Membership in the Ray County Historical Society
The Ray County Museum has an important and unique part in both the history of Ray County and the preservation of that history.
The Ray County Historical Society continues to oversee the operation of the Ray County Museum in its endeavor to keep this heritage and history alive. The Ray County Museum provides visitors with an experience filled with sights from the past past, as well as a place for school tours and genealogy research.
The museum contains a number of distinctive exhibits such as Ray County Coal Mine,
19th Century Bedroom, Victorian Parlors, Black Heritage Room, Country School Room,
Grandma's Kitchen, Old Jack's Cell, Governor's Room, Quilt / Coverlet Room, Children's Toy Room, 1904 World's Fair Room, Old Farmer's Shed / Barn, DAR Room, Mormon Room, Indian Artifacts, World War Rooms, Civil War Room, SewingRoom, Farmer's Room, Post Office, Costume Room, Doctor's Room, Wildlife Room, and more.
The Ray County Historical Society is always looking for individual or business members who are interested in supporting this wonderful piece of Missouri history.
We continually strive to keep the museum an interesting and educational attraction that is a plus to the community. As you are well aware, operating costs never go down so community support is critical.
Your membership into the Ray County Historical Society helps us perserve pieces of history that may otherwise be lost forever.
We appreciate any support you can give.
To become a member of the Ray County Historical Society, simply send your $10 check along with this membership letter to The Ray County Historical Society, P.O.Box 2, Richmond, MO. 64085
A County Historical Society to Be Formed
In 1973, a group of citizens set out to organize collect, preserve and recount Ray County history and on October 28, 1973, the Ray County museum was officially opened.
In recounting the development of the Ray County Historical Society and Ray County Museum, we go back to the Richmond News archives for articles published in November 16, 1959 and December 4, 1959.
Those stories report that several persons interested in local history will seek to establish a Ray County Historical Society at a meeting which has been set for Thursday night December 3, in the basement of the First Christian Church.
The group will have quarterly meetings, with speakers on the history of the Ray County area, and also later may compile a volume on a local history.
Post cards about the meeting soon will be mailed to the Ray County members of the State Historical Society of Missouri, and the general public will be invited to attend the meeting.
Floyd C. Shoemaker, who next year will retire as secretary of the state historical society, is assisting in planning for the local historical society. He will be one of its speakers at one of the first quarterly meetings.
A Ray County Historical society to preserve and create interest in local history was founded here by 33 county residents.
Elected as the society's first president was Bill Dye, of Richmond, editor of the Richmond News. The other officers elected were Garner Settle of Richmond, vice president' Elmer Pigg of Orrick, treasurer' and Miss Louise Darneal of Richmond, secretary.
Named as members of the society's board were Mrs. Harry Ogg of Rayville, Mrs. John Roney of Lawson and Miss Brune McGuire of Hardin.
The Society decided to have meetings four times a year with the first meeting a charter Night Banquet in Richmond sometime in January. All persons joining the society before the January meeting and at the banquet will become charter members of the society.
Among projects which the Ray County society may undertake as discussed last night, would be compilation of a new county history, establishing a county historical museum, marking and preservation of historic sites, and sponsoring events commemorating local historic incidents.
An article from October 28, 1973 recounts the opening of the museum.
The Ray County museum opened officially at 6:00 p.m. Sunday, October 28, 1973.
Two rooms on the 2nd floor of what was originally the Ray County Poor Farm built in 1910 contained displays from the Civil War period.
The museum will be a part of the entertainment center being developed in the home and the surrounding grounds under the jurisdiction of the Ray County Recreational Board.
Garner Settle, chairman of the museum committee, is making plans to have the museum open on a regular basis by the summer of 1974.
History of Ray
County Ray County was organized as a county by an act approved on November 16,
1820. It was named for John Ray of Howard County who served as a delegate to
the Missouri Constitutional Convention at St. Louis in June, 1820. The area to
constitute Ray County was first designated by a division of Howard County. It
was defined as "all the territory west of Grand River, east of the west
line of the state and north to the Iowa line shall be Ray County,"
comprising an area which now constitutes 12 counties: Worth, Gentry DeKalb,
Clinton, Clay, Ray, Harrison, mercer, Grundy Daviess, Livingston, and Carroll.
