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March 20, 2017

June 29, 1885 Montserrat - Knob Noster, Missouri Murder Mystery "Clark Sharpe or Clark Sharp" Unsolved Murder

1885 Clark Sharpe Murder West of Knob Noster



A Murder Most Foul, the Outcome of a Debauch.

Dead Body of Clark Sharpe Found on the Railroad.

The Cause of Death Enveloped in the Deepest Mystery. For years past nearly all of the murders committed in Johnson county have been shrouded in mystery, but sooner or later her vigilant officers and law and order loving inhabitants ferret out the perpetrators and bring them to a speed v and just punishment. In March, 1884, poor Carl Steidel, a German boy who had been working at the railroad shops at Sedalia, was found on the railroad track near Warrensburg, dead. Mystery clouded the whole affair. Later the Hamilton boys were suspicioned, arrested, tried, convicted, and executed in the July following. So in the case of old man Sharpe's murderer, Monday night That he was foully killed , there is no doubt, and the responsibility rests with officers and citizens of Johnson county, to prove true to their trust and not lax until the guilty ones are brought to justice.


Clark Sharpe, Lewis Fry and William Smith, all residents of Montserrat, were in Knob Noster Monday, drinking to excess. They started on the track together toward Montserrat. Clear Fork bridge is about one and a half miles east of Montserrat. Late Monday night the dead body of Clark Sharpe was found about thirty yards east of the bridge. Testimony before the coroner's jury shows that the three men were four hours walking from Knob Foster to the bridge, two and a half miles, and were quarreling all the way along the road.

Yesterday morning Coroner Dr. J. I. Anderson, Sheriff H. H. Russell, and County Attorney W. W. Russell arrived at Montserrat. A coroner's jury was impaneled of the following named gentlemen: W. H. Anderson. John T. Gilliam, Arch Mays, John Daley, W. It. McCarty and Sam Ellings.
Lewis Fry, William Smith and Anthony Haney were arrested on suspicion of being implicated in the killing.
Sheriff H. H. Russell, 2nd from Left. Johnson County, MO
 The coroner's jury took possession of the town school house and several witnesses were examined. The most important testimony given will be found below: William Smith, one of the men arrested, swore that he was in Sedalia Monday and come to Knob Noster on the "bob tail."* I saw Clark Sharpe there. He was drinking. Lewis Fry and Sharpe left together about 7 p. m., toward Montserrat. Anthony Haney left toward Montserrat at 1. It was later when I left. It was dark when I went toward Montserrat. When I was near Clear Fork bridge I ran on to Fry and Sharpe. They were lying on the ground on the north side of the track. "When I came up they got up and commenced to quarrel and I heard Fry call Sharpe a s—of a b---- and struck him (Sharpe) in the breast. Sharp made no resistance, but fell on his back in the middle of the railroad track, think possibly his head struck the rail. I think this was about 8:30 p. m. I went home to my boarding house. I was asleep when the trains passed that night. After Sharpe was knocked down he got up and went outside of the rails on south side of the track and laid down. I went home then. I had a jag of whisky when I left Knob Noster, but it was "busted on the road," the handle of the jug was so small 1 could not carry it good and it dropped and broke. During the night I was awakened by the boys and went with them to where Sharpe's body was found. I saw Lewis Fry at the west end of the bridge.
He asked me
That is all he said and I made no reply but walked on. Tommy Johnson was with me. I was pretty lull when I came home Monday night. I hurt my nose on the wire fence. Judge R. C. Walker, of Sedalia, sworn, said he knew Sharpe, Fry and Smith when he saw them. He did not see the men on the track Monday evening. I did see a man who said he saw three men. Matthew Heery sworn: Am a fireman. Passed east of here between 11 and 12 Monday night. Saw no man lying on or near the track at Clear Fork bridge. I was standing on the north side of the engine. John Galvin sworn: I am an engineer. I was on train 24 June 29. Passed Montserrat at 11:12 p. m. going east. Saw nothing on the track east of Clear Fork bridge. Saw no body on or by the side of the track. Lewis Fry sworn: I know Clark Sharpe. Saw him at Knob Foster. I don't know what time it was I saw him, as I was drinking. Saw Smith there, 1 left there with Bill Smith and Sharpe for Montserrat about 6 o'clock. 
Victor Gallaher's Montserrat Missouri Store.  Serviced the coal mines in Montserrat.

I saw Haney Monday afternoon at the Knobs. He was ahead of us coming home. Sharpe had a quart of whisky. Smith had a jug don’t l know what he had in it. Smith and I parted at the railroad bridge. We left Sharpe about thirty yards east of the bridge, sitting up. This was near 10 o'clock. We were all drunk and were four hours getting from Knob Noster to Clear Fork. I did not see Smith at west end of bridge about midnight. I had no difficulty- with Sharpe. Smith had no difficulty with Sharpe. It is not true that I struck Sharpe and killed him. William Smith was recalled, and Attorney Wood told him that Fry had been on the stand made a clean breast, and it looked a little dark for him. Smith said last Saturday night Fry abused him, said because he would not give him a glass of beer-- called him all the names he could put  his tongue to, but nothing new was developed.


