Joseph Burt

Joseph Hugh Burt was born on 19 November 1865, a few months after the Civil War ended. Many trees on Ancestry indicate that he was born in Barry County, Michigan and the 1870 census shows a Joel Burt born to H. J. and June Burt in Barry County. Most of the Burt’s in Barry County were born in New York. In the 1880 census, Hugh Burt was living with the Aaron Boone family as a servant in Bucklin, Linn County, Missouri, far from Michigan. The age and place of Joel’s birth are consistent with what we know about our great-grandfather’s birth. Some of the Boone children were born in Michigan and Aaron was born in New York. These facts most likely show a relationship between the Burt and Boone family and more in-depth research needs to be done.

On 3 December 1891, Joseph married Virginia Williams. He was twenty-six and she was twenty-two. Their first child Elmer Hugh was born nine months later on 5 September 1892. Five additional children, Nathaniel Edward, Estella May (my grandmother), Everett Elzie, Curtis Arthur, and Mayme were born during the next seven years. Between 1901 and 1915, Otis, Irene, Amy Rose, Ernest, Clara, and Ransom were born. Mayme and Otis died in infancy.

Burt, Joseph Directory Advertisement 1915

Ad Appearing in the 1915 Osage County Business Directory for Joseph’s Well Digging Company

During the late 1890s Joseph was a watchmaker and in 1905 he was appointed postmaster for a short period of time for Feursville in Osage County. Perhaps because of his large family that he had to support he changed occupations and started digging wells, most likely a more lucrative job. He would continue in this profession until he retired.

A cousin, who lived with our grandmother for a while, told me that Joseph worked at the construction of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This is an interesting fact that needs to be pursued.

Jennie died on 4 September 1915 of gastrectasia, a generally rare but fatal disease. Joseph was left to raise all twelve children by himself. No doubt, the burden of the everyday care of the children fell on Stella, his oldest daughter.

Joseph was postmaster of the Post Office in Feuersville, Missouri for a short period of time between 4 November 1905 to 22 January 1906. The Feuresville post office was in service from 21 August 1887 to 29 April 1916 when it was merged with the Byron post office. Even back then institutions didn’t last.

Burt, Joseph, Appointment U.S. Postmasters

Joseph’s Name Can Be Found on Line Nine

In the 1920s and 1930s, and living in Jefferson Township, Osage, County, Joseph continued to dig wells with the help of several of his boys. In 1940 he was retired from his business and living with his two sons, Elmer and Edward, who continued in the business. They were living in Herman, Gasconade County.

Joseph, who was living with our grandmother, passed away on 23 March 1945 at the age of seventy-nine. He died of bronchopneumonia after six days in St. Louis County Hospital in Clayton. His funeral was held at Bopp Funeral Home at Hanley and Forsyth in Clayton. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Kirkwood. Sadly, both Joseph and Jennie are buried in unmarked graves.

Burt, Joseph, Death Certificate

Joseph’s Death Certificate

Joseph Hugh Burt (1865-1945) m. Virginia Williams (1869-1915)

Elmer Hugh Burt (1892-1965)
Nathaniel Edward Burt (1892-1974)
Estella May Burt (1894-1987)
Everett Elzie Burt (1897-1972)
Curtis Arthur Burt (1898-1977)
Mayme Burt (1899-1901
Otis Burt (1901-1903)
Irene Burt (1902-1999)
Amy Rose Burt (1904-1997)
Ernest Burt (Abt. 1908-Aft. 1977)
Ransom Burt (1915-1955)

John Ridenhour and Christina Zumwalt

John Ridenhour’s death at the hands of the Osage Indians is well documented in the history of Franklin County, Missouri. John was my great-great-great-grandfather. His story began about 1757, in Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, and ended in Franklin County, Missouri with his death in 1803.

Burt, Charles, Birth Record

Map of Berks County, PA Showing Robeson Township¹

John was born to John Adam and Wilhelmina (Dotterer, Marolf) Reitenauer in Robeson Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was one of five children. His brothers and sisters were Bernhardt, Anna Maria Ursula, Adam, Jr., and Henry. The name Reitenauer was later Americanized to Ridenhour.

