THE BROWN FARM MASSACRE - THE FULTON GAZETTE: MAY 1, 1914
This is the story of the massacre of seven Callaway county boys in the barn lot of Hamilton Brown, four and one- half miles northwest of Hatton, on November 4, 1864, by a band of militiamen under the command of Major James C. Bay, of Wellsville. From the stories of survivors and others with whom the author has talked and corresponded, and it is believed that what is here printed is an accurate account of the blackest incident in the history of Callaway County.
While gathering the material and writing the story the thought often came to the writer that possibly it would be better to let the account of the tragedy go unwritten, so that the horror of it would not be revived, but the other view - the belief that the facts should be presented fully and accurately because of their historical importance has prevailed.
General Sterling Price's army was on its ill-starred raid into Missouri in the autumn' of 1864. The fight at Pilot Knob had been so costly to the Confederate forces as to cause the plan to seize St. Louis to be abandon- ed. Then, when the army was before Jefferson City, the Federals seemed so formidable that the planned attack on the seat of the state government was given up. Passing south of Jefferson City, Price moved westward to Cali- fornia, and there turned north to Boonville, which had been captured by Shelby.
One of the purposes of the Price raid was to get recruits for the Con- federate service, and at Boonville Wil- liam R. Terry (now a resident of Ful- ton and a former member of the coun- ty court), a private in Captain George Robert Brooks's company E of Par- sons's regiment, and Frank F. Turley, a cavalry trooper under General Jo Selby,were directed to come to Calla- way county, where they had been reared, to enlist new men. With the assistance of Robert Boyd, of Boyds- ville, a civilian, they quickly got to- gether more than two hundred men- or, better, boys, for very few of the recruits were twenty-one years old.
Late in October Terry, Turley and Boyd, and the men they had enlisted, started to join Price, who was then in the southwestern part of the state, re- treating before Pleasanton after the battle at Independence. The rendez- vous of the recruits was Millersburg, from which place they began a march across Boone county to Glasgow, where they hoped to be able to cross the Missouri river. Passing north of Columbia and avoiding the main Trav- elled roads as much as possible, the recruits reached the western part of Boone County before nightfall.
Up to that time the expedition had been more or less of a boyish frolic. Judge Terry says there were less than two dozen firearms in the company, due to the fact that the militiamen who had infested Callaway county al- most from the beginning of the war, had confiscated practically every gun in the county. In a haphazard sort of way camp was established the first night on a hillside. Without military training, without arms, without uni- forms, without tents, without stores, without even a realization of the seri- ousness of civil war, the camp the men made was a crude affair. In camp the men insisted on building fires and doing other things dangerous to their safety, so, to protect them, a military organization was quickly formed. The election resulted in the choosing of Terry as captain. Turley as first lieu- tenant, Boyd as second lieutenant, and the late James T. Miller, of this city, as third lieutenant.
The march to Glasaow was resumed the next day, and Turley, with five or six men, was sent ahead of the main body to reconnoiter. Four or five miles from glasgow Turley saw Union troops approaching and immediately sent a courier back to inform Terry of the nearness of the enemy and to advise him to take care of his men. Terry halted his company, formed the men in battle line, and waited for the Federals to approach, hoping to frighten the enemy by the size of his force. Turley also halted and in a short time the advance guard from the Federals came up with him. A par- ley followed and one of the Federals inquired of Turley, "Who are you?" Instantly one of Turley's men rose in his saddle stirrups and exclaimed, "Bill Anderson, by G---!"
The indentity of the soldier who answered the question has been lost,; but his reply saved the Cailaway boys., The name of Anderson was dreaded by every Federal soldier and militiaman in Missouri, for just a few weeks be- fore, on September 27, Anderson had perpetrated the Centraiia massacre on the farm of Colonel Milton Sineleton, who afterward moved to Callaway county and lived one mile northwest of Fulton. The exclamation of Tur- ley's young soldier caused the Federal advance guard to turn and run pre- cipitately, after which the Confeder- ates lost no time in getting away. "It was the luckiest thing that could have happened to us." Judge Terry says. "for we could not have made any kind of sucessfull resistance.''
Findiing That they could not cross the river, the Callaway boys turned back, purposing to join Colonel Caleb Dorsey (a Pike county man), of Shel- by's command, who was in Audrain county with several hundred men. On the night of November 3, 1864, they camped on Four Mile creek, about one- fourth mile west of what is now known as Walnut Grove school house, while Colonel Dorsey and several hun- dred men were in camp a mile or two north of them. It was during this night that the memorable snow fell. The snow was heavy and covered the ground to a depth of nearly a foot, while it weighted down the leaves and branches of trees almost to the break- ing point.