The first white family known to settle in what is now Ray County was the family
of John Vanderpool. They moved from Tennessee to a site near the present town
of Hardin in August 1815. A legislative commission was selected to locate the
first courthouse and jail in Ray County, shortly after the approval of the act
providing for the organization of the county. The commissioners were: Isaac
Martin, James Wells, John Harris, John Turner, and Jonathan Liggett. The
commissioners chose a temporary site at Bluffton, which was located between the
present communities of Camden and Fleming. The first term of the Ray County
Circuit Court was held at Bluffton on Monday, February 19, 1821. Circuit Judge
David Todd appeared on that date with a commission from Governor Alexander
McNair (Missouri's first Governor) as judge of the first judicial circuit.
Hamilton R. Gamble was present as the first prosecuting attorney for the first
judicial circuit. John Harris was appointed as the first Sheriff of Ray County
and William L. Smith was named as the first Clerk of the Circuit Court. Ray
County residents evidenced predilections for strong drink at an early period in
the history of the county as the first case tried in circuit court was that of
the State vs. Lewis Richard. Richards was charged with selling whiskey without
a license. The Ray County Circuit Court continued to meet at Bluffton in the
tavern of Timothy Riggs until the November term, 1828, when the court was
adjourned to meet in Richmond. The County Court met for the first time at
Bluffton. Its members were John Thornton, Isaac Martin and Elisha Camron. They
first held County Court on April 2, 1821. The first public road in Ray County
was established in April 1821, extending from Bluffton to John Thornton's mill
by order of the court of which Thornton was a member. Isaac Martin, also a
member of the first county court, was named by the court as the first road
overseer. A census of the inhabitants of Ray County was first taken in
September 1821 by John Harris. He reported an enumeration of 1,789 persons. He
received $34 for taking the census. A commission was selected by the County
Court in April 1827 to locate a site for building a county courthouse. The
chose the present site of the Richmond courthouse square. The present side was
then a part of the farms of John Wollard, William B. Martin, and William
Thornton. The site was adopted by an election. The Richmond town lot auction
was held on October 15, 1827. The plat was accepted on October 22. It required
approximately 12 months to erect the necessary public buildings in Richmond.
William S. Miller was appointed commissioner of the public property. The first
County Court in Richmond was held near the present site in the home of George
Woodard. The members of the court at that time were William P. Thompson,
Sebourn J. Miller, and Isaac Allen. George Woodard served as clerk. The first
courthouse in Richmond was completed on March 5, 1829. The first county jail at
Richmond was completed in November 1828. The first marriage certificate in Ray
County was issued to Owen Thorp ad Elizabeth Hiett on June 10, 1821. The first
coroner's inquest was in August 1823 on the body of James Buchanan. Fishing
River Township was one of the three original townships in Ray County, being
established in 1821, including the area which now constitutes the counties of
Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Gentry and Worth. The boundaries for the present Fishing
River Township in Ray County was established in November 1826. Richmond
Township, when first established, included a much larger area than it now
embraces. It was first known as Bluffton Township. The name was changed in
1829. It originally included all of what is now Knoxville Township, the greater
part of Camden Township, a part of the present Grape Grove Township, and an
area which now constitutes a part of other counties. Captain Jacob Riffe was
the first white settler in this township in 1818. Grape Grove Township was
established on July 2, 1838. The boundaries of this township have not been
charged to the present date. It is believed there were no permanent settlers in
the limits of Grape Grove Township prior to 1830. Camden Township was
established on July 5, 1841. In 1880, it contained post offices at Camden,
Albany, Orrick, and Henry. Knoxville Township was also established in 1841. It
is believed to have been first settled in 1833. The town site of Knoxville was
settled early in 1834. It was first called "Buncombe". Polk Township
was established on July 29, 1845, by a division of Fishing River Township. The
first settlers were reported in the area of that township in 1825. Orrick
