I'd like to take a breather now and talk a little (very short paragraphs) about the people I know Willard associated with in prison and his relationship to them. I thought this would be helpful since a person's friends can sometimes tell you a lot about the person and the choices they make. One of those people was prisoner #1901, L. D. LAYFIELD. L. D. was received into Leavenworth about a year after Willard. There are two documented incidents of Willard's relationship with L. D. in Willard's Violations docket from prison. The first incident was on 30 March 1900 when L. D. passed a not to Willard and Willard refused to surrender the note to the guard when ordered to do so. Willard tore up the note instead. He was put in Solitary for insolence at 5:00 p.m. and was released from Solitary at 3:30 p.m. on April 2nd. I wonder if that note was worth it? I doubt the note was about the escape since it would another year and a half or so before the escape happened. And in case you're counting- that's three days in Solitary. The next time we see L. D. is on 21 August 1902 (almost a year after Willard's escape attempt). Willard and L. D. must have been good friends because on the morning of August 21st Willard was pushing and crowding other prisoners in the yard in order to be near L. D. and Robert CLARKE (whom we'll talk about next). If I understood all the abbreviations on the Violations docket I could tell you what kind of punishment Guard BROWN gave Willard for this. Unfortunately, I just don't know at this point. If you figure it out, let me know. The abbreviations are “Rep. And T.T.”. I think “Rep.” is short for reprimanded. I have no idea about “T.T.”.

We don't get to learn much about Robert CLARKE (prisoner #360). He was received into Leavenworth a little over 2 ½ years before Willard arrived. All I know about him is the incident described above where Willard was pushing and crowding trying to get near Robert and L. D. Willard didn't get Solitary this time so maybe it was worth it to him.

Charles JONES, prisoner #56, was received into Leavenworth three years before Willard. I'm not sure what to think about Willard's relationship with Charles. Was it adversarial or friendly? You decide. On 1 May 1901 Guard BROWN reprimanded Willard for striking Charles over the head with a pillow. May of 1901 seemed to be a difficult time for Willard. He was reprimanded a total of 5 times that month and for one of those incidents he was sent to Solitary. His time in Solitary lasted for 5 days. In case you're not crunching the numbers on your own- he was in trouble a little more than once a week that month. (Kate was a JONES. I wonder if this guy was her relative?)

B. W. STARNES (aka prisoner #2746) is, again, someone that I'm not sure was a friend or foe for Willard. B. W. was mentioned one time on the Violations docket. Guard HULL reprimanded Willard for “[c]ontinually talking with 2746 during work”. Again, there's a reprimand code that I don't understand. It's “Rep. and Ex”. I still think “Rep.” is short for reprimand. I have no guess what “Ex.” is.

Willard referenced Lol SOUTHERLAND (prisoner #1943) when he was recaptured and called Lol his friend. Lol was received into Leavenworth about a year after Willard. He was from Indian Territory. After he was released from Leavenworth he did a second stint there beginning in 1904. Lol shows up twice on Willard's Violations docket. On 4 January 1902 Guard BROWN (again!) reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking to #1943, in line going to dinner.” Willard got “Rep. & T.T.” both of which we've discussed above. On 25 July 1902 Guard BROWN (*sigh*) reprimanded Willard for “[p]utting his jumper in laundry contrary to orders, cross and ugly during the day in stone shed, because he was changed away from 1943 (Lol), giving away his tobacco, and then helping himself to 1943's tobacco (Lol's tobacco). For these offenses, Willard earned himself Solitary for 5 days from 5:30 p.m. on 25 July 1902 to 4:00 p.m. on 30 July 1902.

Osceola “Ole” BOBO (prisoner #2296) was received at Leavenworth on 26 October 1900- about two years after Willard. He did a second stint at Leavenworth beginning 25 November 1903. Ole BOBO is only listed once in Willard's Violations docket. He shows up on 11 April 1903 when Guard BROWN reprimanded Willard for “[c]onstant laughing this p.m. at 2296.” I don't have enough information at this point to determine whether Willard and Ole BOBO were really were good friends and they picked on each other a lot or whether Willard was maliciously laughing at Ole BOBO. For the violation of “constant laughing”, Willard got “Rep. & T.T.”.

Samuel G. KENNAMER (prisoner #2141) was received into Leavenworth on 7 May 1900- about a year and a half after Willard. On 17 May 1902 Guard BROWN (what is UP with this guy?!?) reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking at noon time to 2141. Willard was given “Rep and T.T.”.

John RILEY (prisoner #2776) was received at Leavenworth shortly after Willard was recaptured and returned to Leavenworth. On 8 September 1902 Guard HULL reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking in the shop to 2776. Willard was given “Rep & Ex.”.

The final acquaintance mentioned in Willard's Violations docket was Taylor BURNS. Taylor was received at Leavenworth just a few months before the prison break. On 25 October 1902 Guard BROWN (!!!) reprimanded Willard for “[c]rowding himself in line in order to be near 2572.” Willard got “Rep. and T.T.” for this offense.

Keep in mind that Kate's first husband, Richard THOMPSON, was also in Leavenworth at the same time as Willard. Both men were received at Leavenworth in 1898.

So draw from this what you will. What I see is either a guard who didn't like Willard or there just weren't that many guards in the first place (probably a little of both). Truthfully, I also see a young man who hadn't grown up. A young man who had no remorse for committing Assault to Kill (or nearly killing Roy KIRKPATRICK), no desire to reform, nor any self-control. He was probably a lot of fun to be around until he started getting you in trouble or started doing things you didn't want to be associated with. I think he was probably defiant, a risk-taker and rule-breaker, and probably felt like whatever consequence he received was worth it to “have a little fun”. He doesn't strike me as a person who was very concerned about consequences.

Willard healed from his wounds related to the escape attempt. He finished out the totality of his time (remember he forfeited early release for good behavior when he escaped) and was released in 1903.

The Middle Years- Already on the Downhill Slide

If you thought Red reformed in prison, think again.

After getting out of prison, Red married a woman who was 4 years older than he. He married Cynthia Katherine JONES (who went by “Kate”). Kate brought two children into the marriage and together, Kate and Willard had one daughter named Mildred. Red was Kate's second husband; Kate was Red's first wife. They were married on 2 July 1905 in McDonald County, Missouri. Other than having an additional child to care for, life didn't change much for Kate. Willard liked to drink and fight, just like Richard.

In January of 1907, Red was in the paper again for being in trouble with the law. The article does pose a bit of a mystery as it mentions Red's brother “Ott”. The problem is, Red never had a brother named Ott. I thought this over for awhile and finally I hit on an explanation that I think solves this little problem. I remember my dad telling me stories about my 2nd great-grandfather, Alonzo “Poppy” DRAKE (who was also Red and Ott's brother). Dad told me one thing he remembered about Poppy was his accent. Poppy retained a foreign-sounding accent on some words he used. For instance, when he said “calm down” it came out sounding like “cam down”. So if Poppy had an accent surely his brothers Red and Ott also retained an accent of some sort. The newspaper that reported the incident was not in McDonald County, Missouri. It was in the neighboring state of Arkansas. After looking through the family history and putting various puzzle pieces together this is what I propose to you. The reporter most likely did not know the DRAKE family. I propose that he interviewed Red and Ott and when he asked their names, he wrote their names down phonetically. Red's brother Art's name came out sounding like Ott when said with an accent. So in reality the men in this article are Red and his brother Arthur, or “Art” which sounded like “Ott”. If you have a better theory, by all means please post it in the comments. Anyway, back to the article. In January of 1905 Red did some work for a Mr. VAUGHAN. Mr. VAUGHAN was in the act of paying Red when Red grabbed the man's “purse” (could this be the origin of the word “murse” meaning “man purse”??) and ran off with it. Meanwhile, Art became engaged in a fight with the YEARGAIN's over the incident. Art drew a gun on the YEARGAIN's but apparently did not shoot. Red was subsequently captured as was Art. They were taken to the jail in Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri. The article doesn't say exactly what Red's charges were although I'm certain there were charges. Art was charged with carrying concealed weapons. Notice the article said weapons. Either the reporter made a typo or Art was carrying more than one weapon. (Art continued to get in trouble with the law even when he no longer had Red to get into trouble with.) The reporter wasn't kind to the DRAKE's. He described the two brothers as “alleged rough characters” (probably true) and dissed the whole family saying we “had a bad reputation”. Lucky for him he didn't have the courage to sign his name to the article therefore I have no idea whom to malign for this slight against the family. (I hope you're laughing right now as I'm being just a bit tongue-in-cheek. Well, maybe not. You guys know I would totally rat that guy out for a good story! hahaha)

In 1910, the family- Willard and Kate, Edward and Kenneth (Richard and Kate's boys), and Mildred (Willard and Kate's daughter) were living on Depot Street in South West City, McDonald County, Missouri. Willard did odd jobs and Kate was a laundress. If Kate was fortunate enough to have a machine for doing laundry, she probably didn't have a nice electric machine like this 1911 Maytag model.

Photo found at Montana Heritage Project

The boys- Edward and Kenneth- were attending school. Mildred was 4 years old so she wasn't in school in 1910.

It didn't take Kate long to figure out she hadn't made an improvement in her life when she married Willard. Sometime around 1911, she decided to do something about it. Willard had a friend named Bud LEONARD whom he liked to go visit and hang out with. (Bud was in and out of jail after Willard's death so probably was also not a very good character.) One day when Willard went over to Bud's farm, Kate “hooked up the team, loaded the family and took them to Galena, Kansas.” Mildred said she was 6 years old when this happened. Kate's older boys were mining in Galena at that time. Kate and Mildred boarded with them and eventually she bought a restaurant from a relative of hers.

On 27 January 1912, Willard was shot. He died 3 days later on 30 January 1912.

Willard's death certificate. You can obtain your own copy by visiting Missouri Digital Heritage digital archives.

Family oral history has always said that Red was at the barber shop in South West City, Missouri getting his hair cut when the sheriff walked in. Red reached in his jacket pocket for some tobacco, the sheriff thought Red was going for a gun, and the sheriff shot him dead. Mildred, Red's daughter, said in an interview that Red “got beat up and was shot in the back outside of a restaurant on Red Hot Street near the smelter in Southwest City.” I didn't even know South West City had a smelter OR a Red Hot Street! There was, however, a Red Hot Street and a smelter in Galena, Kansas. (You can find a photo of Red Hot Street in Galena, Kansas at Legends of America. The photo is about 1/3 of the way down the page on the left side.) Perhaps Mildred remembered the town incorrectly- maybe not. Who can say for sure? (And by the way, whatever things you think of when you think of a street called Red Hot Street- it most likely really was all of that from what I've read.) The only other clue I have is his death certificate which lists his cause of death as “Gun shot wound followed by Septicemia”- Septicemia being a blood infection. He likely died because his organs began to fail one by one due to the Septicemia. The length of illness was 3 days as listed above 27 January-30 January 1912. I have found no newspaper articles, stories, or records of any kind that would explain what happened the day Willard was shot. This is the best I can give you.