When Dorsey heard of the presence of the Confederate recruits near him, he sent word for the captain to re- port to him. "I went to Dorsey's camp," Judge Terry says, "and we talked about crossing the Missouri river in this county. He sent me and two or three picked men from his own force to make arrangements to cross the river and that night we rode to Cote Sans Dessein, where we made a deal with a foreigner who lived there to use two skiffs he had sunk in the river. We returned to north Calla- way the morning of the fourth of No- vember, and because of the heavy snow, had to ride in the public road which caused us much uneasiness, be- cause we knew there were lots of Fed- erals in the county."
The camp on Four Mile creek was like the one on the hillside in Boone county. As a matter of fact, it was nothing more than a place where the men fed their horses and laid down on the ground to sleep. Many of the men, however, spent the night under shel- ter at the neighboring farms, but those who slept in the open, under the snow, say they never had a better night's sleep and never slept more warmly.
"I was one of the men who spent the night in camp," the Rev. Noah W. Bedsworth, of Cedar City, says. "The next morning, after breakfast, a lot of us were sitting around in camp, when our pickets were run in by Major Bay's Wellsville militia. Our men mounted their horses hastily and started north, with a bunch of about ten in the lead, among whom were the seven that were killed. I was a memb- er of another bunch of about ten that followed the first crowd, while a third squad separated from us. Our squad was led by Lieutenant Dial (Dock) Barnes of Boone county, who belong- ed to Shelby's command and who had been sent home from Price's army to enlist recruits. When we came to a place where we thought we could make a stand, we turned out of the road and stopped. The militiamen passed us and continued their pursuit of the other men and we heard the shots fired at the Brown farm that caused the death of our comrades."
Two of the party that was in the lead are living. One is Judge G. H. Trigg, now a member of the county court of Callaway county, and the other is James Ed. Bradley, who lives near Miller's Creek Methodist church, in west Callaway. In the chase Judge Trigg was knocked from his horse by a limb of a tree and fell in- to the snow, where he stayed until Bay's men passed him. He thinks some of the militiamen must have seen him, but were too intent on over- taking the others to stop to kill him. Mr. Bradley was with those who were run into the Brown horse lot and killed and, so far as is known, is the only person now living who witness- ed the massacre.
"It was murder, downright murder," Mr. Bradley says. "Our men were not armed and were just shot down. We were driven into a corner of the Brown lot - the barn on one side and the fence on the other. The militia- men made us dismount and Bay gave orders to his men to kill us as soon as we could be lined up, I looked right up in the face of Bay and said, "You are not going to kill a boy like me, are you?" He looked me in the eye and told me to get on my horse and stay back with the captain of his com- any.
"The guns of the militiamen were not loaded when they ran us down," Mr. Bradley tells, "and the men who murdered our men had to load up be- fore they could do their work. No special persons were detailed to do the shooting, and the murders were com- mitted by men who walked up volun- tarily to do it. I was told to look at the shooting and that it would be a 'warning to me.' I remember it all just as clearly as if it were being en- acted before me this minute," Mr. Bradley says. "I never will be able to forget it."
The men who were killed were: James Polk Selby, orderly sergeant of the company, Joseph Adair, Charles Sinclair, John R. Davis, George Allen, Alfred A. Kemp and William Key. All were Callaway boys and all were under 22 years old. Selby was a mem- ber of the Selby family of west Calla- way and an uncle of S. S. and J. P. McClanahan, of this county, Davis was an uncle of W. Lee Davis, of Hereford. Allen was related to the well-known Allen family of northwest Callaway. Kemp was a brother of Mrs. W. S. May, southeast of Fulton, and Thomas A. Kemp, of Carrington. Key was a cousin of Kemp's.
Selby's body was buried at Prairie Chapel graveyard, west of Earl. The bodies of Adair, Sinclair and Davis were buried in one grave at Millers- burg, while the bodies of Allen, Kemp and Key were buried in Pleasant Grove graveyard at Hatton, where a monument bought with money raised by public subscription by the late Benjamin Wood, was erected and dedicated in 1910. O. W. Moss, who lives near Earl, though some younger than Adair, Sinciair and Davis, was their schoolmate and attended their burial. After they were murdered. Mr. Moss says, their bodies were tak- en to the home of John Adair, father of one of the young men, who was killed, and their parents agreed that inasmuch as they had been friends in life and were kiiled together, they should remain together in death and be buried in the same grave.