Township was the last of the eight townships to be established, although the
town of Orrick was established on may 25, 1869, when the Wabash Railway Station
was opened at that place. It was named for John Cromwell Orrick who served as a
captain in the Federal Army during the Civil War. The first probate court for
Ray County was held at Richmond in 1853. James B. Turner served as the first
Probate Judge from 1853 to 1864. A court of common pleas was established for
Ray County on March 5, 1855. Aaron H. Conrow was appointed by the governor as
its first judge. The court of common pleas was abolished by an act of the
General Assembly on January 1, 1875. The records of that court were turned over
to the Ray County Circuit court. William B. Martin was the first representative
in the General Assembly elected from Ray County in 1826, Ray County's most
capable representative in the Missouri General Assembly was probably Captain
James L. Farris, who was elected to that body in 1876. Austin A. King of
Richmond was the first Ray County elected as Governor of Missouri. King was
elected in 1848. When he resigned as Circuit Judge to take the office, George
W. Dunn was appointed as his successor, serving the longest tenure of the
office that any judge has served in the circuit. In the fall of 1838, the
Mormon War caused considerable excitement in Ray County. A company of Mormons
from Far West in Caldwell County marched into Ray County and a skirmish was
fought with a company of Ray County militia under the command of Captain Samuel
Bogart on November 15 1838, at "Bogart's Battlefield" on Crooked
River. The militiamen were repulsed and retreated, leaving the Mormons in
control of the scene of the encounter. Captain Patton of the Mormon forces was
among those killed. Four companies of Ray County militia were among the troops
under the command of Alexander W. Doniphan, brigadier- general of the Missouri
militia, at the surrender of Joseph Smith and his followers at Far West on
November 1, 1838. A company of volunteers was recruited in Ray County for
service in the Mexican War in 1848. The company was mustered into service on
August 1, 1846, as company "G" of the Missouri Mounted Riflemen under
the command of David Willcock, lieutenant-colonel. A portion of this company
accompanied Doniphan's regiment on its historic march to Santa Fe, Monterey,
and the gulf and participated in the battles of Bracito and Sacramento. Captain
Isreal R. Hendley of Richmond, who commanded "G" company, was killed
in action at Moro, New Mexico, on January 25, 1847. Alexander W. Doniphan was a
resident of Ray County from 1868 until his death on August 8, 1877, at
Richmond. He was born in Mason County, Kentucky on July 9, 1808. He moved to
Missouri where he was admitted to the Missouri Bar Association in April 1830,
locating at Lexington on April 19, 1830. Three years later, he moved to Liberty
and in 1836, he was elected to represent Clay County in the 9th General
Assembly. He served as brigadier- general of the Missouri militia during the
Mormon War in 1836, preventing the execution of the Mormon leaders after the
surrender of Far West. Doniphan's leadership of the 1st regiment of Missouri
volunteers into Mexico during the Mexican War has been ably chronicled by
William E. Connelley in "Doniphan's Expedition." Ray County furnished
a comparatively large number of soldiers to both sides during the Civil War (or
war of Northern Aggression). It has been estimated that between 500 and 800
served with the Confederate forces and approximately 1,200 with the Federal
armies. Among the officers from Ray County who served with the Confederate
troops were: Colonel Benjamin A. Rives, Colonel Aaron H. Conrow, Colonel
Benjamin Brown, Major William C. Parker, Major Robert J. Williams, Captain
Finley L. Hubbell, Captain Kelsey McDowell, Captain Dick Early, Captain James
L. Farris, and Captain g. McCuistion. Among the Federal officers furnished by
Ray County were: Colonel A.J. Barr, Colonel James W. Black, Major John Grimes,
Captain Andrew Elliott, Captain George N. McGee, Captain Abraham Allen, Captain
Dick Ridgell, Captain William E. Kelson, Captain Isaac N. Henry, and Captain
W.D. Fortune. The first engagement of the Civil War in Ray County was called
"McVeigh's Fight" about six miles northeast of Knoxville. On
September 18, 1864, an engagement was fought at "Shaw's Shop" near Morton.
Major John Grimes and Major Samuel P. Cox, leading a portion of a regiment of
Federal troops, defeated Bill Anderson's guerrillas near Albany in Ray County
on October 27, 1864. Anderson was killed as he led a charge that was repulsed.