When Mildred was interviewed later in life she said she thought that Willard's dad came here on the Trail of Tears and that his dad was a Sheriff in Oak Grove, Oklahoma at one point. I can't confirm that William DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandfather) was ever a sheriff nor that the family lived in a place called Oak Grove, Oklahoma. That doesn't mean it isn't true- just that I don't have any information to verify it or prove it wrong either way. I can say without a doubt though that William DRAKE did not come here on the Trail of Tears nor did he come here via a route from North Carolina to Tennessee to Arkansas as Mildred thought. HOWEVER, Willard's mom- Hester MITCHELL DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandmother)- her family did come from Tennessee. According to my information they came to Missouri sometime between 1852 and 1860 as opposed to coming on the Trail of Tears. Keep in mind though, this information could be incorrect or incomplete so if someone wants to get to work confirming when Hester's family got here, that would be great! While we're talking about Willard's parents, I want to correct a mistake I made in the first post about Willard. I stated he was Irish. Thank you to my sister-in-law, Becky, for bringing this to my attention. Willard is not Irish. He is actually Scottish through his maternal great-grandfather (my 5th great-grandfather), John MITCHELL. It is believed the DRAKE's came from England. Sorry for the mix-up. I will be going back to the first post and making that correction so that everyone has the correct information.

I often say something to the effect of “It's all about choices” or “It's all about options”. It's hard to look at Willard's story and see anyone who made good choices. I once worked as a paralegal for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise in their Tribunal. I learned a lot of things on that job. My boss (best boss ever- shout out to Diane BARR!) once told me that when people are choosing a partner they almost always default to the same type of person over and over unless this tendency is called to their attention and they make active efforts to choose a different type of person the second (or subsequent) time around. She had a lot of insight. Kate could have used a good talking to from Diane. Richard was a violent drunk. So was Willard. Kate chose the same kind of man the next time around. She didn't learn.

I am grateful that Mildred's descendants (including Kerry LANGSTAFF) took the time to both interview Mildred and to share a summary of the interview on Ancestry. Some of the information from that summary is included in the blog posts I've been posting about Willard and Kate (especially the part about Willard and Kate's marriage which wouldn't have had nearly the detail without Mildred's interview). I appreciate that Kerry took the time to correspond with me about Mildred, Kate, Willard, and Richard.

I also appreciate that Kyle THOMPSON, a descendant of Kate and Richard's, took the time to respond to my request for information about Kate as well. One thing Kyle told me that was interesting was that Kate's dad's family (the Jones') owned property near Pea Ridge, Arkansas and that some of their property was a part of the battlefield there. Both Kerry and Kyle noted that Kate's family was Native American and they believe her family came here on the Trail of Tears.

Thank you to Becky, my sister-in-law, for always finding that one extra story that HAS to be told and for keeping tabs on me and making sure I get it right! You can thank her too by swinging by her blog and reading her amazing stories. I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Willard, or Red- whichever you prefer to call him. He is buried in South West City Cemetery. The next time you're over there, leave him some flowers. He's buried right next to William and Hester DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandparents- Willard's parents) and Ervin DRAKE (my 4th great-grandfather and the grandfather of Willard) in the back of the cemetery. Bring enough flowers for all of them and pay your respects.

One tiny request. October is National Family History Month. It takes me about 2 months to compile and write a story like this. Save your future descendants some time and start writing your stories now. You don't have to be a professional writer. They will value your stories more if your stories SOUND like you- the way you would tell the story. They'll thank you! You may even end up being their favorite for this one small gesture of kindness!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog



Reporters wrote some stellar headlines in the coming days. They declared the prison break “the most successful prison mutiny” and compared it to the “border ruffian days”. The guards were hyped up and ready for the manhunt. Twenty-six prisoners had escaped. The twenty-seventh (Quinn FORT, one of the three ringleaders) lay dead at the new prison construction site having been shot by WALDRUP. Guard Joseph B. WALDRUP died shortly after being shot in the forehead by Quinn FORT. The escapees made it to the edge of town and released their hostages. As fate would have it, Warden R. W. McCLAUGHRY was gone when the riot broke out. He was in Kansas City arranging for the annual convention of the National Prison Reform Association's convention planned for the following day. When he learned of the escaped prisoners he immediately came back. He arrived three hours after the escape and right away began planning for the recapture of the convicts. He laid no blame on his guards but rather blamed the fact that the prison did not have a sufficient number of guards. He made sure to let the press know that he had as many guards as he was allowed to have and was hopeful that in the next congressional session the number of allowed guards would be increased. He claimed he should have had twice as many guards as he currently had.

Meanwhile the convicts were headed for Indian Territory at “breakneck speed”. They used relays. Their relays consisted of stealing a farmer's horse (and/or wagon), riding it at high rates of speed until the horse gave out then abandoning the horse and stealing another. In this way they were keeping ahead of the guards and police who were searching for them. As I said before, on the evening of the escape the hunt was called off due to rough terrain and darkness. Through the night the warden had the prisoners' photos and descriptions telegraphed out to surrounding towns and districts. He asked that the districts have police out looking for the prisoners all night and that guards be posted at bridges in order to cut off the escapees at the Kansas River. There were not enough police so farmers were armed and posted to guard bridges. There were $60 rewards for capture of the convicts. Work on the new prison was suspended and the remaining prisoners were kept in their cells in order to have the largest number of guards to participate in the manhunt.

This is likely the photo and description of Willard that would have been telegraphed out to other districts.

Willard Nelson Red Drake.jpg

Leavenworth Times, 8 November 1901- found at

As word got out that the escapees were infiltrating the countryside, citizens became fearful and armed themselves. Everyone was on edge and on the lookout. The prisoners were stealing what they needed wherever they could even if they had to hold up people at gunpoint to get it. The prisoners were armed with the guns they had taken out of the guard towers during the riots. They were stealing horses, vehicles and wagons, clothing, and food as needed. The warden advised that the majority of the prisoners were headed for Indian Territory and surely Willard was too since that's where his family was. The prisoners had over 100 miles of rough and increasingly guarded terrain to cover to get there.


On the day of the escape (November 7th) the weather was forecast to be fair and cooler. On November 8th, the day of the shoot out, the weather was forecast to be “partly cloudy and colder”. Temperatures that day (November 8th) were in the low 50's for a high and dipping down to freezing at the coldest. Willard was originally traveling with a group of 8 men. On the evening of the escape, the men stopped Mail Carrier FERGUSON on the west end of Leavenworth and stole FERGUSON's horse and mail cart.

This is an image of a circa 1901 rural horse-drawn mail cart I found online (Pinterest).

By November 8th, the 8 men had in their possession some of the weapons stolen from the prison and one weapon stolen from a farmer which they obtained while they were on the run. The firearms included two shotguns and a Krag-Jorgensen rifle.

An 1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifle.

While other groups headed west or southwest out of Leavenworth, Willard's gang decided to go northwest into the countryside. A few miles west of Leavenworth, the group split up into two groups of 3 and 5 men each. Willard's group was the group of 5. These five men were described as:
Willard DRAKE, white man, convicted of Larceny at age 19 and sentenced to 5 years. Willard was listed as being 23-year-old white man but I believe he was only 21 years old at the time based on the date of birth on Willard's death certificate and his tombstone.
James HOFFMAN (who was named by one guard as playing a prominent role in the mutiny although he was not named as a ringleader), 25-year-old white man, convicted of Robbery at age 20 and sentenced to 5 years.
John GREEN, 25-year-old white man, convicted of Larceny at age 21 and sentenced to 7 years.
Fred MOORE, 17-year-old negro man, convicted of Larceny at age 16 and sentenced to 5 years. He was the youngest of all escapees at 17 years old.
Jay J. POFFENHOLZ (sometimes spelled POFFENKOLZ) was a white man. He was a German soldier who had come to the United States and enlisted in the army at the start of the Spanish American War. He was a military convict- unlike the others who had been sent to Leavenworth by non-military courts. He was the only one of the group for whom there was no physical description published in the newspapers. He was convicted of Burglary and Violating Article of War 68 (Failure to Suppress Mutiny) at age 25 and was sentenced to 5 years. He was 25 years old at the time of the escape. The oldest escapee was 28 so J.J. was one of the older escapees.

Willard and his group took refuge in farmer John WEISHAAR's barn about ½ mile southwest of Nortonville, Kansas- about 28 miles from Leavenworth. About one o'clock in the afternoon, Fay WEISHAAR (John WEISHAAR's son) saw the five men enter his barn. Fay didn't know about the prison escape. However, John WEISHAAR had already been alerted to the escaped convicts so when his son told him about the five men who went into the barn, he knew right away what he was dealing with. John rushed to town and gathered a posse of six men to go get Willard's gang out of his barn. At 2:30 that afternoon, the seven men- Walter MOXLEY, John HAYES, Henry W. SKINNER, Clarence “Cal” DILL, Ren WAGGENER, Roy KIRKPATRICK, and John WEISHAAR- rode out to the WEISHAAR farm armed with Winchester rifles and shotguns. The plan they devised was that Fay WEISHAAR and another citizen, John EVANS, would enter the barn on the pretext of Mr. EVANS buying some hay. The two men entered the barn as planned. The convicts brandished their weapons and ordered the two men out of the barn or they would be killed. The two men retreated and met up with the rest of the posse to discuss the situation. The posse was positioned where they were covering the door of the barn. The men chose to make one more attempt to get the convicts to leave the barn on their own and surrender. EVANS and the younger WEISHAAR entered the barn again. They told the escapees they were surrounded and it would be wise for them to surrender. The convicts refused. WEISHAAR and EVANS again retreated from the barn and met up with the posse to discuss how best to proceed.

Suddenly the barn door flew open! John GREEN made an unarmed dash for freedom. The posse shouted a warning cry and then began firing. James HOFFMAN came out of the barn door immediately after GREEN and was carrying the Krag-Jorgensen rifle. Both sides were firing at each other. J.J. POFFENHOLZ and then Willard came out of the barn immediately after HOFFMAN. POFFENHOLZ and Willard were both armed with shotguns. A running firefight ensued. About 150 yards out from the barn, HOFFMAN suddenly dropped his weapon and threw up his hands. He stumbled and staggered forward a few steps and then dropped to the ground, dead. A rifle ball had pierced his heart. POFFENHOLZ ran past the dead man another 50 yards before he, too, fell dead. He had also been shot in the chest. John GREEN made it about 300 yards before he was brought to the ground with a shot to his right leg. Willard was the last man out of the barn. He made it less than 50 yards out of the barn. While his comrades were being shot down, he raised his gun to shoot posse member Roy KIRKPATRICK. Cal DILL saw Willard raise his gun. Cal took aim with his rifle and shot Willard in the right arm. Willard dropped his gun but picked it back up and ran into the barn where the remaining convict, Fred MOORE, remained.

The shooting subsided. The posse called in to Willard and Fred MOORE to surrender. Fred MOORE walked out with his hands held above his head in surrender. Willard, carrying his weapon with his uninjured left arm, came out with his hands above his head in surrender also. In later versions of the story it was reported that Willard told the men, “If you fellows had not winged me I'd given you a fight yet.” That same later report also claimed Willard was “in an ugly mood”; his injured arm was hanging limp and he was in pain from his wounds. Both men were taken to town by some of the posse. MOORE was taken to jail and placed under guard there. Willard was taken to Dr. GROFF where his wound was treated. The other members of the posse stayed behind to guard GREEN until he could be taken to the doctor to be treated too. The two dead men were taken to a warehouse room in town until the law could come and get the bodies.

The three men who splintered off form Willard's original group of 8 men had been spotted elsewhere and were being trailed when Willard's gang of 5 was caught. No one in the posse that caught Willard's gang was injured or killed in the shootout- at least not according to the newspaper accounts. Each posse member received $50 for the capture of Willard's gang. The whole firefight was said to have only lasted about 5 or 6 minutes. The 17-year-old (MOORE- the youngest escapee of all) never left the barn and was never injured. He was said to have talked freely after his surrender about the location of the three ringleaders and about stealing the mail carrier's horse and cart. After the fight, Willard and his group were described as being “utterly without fear”. As more prisoners were recaptured and details came out, it was learned that one prisoner was shot but not killed as he was escaping. Willard would later identify that prisoner as his friend, Lol SOUTHERLAND.

