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September 30, 2018

1870 Thomas Little Lynched in Warrensburg, MO and other Missouri Desperados

Thomas Little

Hughes and Wesson Bank, $3,500.00 taken, three people killed, 11-20 robbers involved. Thomas Little was lynched by a mob in Warrensburg, Missouri the same day of the robbery. Although Jesse James, wrote in a letter below, that Thomas was lynched a few days after the robbery, and after proving his innocence.

Main Street, Richmond, Missouri
Hughes and Wasson

Lynching of Tom Little

Tom Little of Johnson County, Missouri, came from a Southern-sympathizing family. During the Civil War, he himself rode at least briefly with notorious Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill, and in 1864, two of his sisters were arrested and imprisoned at St. Louis for aiding guerrillas. (See my Bushwhacker Belles book.)

After the war, Little fell in with the James-Younger outlaw gang. On May 23, 1867, the gang robbed the Hughes and Wasson bank in Richmond, Missouri, of about $3,500 and killed three local citizens, including the mayor, when some of the townspeople tried to mount a defense.

Little was thought to have been along the robbers, and he and another suspect, Fred Meyers, were arrested in St. Louis in late May, brought to Warrensburg, and lodged in the county jail there on June 1. Friends of Little appeared and claimed they could obtain affidavits from the best citizens of Dover in neighboring Lafayette County that Little was in that community at the time of the Richmond robbery and was, therefore, innocent. They went to Dover, obtained the necessary affidavits, and upon returning to Warrensburg on the night of June 4th, were promised a hearing in Little's case the next day. However, the feeling around Warrensburg, a stronghold of Radical Republican sentiment, was strongly against Little because of his war activities. A "vigilance committee" headed by Warren Shedd, a former Union general, had been maintaining its own brand of law and order in the area for some time. Not waiting to hear the testimony that might exonerate Little, a mob broke into the jail at about five o'clock on the morning of the 5th, dragged Little from his cell, and hanged him in downtown Warrensburg.

John Heath's corpse hanging from a telegraph pole in Arizona after being lynched on February 22, 1884.