The young' men who were killed were practically unarmed. One story has it that there was not a firearm of any kind in the crowd, while another, which is believed to be ot Federal origin, says one of the men had a small-caliber revolver.
The shooting took place in the horse lot of Hamilton Brown, father of J. Shan Brown, of Audrain county. The Brown farm is owned now by Baxter Guthrie, whose wife was a dauqhter of Mr. Brown, and is located on the Callaway side of the county line road, four and one-half miles northwest of Hatton. One of the witnesses of the massacre was Miss Mary A. (Molly) Brown, now dead, another daughter of the owner of the farm. After the close of the war she married Thomp- son Fry, now a resident of Auxvasse, who was a soldier in the Confederate army.
"My wife, then Miss Brown, was standing at a window in her home and saw the Confederate boys riding across a field toward the barn lot," Mr. Fry says. "Then she saw the militiamen after them and she turned to her mother and said, 'I'm going out there and try to save those boys.' She ran to the lot and, meeting Bay at the gate, pleaded with him not to kill the boys. When he refused, she begged him to spare Bradley, who was only 16 years old. That request was granted. My wife recognized the Cal- laway boys when she saw them riding up. She knew Polk Selby as well as she did me, and just the Sunday before he was killed he called on her at her home." "After the shooting," Mr. Fry tells "Bay and some of his men rode up to the Brown dwelling and asked for the man of the house. Mrs. Brown met them and told them she did not know where he was. 'Tell him. when he comes back, to give those men decent burial,' he said, and then rode away.
Mr. Fry says that Hook Gay, of Boone county, was with the men who were kiiled, and that he urged them to ride through the Brown lot into the county line road and make a dash for the Cedar creek hills. They thought it better policy to surrender, however and lost their lives, while Gay acted on his own advice and escaped. Mr. Bradley has no recollection of Gay be- ing in the party, but Mr. Bedsworth says Gay was with the men who were in camp and he is convinced in his own mind that Mr.Fry has the story straight.
Bay's force comprised about 150 men, Mr. Bradley says. After the killing they went to Concord, where they spent the night in the Presbyte- rian church, The next day they went to Williamsburg, where another night was spent in a Church building, and the third day they returned to Wells- ville. Atfer their arrival at Wells- ville, Mr. Bradley was sent to Mexico, where he was kept a prisoner until about Christmas time, when he was released.
After the massacre the members of Terry's company scattered. A few went to Dorsey's camp. Mr. Beds- worth tells that he crawled into Dor- sey's tent and begged to he allowed to stay with his command, and was refus- ed, Dorsey saying at the time that he had all the men he could care for. Some of the men returned to their homes in this county, while others sought rufuge in Illinois and Ken- tucky.
The massacre occurred on Friday, and on Saturday evening Dorsey and his men, with a number of the Confed- erate volunteers who had started out with Terry, Turley and Boyd, met at the Millersburg Baptist church, where Dorsey delivered an address and offered to take as many Callaway men with him as wanted to go. Judge Terry and Judge Trigg were there and ( e) that Dorsey told those who wanted to stay to do so and take care of themseives. They say also that many of those who went South with Dorsey were killed. The assemblage at the church numbered about six hun- dred men. Dorsey and his men cross- ed the Missouri river at the Fergu- son place, near Tebbetts, according to Mr. Singleton Criswell, of Elk City, ( a.), who was a member of Terry's company. "They used a boat and swam their horses and made their way south without any further trouble, the ( s.) being busy further west trying to capture Price." Mr. Criswell writes.
The only report of the Brown farm massacre made to the Federal author- ities was in a dispatch sent from Mex- ico on November 7 by Joseph B. Doug- las, brigadier general of Enrolled Missouri Militia of the Eighth district of Missouri, to Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, in charge of military affairs in north Missouri, which said: Dorsey was in the western part of Callaway county at last accounts with from four hundred to six hundred men. I have not been able to raise force enough to draw him out. Major Bay, with a detachment of Sixty-seventh Enrolled Missouri Militia killed seven of his men and captured eleven last Friday." (See War of the Rebellion Official records. series I, volume 11, Series 4, page 479.)
The statement that eleven men were captured is a gigantic falsehood. The Militia at that time was not taking prisoners. As early as May 15,1864, (unreadable).
