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March 12, 2012

Old Drum Monument on Big Creek Johnson County Missouri

Statue of Old Drum, Unselfish Dog

Warrensburg, Missouri (the monument above is near the site where Old Drum's body as found)
Died 1869
Old Drum, a hound dog, was shot dead in 1869 by Samuel "Dick" Ferguson, nephew and ward of Leonidas Hornsby, an irate neighbor who thought Drum had been killing his sheep.
Drum's owner, Charles Burden, sued Hornsby (who also happened to be his brother-in-law), and the case eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court where Burden won the case. But it was in the courtroom in Warrensburg that Burden's lawyer, future senator George Graham Vest, delivered his famous tribute: "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish his dog."
A statue of Old Drum was erected, and still stands, on the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn (the old courthouse where Vest delivered his famous speech still stands elsewhere in town). Burden was awarded fifty dollars.
Dick Ferguson, the reported shooter of Old Drum, later moved to Oklahoma, where he himself died of gunshot wounds in the town of Anadarko.
The carcass of Old Drum is still buried at the corner of Old Drum Rd. and E. 239th St. in Cass County, MO. The more photogenic monument stands in Warrensburg.
Deer Crossing on Big Creek where Old Drum was found, Johnson County, Missouri
Model for the statue of Old Drum, Warrensburg, MO  Johnson County

Man's Best Friend:
The Old Drum Story

Old Drum Remembered

Monument to Old Drum<
A monument to Old Drum was erected on December 12, 1947, by Fred Ford of Blue Springs, Missouri.  Ford placed the monument on the banks of Big Creek approximately where Old Drum was found after he had been shot.
Ford received donations of money and rocks from all over the world to create the monument.  The sixty-seven block base of the monument consisted of small rocks placed in cement blocks labeled with metal donor name plates.  Dog lovers sent stones from the Great Wall of China, Mexico, the West Indies, South Africa, Germany, Guatemala, France, the White Cliffs of Dover, Jamaica, and most of the states in the U.S.  Unfortunately, due to vandalism in later years, the original base no longer exists.
The part of the original monument that still remains was constructed by the Indianola Memorial Works at Indianola, Iowa, using gray granite stone.  The monument is illustrated with a dog treeing a coon in the middle, a fox in one corner, and a deer being chased in the other.  It contains the inscription: Killed, Old Drum, 1869.  It remains a symbol of all dogs that people have loved and lost.

 The Old Drum Memorial

Today a monument to Old Drum stands in Warrensburg, Missouri, along with the words of Vest’s eulogy.  On September 23, 1958, through the coordinated efforts of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and dog lovers from around the country, Old Drum was immortalized in statue by the sculptor, Reno Gastaldi.
On the southeast corner of the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn, stands a bronze statue of the much beloved black and tan hound, Old Drum.  The sculpture is of a hunting dog standing on all fours, with tail lowered and head up.  On the front of the trapezoid concrete base on a plaque in raised letters, appear Vest’s well-known words which moved the jury to find in Burden’s favor and originated the saying, “A man’s best friend is his dog.”

Man's Best Friend:
The Old Drum Story

The story of the Burden v. Hornsby trial, involving the untimely death of a black and tan hound dog named Old Drum, comprises people and events that have become more legend than fact.  Yet, the Burden v. Hornsby trial, or the Old Drum trial as it came to be known, is a true story well-documented through court records progressing from a Justice of the Peace to a final appeal before the Supreme Court of Missouri.

The Story of Burden v. Hornsby

The Death of Old Drum

On the 28th of October in 1869, around 8 o’clock in the evening, Charles Burden heard the fire of a gun from the direction of his neighbor’s adjoining farm only a mile south.  
His brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby, owned the adjoining farm about five miles southwest of Kingsville in Johnson County Missouri.  It was only four years after the Civil War and farming was beginning to return to the war-torn western counties of Missouri.  Lands once plundered by guerillas and raiders now began to support families attempting to farm and raise livestock. 
Leonidas Hornsby was doing his best to farm, but was struggling to maintain his flock of sheep because of the constant threat of prowling dogs and wolves.  He had lost more than a hundred sheep and made a vow to kill the first stray dog that appeared on his property.  On the evening of October 28, Leonidas made good on his promise after a hound dog wandered into his yard. 
Samuel “Dick” Ferguson, Hornsby’s young nephew, immediately proposed to shoot the intruder.  Thinking it might be a neighbor’s dog and in an effort not to kill the dog, but merely scare it, Hornsby instructed Ferguson to load the gun with corn and then take the shot.  According to Ferguson, after the dog was shot it yelped in pain, jumped over the fence, and disappeared.
Neighbors heard the howling of the wounded dog as it grew fainter and then finally died away.  Charles Burden also noted the silence following the sound of the gunshot. He remembered Hornsby’s threat and feared the worst.  He called his dogs, but his favorite hunting dog, Old Drum, did not come. 
After Old Drum failed to come home the next morning, Charles Burden began the search for his missing dog.  First, he went to his neighbor Hurley and inquired about Old Drum’s whereabouts.  Then, he went to the farm of Leonidas Hornsby and began to question him.  After Hornsby denied having seen Old Drum, Burden asked, “What dog was that you shot last night?”  Hornsby replied that he had not shot any dog, but that his nephew Dick had shot at a dog he thought belonged to their neighbor, Davenport. 
Unconvinced and angry, Burden replied, “I’ll go and see it may not be my dog.  If it ain’t it’s all right.  If it is it’s all wrong and I’ll have satisfaction at the cost of my life.”  He then left his brother-in-law’s property to continue the search. 
On that same morning of October 29, Burden, along with a neighbor, found Old Drum dead lying with his head in the water on the banks of Big Creek just below Haymaker’s Mill.  He appeared to have died from multiple shots of different sizes with no hole completely penetrating the body.  It was apparent to Charles Burden that Old Drum had been carried or dragged to his final resting place along the banks of the river.  There was mud on Old Drum’s left side, the fur on his ear and side were roughed up the wrong way, and evidence of sorrel horse hairs were on his body.  Coincidentally, Leonidas Hornsby owned a sorrel mule.  To Burden, the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming.