When John was five or six, the family moved to Frederick County, Maryland. “On 3 May 1776, the four brothers, Adam, John, Henry, and Bernhardt purchased two-hundred acres of land from John Haas for one-hundred and eighty pounds. The land was identified as “All that part of a tract of Land called, The Resurvey of the Den of Wolves.” However, evidence indicates that John Adam Reitenauer, Sr. purchased this land and placed it in his four son’s names as a means of ensuring their inheritance. His will provided that the land should be divided when the two youngest sons, Henry and Bernhardt, came of age.”²  The land was divided in 1782 when Bernhardt turned twenty-one.

The struggle for independence from Great Britain took place during John’s early-adult years. According to Wikipedia, “the Continental Congress was faced with defending a huge amount of territory from potential British Operations. Washington recommended forming a “flying camp”, which in the military terminology of the day referred to a mobile, strategic reserve of troops.”³  Most of the two companies raised in Frederick County were of German descent.

A John Redenour was enrolled in Captain Mantz’s Company. There is no direct evidence that the man listed is our ancestor. But there are clues or indirect evidence. The name directly above John’s is Rudolf Marolf. Rudolf is the son of John’s mother, Wilhelmina, by her first marriage. Also, on the list is John Dutterer (Dotterer), John’s cousin. Neighbors of the Ridenhours are listed as well.

On 17 July 1776, John was listed as a Private in Captain Henry Fister’s Company in the German Battalion commanded by Colonel Nicholas Haussegger. The battalion was present at New Brunswick, New Jersey on 1 December 1776 and at the Battle of Trenton on 26 December 1776. John’s brother, Bernhardt, served in this battalion as did his half-brother Rudolf Marolf.⁴

John married in Frederick County, Maryland about 1780 to Elizabeth (?). Two children were born to the couple. Mary was born about 1782 and her brother Henry was born about 1784. The land in Maryland was sold and John and Elizabeth had moved to Frederick County, Virginia. While there, Elizabeth died prior to 1 August 1786, when John Ridenhour signed a marriage bond in Rockingham County, Virginia prior to his marriage to Christina Zumwalt. The marriage bond was a license to marry, prepared in advance of the wedding, with a bond posted to ensure both parties were free to marry. It’s unclear when John and Christina married after the bond was issued.

Christina Zumwalt was born circa 1765 near Toms Brook, Frederick County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Henrich (Henry) and Catherine (?) Zumwalt. Her grandfather, Andreas Zumwalt, arrived in America in 1737. He lived in York County, Pennsylvania until about 1750, when he moved his family to Frederick County, Virginia. Christina was thought to be the oldest of the eight daughters of Henry Zumwalt. The others were: Rachel, Elizabeth, Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, Mary, and Susan.

Henry Zumwalt sold all of his property on Toms Brook in 1775. The next day he bought one-hundred-and-ninety-five acres across the Massanutten Mountain, in Powells Fort Valley, Dunmore County which later became later Shenandoah County, Virginia. This land was near George Adam, Henry, and Adam Ridenour. The closeness of the Zumwalts to the Ridenhours is most likely how John met Christina. Henry Zumwalt migrated to Kentucky, then on to Upper Louisiana Territory, which later became Missouri where he died in 1804.

It has not been determined where John, Christina, and their family lived during the period between their 1786 marriage in Rockingham County, Virginia and 1796, when John Ridenhour was listed on the tax books of Bourbon Co., Kentucky. The family may have been in Pennsylvania during some of this time as their son Barnett_Bernard was enumerated in the 1850 census as being born in Pennsylvania. The 1850 census also indicated that John and Christina’s daughter Elizabeth was born in Kentucky. Her age was listed as fifty-six years indicating the family may have been in Kentucky as early as 1784.