W. T. Clarke, lieutenant and aide-de- camp to General Fisk, writing from St. Joseph to Captain I. W. Stewart of company E, Sixty-Seventh Enrolled Missouri Militia (the regiment to which Bay was attached), at Danville, said: "You will arm them [a battalion of militia that was under Stewart's charge] as best you can, and will at once proceed to kiil and exterminate all tyhe bushwackers and gurillas who may infest your vicinity." After the letter had been signed, this signif- icant postscript was added: "The gen- eral [Fisk], upon reading over this letter, desires to say once more,'take no prisoners.'" (See War of the Re- bellion official records, series I, vol- ume 34, part 3, page 613.)
In the eyes of the militia of Mis- souri all Confederates were "bush- whackers" and "guerillas." The epi- thet most treasured by Fisk, how- ever was "traitor." This order of Fisk's, given by Clarke, was issued four months before the massacre by Anderson at Centralia. The persons who have sought to justify the Brown Farm massacre as retalliation for the Centralia massacre must not forget that the militia were ordered in May to do exactly what Anderson did - kill and exterminate.
The spirit of the militia is still further shown in an official dispatch by Major D. Dale, of the Fourth cav- alry, Missouri State Militia, written at Fulton on November 20, 1864, and ad- dressed to General Fisk at Macon City. It says: "There are but few bushwackers in this county at pres- ent that I can hear of, and the only ones that I have heard of for several days past were a band of six, some ten miles west of this place, yester- day evening. I sent two detachments of my command to make diligent search for them, and, in case they overhaul them, to 'muster them out.' " (See War of the Rebellion official rec- ords, series I, volume 41, part 4, page 632.)
Bay's activity in Callaway county did not end with the massacre. it ap- pears. In the dispatch just quoted, Dale said of him: "Major Bay, of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, has been in this county some two or three days scouting with a command of thirty men, taking stock from the residences of white rebel conscripts, by what authority I do not know: he says by the verbal orders of General Doug- las.' " It is easy to read between the lines that Dale's opinion of Bay was not very good.
James C. Bay, the man who had the Callaway boys killed at the Brown Farm, lived on a farm south of Wells- ville. Though the writer has made diligent efforts to obtain information concerning him, it has been impossible to find out much more than that he stood very low in the estimation of the persons who knew him in Montgom- ery county. His death, it is said, was horrible. According to a well authen- ticated story, he was delirious during his last hours and constantly impor- tuned those about his bedside to close the door of his room to keep out im- aginary avengers of the boys who were murdered at the Brown farm.
There is no doubt that Bay was in constant fear for his life after the war closed. The Rev. N.W.Beds- worth says that the way Bay treated him a few days after the massacre at the Brown farm caused him to write to Bay and tell him that he in- tended to kill him if ever he laid eyes on him. Mr. Bedsworth says also that after the war four Callaway county men went to Montgomery county to kill Bay. The men found Bay, but as he was mounted on a fresher horse than any they were rid- ing, he outran them and got into Montgomery City, where he found refuge.
It is said that the seven men who were murdered at the Brown farm fell at the first volley. Bay ordered his men,to make sure that all were dead and to rob their bodies. The examination showed that Selby had not been wounded and Bay ordered his men to kill Selby. Some of them demurred, and Miss Brown begged that Selby be spared, but Bay per- emptorily commanded that his order be obeyed, and one man in the com- pany spoke up with an oath, saying it was his "business to kill damned rebels." He shot Selby in the fore- head.
After the close of the war a west Callaway man who was in the militia was accused of the murder, and dur- ing a fair at the old fair ground west of Fulton, three companions of Selby took the man out of the crowd and into a clump of bushes on the fair ground for the purpose of killing him. The man denied his guilt so vehemently that he was permitted to go, but not until he had promised never to mention the incident. The man is dead now. It is believed he kept his promise faithfully.
Mention has been made of the threat of the Rev. Mr. Bedsworth to kill Bay. A day or two after the massacre Mr. Bedsworth started to Pike county with a neighbor woman, Mrs. Malinda Ellis Dooley, who lived in the Millers Creek church section.