By the end of the day on 8 November 1901 (or at least by the time of publication for the local newspapers) a total of 11 men (including Willard) had been recaptured or killed. Warden McCLAUGHRY vowed he would capture them all. He almost succeeded. In the end, he and his men recaptured all but five escaped convicts as of the fourth anniversary of the prison break. Because of Willard's escape attempt, he forfeited any chance of early release for good behavior. He returned to the prison on 10 November 1901. Because of his wounds he spent time in the infirmary as opposed to solitary where the other prisoners went.

By the time the November 8th edition of the Leavenworth Times came out, 11 of the 26 escapees had been accounted for and that included Willard. The story of the shootout ran in the papers for days alongside stories of the captures and exploits of the other inmates. No doubt some embellishment of the stories crept in here and there. For instance, later versions of the story said that Willard and J.J. scaled a barbed wire fence before J.J. was killed and Willard surrendered. I find the original story more credible therefore that is the story I told in this blog post. Later versions also state that Willard was shot twice- in the wrist and in the arm (which I do believe to be true), that J.J. lived for 40 minutes after being shot in the heart, and that James HOFFMAN was shot twice as well. Later versions also have a few different names listed for the posse members who caught Willard's gang. However, the names of who shot the men in Willard's gang remained consistent. Willard did try to shoot Roy KIRKPATRICK and Cal DILL did shoot Willard to stop him from committing murder. Another change in story was of how Quinn FORT died. Initially it was reported that he was shot by the same guard he shot (the guard who later died)- they shot each other at the same moment. Later the story was changed to say Quinn was shot by “a fellow mutineer”.

More details came out as more men were recaptured and began talking. It was also reported that the day of Jay J. POFFENHOLZ's escape, he received a letter from his mom who lived in Chicago. He didn't get the letter because he chose to escape. The letter implored him to be on his best behavior because she was trying to convince one of the Illinois senators to take up Jay's case with the war department and secure a pardon for Jay. The love of a mom, right? I'm not sure we ever consider beforehand how our decisions will affect our loved ones, do we? By the end of the ordeal, the total count of the deceased was one guard (WALDRUP), one prisoner shot before escaping (FORT), and two men from Willard's gang (POFFENHOLZ and HOFFMAN).

You might think this is the end of Willard's story. It isn't. I'll leave the remainder of his story until next time, though. There are more exciting moments to come so don't miss it!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives


07 November 1901

The Wichita Beacon, 8 November 1891, accessed at

In the months leading up to the prison break, some of the prisoners hatched a plan and then waited for the right moment to act on that plan to escape. The three ringleaders buried three revolvers inside the enclosure at the site where the new prison was being built in anticipation of an opportunity to escape. In newspaper articles, the prison claimed the plan was a not a new plan but was successful because of the limited number of guards and the fact that the prison was utilizing the better behaved inmates to build the new prison that was offsite. Prison officials claimed the conspiracy was not hatched by their inmate laborers but rather by the “inside gangs” that were left behind at the prison. The inmates chose a time of day when the guards were unarmed and acting as the foremen of the new prison construction site which was quite a distance from the then-current prison site. The new prison site was described as being west and a little north of Leavenworth near the south line of the government's reservation about 2 miles from the old prison site. The new site had about 450 convicts working there putting up walls, building cell houses, and other labor. Each night the laborer convicts were marched back to the old prison near the fort. In the morning they would be marched back out to the new prison site. The new site was enclosed on two sides with stone walls and on the other two sides with high board fence that was to be replaced with masonry. On top of the board fence were lines of barbed wire and at intervals around the enclosure were guard towers where guards were stationed while prisoners worked. This is the background upon which the “mutiny” (as it was called by prison officials and media) began.

At 3:40 on 7 November 1901, the three convicts set their plan into motion by creating an uprising. They immediately captured three foremen/guards. The prisoners in charge of the uprising confiscated 20 rifles and revolvers from the guards and held the guards for nearly 30 minutes. In addition to the 3 guards, they also captured Frank E. HINES (sometimes spelled HINDS), the construction engineer and superintendent of construction, whom they used as a shield during the riot. HINES later escaped and gave a statement about the riot.

“At the time of the outbreak I was working in my office inside the enclosure, shortly
befor[e] 4 o'clock, one of the prisoners stepped to the door of the office and said:
'Well, boys, we want you.' I thought little of this because the convicts had the
privilege of coming to the office and asking me for any article they might need in
their work.
“I turned about and found myself facing a 45-caliber Colts revolver, in another instant
a second prisoner appeared with another revolver, with the demand for us to hold up
our hands. They marched us outside the building where we were confronted by a
third convict with a pistol. The three convicts began to march us toward the west
gate, taking care to keep our bodies between them and the guard tower walls. Just
inside the west gate is a steel cage enclosure in which the convicts are locked before
the outside is finally opened. The three convicts marched us in this enclosure and
guarded us there while a number of rioters ran into the cage and ascended the ladder
to the guard tower which is located just above the entrance. They took this guard
entirely by surprise and captured all his arms. They then marched the guard down into
the enclosure and converted him into another human fortress to protect themselves from
the fire of the guards in the towers.” (The Topeka Daily Capital, 9 November 1901)

At this point, the northwest tower guard began to fire into the crowd but saw that he was endangering the captured guards and quit firing. By this time about 30 convicts had joined in the riot. The crowd moved southward toward the southwest tower where Guard BURROWS was stationed, keeping the captured guards in front of them. Burrows chose to shoot at the crowd in spite of the danger to his colleagues who were being used as shields. The convicts who were armed returned fire. BURROWS was shot in the neck and the prisoners entered his tower and took his arms. They entered another tower in the same way and captured Guard WALDRUP (sometimes spelled WALDRUPE). WALDRUP was shot in the forehead and in the left hip. Captain of the Guard TELFORD, realizing that the prisoners fully intended to kill him at the first opportunity, broke away and managed to escape. The prisoners fired several shots at him before he could reach cover. There was mass chaos with both sides- guards and prisoners- firing shots at each other. One of the three prisoners who began the riot, Quinn FORD (one of the ringleaders), was killed. As the prisoners were about to attack the fourth guard tower, HINES (according to the post-riot statement he gave) shouted at the prisoners to stop or they would get everyone killed. He much preferred that the shooting stop and some prisoners escape as opposed to all of them getting killed. He led the prisoners to an entrance that was boarded up and had not been used for quite a while. The prisoners who began the riot fashioned battering rams, broke down the doors, and escaped. The thirty prisoners who had joined in the riot finished battering down the wooden stockade fence/walls and escaping. Despite HINES' attempt to save himself and the three other civilians who had been captured, there was a guard outside the fence who persisted in shooting and one of the shots nearly hit HINES' arm. Unfortunately for HINES, the convicts grabbed the four men and forced them to continue their jobs as human shields outside the fence. As the group neared 14th Street near the northwest city limits, they allowed the four captured men to go free. (The Topeka Daily Capital, 9 November 1901)

In addition to HINES, the captured men included W. F. CARROLL (foreman and stone mason), Harmon BONE (foreman and brickworker), and Arthur TRELFORD (Prison Captain of the Guard). The guards who were injured or killed were HOFFMAN, C. E. BURROWS, and J. B. WALDRUP.

Because of the lateness of the day, the convicts' head start, and the rough wooded terrain surrounding Leavenworth, none of the convicts were captured on this day. Stay tuned tomorrow for what happens after the escapees get away. Be prepared for gunfights, a statement from the warden, and a blow-by-blow account of Red's escapade.

P.S.- Just for fun I came back and added a portion of Wikipedia's historical timeline for Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Until then,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives


Note: If you've read my blog any length of time you know that I don't mind unpacking the skeletons from the family closet. You might ask, “Why?” My response would be a three part answer. First, those who are wise learn from the mistakes of others and I want the younger generations of the family to learn from the mistakes of those who came before them. Second, you remember what you're entertained by and I want you to remember our family history and pass it on. Third, what my ancestors did doesn't bother me. I wasn't them, I didn't influence them nor did they influence me, I didn't know them- what they did doesn't reflect who I am. I have the opportunity to make my own decisions and my own path in life- just like they did and just like you do. We will all give an account for what we've done at some point or other.

I've made my own mistakes for which I will be judged. I am not, therefore, passing judgment on my people when I write their stories. My goal is never to judge, shame, or disrespect. Only to tell the tales with which I've been entrusted. Because, as the saying goes, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. One more thing. I think it's wise to remember that not everyone who is accused (or even convicted) is truly guilty. Innocent people get convicted on a somewhat alarming basis. An important aspect of the conviction is the honesty of those in control of the legal system at the time of conviction as well as the ways laws are written. Whereas I think all evidence should come in, the law disagrees- but that's a story for another time and another place. So with respect, I present to you my 2nd great grand uncle, Willard DRAKE.


“...For all who take the sword will perish by the sword...” Matthew 26:52, The Holy Bible

Willard Nelson Drake

Willard Nelson DRAKE is my 2nd great grand uncle on my father's side. He went by “Red”. Red only lived 33 years. But what he did with those 33 years- well, let the record speak for itself...

All my life I remember hearing only a few stories about Red, all of them told to me by my father and grandmother. This is what I knew about Red at the beginning of my research. I knew that Red was killed in South West City, McDonald County, Missouri by a police officer. The story goes that Red was getting a hair cut at the barber shop in South West City. While he was in the chair, the officer came in and wanted to talk to Red. Red reached into his jacket to get a cigar out of his shirt pocket. The officer thought Red was reaching for a gun (Red did, after all, have quite a bad reputation by this time) and the officer shot him dead. Red (like many of those, I hear, in the earlier generations of my Drake family) loved to fight and drink and was in trouble most all of his life. Indeed, newspapers of his day described my family (the Drakes) as having “a bad reputation”. I would ask you to keep in mind the truthfulness of today's media and the bias of their reporting, but it seems to have been well-known in the community that they really did like to drink and fight. But one last note- remember that according to studies, a thing has only to be repeated 7 times to become a part of a believed (and contrived) narrative. If you hear and repeat enough times that someone is guilty (or loves to fight and drink, or....), they become guilty in popular opinion.

Don't let anyone tell you what to think. Just read on, and decide the matter for yourself.

The Early Years

Willard was born on 30 June 1879 at Coy, McDonald County, Missouri. He was the third child born to William and Hester Ann Eglentine (MITCHELL) DRAKE. He had six biological siblings (all brothers) and the family adopted one girl- Perlie A. CALVIN. Willard went by the name Red although I don't know at what point in his life he took that name. I have yet to find an official record that references him as Red, although there are a couple of newspaper articles referencing him as Red. True to his name, he had reddish brown hair. He had “azure blue eyes” to go with that red hair to complete the look he inherited from his Irish ancestors. He had a “sharp pointed nose” and “outstanding” ears according to a physical description of him that would some day be printed about him in The Leavenworth Times newspaper. To my great excitement I was able to find a photo of Red at the age of approximately 19. Here he is, the 19-year-old Red Drake:

Photo from Willard DRAKE's inmate file located at NARA in Kansas City, Missouri. A big THANK YOU to archivist Eric Chasco for my copy!

From the stories I've read about Red, I imagine he was a handful right from the get-go. One of those kids that are going to learn everything the hardest possible way, never listen to anyone, and always get his own way- no matter who he has to take down to get his way.