Ten days later, the Weekly Caucasian, published at Lexington in Lafayette County, admonished James Eads, publisher of the Warrensburg Journal and a former Union officer, for misleading his readers about the fate of Tom Little. The Journal of June 5 had stated that Little was in jail when, in fact, he had already been lynched earlier that morning, and the June 12th issue failed to correct the error, making no mention of Little or the extralegal hanging. According to the Lexington editor, the vigilance committee had fractured over the lynching. Many of its members did not agree with the lynching, and General Shedd had supposedly not even been consulted prior to the mob action, which was carried out by the most Radical members of the group. Sentiment against the vigilante hanging was especially strong in the rural areas of Johnson County.
There are a few other details in county histories and on websites about Tom Little's hanging, but my telling of the story above represents most of what can be gleaned from newspapers published at the time the incident happened.
Saying he could not get a fair trial, Jesse James later cited the lynching of Tom Little as an example of why he would not give himself up to Missouri authorities, as some had urged him to do.
posted by Larry Wood
Outlaws 101: Who were the Missouri Old West desperadoes?
July 19th, 2009
By Glen Enloe, Jackson County Political Buzz Examiner
..While many may say that Jackson County, MO, is still full of crooks (especially City Hall), there once really was good reason that we were known nationally as the “Outlaw State.” Before the chamber of commerce in the city, state and county started to neuter Missouri’s western image, it was truly home to some of the most famous and infamous outlaws in America.
At the head of Missouri’s and any outlaw list is the nationally and internationally known brothers, Frank and Jesse James. The James boys were born in Clay County, MO, but their exploits touched a number of states. Perhaps no other duo typifies the Missouri outlaw.
The James brother’s good friends and fellow Missourians were the nearly as famous Younger brothers: Cole, Jim, Bob and John. The James boys were at their strongest when it was the James-Younger Gang.
The notorious Dalton Gang were relatives of the Younger brothers and originally came from Jackson County, MO, though some contend it was another MO county. The Dalton's were Emmett, Bob, Grat, Jack and Bill.
Johnny Ringo, of OK Corral fame, was also a cousin of the Younger’s. Although born in Indiana, Ringo and his family moved to Liberty, MO, in 1856 before heading west.
Many Missouri born robbers rode with Quantrill’s Raiders during the Civil War, and later with the James-Younger Gang. The list includes such noted bad men as Jim Cummins (who lived near the James farm), Dick Liddil (Jackson County, MO), Bud and Donny Pence (Clay County, MO), Bob and Charlie Ford (Richmond, MO), Jacob Franklin Gregg (Jackson County, MO), Redmond “Red” Munkirs, Allen H. Parmer, “Little Archie” Clement (Kingsville, Missouri, Johnson County) (born Moniteau County, MO - who served under Bloody Bill Anderson) and was the mentor to Frank and Jesse James, Bill Chadwell (who was born in MO but raised in MN), George Washington Shepherd (who reportedly killed Bloody Bill Anderson’s brother) and Jim Reed who later married Belle Starr.
Often described as a mad man, Bloody Bill Anderson was one of the most feared and well known of the Missouri Confederate guerrilla leaders during the Civil War. He was born in Randolph County, MO, and would have undoubtedly continued on with an outlaw career had he not been killed in a Union ambush near Richmond, MO, in 1864 from which the James boys and others escaped. Ike Clanton, forever remembered as a key figure in the OK Corral gunfight, was born in Callaway County, MO. Frank Stillwell, a member of the Clanton Gang, is said to have been born in the border area between MO and KS.
Hoodoo Brown (Hyman G. Neill), who was once said to be “the baddest cowboy of them all,” was born in Lexington, MO. He and his family later moved to Warrensburg, MO, where he became a short-lived but aptly named printer’s devil before tiring of the job and hopping a freight train west. He would later form the dreaded Dodge City Gang.
Some lesser known Missouri outlaws include Arkansas Tom Jones (Roy Daugherty) who joined the Bill Doolin Gang, Marion Hedgepeth (the “handsome bandit”) who was born in Prairie Home, MO. Other scourges include the stage coach robber Milton Anthony Sharp (Lees Summit, MO), “Teton” Jackson (horse thief gang leader) and Boone Helm, who committed his first murder in his home town of Log Branch, MO, before later joining the Henry Plummer Gang.
One-time friend of Billy the Kid, Jesse Evans, is also believed to have been from Missouri. He was instrumental in the Lincoln County War in NM.
Belle Starr (Myra Maybelle Shirley) was know as the “Bandit Queen” and was born near Carthage, MO.
While of somewhat dubious reputation but never an outlaw, Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Cannary), was born in Princeton, MO.
Tom Horn, aka James Hicks, the often over-zealous Pinkerton with a taste for carnage, was born in Memphis, MO. Having reportedly killed 17 or more outlaws over the years, his downfall came when he mistakenly murdered the 14-year-old son of the sheepherder he was hired to kill.
Although some Missouri desperadoes have probably been missed, even Wyatt Earp has a Missouri outlaw connection. Although born in Illinois, Earp married and settled in Lamar, MO. After his wife’s sudden death and a few scrapes with the law, Wyatt wandered around for a number of years before turning to his legendary career as lawman.
While Kansas City and Missouri have continued to distance themselves from the supposed rough trappings of its “cow town” image and outlaw origins, it seems that they have also lost many of their roots and much of their history. In the interest of preservation and historical accuracy, the city and the state should do more to try to save the memory of a colorful and turbulent past.

Richmond News

Hughes-Wasson story murkier by the day

By Linda Emley 16 May 2017

Every day when the Ray County Museum is open, we have a member of the Ray County Genealogical Association volunteering in our library. We have a different person for each day of the week, and Carol Profitt is here on Saturdays. Some days we are really busy and on others days it’s slow enough that we get to read old newspapers.