It was Mr. Bedsworth's desire to see Mrs. Dooley safely to the home of a relative in Pike county and then escape from Missouri. "We rode horseback, and at Ashley, Pike coun- ty were halted by Bay, who made in- quiries about me," Mr. Bedsworth says in telling of his experiences. "We told Bay that I was a neighbor ( ) going with Mrs. Dooley to see her half sister at Clarksville. Bay asked my name and when he was told it he turned to a man whom he called Steve Kettle and asked him if my name was on the roll of Terry's com- pany. The list had been taken from the pocket of Polk Selby. Kettle look- ed over the roll and said he did not see my name. Bay asked when I was coming back and was told it would be in a day or two. He then ordered me to report to him on my return and per- mitted us to continue on our way. Mrs. Dooley and I rode on toward Clarksviile, and in a little while Ket- tle rode up behind us, and said ex- citedley 'There's the road to Frank- ford, and this is the road to Clarks- ville.' What he said made us under- stand it would be wise for us to go to Frankford, which suited us, for it had been our purpose to go by way of Frankford. A day or two later I went across the Mississippi river, crossinq with a drove of hogs owned by some friends. There I was taken ( )by a lot of Federal soldiers who helped me to get to Louisviiie, Ky. I eluded the soldiers in Louisville and went to relatives in the Blue Grass sec- tion of the state, where I stayed until after the war was over.
'I returned to Callaway county two years after the close of the war, and at Jefferson City on my way home, I wrote Bay reminding him of his or- ders to me at Ashley to report to him and telling him that I was late in replying. I also told him I would kill him if I ever laid eyes on him. He would have killed me like a dog at Ashley if Kettle had not deceived him. The night before he had had three of Dorsey's men shot.
Kettle saved my life by telling Bay my name was not on the roll," Mr. Bedsworth concluded. "A few years ago I was at Wellsville attend- ing a district conference of the Meth- odist church, and heard Kettle's name ( )led there. He mas then and is now the marshal of the town. A meeting was arranged for us and it took place at the depot the day I returned home. Kettle belonged to Bay's militia, but he had a good heart in him, and I greet- ed him warmly. I owe my life to Steve Kettle."
One of the men who spent the night of November 3, 1864, in the camp of Four Mile Creek and who eluded Bay's men was William B. Sampson, of Car- rington. "The next day,with John Van Horne, of Fulton, I went to Cote Sans Dessein to see about crossing the river to go South," Mr. Sampson says in talking of the massacre. "We were unable to cross the river and had to come back. The next day after- ward (Sunday) Van Horne and I were overtaken by James Holt, while we were riding near the house of the late Louden Snell, who lived a short distance northeast of Guthrie. While we were passing the Snell place six Federals, who belonged to the com- mand of Major Daily, of northwest Missouri, rode up on us. The ground was covered with snow and we did not hear them until they were right on us, so me had no chance to escape. Holt and I were compelled to dis- mount. Van Home talked back to the Federals when they told him to dismount and they shot him in the head while he was sitting in his sad- dle, killing him instantly. After talking with Holt and me. the Fed- erals shot us. The bullet that struck me entered just at the right of my nose and lodged in the back of my head, where it remains and can be felt. Holt was shot in the side but not seriously hurt. The Federals put him on a horse and made him go away with them. Holt went West after the close of the war and may be living yet.
"The Federals did not tell Holt and me they were going to shoot us," Mr. Sampson says. "A man named Mc- Millan leveled his pistol at me and fired. I was looking at him when he did it. I fell over, throwing up my hands and covering my face with the cape of my overcoat The Federals thought I had been killed and left me. When they were gone I went into a buggy house on the Snell place and waited there until Warner Criswell and some others came to help me. The Snell family was away from home, but Mr. Criswell and the others helped me into the Snell house. My wound was not serious and I was never unconscious from it. if I had not played dead, I am sure the Fed- erals would have shot me apnin. I have heard that McMillan was a bad character.
"Van Horne lived in Fulton and was about twenty years old. His Father was superintendent of the coun- ty poor farm before the beginning of the war, and possibly served in the same capacity during part of the war."
Judne Terry says that he and Tur- ley stayed in the county several days after the company was disbanded, and that whiie in the Boydsviile neigh- borhood they had a chance to kill Bay, but refrained from doing it be- cause they felt it would have caused the people of that section lots of trouble.
Judne Trigg attended the meeting at Millersburg Saturday night after the massacre, and then went to Jeffer- son City, where he took passage for St. Louis on a boat filled with Fed- erals who had been chasing Price in western Missouri. He was the only civilian passenger on the boat, but reached St. Louis safely, and then went to Kentucky, where he remain- ed until the close of the war. Terry and Turley went to Hancock county, Illinois, and then to St. Louis where they seperated. Terry went to New Orleans, reaching that place the day General Simon Bolivar Buckner surrendered. Turley is liv- ing now at Colorado Springs, Col.