The Other Early Years: Kate, Before Willard

I made contact with the wife of my 3rd cousin once removed (Kerry- wife of the great-grandson of Cynthia Katherine "Kate" JONES THOMPSON DRAKE). I found her through because she posted information about Kate, Richard (Kate's first husband), and Willard on Ancestry. What follows is a little about Kate's life before she married Willard, as submitted by Kerry on

Cynthia Katherine JONES went by "Kate". Kate was older than Red by 4 years. Kate is believed to have been Native American. She had black eyes and darker-toned skin and pierced ears. She was a tall, slender woman.

( originally submitted by 'kujayhawkfan'. I've contacted this contributor and am waiting to hear back from him/her.)

It is believed that older generations of Kate's family had come from Georgia on the Trail of Tears. In Mid-August of 1896, at the age of 25, Kate married 60-year-old Richard THOMPSON. The marriage was not a good one. Richard was a drinker and he and Kate fought frequently. Sometime around 1900 in a drunken rage, Richard shot Kate intending to kill her. Kate was holding one of their babies at the time she was shot. The shot hit her hip instead. She lived with the physical effects of that shot the rest of her life. Richard was arrested and convicted. He was sent to Leavenworth in 1898- the same year that Willard was sent to Leavenworth. You read that right- they were there together. Kate took the opportunity to divorce Richard while he was in prison.

1898- The Leavenworth Years: Willard, Before Kate

While Kate and Richard were living out their years together, Willard was doing what Willard did. Drinking and getting into trouble with the law. The earliest record I could find for Willard other than a census record was a May, 1898 newspaper article. During the week of 15 May 1898 Willard was arrested but he escaped from then-Deputy Constable BARKER. He hid out but stayed in touch with his dad, William DRAKE. On Monday, 23 May 1898, U.S. Marshal Heck BRUNER was passing through the area. While there, he heard about what Willard did and determined to catch Willard and bring him in. He stopped by William DRAKE's home and told William that he wished to arrest a man with whom Willard was acquainted and he would pay Willard a fair amount of money to go with him and help capture this other man. William was convinced that Marshal BRUNER was being truthful and took the marshal to Willard's hideout. Willard went with Marshal BRUNER to do the work. By the time they reached Grove it was dark and the pair stopped over to spend the night, having to share a room and a bed. Red woke up the following morning to find himself handcuffed to the bed. Red came to the sudden realization he had been played by the marshal. Marshal BRUNER took Red on to Vinita where Red had a hearing in front of a federal judge. I have been unable to locate an article stating what Red was originally arrested for or what his punishment was for that crime plus the escape. (This incident was reported in the 26 May 1898 edition of The Springfield Missouri Republican found on Although I was unable to find a record of what Red did in May of 1898, family oral history says that Red assaulted a police officer and tried to kill him- possibly shooting the officer during the assault.

The next time I find Red, he is being sentenced for “Assault to Kill”. The Indian Chieftain article of 13 October 1898 (found on says that Willard was sentenced to 5 years “at hard labor” for an “assault to kill” incident that happened “over near Southwest City”. Again, I haven't found any other articles that explain what happened although I'm sure there were several if he assaulted an officer.

The morning of 5 October 1898, Willard and 22 other prisoners were brought up to Vinita from Muskogee to be heard in Judge THOMAS' courtroom. Willard was in jail on a charge of Assault with Intent to Kill. He pled 'not guilty' and was held over for trial. (Vinita, Indian Territory's paper, The Daily Chieftain, Vol. 1 No. 3.) The following day the same newspaper reported the following:

Found at

United States Marshal Leo E. BENNETT was in charge of getting the prisoners up and to Vinita (from Muskogee) for Court on the morning of 6 October. As an aside, Marshal BENNETT had quite an exciting history if you want to Google it. (One interesting tidbit about him is that the famous black lawman Bass REEVES worked for Marshal BENNETT.) Willard's trial and jury was the first one up on the docket in front of Judge THOMAS. His trial gives new meaning to our 6th amendment right to a speedy trial. By noon, Willard's trial was over. In the space of less than 5 hours, he was convicted and facing time in Leavenworth.

After his conviction Willard sat in jail (probably in Muskogee) until the trial term was over and it was known which prisoners would be taken to the federal penitentiary. On the night of 29 October 1898 (a Saturday night) those prisoners were taken north by the marshal with the exception of 13. I'm assuming there was not enough room for the final 13 because the article in the Indian Chieftain on 3 November 1898 stated the remaining 13 would be taken when it was “convenient” for the marshal to do so. Willard went with the first group of prisoners.

On 30 October 1898 Willard was received into Leavenworth Penitentiary and assigned inmate number #1386. His inmate file gave his occupation as 'farmer'. It says his sentence expired officially on 7 October 1903 but with good time he could be out as early as 7 December 1902. I've looked over Willard's inmate file several times. There are things I wish it had that it doesn't but I'm grateful for what it does say. Willard's family did not abandon him while he was in prison. There are several pages logging letters that he received and sent to family and friends. My first and immediate thought upon seeing those were that I wish I had just ONE letter listed on that log! Family members who maintained contact with him included his brothers Gilbert, Alonzo (my 2nd great-grandfather), and Charlie; his sister, Annie (possibly sister-in-law? Alonzo was married to Mary Anne BAKER who went by Annie); his dad listed as both “W. D. Drake”, “W~~~M Drake”, and “William Drake” and his mom whose name is not listed at all but only indicated as “Mother” in one instance and, I believe, the “E. Drake” is also her but can't prove it by the spreadsheet; and a cousin, Gertrude DRAKE. Friends also kept in touch including Cora BAKER (also listed as Carrie BAKER), Charles SUTTER, White MITCHELL, Russell SHANNON, W. A. KINSEY, and Judy THOMAS (Judy's from Muskogee- could she be Judge Thomas' relative?!). Although the family all came from in and around South West City, McDonald County, Missouri, I was very surprised to see the variety of addresses for the friends who wrote to him. His friends' addresses included not only South West City, but also Nicholia, Idaho; Cattey, Indian Territory; Adair, Indian Territory; Bonham, Texas; Napanucka, Indian Territory; and Muskogee, Indian Territory.

Continuing through the file I found Willard's Violations docket. His offenses are five pages long! He frequently created disturbances in one form or another. He was fond of laughing (loudly), leaving when he wasn't supposed to, smoking and chewing tobacco, fighting and inciting fights (throwing rocks, using profane and vulgar language, disobeying orders, writing and passing notes and then refusing to surrender said notes when ordered to do so, striking prisoner #56 over the head with a pillow (pillow fights in prison?!), having contraband in his cell (including a knife and a lead pencil), being absent from roll call without permission, lying (especially when confronted about doing what he wasn't supposed to be doing), inattention/gazing out the window, loud whistling, “wasting bread” (prison hooch, anyone?), insolence, taking others' possessions (including a guard's book and an inmate's tobacco), pushing/crowding/cutting in line, mocking/shaming others (both inmates and guards), and neglecting/shirking work duties.

He was most in trouble for talking, though. Talking in the cell room, in ranks on the Yard, during work hours, in solitary cell, during work hours, talking repeatedly/constantly, talking with prisoner #2746 during work hours (continually), talking in line on the yard, “unnecessary talking” in line, talking to prisoner #2141 at noon time, talking in the shop to prisoner #2776, talking on the stairway when leaving the shop, talking in the shop...talking, talking, talking!!! There's another full page of talking violations. The boy couldn't shut up! I get it, he's 19, he's under strict guidelines- but he put himself there and his inability to follow directions was staggering.

You might be wondering what he could possibly be talking about so much. Well, there was one more massive violation that I haven't mentioned yet and it could be the cause of many of those conversations, loud laughing/whistling, those disturbances that created distractions, and those incidences of cutting in line to be next to a particular prisoner. On 7 November 1901, Willard participated in a massive prison break from Leavenworth!

Until next time- and I can't wait!!
~Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Looking for Land in All the Right Places

This post is an update to last week's post about the deeds I found. I had a little pocket of time last week that I didn't expect to get so I headed into Gentry, Arkansas on a quest. I stopped at City Hall and talked to the ladies there. I told them I was looking for Pierson's Addition in Gentry. They hadn't heard of it but I assured them there really was an addition by this name because I had a deed saying it exists. They looked and looked and finally found this:

Pierson's Addition map- Gentry, Benton County, Arkansas

A map of the addition! (Thank you ladies of Gentry City Hall!) They showed me where I was on the map and gave me what sounded like simple directions to Lots 22 and 23 in Block 3 of Pierson's addition- the lots that Albert BATES sold to the JANUARY's (see last week's post). So I pulled out of the City Hall parking lot excited and ready to find the lots. What started out looking like a very quick and simple drive was anything but quick and simple. According to the map, I should have been able to pull East out of the City Hall lot, turn South on Highway 59 at Little Debbie's store and take the first street on the left- which should have been Elm Street- and go to the end of the street on the South side (right side). Alternatively, I could have taken the second left off Highway 59 onto Maple Street and gone to the same lots since the lots stretched the full distance between both streets.

I'll save you guys some time- Elm and Maple Streets no longer exist in Gentry. There is a street close to the old grocery store that is now called 1st street and I don't know if it's the former Elm Street or Maple Street- or neither. I tried to get my bearings. I looked on the map for a different street. The only other named street was Center Street. In case you want to go looking for that- don't. Center Street is now 3rd Street. There have obviously been some major changes to this area between 1962 and now.

I decided to utilize Benton County's online resources and see if I could trace the property from Albert's 1962 deed up through the present time to see who owns it and if possibly I could still find the property with any certainty. I wondered if the property might now be under the grocery store parking lot? Or perhaps it was now part of the church yard of the church that faces Main Street just East of the Dollar General? It took a while but here's what I found.

The property changed hands quickly several times after Albert sold it. Some of the owners didn't even own the property a month before they deeded it over to the next owner. Finally in July of 1975 Mary BERG deeded the property over to the Arkansas Conference Association of Seventh-Day Adventists. That is the last I can find of this property. If something else happened to it, I couldn't find it online.

I know there is a church off of Main Street just past the Dollar General that takes up a considerable amount of the area where Albert's place was. I don't recall the denomination of the church though (maybe Assembly of God?). I will say I think Albert would have been pleased to have the Adventists ultimately receive the property as Albert and Dettie were Seventh-Day Adventists themselves. Neither Albert nor Dettie lived to see the property go to the SDA church. Dettie died prior to Albert purchasing the property and Albert died in 1967- almost 10 years before the church received his former dwelling place. His obituary says he was a member of the local Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Albert BATES' obituary from Northwest Arkansas Times newspaper.

Maybe in the future I'll see what kind of church records that church has and we can learn a little more about Albert's religious choices in life. In the meantime, if you'd like to get an idea of what Albert and Dettie's beliefs might have been as SDA members, you can check out the church's website here. Keeping in mind, of course, that the SDA church had a big split just prior to World War II and afterward the religion consisted of the traditional group and the SDA Reformed Movement group. The split came about because SDA is a pacifist religion and some members of the church felt compelled to fight in WWI while some did not. You can find a more detailed (yet still fairly brief) history of the religion at the Seventh_Day_Adventist_Reform_Movement wiki.