The final engagement of the war in Ray County was about six miles northeast of
Richmond when Captain Clayton Tiffin's Federal soldiers routed Arch Clemen's
guerrillas. The second courthouse at Richmond was built according to a contract
which was let in the fall of 1856, which was used until 1914 when the contract
was let for the present courthouse. During "The Great War" -- World
War I, 904 men from Ray County volunteered or were conscripted for military
service. Largely through the efforts of State Senator John F. Morton, a company
was recruited as "G" Company of the 140th infantry regiment. Captain
J.L. "Tuck" Milligan, later representative in Congress from the 3rd
District, served as captain of that company. Other Ray County men who commanded
companies during the World War were Captain Cecil M. Farris and Captain R.K.
Written By Alvah Renfro
Ray County Poor Farm
shared his interest in the history of the Ray County Home (poor farm) with members of the Ray County
Historical Society last week, during an annual membership meeting.
Fields did volunteer work at the Ray County Museum
and became interested in the history of the building after
discovering that a relative had
once been a resident of the "Poor Farm".
Ray County Museum building was built as a county home (poor farm) in 1910 at a
cost of $19,491,which included wiring, plumbing, & heating.
in the shape of a "Y" with 14,424 square feet of floor space,
the building has three floors with
54 rooms, eight masonry walls which are 14" thick up to the roof, and fire
doors at the wing entrances. The side porches are approximately 200 square feet
each. The building rectangle would cover 1/3 of an acre.
It was used as a Poor Farm until the 1960's
and was used as a nursing home until the early 1970's. In the 1970’s, the building became the
Ray County Museum.
grew as he dug deeper and deeper into the history of the Poor Farm in Ray
The poor farm
served as a nursing home, a hospital, a jail for juveniles and a shelter.
Fields stressed it was never an "insane asylum."
Some of the
people stayed only a few days, while others stayed half a century.
It wasn't a free
ride and it wasn't just poor families who had relatives living at the site.
building being used as the Ray County Museum wasn't the first "poor
farm" in Ray County.
In 1855, George
W. Keys was appointed to find a location for a poor farm and it was built about
six miles northeast of Richmond in the vicinity of the Timber Ridge Camp
burned down in 1882 and was rebuilt.
By 1909, the
building was in such bad shape a Ray County Grand Jury slammed the operation
and began looking for a new site.
who also was involved in building the Farris Theater, was given the contract to
build a new County Home in 1909 and the building was completed in 1910.
moving into the new building on May 20.
"new" building was very modern for the time with electricity and indoor plumbing.
years of operation, there were 19 different superintendents and they all lived
at the farm. The superintendent's pay ranged anywhere from $75 to $125 per
month and they had to pay their assistants from their salary.
average length of employment was 5.5 years, Any Wallace Ballard and his wife,
ran the home for over a quarter of a century from March 1, 1923 to February 28,
were well respected in the community and by those who lived at the county home.
The home was
inspected by a Ray County Grand Jury who may appear anytime without warning.
In the years the
Ballards operated the home, the grand jury reported they were unable to find a
single point for criticism in the operation.
In 1932, the
grand jury commented on the remarkable low cost of operating the home in
comparison with other counties. In 1930, the rate was 31 cents per inmate per day,
which included all costs of food supplies, clothing, water, lights, fuel,
insurance, repairs, etc.
the rate was around $1 per day per inmate in Clay, Lafayette, Carroll and
(resident) had certain duties to perform and they all insisted that they be
given some of the employment required to maintain the institution.
For a short
time, the county court (commission) considered replacing six old style hand
operated washing machines with new
When they made
the suggestion to Mrs. Ballard, she replied, "oh, my no -- the men that
operate these washers would be totally lost if you would do so. They take great
pride in their work and each one has his own individual machine."
During Mr. and
Mrs. Ballards' tenure, there were 477 persons admitted to the county home. The
most that lived there were 62 and the lowest was 24.
It is believed
that the state's old age pension law had something to do with the reduction in
the number of occupants.
judges (commissioners) came to visit the county home and look at its operation.