Last Saturday I was in my office working and Carol was reading a 1936 newspaper when she asked me to come to the library for a minute. It’s always fun to see what story she has found, so I headed to the other room. As always, she found just the story I needed.
It was in The Richmond Missourian, Jan. 23, 1936, on page 6 and the story was by Jewell Mayes and headlined “Original Telegram on Local Bank Robbery”. Mayes wrote, “In examining the files of the St. Louis newspapers of the year 1867, searching for data on the impeachment of Judge Walter King, I found in the edition of May 24,1867, a telegram sent from Lexington to the ‘Missouri Republican’ as follows:
“LEXINGTON, MO., May 23, 1867 – The Hughes & Wasson Exchange and Banking House at Richmond was robbed at about 2 p.m. today by 14 armed men. An attempt was made to release the horse thieves confined in the jail, but this failed. Mr. Shaw, the mayor, and the jailer and his son, were killed in the melee. The robbers escaped unhurt. Citizens are active in pursuit.
“The Missourian has published the chronicles of that tragic day in Richmond, from different sources, all interesting to Richmond-Rayites.
“Jim Cummings once, at the Richmond Hotel, promised me that he would tell me the names of all 14 of the men in the Hughes Bank robbery, after ‘two blankety-blank fellows died.’
“Jim told me many of the details but died without relating the complete story. He was not here in the gang of bank bandits at Richmond.
“Successor to the Hughes & Wasson Exchange and Banking House of 1867 is the present Banking House of J.S. Hughes & Co., with the following officers and Board:
“Fred R. Duncan, president; C.C. Cline, vice-president; R.B. Hughes, cashier; H. S. Hughes, assistant cashier. Ami Hughes is chairman of the Board. Other members are Fred D. Duncan, M.H. Brewen, C.C. Cline and R.B. Hughes.”
I had never heard this story before so I wanted to find out more about it. I decided to look up the Richmond Missourian newspaper about Jim Cumming’s death. This was Jewell Mayes’s newspaper so I was sure he would give us a few more details about ol’ Jim Cummings.
In The Richmond Missourian July 18, 1929, it says, “Jim Cummings Dead. Quantrill Man From Clay County Passes at Higginsville. Jim Cummings died at the State Confederate Home at Higginsville, Mo., July 9 at the age of 82 years, having lived at the home most of the time for 27 years. Cummings was a picturesque character, known to ever so many Rayites locally. He visited Richmond many times and told Jewell Mayes ‘a lot of things’ pledged to secrecy until his death, but upon being asked concerning same, Mr. Mayes replies that he was never able to sift out fact from romance. Mr. Mayes often talked with him for hours.
“Cummings told Mayes the inside story of the Richmond bank Robbery, but insisted that he was not here in that bloody tragedy, because ‘my horse’s shoes came loose, causing me to stop at the blacksmith shop in Claysville to have the animal shod.’ He said the fellows who paid the death penalty were part of the guilty.
“Old Jim bitterly hated the James boys, especially Jesse James. He told many stories of the local doings of the Ford and James crowd, not agreeing in several points with accredited history. He told florid tales of the cruelty and heartlessness of Jesse James.
“Cummings jointly wrote a book, and got worsted in his publications. He told Mayes that he was leaving a manuscript of his life, to be published after his death. This old ex-Confederate had a rambling style that lacked frankness of fact, not going to the point of a statement. Full of hate and filled with bias, his memoirs can hardy be hoped to be of permanent value. Mr. Mayes has a copy of his first book.
“Jim insisted that he never helped to rob a train. He told intimately of the Gallatin train robbery, but vowed he was in Texas at the time. He was always promising to revel many wonderful things, ‘when one or two more fellows dropped off.’”
After reading these two articles, I’ve decided that we may never know the truth about what really happen on May 23, 1867, in Richmond, Missouri.
Robbery Story Link

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