I hope you've enjoyed this little addendum to last week's post. Don't forget you can also enjoy my friends' blogs:

Down in the Root Cellar by my SIL, Becky
Recipes from Lena by my friend, Teresa
Theology for Mom by my friend, Rochelle
Digging Genealogy by my distant cousin, Annie

Have a great week!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Enjoy your week!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

I Know What You Did That Day

What if I told you that I know *for sure* that on 15 December 1961 at 2:00 p.m., Troy ("Lum") and Jessie BATES were in Bentonville, Benton County, Arkansas? Would you believe me? I mean after all, I wasn't even born yet in 1961. How could I know for sure?! Well, I can tell you I *do* know and they *were* there. I can tell you that bit of information thanks to a warranty deed I found at the Benton County Circuit Clerk's office this week. Becky (my SIL- you can catch her genealogy blog here), my mom, and I are trying to learn more about the kinds of information we can find at a county courthouse. We started this month with land records. This was our first trip to the courthouse for this learning exercise. I thought (naively) that it would be a quick day trip. Joke's on me! We were there several hours and hardly scratched the surface of all the land records available. We'll definitely be going back. In the meantime, I wanted to show you what I found and why I thought it was blog-worthy.

Short version: We found two warranty deeds for Troy and Jessie BATES, a warranty deed for Albert BATES (Troy's dad), a warranty deed for George and Mary (SEELY) BATES (Troy's grandparents) and – SURPRISE!- a warranty deed for Charles SEELY! The SEELY deed also happened to involve George and Mary (SEELY) BATES.

Troy and Jessie BATES' property

Troy and Jessie BATES warranty deed, 1961

This warranty deed tells me that Lum and Jessie sold 200 acres of land (minus the railroad right of way as mentioned in the deed) for $8000 to J. B. and Flora FULLER. Jessie had an aunt who married a FULLER so I am currently trying to figure out whether the FULLERs who bought this land were related or not. I have not found a connection yet but am still looking. This deed was executed 15 December 1961. My mom says that the following summer (1962) they moved to South West City, McDonald, Missouri. One of things that excited me the most about this deed is that Lum and Jessie both signed it so I now have copies of both their signatures.

Troy and Jessie Bates' signatures from 1961 deed

Before we left the building I told mom I wanted to see if they would sell us a Township-Range map of Benton County so we could later locate the properties for which we had deeds. It turns out Benton County will sell you a map- but you can go online and utilize their digital maps for free. I still think I want to buy a map when we go back but the digital maps were interesting and I wanted to show you what you can find with their digital maps. I took Troy and Jessie BATES' 1961 deed and entered the Section, Township, and Range for part of their property into Benton County's map database. It pulled up the section. By manipulating the map with overlays I was able to see an aerial view of part of the property as it looks now.

Benton County AR maps homepage. Accessed 24 August 2016.

If you wanted to go to this property yourself, you wouldn't be able to actually get onto the property but you could drive alongside it. Here's how you would get there. Take Highway 59 into Sulphur Springs, Benton County, Arkansas. Turn West on Fickinger Street. Keep heading West to South Horse Creek Road. Go South on South Horse Creek Road. This road will turn into Bird Mountain Road. You will continue South and pass North Big Springs Road. You will pass 4 chicken houses sitting in a row on your left. When the road curves back beside the railroad tracks, Troy's former property will begin. Look to your left to see it. It runs the length between the railroad track and Bird Mountain Road. When the road turns due West again you will be moving away from this section of his property.

I'm hoping to get a chance to take a road trip over to Sulphur Springs, Benton County, Arkansas soon and try to find the property just for fun. It is now owned by NSS Land Company LLC out of Little Rock, Arkansas. They specialize in excavation/grading and building construction.

The Troy & Jessie BATES 1939 deed is equally interesting. In this deed they were buying instead of selling- if you could call it buying. For "One Dollar and other valuable consideration" Lum and Jessie bought 160 acres from "Julia DAVIS, survivor wife of Ben C. DAVIS, deceased". Typically when a property is "sold" to a close family member it is sold for "One Dollar and other valuable consideration". Basically, the grantor (Julia DAVIS) is giving the land to the grantee (Lum & Jessie BATES). Jessie's great-grandmother was Sarah DAVIS so again I'm wondering whether Julia DAVIS was related- especially given the amount "paid" for that amount of land. However, my husband brought up a good point that needs consideration. Lum was a trader- and a good one at that. He made sure he came out on top. It's possible Julia was someone who owed him money and so she deeded him land in lieu of money. Another possibility is that he promised her work in return for land. These are things to consider.

Albert BATES' 1962 Deed

Albert L. BATES was Troy's dad. By the time this warranty deed was executed Albert's wife, Dettie (GIBSON) BATES, had already passed away. The deed confirms that he was unmarried at the time the deed was executed as it refers to him as "Albert L. Bates, a single person". In this deed, Albert "sold" his 2 city lots on Block 3 of Pierson's Addition in the town of Gentry for "Other consideration and One Dollar" to Lloyd C. and Minnie JANUARY. None of my research has ever turned up a JANUARY family connected to our family. I'm working on finding the connection right now. If you know the connection, please let me know in the comments. Mom once told me that she thought his house in Gentry was where a beauty salon is now at the current intersection of highways 12 and 59 at the northwest corner of the intersection. If you happen to hit that light red (or you stop in the parking lot across the road) you can take a minute to view it and reflect. If I remember correctly mom said it has been added on to since Albert lived in it.). Again, one of my favorite things about this deed is it has Albert's signature.

Albert Bates' signature from 1962 deed

I will blog another day about the Charles SEELY deeds. He is my target person this year so I want to spend extra time on them and these deeds are very old and handwritten so it's going to take me longer to analyze them. The deeds were fun to look at. One of the things I loved most about finding these deeds is that I now have copies of my grandparents' and great-grandfather's signatures and what is possibly my 2nd great-grandparents' and 3rd great-grandfather's signatures. The women working in the Circuit Clerk's office were wonderful and the room they gave us to research in was very comfortable. If you're planning a research trip there, be aware that you should wait until you get onsite to get copies of deeds. The copies are half price if you get them while there as opposed to ordering them from the website.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing the signatures and a glimpse of what one of Troy & Jessie's properties looks like (now versus then- but still interesting). If you're interested in learning more about courthouse research, I am utilizing Christine Rose's book, Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures . Don't forget you can also enjoy my friends' blogs:

Down in the Root Cellar by my SIL, Becky
Recipes from Lena by my friend, Teresa
Theology for Mom by my friend, Rochelle
Digging Genealogy by my distant cousin, Annie

Enjoy your week!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

You Fought All the Way, Johnny Reb

OH. MY. GOSH!!! I've been waiting on this post for a while. It's hard to keep your mouth shut about something exciting! I am so proud and excited to have a guest blogger writing this post today- my cousin, Troy Bates! Not to mention, I was green with envy over the trip he took with his family that led to this post. I hope Troy, Co, and Gus enjoyed the trip and I hope you enjoy the blog post and Troy's pictures. There's some exciting news at the end so don't stop reading!!!! While you're at the end- show Troy some love in the comments. America loves her vets! (A nod to Johnny Horton for the great song that gave me the title for this blog post.)

Troy's story:
I want to thank my cousin, Lisa, for allowing me to write this guest post and who wrote a blog article earlier this year about one of our ancestors, John C. Bates.

I always enjoy reading her posts, especially about our common ancestors! This one caught my attention for several reasons. As a veteran, I often wonder if any of my ancestors served in the military. In Lisa’s research it appears that John was a veteran. It appears that he served on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Her research indicates that he was captured and subsequently may have died as a Prisoner of War at a POW camp located at Rock Island, Illinois. Rock Island is located about 70 miles from where I currently live. It was exciting to know that it’s just a short trip to Rock Island and the Confederate Cemetery located there. It would be easy to see if we could find his final resting place. Oddly enough, my wife, son and I have adopted a tradition that on Memorial Day we visit nearby cemeteries and honor military veterans resting there even if we don’t know them or their families. What better way could there be than to spend this Memorial Day than visiting a distant ancestor’s possible resting place?

Once we made the decision to visit the cemetery I tried doing some online research to see if I could locate his gravesite. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to locate any information on him (or that I could even possibly link to him). Undaunted we made the short trip over to the cemetery on Memorial Day.

Once we located the cemetery we were pleasantly surprised to discover there would be a memorial service held at the Confederate Cemetery which was arranged by the Iowa Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). They had placed confederate flags at each headstone and arranged a beautiful tribute using reenactors from the Scotts Battery, of the Iowa Division of the SCV, the Confederate Orphan Kentucky Band (using period musical instruments and music) and the Order of Confederate Rose, amongst others.

We spent an hour or more walking amongst the headstones, hoping to come across John’s headstone, even though he wasn’t listed in the directory. While most stones had names and units some had less information. We saw representation of units from all over the south; Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida and, I am sure, others. In all, they have 1,950 graves in a beautifully maintained 3 acre site. If you’re able to visit, I would recommend it! I’m sure that cemetery doesn’t get a lot of visitors.

I was able to talk to several of the reenactors, folks dressed in Confederate uniforms and clothing, and learned more about this cemetery and Confederate POWs. All of the bodies in this cemetery have been moved at least twice since the Civil War ended. While some care was made in tracking names and headstones, the SCV continues to find discrepancies in lists, even now.

I learned that if a prisoner died during travel to the camp, their body was unceremoniously dumped off the train. One gentleman said many communities along the train tracks would bury the bodies as unknown Confederate soldiers. You can find lonely headstones in far corners of many cemeteries along these train tracks which lead to a POW camp.

This Confederate POW camp was located at Rock Island, which is an actual island in the Mississippi River between the states of Iowa and Illinois. Many prisoners were killed trying to escape, if they were at or in the river, their bodies were usually left where they fell. What I took from several of my conversations with the members of SCV was that there is a substantial number of prisoners who died and have no marked gravesite. Nor is there a solid, reliable record of when or how they perished. There were also an undetermined number of deceased soldiers whose families were able to, after the war, retrieve their bodies and move them to a final resting place closer to home and no records kept of these movements.

In the end, we were unable to finds John’s final resting place but were honored to visit this Confederate Cemetery, witness the memorial ceremony and offer our prayers to the men buried there.

As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy Lisa’s posts and I know there is considerable work that goes into the research of each post. However, there’s a difference between knowing and KNOWING what that work is like. While I know I only did some minor research, it gave me a small taste of the work that she does and how frustrating it can be. I’m sure that makes breakthroughs that much more enjoyable.

My thanks to Lisa again for all of her work and for letting me share my experience with her and her blog visitors!!

I Wish I Was in Dixie

"Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."
- Last words of Thomas “Stonewall" Jackson
(Quote found at American Civil War Story.)

(A nod to Daniel Decatur Emmett for the song he copyrighted that gave me the title to this closing section.)

So I'm sitting here with goosebumps as I read Troy's story. Some of my daily inconveniences are trivial in comparison to what these men went through to maintain freedom for every American. Even things I view as "problems" are still nothing in comparison to some of what Troy described. THANK YOU, Troy! Both for your service and for this story. You have a unique perspective about John that I will never have.

As I was preparing my intro to Troy's story I went off on a research tangent. (It's an addiction. #SorryNotSorry) I found a very brief mention of John BATES on a website that I hadn't seen before. The information comes from someone who is researching Company E, 3rd Confederate, Army of Tennessee. John BATES was in Company F. According to George Martin's research, our John BATES was actually a Captain of Company F but resigned. (Accessed here on 14 June 2016.) I tried to find more information- even a regimental history but have not been successful in finding more than what was in my previous post and in this one. If you're interested in military history- start researching and help us! Also, on a personal note, I would dearly love to know if any of John BATES' units had a battle flag- in case you want to focus your research on a thing or event instead of a person.