They advised the Ray County judges that if there came a time they no longer
wanted the Ballards, to let them know because they would take them in Clay
Fields said as
an example of the costs of operation, in the 2nd
quarter of 1919, the county spent $1,624.64 to operate the home. In today's
dollars, that would amount to about $22,000.
When Fields was
asked about his favorite "finds" in his research, he said
"I am feeling
closer and closer to everybody who came through here," he said.
Captain William T. Anderson
1840-October 26, 1864
When the War Between the States began in the east, the majority of Missourians wanted to remain neutral as conditional unionists. However, Federal troops
occupied Missouri and many Missourians had to choose sides. Thirty
thousand served in the Confederate Army and 50,000 served in the Union Army. William T. Anderson chose the south as a partisan ranger or guerrilla.
Anderson was of the best known and most feared of all the Missouri Confederate guerrillas. Surprisingly, Anderson considered himself a Kansan.
William and Martha Anderson, Bill's parents, came to Randolph County in 1840, he same year Bill was born.
He had an older brother, Ellis, a younger brother, James, and three younger sisters, Mary C., Josephine, and Martha.
Bill's grandparents, William and Mahala Tomason, also lived with the family.
Bill's father was a professional hatter and was a charger member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge.
In 1850, Bill's father went with a group of men from the county to the California gold fields.
As pro-Southern settlers, the family moved to Agnes City, Kansas in 1857. It is believed that Bill served in the Missouri State Guard up until the withdrawal from Lexington, at which time he returned home.
In March 1862, Bill's father was murdered by pro-Northern neighbors in some type of dispute during the Missouri-Kansas Border War.
The reports vary. Some say he was shot to death by a prominent Unionist, some say for stealing a horse, and others for simply having pro-slavery views.
Whatever the reason, Bill Anderson returned to Missouri and, desiring revenge, joined William Quantrill's querrillas.
Bill Anderson learned the bushwhacking trade as a lieutenant in Confederate Capt. William C. Quantrill's band that rampaged through the states of Missouri and Kansas.
Anderson had earned the nickname "Bloody Bill" early on as a member of Quantrill's Raiders.
In an attempt to curb the growing guerrilla problem in Missouri, Union soldiers imprisoned a number of the womenfolk related to known bushwhackers.
They were held in a deteriorated building in Kansas City that collapsed on August 14.
One of Anderson's sisters, Josephine, was killed and another crippled when the "jail" collapsed.
This event was cited by many of the guerrillas as one of the primary reasons for the August 21, 1863, raid on Lawrence, Kansas.
It is said that the death of his sister intensified Anderson's hatred and turned him into a Federal soldier's nightmare. Stories about Anderson's rage are legion.
He carried a silk cord on which knots were tied for every Yankee he killed. Some reported that Anderson cried and even frothed at the mouth during battle.
Anderson participated in Quantrill's rampage on the town of Lawrence, Ks., in August 1863.
After the raid, the bushwhackers went to Texas for the winter and by the following spring, Anderson was the leader of his own band of guerillas.
He and his 100 raiders preyed on any Union detachments or sympathizers that came
within their reach. Federal soldiers would be found scalped, with their throats
One dead soldier had a note signed by Bill Anderson pinned to him that
said, "You come to hunt bush whackers. Now you are skelpt."
Anderson adorned his horse's bridle with the scalps he collected.
The Battle of Centralia is one of the most interesting and effective guerrilla warfare battles in civil war history. The battle showed how a small group of ill-equipped guerrillas could overcome and conquer a larger, better equipped and better organized army.
Ironically, the techniques Anderson used in the Battle of Centralia were the same techniques used against in him the Battle of Albany.
When Anderson led his company of guerrillas into the Centralia rail station on September 27, 1864, he was already the most feared Confederate guerrilla in Missouri. The guerrillas concentrated on 'stirring things up' -- tearing up railroad lines, and disrupting communications and supplies to the Union Army. Anderson led his men into Centralia to collect supplies and they waited at the train station to rob the train.
There were over 20 union soldiers on the train and Anderson's men captured them, stripped of their uniforms, and executed them all.
