispersed the criminals. Some were captured and turned over to civil authorities for trial. Others were tracked down and killed by the Oregon County militia. Jim Jamison and Dick Kitchen left Missouri altogether. Later Jamison joined the Texas Rangers and received a pardon for his war crimes from the Governor of Missouri. Others may have fled to Indian Territory expecting to evade the reach of justice, only to swing later on Judge Isaac Parkerís gallows at Fort Smith.

The Oregon County militiamen probably did the lionís share of the work. Capt. Alley wrote the Adjutant General of Missouri in 1867 that Monks's company was not doing much, and stated that he would not be displeased to see it move on. Monks finally took his company north into Shannon County to prevent the gangs from escaping in that direction. The State Militia detachment was relieved from active service in December 1867. In his biennial report for 1867-1868, the Adjutant General noted expenditures for Monksís battalion of fifty men amounting to $6,328.60, but there is no record of payment for the Oregon County militia. In 1868, the Oregon County court continued its militia with funds from its own treasury, which may have been as much to keep Monksís company out as it was to combat outlaws. Monks complained that the ringleaders had been killed or driven out, but left behind sympathizers who ďbegan lying and preferring all manner of charges against the writer and his men.Ē He insisted that ďit was admitted by all honorable Confederates that I had enforced a strict discipline over my own men and protected all classes of citizens in person and property, had paid for all forage and commissaries that were required for the soldiers, and had driven out the worst set of bushwhackers, thieves and murders that ever lived.Ē

Klu Klux:
At that time there was a secret order in the counties of Oregon and Shannon known as the Sons of Liberty. The author was informed that on a certain night they would hold a meeting on Warm fork of Spring river. The author made a forced march and, on reaching the place where they had assembled, surrounded the house and took all the inmates prisoners, among them being the sheriff of the county and a few other prominent men. The next morning Capt. Alley met the author, put up his notices ordering every man to come in and enroll his name. The author remained over the next day near the place, got in possession of their papers, with a secret oath placed upon them, and the aims and objects, binding themselves together to prevent the enforcement of the civil law, and further binding themselves to capture or take property from any man who had been in the Federal army, and, when it became necessary to enforce it, to shoot men down. They claimed to have lawyers connected with it, so that if they should be arrested they were to make a pretense of a trial and allow no man to go onto the jury except those who belonged to the order.

Capt. Greer, who had been a Captain in the Confederate service all through the war, and afterwards was elected to he state legislature, remarked that, "I can soon tell whether those grips, obligations and oaths were in the organization known as the Sons of Liberty;" said that "Old Uncle Dickey" Boles, a short time previous, came to him and informed him that the Sons of Liberty were going to hold a meeting in a big sink on the mountain and they wanted him to come and join it; that he was looked upon as a business man and he didn't know anything about what was going on right at his door; that if he would come and join it, in a few years he would be a rich man. Capt. Greer said he replied to him, "Uncle Dickey, I have always been an honest man and have worked hard, and if a man can get rich in two or three years by joining that order, there must be something dishonest in it." Old Uncle Dickey replied; "You won't be in a bit of danger in joining it, for we are so organized that the civil law can't reach us." Capt. Greer said he had a son-in-law who was requested, at the same time he was, to attend the meeting, and that after the meeting he saw him and asked him what kind of an organization it was. He said his brother-in-law told him, "I dare not tell you; I took the bitterest oath that I have ever taken in my life not to reveal the workings of the order on penalty of death. But I will tell you enough, Captain, I know that you are an honest man and that that organization is a damn jay-hawking institution, and you want nothing to do with it." Captain Greer at once sent for his brother-in-law; he came, and the signs, grips and by-laws that were captured at the place of the meeting were submitted to him and he said he believed they were word for word the same, and contained the very same oath that they swore him to on the night that he went to their meeting.
As the gunfire subsided by 1870, the war of words continued for at least another decade. The political struggle played itself out in regional races like Circuit Judge. It was with particular delight that Colonel John R. Woodside defeated William Monks in the early 1870ís. In the immediate post war period, while the radical republicans ruled a number of criminal indictments were filed against former rebels seeking compensation for stolen horses and property. Monks filed civil suits on his former kidnappers and in some cases took their property. After the Radical Republicans fell out of power the tables turned and indictments were filed in Monkís home county charging him with murder. On one occasion while Monks was appearing in a neighboring county court he had to jump through a window and ride away to avoid a young man he had mistreated during the war killing him with a shotgun.
Here is how Monks summed up the situation:
But they left some of their sympathizers in the county, and the only weapons left them were their tongues; having no conscience or principle, and instigated by the wicked one, they began lying and preferring all manner of charges against the writer and his men who went into the county and, by the aid of the law-abiding citizens, drove out and arrested one of the worst set of men that ever lived, the savage not excepted, and restored the civil law, so that every citizen was secure in person and property.
I grew up in Republican Howell County. Monks was portrayed to me as a local hero. I knew nothing of the other side until my mid 20ís. The first presidential primary election I voted in I was not asked which ballot I preferred, I was handed a republican ballot. Iím sure similar stories exist with a Democratic twist here. Monks and his associates took control of the county court in West Plains in 1865. The first order of business was to re-instate property taxes to get the county government up and running again. But, they declared any loyal man living in the county during the war did not owe back taxes, while the rebels did. The consequence was those who were not driven from the county by gunfire were made to leave by other means. Monks formed a land speculation company and bought and sold the lands in tax default to former Unionists locally and out of state. The consequence and legacy of these events in Howell is today a republican county while Oregon is largely democratic.

This is the civil war document presented to the Oregon Co, MO, Genealogical Society
Credit for the hard work and research goes out to: Lou Wehmer and Carl Burkhead



Click here to Email Alton Mo Business
Copyright 2010 Lighthouse Greetings

Updated 07/10/10