Please take the time to visit Troy's videos at the following Google links:

Once again, thanks Troy for this wonderful blog post! I learned a lot.

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

Jealousy and Bad Whiskey: We, the Jury, find the Defendant William Petty....

We made it! It's verdict time! You've taken all weekend to deliberate. You've looked at Charles' SMOLEY's "alibi" that he was at someone else's house even though ALL other reports say he was at the murder scene. You've heard about Willie's varied "adventures" throughout his life (including no less than 3 major instances involving guns). You've waded through the muck of Willie's and Isabelle's marriage and seen how that ended. You've met Andrew MEDFORD via his granddaughter-in-law; watched as Press SEELY's friends walked away from him- the last of anyone who cared about him to see him alive. You've heard all the important stuff.

One question was asked that didn't get answered. This one's for you, Becky: there was an article that said Press's family refused to claim his body. However, there were many articles that say the family as well as the town residents were in an uproar that Willie wasn't on trial due to his not-so-favorable reputation and past. Maybe both are true. Maybe the family was so angry that the government and law enforcement officials were not even investigating the murder that they decided to let the county foot the bill for the funeral and burial. After all, even the town residents were angry about that. I kind of think that initially, that was their outlook. Then they thought about it and claimed the body. Why would Press's brother come all that way for the funeral (and miss it by one day!) if he didn't care? Why, if the county really buried Press, did he have that nice of a headstone? I don't think the county would have provided one that nice if they had to foot the bill. Maybe, Becky, you and I should take a little trip up to Dearing and find out!!

Ok. So here it is. THE VERDICT poll. NOTE: If this poll doesn't work, just post a comment in the comments section below with all your answers. I've found that the Livejournal blog polls aren't very user-friendly. Next time I will probably use Survey Monkey which is easy and fast.

1. Click on the Poll number (looks like "Poll #2044784". It will take you to the poll.)
2. Click "Fill Out the Poll" at the top left of the page.
3. It will make you sign in. You don't have to have a Livejournal account. You can sign in using Facebook or other social media.
4. Complete the poll and click "Submit Poll".
5. Enjoy reading the results.
6. If it doesn't work, put your answers in the comments section at the end of the blog post.

Poll #2044784 Days of Our Lives vs. William Petty, Verdict Poll

We, the Days-of-Our-Lives jury members, find the Defendant William Petty

Guilt of murder with premeditation
guilty of murder, no premeditation
guilty of a lesser degree- maybe manslaughter or something
not guilty- it was self-defense
we're a hung jury- we can't decide
Other (please place your comments about why you chose other in the comments section of this post)

I want to participate in a murder mystery based on this story at the family reunion.


If I participated in the murdery mystery, I would most like to be:

I would like to see more stories like this one in the future

I'll take whatever you write.

Jealousy and Bad Whiskey, Day 6: Willie Petty- Lover or Fighter?

Before going on to Willie's story, I want to remind you that you are a member of William PETTY's jury. But unlike a true court case, I'm going to let you know all about Willie's past and about events that occurred after the murder. Then you can make a true decision about guilt or innocence- about whose story you find more credible.

Before we delve into the SEELY murder on 25 March 1914, we need to know a little more about William PETTY. He went by Willie as a young adult and later went by Will or William. We'll call him Willie since our focus is 1914 and the best I can tell he was going by Willie at that time. Willie was born in Missouri but lived most of his life in Kansas. Like I said above, in 1910 Willie and Press were next-door neighbors. Around 27 September 1911 Willie's dad secured a contract with the Missouri Pacific Railroad- a grading job. Willie's dad gathered up his gang of teamsters (about 25 men from the Dearing area) and his grading outfit and headed out to McCracken, Rush County, Kansas- about 60 miles East of the Colorado state line (and about 1 mile East of McCracken).

1914 Sod house in Rush County, Kansas found at

The PETTY gang set up a railroad grading camp- the Plunkett & Petty camp (sometimes called the Plunkett & Yale camp). There were three “gangs”- PETTY's, and two others. Willie's dad appointed Willie foreman of the Petty gang. They expected to be working on this job through the fall and into the winter.

If you want an idea of what life was like in a 1914 railroad grading camp, take a look at this link. Once you get there you can use the search phrase, "1914 railroad grading camp kansas".

On or about 14 November 1911 Willie and two of the guys on his gang (Dick COLLIVER and Watie SUAGEE) were shot. There are varying stories and points of view about what happened on 14 November 1911. The story you get definitely depends on whom you ask.

William PETTY was the son of Garton W. and Maggie PETTY. Garton worked in the smelter at Dearing. Willie PETTY's part in this story actually starts back in 1906. There is a newpaper article that says Willie, among others, pleaded guilty to intoxication charges after a celebration in Coffeyville. Willie was only about 15 then and there were other (related) William PETTY's in the area- but it's a possibility that this is our Willie already drinking and in trouble with the law. (From here on out, I'm only including information that I know for sure was our Willie PETTY. I included that first little tidbit because I do believe it could have been our William PETTY.) Fast forward to 1911. With both this 1911 story and the 1914 murder, Willie's version of this story varies from other people's versions of the story so I'll do the best I can with bringing all the accounts together.

In late September of 1911 Willie's dad was a contractor in Dearing and he had secured a big railroad grading contract about 60 miles from the Colorado state line with the Missouri Pacific. He took 25 local men (including Willie) with him to work in McCracken, Kansas. He expected to work out there the rest of the fall and through part of the winter. He made Willie the foreman of his crew. There were two other crews working the same job.

On 14 November 1911 word reached Dearing (from Edgar DALE, the timekeeper at the camp) that Willie, Watie SUAGEE (pronounced Soo-ah-gee), and Dick COLLIVER had been shot and seriously wounded in a quarrel at the Plunkett & Petty grading camp in McCracken, Kansas. The men had been shot by Charles SID, the camp cook. Willie's wife left Dearing for the camp immediately to care for him. Willie was shot in the chest. He was paralyzed from the hips down. The bullet pass through the fleshy part of his right arm near the shoulder, passed through his right lung and liver, severed part of his spinal cord and embedded in his spine. Blood was pressing on his spinal cord. The doctors said this was what was causing his paralysis. Doctors said it would be a long time before he walked again. Waitie SUAGEE was shot through the face and shoulder. He was brought to Kruggs Hospital with the bullet still in him. Dick COLLIVER was shot in the hand and shoulder. Willie was eventually brought to Kruggs Hospital near Dearing and he was accompanied there by his parents and Walter SCOTT. I'm not sure why his wife wasn't mentioned as she was the first to travel to McCracken to be with Willie. (For the record, I haven't yet discovered who his wife was at that time.) In any case, once Willie arrived at Dearing, he was joined by his two sisters- Maude HICKS and Nora SMOLEY- and his brother-in-law Harry HICKS.

Edgar DALE said the fight started in the grubshack when Willie PETTY threw a dinner plate at one of the Plunkett & Yale camp laborers. Charles SID (cook) ordered PETTY out of the mess tent. Willie left but her returned later with two men from his crew (SUAGEE and COLLIVER). Edgar said the men were drunk and armed with sledge hammers. They went into the kitchen shanty and ran SID out so SID opened fire on the men. A more “Willie-friendly” version of the story states that Saturday, 11 November 1911 was payday for the camp crew. Charles SID got drunk and quarrelsome and the shooting followed.

Willie himself said that neither he nor Watie nor Dick were drunk. Willie said if anyone was drunk it was Charles SID, the head cook. Here's Willie's side of the story straight from The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 24 November 1911:

By 8 December 1911 Willie had had surgery and was improving. It was reported he finally had the use of some of his lower limbs now after being paralyzed from the hips down due to the shooting. A week later he was taken to his parents' home in a “greatly improved” state. The physicians were telling him he was totally out of danger.

Initial reports claimed that Watie was not expected to live but other reports stated all three men- Willie, Watie, and Dick- were expected to recover. However, by 17 January 1912 papers were reporting that Watie was “in a dying condition”. His injuries had taken a turn for the worse. The previous Monday, Charles SID had been released on a bond but was expected to be re-arrested on murder charges if Watie died. On 3 February 1912 Watie was still in critical condition. Charles SID was charged with Assault with Intent to Kill. His case was set for a hearing at McCracken, Kansas on the following Monday. Garton PETTY, Willie's dad, went to the hearing. At the hearing the proceedings were postponed due to the inability of the injured men to attend the proceedings. The judge planned to resume the proceedings once all three men had recovered and were able to attend court. By March of 1912 Watie was improving. Watie didn't die; neither did Dick COLLIVER. Willie, of course, recovered.

24 March 1914- Willie and Press Fight
On the evening of 24 March 1914, Willie was sitting in his buggy in front of Isabelle STEWART's house. Some say Andrew MEDFORD and Isabelle were in the buggy with him. Some say Isabelle was getting in but not yet all the way in the buggy when Press SEELY, who thought of Isabelle as his girlfriend, came up. Press was acting drunk and cussing. He threw a rock at the buggy and came toward them with an open knife. He climbed on the rear axle of the buggy and tried to pull Willie out, slashing and stabbing him the whole time. Willie's coat and arm was slashed over the right shoulder and arm in several places.

At this point, reports vary. Some say Willie pulled out his revolver, Andrew tried to stop him but the gun discharged and shot Andrew and Isabelle, then Willie turned partly around and struck Press on the back of the head cutting a gash and then fired on Press a second time sending a bullet into Press's head just back of the left ear and killing him instantly. Other reports say Willie pulled his revolver out of his pocket and shot it backwards over his shoulder. He turned to the other side and shot two more times. Isabelle was screaming that she'd been shot. He saw Press SEELY lying on the ground. He tried to calm Isabelle and tell her she wasn't shot but she fell to the ground.

Some reports say he carried her in to he dad's house where he discovered she really had been shot. He panicked. He ran out to his buggy (possibly with Andrew - reports vary) and fled. Other reports say he never left the buggy after shooting. That he immediately drove away rapidly. If the first reports are true- is it possible he FLED as in “on foot” (at least from the house to the buggy) because he was already in the house with Isabelle. But every article you'll read about the murder will remind you that he was “paralyzed from the hips down”. Yet he fled. And if you'll remember that 1911 article- it said he was improving and had movement in his lower extremities. He was in a “greatly improved” state and “totally out of danger”. Well, get used to hearing about his disability because he uses it to his advantage every single time he gets in trouble. The newspaper articles that ran after the shooting stated there was “no way for him to get around once he leaves the buggy” and “officers expect no trouble finding him”. However those words were followed by the statement that “he is regarded as a desperate character and officers are on guard”.

So Willie fled the scene and County Attorney ISE and Sheriff LEWIS from Independence, Kansas were notified immediately. The prosecutor gathered accounts of the shooting and determined it was self-defense.

Meanwhile, Willie had fled to his sister's (Maude HICKS) home near Wann, Nowata, Oklahoma. It was there he was arrested between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning. Willie reportedly made no resistance to being arrested by “the little squad of officers composed of Sheriff LEWIS, Undersheriff Bert ZIEGENFUSS, and Jim AUSTIN of Dearing.” The officers had been “searching the country by auto for several hours”. By 4:00 a.m., Willie was sitting in the county jail. While in jail, Willie's account of the shooting was that the over-the-shoulder shot was the one that killed Press. He thought he had fired three shots.

The inquest was held a few hours later at O. O. CRANE's store where Press's body had been taken when it was finally moved from the road. It was found that a bullet entered Press's skull about an inch over the ear and ranging downward. A gash was found just above the bullet wound of a nature that officers believe Press received a blow with the butt of a revolver.