The guerrillas would often wear union uniforms in order to ambush federal patrols.
Anderson knew the slaughter would attract Union troops and he left a decoy patrol for the Union Army to chase. Over 100 union troops with Enfield rifles were soon on Anderson's trail.
Anderson's men lured the federal patrol into a field surrounded by trees on three sides. When the Union soldiers came into the field, they dismounted and lined up in a firing line. Union soldiers were armed with Enfield rifles, which were single shot long-range weapons.
The guerrillas primarily used six-shot pistols, carrying many guns at a time. After the Union Army fired their first round at the guerrillas, Anderson's men mounted their horses and charged the stationary Union troops, slaughtering them all and scalping and mutilating many of the corpses.
After the battle the guerrillas separated to elude their pursuers.
One month later, Bill and his guerillas spent the night at the William Riley Blyth home near Albany, north of Orrick.
They rode out early in the morning of October 27, 1864, and were ambushed by Captain S.P. Cox and his Union troops.
Anderson was caught completely unaware and was riddled with bullets, then left for dead in his saddle.
His followers put up a fight to try to recover Anderson's corpse, but they were outnumbered by the Union troops.
After he was killed, Bloody Bill's body was taken to Richmond where it was propped up in a chair and a pistol was placed in the dead man's hands.
Photographs were taken of Anderson's corpse.
Union troopers were full of loathing for the dead man that they cut off Anderson's head and mounted it on a telegraph pole at the entrance to Richmond as a signal to all that the infamous killer was indeed dead.
Anderson's torso was roped and tied to a horse, then dragged along the streets of Richmond before being dumped in an unmarked grave.
Anderson is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Richmond.
His headstone reads, "Captain, Confederate States Army."
Anderson once said he had killed so many Federals that he "grew sick of killing them."
Battle of Crooked River
The Battle of Crooked River was a skirmish between Latter Day Saint (Mormon) forces and Missouri state militia unit from southeast of Elmira, Missouri in Ray County under the command of Samuel Bogart. One of the principal points of conflict in the 1838 Missouri Mormon War, the battle resulted in Missouri Executive Order 44, sometimes called the "Extermination Order" and ultimately the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri.
1838 saw an escalation in tensions between the members of the Latter Day Saint church and their neighbors in northwestern Missouri. Ray County was located immediately south of the Mormon Caldwell County. The two counties were separated by a no man's land 24 miles long and 6 miles wide, known as "Bunkham's Strip" or "Buncombe Strip." This unincorporated strip was attached to Ray County for administrative and military purposes. The citizens of Ray County and their neighbors to the west in Clay County, first began to have concerns about the Mormons to the north when a group of "dissenters" from the church was expelled from Caldwell County. These dissenters, including David Whitmer, William Wines Phelps, John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery had been the leaders of the Latter Day Saint church in Missouri. They relocated their families to Richmond and Liberty, the county seats of Ray and Clay, respectively, and claimed that their lives had been threatened and their property had been stolen by the Mormons.
Conflicts between the Mormons and non-Mormons in Carroll County and Daviess County throughout the summer put settlers in the more settled counties of Ray and Clay increasingly on edge. This unease reached a bursting point when Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde of the Mormon Quorum of the Twelve Apostles arrived in Richmond and reported that the Mormons had invaded Daviess County and sacked the county seat of Gallatin. They also charged that a Mormon group known as the Danites planned to burn Richmond and Liberty to the ground. This testimony sent the worried citizens into a near frenzy. Women, children and property were ferried across the Missouri River for protection against an imminent Mormon invasion, and the state militia was put on alert.
General David R. Atchison, of Clay County, commander of the state militia in northwestern Missouri ordered a company led by Captain Samuel Bogart of Ray County to patrol Bunkham's strip to "prevent, if possible, any invasion of Ray county by persons in arms whatever". According to Peter Burnett, a resident of Liberty, "Captain Bogard was not a very discreet man, and his men were of much the same character". Bogart had previously participated in a vigilante group that harried the Mormons in Carroll County.
