by Rocky Macy
The turmoil and criminal activity brought to the Ozarks by the Civil War undoubtedly comprises the bloodiest chapter of our local history. A reader recently forwarded a copy of the one-page Neosho Hearld "Extra" of 16 Aug 1861. Included in that special edition were an account of the Battle of Wilson's Creek (near Springfield, MO) that had occurred the previous Saturday morning (August 10th), proclamations to the people of Missouri from General Sterling PRICE and General Benjamin McCULLOUGH, and the following item of interest:
A Foul Murder
A few days ago as two sons of Mr. KATTS, living near this place, were returning home from the army, they were attacked and taken prisoners by John SEXTON and his band of cutthroats, and taken some distance from the road to be shot. One of them, after being taken from his horse, succeeded in making his escape; but his brother, being less fortunate, was cruelly butchered by SEXTON and his villainous crew.
Joyce SMITH WALKER (2801 Rodeo Road, No. B-205, Santa Fe, NM 87505) is the lady that provided Rootbound with a copy of the aforementioned Neosho Herald. She is researching the family of Joseph Samuel KATTS/KATTES, the father of the boys that were bushwhacked by the SEXTON Gang. Please read on...
Joseph Samuel KATTS was born in August of 1805 in Salem County, NJ. He married Elizabeth ARONES on 28 Mar 1829 in Mannington, Salem County, NJ. She was born in November of 1811 in New Jersey and died on 7 Dec 1884 in Bell County, TX. Joseph died on 13 Jan 1863 in Newton County, MO. A son, Samuel Arones KATTS, died on the same day as his father. Joyce WALKER would like to know the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
The other children of Joseph and Elizabeth KATTS were Eli Paulen (born 10 July 1830, Elizabeth, Peter (the murder victim in the preceding article), Mary Sue (married a Mr. BURKEEN), Deborah Ann (married a Mr. WHITE), George Washington, and Marian Jane (born 4 Sep 1848; married a Mr. MISTOW).
Joyce SMITH WALKER (address above) further reports that in-laws of Deborah Ann KATTS WHITE, Robert and Mary (MANN) WHITE, and their son, James, all died on 12 Dec 1863 in Benton County, AR. She, of course, wants to know why. A family legend relates that these people may have also been done in by bushwhackers.
Is that right? Could violence and lawlessness have been that commonplace in the Ozarks? Consider the following which was taken from the same edition of the Neosho Herald.
A Rascal at Large
It is currently reported, and pretty generally believed in this neighborhood, that D.A.W. MOOREHOUSE, formerly Judge of the Common Pleas Court of this county, is at the head of a band of jay-hawkers, plundering and murdering his former neighbors. Beware, Don Alphonso, the avenger is on your track, and will soon overtake you.
The Neosho Herald appears to have been, at least in 1861, decidedly sympathetic to the Confederate cause. In its coverage of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, the newspaper listed the following as among those "killed on our side": Col. WEITMAN - "a brave and gallant officer who fell nobly defending the Right," Lieut. PATTON of Pineville, and W.O. UNDERWOOD of Newton County. The Herald also reported that the Granby company under the command of Capt. SHAW had "had done noble work and sustained serious loss during the battle."
Rootbound readers with knowledge of any of the individuals mentioned in this week's column are invited to share that information by sending it to Rootbound in the Hills in care of this newspaper. Remember, we're as close as the mailbox!