The inquest jury found that Willie had killed Press with a revolver but they didn't (or wouldn't?) determine whether there was murderous intent. Willie stated he “would rather have been killed than to have injured Ms. STEWART.” It was believed by officials, and reported by Willie, that the shootings of Andrew MEDFORD and Isabelle STEWART were accidental.

On 26 March 1914, the day after the inquest, Willie was still sitting in jail. In the evening his dad, Garton, and another man came to the courthouse and asked permission to visit Willie. Officer George EVANS was the only man on duty at the courthouse when Garton PETTY showed up. The other officer was out working another case. Officer EVANS told Garton and the other man that they could come back later to visit when Officer EVANS had help. Garton PETTY and the man with him entered the jail anyway in violation of the rules and the order of Officer EVANS. They began talking to the prisoners. Officer EVANS warned them to stop and get out. They “answered him impudently” and EVANS called Deputy WALTERS from the courtroom to assist him. Officer EVANS gave the men one last chance to leave peacefully and the men decided to take that chance so there was no further trouble. Later that night Willie was released and Garton took him home. Authorities stated that Willie's “condition was sufficient surety for his appearance when wanted” and that they had no way to care for him at the county jail. The newspaper reported that Willie's father was allowed to take “the slayer of Preston SEELY” to his home at Dearing. Willie had not yet been arraigned and no bond was required due to his “condition”. The newspaper reported that it was “impossible for [Willie] to move without assistance” and that the evidence showed that Press's murder was self-defense.

County Attorney ISE went to Dearing on 30 March 1914 in the afternoon to continue looking into the murder of Press SEELY. He was convinced the act was self-defense but the SEELY family was insisting on a murder trial. On 31 March 1914 County Attorney ISE made a partial effort to appease the SEELY's by going ahead and charging PETTY with First Degree Murder for killing Preston SEELY. At that time Willie was out on a small bond according to The Evening Star (Independence, Kansas). Willie was notified that a warrant had been issued for him on the murder charge and it was anticipated he would give himself up. Although Willie had initially been released to his father and gone home to his father's home, by 31 March 1914 he was living in Wann, Nowata, Oklahoma with his sister, Maude HICKS. The paper reported that County Attorney ISE was “loathe” to start proceedings against Will PETTY as he felt the shooting was self-defense but the SEELY relatives had demanded an investigation and Dearing residents also thought there should at least be an investigation. Public opinion forced ISE to set a preliminary hearing and start proceedings “to clear the air”.

On 15 April 1914 Willie had a preliminary hearing at Dearing on the murder charge. County Attorney ISE and his stenographer Bessie KENIADY traveled to Dearing for the preliminary hearing. The newspaper on that date stated that “up until now” the murder “looked like self-defense” but that Preston SEELY's family was “not satisfied” with that view of it and “demanded action against William PETTY”. The paper also stated that the Prosecutor thought a preliminary hearing, “where the matter could be gone over thoroughly would be the best solution”. Deputy County Attorney Joe HOLDREN assisted with the prosecution while Charles BUCHER of Coffeyville and Tom WAGSTAFF of Independence appeared on behalf of William PETTY. (If you're interested, you can read a nice bio of Tom WAGSTAFF here:. Another artifact is a letter Tom wrote to then-Governor Henry J. ALLEN which you can read at Kansas Memory, if you want.)

In mid-February of 1915 (a year after Willie was charged with First Degree Murder), a warrant was issued for Willie for a charge related to violation of prohibition laws. The newspaper article announcing it was dated 13 February 1915 and it didn't fail to announce that Willie was “paralyzed from his hips down”. James MOORE was also arrested on 12 February 1915 and charged with selling liquor. MOORE was taken into District Court the morning of 13 February 1915 and appointed an attorney. I don't know what the outcome of this was for either MOORE or Willie but I can guess that Willie's charges were deferred or something similar to that. At the end of the next paragraph, you'll see why.

Kansas Memory

The Bombshell!
In mid-September of 1915, William PETTY and Isabelle STEWART surprised friends when they returned to town on a Sunday and announced they were married in Copan, Oklahoma, that weekend. Ms. STEWART had been attending school in Oklahoma at the time of the wedding. At that time, Willie and a cohort named “A. MEDFORD” were involved in liquor sales and shipments. You do remember, Andrew MEDFORD, don't you? He was the ex-brother-in-law who was trying to rescue Isabelle from the buggy the night Willie murdered Press. Prohibition was still in effect. In mid-September of that year, good ole' County Attorney ISE came to town inspecting records of liquor shipments at the depot. According to the paper he found the shipments “in good form and per law” and there was no statement whether any “consignees” (liquor buyers/shippers) would be raided based on the records. But if he didn't find something then, he did find something soon after. In January of 1916 there was a “booze raid” in Dearing, though. Andrew and Willie were arrested by Deputy Sherrif Bert ZIEGENFUSS for violating prohibition. MEDFORD was picked up with 11 quarts of booze in his possession and he was taken to jail. Willie was also taken to jail but he bonded out quickly. The charges that eventually stuck on “slick Willie” were selling liquor and signing a false name to obtain possession of a booze shipment. (Ever wonder if ISE was getting a clue about Willie yet?) It's noted in this article that Willie was “crippled” in a shooting in Hoisington County a few years back. It seems like every time Willie got in trouble with the law he made sure the reporter knew he was “a cripple”. But if you'll remember, the last news reports we received after that 1911 shooting were that Willie had movement in his lower limbs, he was getting better, and the doctors expected him to have no trouble. Slick Willie sure knew how to work that “disability”, didn't he? In a later news article on this event, it was noted that Indian JOHNSON was also caught in the raid but later freed. It also noted that MEDFORD had plead guilty to his charges. The timing of the sudden marriage and ISE's visit to town to check out the liquor shipments coincide so perfectly that I wonder if Willie knew he was about to go down and he was trying to manipulate the situation somehow by marrying Isabelle. You know, the old “but I have a family to care for” excuse.

On 8 February 1916, seven men from Dearing traveled to Independence, Kansas to attend William PETTY's trial for violating prohibition laws. All seven were called as witnesses in Willie's trial. The men who went were S. L. ALEXANDER, William “Bill” BARRIGAR, Ike DOWNS, Jesse FARMER, Tony PUGH, Shorty SPARK, and James MOORE (the same James MOORE that got arrested a year before this. I'm thinking he turned on Willie and got a reduced sentence or probation for turning on Willie.). On 17 February 1916 it was reported that in the case of The State of Kansas versus William PETTY, Willie was found guilty on one count against him. The article does not say on which count he was found guilty.

I am uncertain whether he served any time or not. On 23 February 1916 (just 6 days after the guilty verdict we just talked about) The Coffeyville Daily Journal reported that William PETTY installed a shooting gallery on Monday of that week. I am uncertain whether that was slick Willie or his uncle William PETTY.

On 31 March 1919, Isabelle E. E. PETTY “through her next friend” filed suit in district court for a divorce from Willie PETTY. (In legal cases, a “next friend” means “An individual who acts on behalf of another individual who does not have the legal capacity to act on his or her own behalf.” See Legal Dictionary.) Her initial complaint claimed “gross neglect” and “cruelty” and said she wanted a divorce and “further relief”. In July of 1919, Isabelle PETTY received the divorce she wanted from Willie PETTY. The divorce was final on 2 July 1919. The divorce was requested and granted on the grounds of “extreme cruelty”. Isabelle claimed in her divorce action that Willie attempted to kill her about a year prior to her divorce action. His method of murder? Shooting her five times with a revolver. One of the bullets struck her in the forehead and she narrowly escaped death. (Deja vu, anyone??) The PETTY's were married four years in all and had no children together. I was curious who might represent the PETTY's in the divorce. I don't know who represented Willie, but Isabelle managed to get C. D. ISE as her attorney! Yes- you know that name. He was the very same County Attorney that refused a trial to the SEELY's because he believed Willie PETTY acted in self-defense when he murdered Preston SEELY. (Did you ever think about someone and wonder if/how they were able to sleep at night??) The PETTY's lived in Dearing, Kansas during their marriage and subsequent divorce. After all that mess with Preston SEELY, the couple never left Dearing. But then, neither did the SEELY family. Curious.

In 1920, slick Willie was involved in one more newsworthy event. A couple of days before Christmas, 1920, a local bank was robbed. Willie called the bank afterward and claimed he had passed the robbers on the highway when they were fleeing. He said they had a flat tire and they ran over and killed his dog. He didn't say whether he helped them with that flat tire. Or whether he might happen to know anyone in the gang. In the 1920 federal census and the 1925 Kansas state census, Willie was living with his elderly parents. He was still single.

And there you have it. Slick Willie's story- as much of it as I could find. A little more of Isabelle's story. Their short story together. I'm going to give you a day or two to read over this. It's shocking. It throws some events into a whole new light. Deliberate, Bates jurors. Talk amongst yourselves. Swap details. Someone might have noticed something you missed. I may (or may not- depending on my schedule) give you a little more information about Isabelle. Or perhaps in the next post, I'll just ask for your verdict. You'll just have to wait and see. Now go deliberate! We're at the verdict stage!

“They say every big family has a black sheep. Well that's the way of the world.” ~ Mister Squeegee Tires ad, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 5 June 1915.

You can find some Coffeyville history at History of Coffeyville, KS if you're interested.

Until this weekend,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Resource list:
The Coffeyville Daily Journal
5 July 1906; 15 November 1907; 30 October 1908; 7 November 1908; 29 April 1910; 4 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 9 December 1910; 28 December 1910; 15 November 1911; 10 January 1912; 17 January 1912; 3 February 1912; 7 February 1912; 30 March 1912; 23 November 1912; 22 March 1913; 2 April 1913; 21 June 1913; 16 August 1913; 20 August 1913; 27 August 1913; 14 February 1914; 26 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 9 April 1914; 7 October 1914; 1 April 1915; 2 June 1915; 5 June 1915; 12 June 1915; 15 September 1915; 9 February 1916; 17 February 1916; 23 February 1916; 24 April 1916; May 1916; 4 13 May 1916; 28 November 1916; 12 February 1917; 27 March 1917; 18 August 1917; 14 September 1917; 1 June 1918; 27 February 1919; 31 March 1919; 21 April 1919; 3 July 1919; 23 December 1920

The Coffeyville Weekly Journal
27 August 1909; 22 July 1910; 4 November 1910; 18 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 17 March 1911; 24 March 1911; 29 September 1911; 15 November 1911; 17 November 1911; 24 November 1911; 8 December 1911; 15 December 1911

The Arkansas City Daily Traveler
29 May 1920

The Evening Star
1 June 1908; 26 March 1914; 27 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 31 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 13 April 1914; 15 April 1914; 16 April 1914; 13 February 1915

The Daily Republican
17 November 1911; 17 November 1913; 26 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 10 January 1916

The Hutchinson News
26 March 1914

The Parsons Daily Sun
24 June 1905; 26 March 1914

The Oxford Register
2 April 1914

The Alma Enterprise
3 April 1914

The Leavenworth Post
26 March 1914

The Chanute Daily Tribune
26 March 1914

The Wichita Daily Eagle
27 March 1914

The Independence Daily Reporter
15 December 1908
1 April 1914
16 April 1914

The Sun
28 May 1920
9 November 1920

The Fort Scott Daily Tribune and The Fort Scott Daily Monitor
9 April 1920

Jealousy & Bad Whiskey, Day 5: Andrew Medford- Bad Timing?