The Burden v. Hornsby Trial

Unable to let the death of his prized hound dog go unpunished, Burden filed a lawsuit for damages against Hornsby.  A summons was issued to Leonidas Hornsby to appear beforeJustice of the Peace Munroe of Madison township on November 25, 1869.  Burden originally asked for a $100 judgment in damages.  Hornsby’s attorneys, Nation and Allen, filed a motion to dismiss because the amount sued for was beyond the jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace.  However, Burden was allowed to file a motion to amend, changing the amount to the legal limit allowable of $50 for the worth of Old Drum, and the trial proceeded. 
  • Summons, Leonidas Hornsby, November 25, 1869 PDF file
  • Motion to Amend Statement, November 25, 1869 PDF file

  • The jury was not able to agree on whether Hornsby was guilty for instructing his nephew to shoot the dog.  The trial was rescheduled for December 23, 1870, but was continued until January.  In this second trial on January 27, 1870, a verdict of guilty was returned and Burden was awarded $25 plus court costs.
    Hornsby appealed the case to the Johnson County Court of Common Pleas in Warrensburg.  He claimed that amendment of the original statement to bring the case before the Justice of the Peace should not have been allowed.  New lawyers were hired, with Thomas T. Crittenden and Francis M. Cockrell now representing Hornsby and George N. Elliott and Wells H. Blodgett representing Burden.  The trial date was set for March 25, but later moved to March 30. 
    According to their testimony, Hornsby and Ferguson went back to Big Creek, where the body of Old Drum still lay, and removed lead bullets after the January trial at Kingsville. Because the burden of proof could not be established, there was doubt as to whether Hornsby was directly the cause of Old Drum’s death.  On April 1, 1870, Hornsby received a verdict in his favor in the amount of court costs.
    Dissatisfied and still seeking justice for his dead dog, Burden filed a motion for a new trialalleging the discovery of evidence not available before.  A new trial was granted and Burden hired the Sedalia legal team of John F. Philips and George G. Vest.  A formidable group of attorneys now sat on both sides of the table. 
    On September 21, 1870, in what is now known as the Old Johnson County Courthouse in Warrensburg, the case went to trial for the fourth time.  As the court convened, Judge Foster Wright looked out on a packed courtroom and four prominent lawyers destined to become known as Missouri’s Big Four.  Hornsby was represented by the firm of Crittenden & Cockrell, with Philips & Vest now joining Elliott & Blodgett for Burden.    
    Arguments were made by both sets of attorneys.  Depositions from witnesses now out of state in Kansas and Texas were read in evidence.  The defense tried to show that Old Drum was sighted at Haymaker’s Mill and shot there around the same time a different dog was shot at Hornsby’s farm.  Hornsby admitted to telling his nephew to shoot at a dog, but denied the dog was Old Drum, even though no other dog was found dead.
    On September 23, 1870, Vest presented the closing remarks on behalf of Burden and Old Drum.  However, he made no reference to the evidence or to Old Drum, but delivered a powerful tribute to all dogs and their masters.  Following his summation, the jury quickly returned a verdict in favor of Burden in the amount of $50 and court costs.  Even though Vest’s Eulogy of the Dog was not written down until some time after the trial, the speech became famous because of its universal appeal to dog lovers everywhere.
    The litigation continued with Hornsby appealing the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court.  Hornsby’s attorneys claimed the judgment should be reversed because the Justice of the Peace allowed the original statement to be amended from $100 to $50 and the Court of Common Pleas granted Burden a new trial.  During the July 1872 term, the judgment was affirmed by the Missouri Supreme Court.  Charles Burden finally had justice for Old Drum.

A Driving Tour of Sites Related to the Old Drum Trial in Warrensburg and Johnson County Missouri
Start the tour at the Warrensburg Depot (Holden Street at the Railroad Tracks)
Go north on Holden Street 2 blocks to the current Johnson County Courthouse. The 1950s statue honoring Old Drum is on the SE corner of the Courthouse Square
Continue north to the 4-way stop at Gay Street. Turn left, go to the top of the hill, and turn left on Main Street. You have found:
1842-1878 Old Johnson County Courthouse (restored to ca.1870 appearance). Tours available by contacting Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library & Museum, 304 N. Main St., (660)747-6480. The Old Courthouse is part of the Johnson County Historical Society's museum complex & was the site of the famous Old Drum trial in 1870 and a political gunfight in 1861. Hours: Mon. - Fri. 1-4 PM; $3 admission.
Turn around and go north on Main Street to Business US-50. Turn left and go to US-50. Turn left on US-50, and go west 5 miles to MO-58. Turn left (south) on MO-58. MO-58 will turn back to the west and go through Holden to Kingsville (14 miles total). Take Hwy T south from Kingsville about 3 miles to Hwy TT. About 3 miles in, you will pass the
Hornsby Cemetery, where Lon Hornsby and other princpals in the case are buried. Continue west to the end of the pavement. Turn left on Hadsdell Rd (SW 2001) 7/10 mile to SW 600. Go right on SW 600 about 3/4 mile to Old Drum Road. Turn left on Old Drum Road 3/4 mile to the monument (just across the Big Creek bridge).
Return the way you came, or continue south on Old Drum Road to MO-2 in Cass County.
Old Drum Killed Here, Kingsville, MO

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