At the conclusion of the testimony the jury returned to meet today at 1 p.m. to reach a verdict. In the meantime the coroner decided to hold the prisoners, Fry and until further developments.


The deceased was about fifty years of age. He was a Scotchman and had been in this country about six years and has been at the Montserrat mines about five years.
He has no family here, but has a wife and ten children now at Leonardshire (Lanarkshire?), Scotland. He was a hard drinker, most always taking a spree every day. He was making arrangements to return to Scotland on the 1st of August. (1885)


The wound that caused Sharpe's death was on the back of the head, and was caused by some sharp pointed instrument, struck probably from behind. The skull was fractured and crushed in, which must have caused almost instant death.
is a boyish looking fellow, having very little beard. His testimony before the jury was a little peculiar not so much what he said, but how he said it. He has been here about eight or nine years, is a native of Kentucky and is eighteen years old and a coal miner. He cannot write his name.
is a Welshman, aged about thirty years, without family. He is a blacksmith by trade, and has been in America about twenty-one years. He is not a bad looking man, but whisky has got a good hold on him. Like its predecessors mentioned above, this seems to be a murder most foul and mysterious, but like its predecessors again its final solution and unveiling seem to be inevitable, for the same cool head and cunning brain that unwove the deftly spun web about the Steidel horror holds the sway of justice and the strong hand of law in this case and the Bazoo predicts that the confidence of the people of Johnson county will not be misplaced in believing that their able sheriff, H. H. Russell, will bring to the bar of justice the real criminals and that their equally efficient attorney will not permit them to escape the penalty their heinous crime merit

Smith and Fry Released.
Montserrat, Mo., July 1. Special.

The coroner's jury, after some further examination of witnesses, released William Smith and Lewis Fry, held under arrest in the case of the death of one William Clark Sharpe, a miner, found dead near Clear Fork bridge, one mile east of this place the night of June 29th, for the want of evidence as to their guilt The verdict of the coroner's jury is as follows: William Clark Sharpe, deceased, came to his death by the hands of some parties unknown to the jury.

editor notes
Possibly he was from Lanarkshire, Scotland (it would have sounded like Leonardshire in Scottish dialect) His spelling could possibly be "William Clark Sharpe" from Lanarkshire, there is a match of one man born in 1838.  William C. Sharpe,William Sharpe. Two possibles or the same person with conflicting information..
William Sharp (son of John Sharp and Sarah Park)6364 was born 1848 in Bothwell, Scotland6565, and died date unknown. He married Margaret Reid on 06 Mar 1868 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland, daughter of Alex Reid and Margaret Stewart.

*Bob Tail, a slow moving train.  A story below from the Sedalia Bazoo Newspaper of 1887.

The Independence "Bob Tail" Crashes Into a Standing Freight Train, Kansas City, modation train road, known as with a freight Oct. 22 The Missouri Pacific "the bob tail' collided train at the yards of the company a short distance west of about 10:30 yesterday morning. The accommodation train makes trips between Kansas City and Independence every two hours, but owing to the short distance the train does not run at a high rate of speed. This, which has always been a source of annoyance to passengers, proved fortunate to the company this morning. As the west bound ' bob tail" was running at a rate of ten miles an hour a freight train, which, through some mistake, had halted on the main track, was struck. The engineer of the accommodation, G. C. McClure, did not realize the danger in time to avert it, and his locomotive crashed into the freight. As a result of the collision two freight cars were badly wrecked. None of the passengers on the accommodation were injured, but all were obliged to alight and walk. The train was in charge of a new conductor."

Notes for William Sharp:
Occupation - coal miner
More About William Sharp:
Date born 2: 1848, Bothwell, Lanarkshire.
Date born 3: 1849, Bothwell, Lanark.67
Residence 1: 1861, Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England.6868
Residence 2: 1851, Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, Scotland.69
Residence 3: 1871, Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland.70
More About William Sharp and Margaret Reid:
Marriage: 06 Mar 1868, Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Children of William Sharp and Margaret Reid are:
  1. John Sharp, b. 14 Feb 1870, Dalziel, Lanarkshire, d. date unknown.
William Clark Sharp (b. Abt. 1838, d. date unknown)
William Clark Sharp (son of Robert Sharp and Jane Wylie) was born Abt. 1838, and died date unknown. He married Elizabeth Spence Clarkson on 31 Dec 1862 in Parish of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, daughter of Thomas Clarkson and Elizabeth Laird.
More About William Clark Sharp and Elizabeth Spence Clarkson:
Marriage: 31 Dec 1862, Parish of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Children of William Clark Sharp and Elizabeth Spence Clarkson are:
  1. +John P C Sharp, b. 1875, Lanarkshire, Scotland, d. 11 Mar 1956.

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