We took a few days' break for Mother's Day and because I've been working late nearly everyday. I'm glad you're back! Before moving on to Andrew's testimony, I wanted to talk about the polls I've been including. In the first poll, the first question asked you which description of Isabelle gave you the most information about her. The most popular choice was "inclined to waywardness". Others chose "very large for her age" and "very robust". I happened to like the waywardness comment but I also liked the description of "tolerably good looking". I'd sure like to know who the reporter was and see who he married so I could judge for myself what that phrase might mean! The second question asked for everyone's preliminary opinion about the shooting. There were 3 votes of self-defense, one vote of murder with no premeditation, and one vote of "I need more information".

In quiz number 2, there were also two questions. The first being whether Charles Smoley's testimony changed from the time of the shooting to the time of the court date. The answer is, yes- it did! All initial reports that I could find stated he was present when the shooting happened. However, by the court hearing he had come up with an alibi that apparently was accepted, that alibi being that he was at someone else's (John DANIELS') home at the time of the shooting. The next question was - did this information make you question what really happened that night with Preston SEELY? Everyone who voted said yes, it would make a difference. So now you know! Unlike a real jury, you have the opportunity to go back and read all the testimony before making your final verdict. Take advantage of that! On a side note, did you catch that statistic about the number of people testifying in that hearing? The number of people testifying in that hearing was equivalent to 1/6 the population of Dearing at that time! It was a much bigger hearing than I imagined. Now, moving on...

Allow me to introduce you to my guest writer of the day, Barbara T. Barbara is married to one of Andrew MEDFORD's grandsons. I want her to tell you Andrew's story in her own words and then I'll add a little bit at the end of her piece. SHE HAS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THAT I POST THE FOLLOWING: HER STORY ABOUT ANDREW AND HIS LIFE MAY NOT BE COPIED WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. So here is Andrew's story by Barbara in her own words.


Andrew MEDFORD, photo courtesy of Barbara T. Photo may not be used without the permission of Barbara T.

Andrew Medford’s involvement in the shooting seemed to be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just a brief synopsis of Andrew Medford's life to help you understand him better. Andrew had very little stability nor family in his life. He was born in 1882 somewhere around Poteau or Muldrow area when Oklahoma was Indian Territory according to family. His application for a Social Security Number in 1937 stated he was born in Scott County, Arkansas. Andrew's mother died in childbirth having another child shortly after he was born, consequently Andrew never knew his mother. His father was rather elusive. Andrew didn't seem to have much recollection of him. In a deposition Andrew made in 1900 in an application for the Five Civilized Tribes, Andrew stated he didn't remember his father and was told by an uncle that his father had passed away about 15 years ago. In that same deposition Andrew stated his uncle had since passed away and the only living relative he had was a cousin (hat he knew of anyway). Andrew lived with a Delbert A Hill & his wife Nancy in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Delbert & Nancy "adopted" children that needed a home and raised them. It’s questionable if any of the adoptions were “official” or if they just took the children in and raised them as many did in that era. It’s probable the Hills weren’t able to have children of their own. During that time period it was not unusual to acquire children to help out around the farm. All Census records listed Delbert as a “farmer” but he was also known as a “Pastor”. The Medford family always referred to him as “Pastor Hill”. He’s the one who married Andrew with wife #1 and wife #3; signing one marriage license as “D.A. Hill Minister of the Gospel” and one as “D. A. Hill Minister United Baptist”. He may have been doing both farming and pastoring a church as many did in that time. Andrew's life before his early 20's was spent living & roaming around northeastern Oklahoma. Andrew had a brief marriage from JUN1905 until JAN1912 living in Nevada, Missouri at least some of that time. His wife left him in 1911, went back to Oklahoma, divorced him and took back her maiden name.

Andrew lived around the Coffeyville, Kansas area for about 5 years after that divorce and hung out with some very colorful characters much like himself while living there. Andrew, the Stewarts, the Pettys, the Smoleys, they all knew each other well and worked as Smelters together. After all, it was 1914 and small town America. Andrew being alone and not having much money may have even lived with some or one of them for a time. Andrew was arrested at different times for having illegal liquor with each of these guys, Will Petty & Charles Smoley according to newspaper articles. It was well known in the Medford family that Andrew liked his homemade brew.

It would not be unusual for Andrew to be in the buggy with Will & Isabella on the evening of 25MAR1914 or visiting with a group of people in front of Isabella’s house. Especially since very recently he had been married to Zelpha, a half sister to Isabella Stewart. It was marriage #2 for each of them, Andrew & Zelpha. According to the paper Zelpha was a "well known young lady in Dearing". They were married JUL1912. One of the newspaper articles about the shooting said Andrew was divorced but previously a brother in law to Isabella on the night of the shooting. Some might wonder if Andrew was pursuing Isabella too. The way all the newspaper articles describe what happened and from what the witnesses say it seems that Seeley had it in for Petty. There seemed to be some jealously there which did not involve Andrew directly in the shooting, he just happened to be there at the time. Andrew offered his hand to Isabella to help her out of the buggy so she wouldn’t get hurt and he got shot in the process. Medford seemed to be just hanging with his friends that evening which put him in the middle of the whole situation when Seeley attacked Petty. Andrew was arrested later that night but released the next day for lack of evidence that he was involved.

It is not known exactly why or when, but sometime during the next couple years after the shooting Andrew went back to Oklahoma. The next time we have any record of him is when he married wife #3 in Ochelata, OK in AUG1917. Her father called the Sheriff, had Andrew arrested on the grounds of perjury for lying about her age and he was put in jail overnight. Family says her father was against the marriage, after all they were a church going family. Who would want their 17 year old daughter marrying a 34 year old man who was already divorced two times, had a questionable reputation, liked his homemade brew and had few arrests under his belt? (none of the arrests ever amounted to anything that we know of). Andrew had 10 children with wife #3. All of whom grew to adulthood except for one who died at birth, 6 being born in Oklahoma and the last 4 born in Kansas. Many years they lived around the area of Dewey & Bartlesville, Washington County, Oklahoma. Around 1930 Andrew moved the family to Coffeyville, Kansas. Family stories say he was making moonshine in Oklahoma, got word the sheriff was after him, and had to get out of the state. One day he came home and told Mama to take the children, load up the wagon, get to Coffeyville quick and he would meet them there later. After moving back to Coffeyville Andrew’s life seemed to settle down a lot with working and raising the children.

On the fateful Monday morning of 16JAN1939 Andrew was on his way to work riding in the back of a pickup truck with his comrades when a car ran a stop sign hitting the truck. Andrew was thrown from the truck receiving severe injuries to his head. He was in the hospital for a week then passed away the following Monday morning 23JAN1939 at the age of 56. His death certificate listed his Cause of Death as “Severe auto injuries to head & chest”.

Written by Barb T
daughter in law to Andrew’s daughter, Velma
(who loved to tell stories by the way)

Wrong Place, Wrong Time- A Man With No End of Hard Luck

Andrew MEDFORD was married to Isabelle STEWART's half-sister (through her mother), Zelpha JOHNSON. Andrew MEDFORD and Zelpha JOHNSON BERRY were married 3 July 1912 in Coffeyville, Kansas. The wedding was performed by Judge O. O. CRANE. At some point between July of 1912 and March of 1914 the couple divorced. Andrew apparently remained close to the STEWART family. He was working at the smelter in Dearing when the shooting occurred.

I'm assuming Andrew looked younger than his years because the newspapers guessed his age at 28 or 30. He was actually about 32 or 33 years old at the time of the shooting. On the evening of the shooting, Andrew was in the buggy with Willie and Isabelle. (I have to wonder if he was there because he, too, was sweet on Isabelle!) Reports vary in detail stating that Isabelle was sitting on the dashboard of the buggy, that she was getting into the buggy or that she was already in the buggy when the fight started. Reports also vary in detail in regard to Andrew's actions. Some reports state that he tried to stop Willie when Willie pulled his revolver and that the gun discharged and shot Andrew and Isabelle. Other reports say that when the fight started, Andrew swung around to get between Willie and Isabelle and started trying to get Isabelle out of the wagon. Willie fired the first shot while Andrew was trying to get Isabelle out of the wagon. Willie was shooting and unaware that he had killed Press with his first shot. Willie threw his pistol around to one side of his body and fired again. It was this wild second shot that went through Andrew's hand and into Isabell's stomach. Ultimately, Andrew's wound was declared “minor”. Some accounts say that when Willie ran from the scene of the crime, so did Andrew. Other accounts say officers arrested Andrew at the scene the night of the murder and that he and one or two others were held as possible accessories to the murder. He was put in the county jail in Independence, KS. (There is one report that said he fled with Willie and stayed with Willie in Wann, Oklahoma at the HICKS residence until they were both arrested there.) In any case, Andrew was released on 26 March 1914- the same day Willie was released. News reports declared Andrew had no part in the killing of Press SEELY. They reported that there was no further reason to hold Andrew and that he was merely “an innocent bystander who got what the innocent bystander usually gets when a quarrel starts.” There was one report in The Wichita Daily Eagle that reported that not only was Andrew arrested but he and Willie were both charged with taking part in a fight.

Final Note

Please show some love to Barbara T. in the comments. She was very gracious to hang with me through this series of blog posts and to share some family stories with us about Andrew.

Now- rest up, jurors. Testimony is winding down (and so am I! It's the last week of school and I'm exhausted!). I hope to put out one short blog post tomorrow with an update on Isabelle. Then, the final testimony coming from the Defendant himself, Willie PETTY! Then we declare him innocent, guilty, or otherwise and we're done! Thanks for staying with me. This has been fun. Now go to bed and get some sleep!

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Resource list:
The Coffeyville Daily Journal
5 July 1906; 15 November 1907; 30 October 1908; 7 November 1908; 29 April 1910; 4 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 9 December 1910; 28 December 1910; 15 November 1911; 10 January 1912; 17 January 1912; 3 February 1912; 7 February 1912; 30 March 1912; 23 November 1912; 22 March 1913; 2 April 1913; 21 June 1913; 16 August 1913; 20 August 1913; 27 August 1913; 14 February 1914; 26 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 9 April 1914; 7 October 1914; 1 April 1915; 2 June 1915; 5 June 1915; 12 June 1915; 15 September 1915; 9 February 1916; 17 February 1916; 23 February 1916; 24 April 1916; May 1916; 4 13 May 1916; 28 November 1916; 12 February 1917; 27 March 1917; 18 August 1917; 14 September 1917; 1 June 1918; 27 February 1919; 31 March 1919; 21 April 1919; 3 July 1919; 23 December 1920

The Coffeyville Weekly Journal
27 August 1909; 22 July 1910; 4 November 1910; 18 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 17 March 1911; 24 March 1911; 29 September 1911; 15 November 1911; 17 November 1911; 24 November 1911; 8 December 1911; 15 December 1911

The Arkansas City Daily Traveler
29 May 1920

The Evening Star
1 June 1908; 26 March 1914; 27 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 31 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 13 April 1914; 15 April 1914; 16 April 1914; 13 February 1915

The Daily Republican
17 November 1911; 17 November 1913; 26 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 10 January 1916

The Hutchinson News
26 March 1914

The Parsons Daily Sun
24 June 1905; 26 March 1914

The Oxford Register
2 April 1914

The Alma Enterprise
3 April 1914

The Leavenworth Post
26 March 1914

The Chanute Daily Tribune
26 March 1914

The Wichita Daily Eagle
27 March 1914

The Independence Daily Reporter
15 December 1908
1 April 1914
16 April 1914

The Sun
28 May 1920
9 November 1920

The Fort Scott Daily Tribune and The Fort Scott Daily Monitor
9 April 1920