Bogart and his party began visiting the homes of Latter Day Saints living in Bunkham's Strip, forcibly disarming them and ordering them to leave Ray County. Bogart then penetrated into Caldwell County and began to similarly harass Mormons there, advising them to remove to Far West, the county seat. Returning to Ray County, his men captured three Mormons — Nathan Pinkham, Jr., William Seely, and Addison Green.
Reports quickly made it to Far West to the effect that a "mob" had captured and intended to execute a group of Mormon prisoners. About midnight, an armed rescue party formed. David W. Patten led the contingent of Caldwell county militia. Patten, who had come to be known as "Captain Fear-not," for his bravery during the attacks in Davies County. The Mormon force quickly moved south along the main road connecting Far West and Richmond.
On the night of October 24, 1838, Captain Bogart's unit had camped along the banks of Crooked River in Bunkham's Strip. Patten and the Mormon rescue company approached from the north along the main road, having traveled the 12 or so miles from Far West in the five hours since midnight. At daybreak on the 25th, the Mormons encountered the militia's sentries. A brief firefight ensued with each side testifying that the other had fired first. One of the sentries, John Lockhart, shot Patrick Obanion, the Mormons' scout. Obanion later died from this wound. Lockhart and the other guards then fled down the hill to the militia camp which took up a defensive position.
The Mormon company approached the camp of the Ray militia and formed a battle line in three columns, led by David W. Patten, Charles C. Rich, and Patrick Durfee. Rich later recalled that soon after the Mormons had formed their lines, the militia "fired upon us with all their guns". A general firefight commenced, but the militia were situated behind the riverbank and held the strategically superior position. Patten decided to charge the militia position, shouting the Mormon battle cry of "God and Liberty!" The Missourians were without swords and so broke their lines and fled across the river in all directions. During the retreat, the Mormons continued to fire and one of the militiamen, Moses Rowland, was killed.
During his charge, however, Patten was shot and mortally wounded. Ebenezer Robinson recalled that Patten had been "brave to a fault, so much so that he was styled and called 'Captain Fearnought'". Although it was not immediately realized, Gideon Carter had also been killed, making a total of three Mormon fatalities and one militiaman fatality. The Mormons collected their wounded as well as the baggage Bogart's unit had left in the camp and made their way back to Far West.
Although the battle resulted in only four fatalities, the effect was a massive escalation of the Mormon War. Exaggerated reports of the Mormon incursion into Daviess County and the battle (some claiming that half of Bogart's men had been lost) made their way to Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs who responded by calling out 2,500 state militiamen to put down what he perceived to be open rebellion by the Mormons. In the end, the leaders of the church were captured and the bulk of the membership were forced to leave the state.
Mormon Perspective on the Battle of Crooked River
Following the fight over voting
rights in Gallatin in August 1838, relations between the Saints and their
neighbors deteriorated rapidly. The situation became so tense that the
Ray County Militia, under the command of Captain Samuel Bogart, was mobilized
on October 24, 1838. Two Latter-day Saints were captured as "spies" that
same day. Word of the capture reached Far West later in the evening, and
the drums called out the Caldwell (LDS) Militia at midnight to rescue the
The brethren, under the command of C.C.
Rich and David W. Patten (at that time President of the Quorum of the Twelve),
caught up with the Ray Countians near dawn on the 25th, at a ford on the
Crooked River. Bogart's men were well hidden in the underbrush along the
south bank, and the Latter-day Saints were well silhouetted by the rising
sun, making their approach obvious and dangerous. A short exchange of gunfire
ensued, during which the Missourians became convinced that the Saints were
here to fight for themselves, and departed the field poste haste, leaving
their prisoners behind. But not before wounding several of the men that
were easy targets in the early morning light.
On several occasions, Elder Patten had
expressed to the Prophet his wish to die for the faith. Brother Joseph
once sadly rejoined him to be careful what he prayed for, because when
one as righteous as he prayed for something, the Lord would almost always
grant it. David Patten was gravely wounded that day at Crooked River, and
was taken to the home of Stephen Winchester, where several hours later
the Lord granted his wish to be a martyr for the Gospel in this dispensation.
He was the first.
Today the battle site is on private property,
inaccessible by public roads.