Since the family lived in western Pennsylvania or western Virginia, it is most likely they traveled to Kentucky via the Ohio River. Once pioneers made their way to the river, a flatboat was hired to float them and their belongings down the river to their destination. Flatboats were rectangular, flat-bottomed boats that were built in various sizes depending upon the length of their trip. Mid-range boats called Kentucky Boats were used by families moving west.

John and Christina’s son John was born in 1797 in Missouri, most likely in what is now Franklin County. The book, Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years states “Spain took formal possession of “Louisiana” west of the Mississippi (including all of the future State of Missouri, among others) in 1769. Since Spain was a Catholic nation, attempts were made to colonize Upper Louisiana (Missouri) with Catholic families. This policy kept villages like St Louis and St. Charles small and vulnerable to Indian raids. In 1787, Spanish authorities tried another tact by allowing American Protestant families to settle in the area, providing that they marry and have their children baptized by the Catholic Church. This change in policy opened up virgin farmland to settlers who, having depleted available land in Kentucky, were eager to move on.

During the next several years, extensive grants of land were made to settlers in Upper Louisiana. The procedure for obtaining a grant or “concession” was relatively simple. The applicant first sought permission from the commandant of the district where he wished to settle; stating his circumstances, the size of his family, and where he wished to obtain land. The commandant forwarded the application to the Lt. Governor, who granted the concession as described in the petition. A surveyor marked off the land and placed the petitioner in possession. The owner was required to take possession and put minimal improvements on the property within a certain period of time. This gave the owner an “incomplete title” to the land. A “complete title” could be obtained only if the title was registered in New Orleans.

However, the Spanish authorities were lax in this regard; and it was done in only a handful of cases. Daniel Boone, who had settled on the Missouri River, west of St. Charles, circa 1795, was said to have been granted several thousand arpents of land for using his influence to bring more than 150 families from Kentucky; only to lose it later because it was never recorded in New Orleans.

James Mackay, “an educated man from Scotland”, had established the village of “St Andre del Misuri” in May 1798 in St Louis District. It was on the south bank of the Missouri River, approximately twenty-five miles west of St Louis. He was named Commandant and served the area well for several years. His name appeared in many of the early Ridenhour documents. He had a wagon road built in 1798 connecting St Andre’ to St Louis. This provided a way for people of the area to get their products to St Louis markets. It was also a way for new settlers to reach their land grants by road. St. Andre’ was later washed into the Missouri River.”⁵

Ridenhour map

A Survey Map of John Ridenhour’s Land

Through Survey No. 53, dated December 1799, John applied for a land grant about fifteen to twenty miles north of the Missouri River, in the St. Charles District, where most of the Zumwalt’s settled. At the same time, John applied for 500 arpents of land near Point Labadie in the District of St. Louis on 7 December 1799. A square arpent is about 0.84 acres. The land, located in township 44 North Range 2 East, was on the south bank of the Missouri River. It is doubtful that the Ridenhours lived on Survey 149. This conclusion has been made based on records and testimonies that took place during of hearing after John’s death.⁶

Living in the era was difficult. Money was scarce and trade took place through barter. John most likely hunted and trapped animal pelts and fur to use as his main currency. Beaver, lynx, and otter were plentiful. His livestock, including horses, were allowed to roam freely. If he raised crops like corn, wheat, flax, or tobacco it would have been on a small scale for the consumption of his family.

In a history of Franklin County, an “old-timer” recalled in the early days his family came to the area of Point Labadie about 1800. He said, “The old settlers of the county, as I can recall, were the Ridenhours, Calvins, Reeds, Zumwalts, Crowes, ….. and many others. And here let me bear[sic] testimony to the truth that a more honest, hospitable people was not to be found anywhere. One would be ashamed to have a lock on his door among such people. They had neither lock nor bars. They had their hunting dogs and bear dogs – no bull and watch dogs to guard off the thief.”⁷

Daniel Ridenhour Baptisim Record

Daniel and Jacob’s Baptism Record

Daniel Ridenhour, the couple’s third child, was born about 1797. Daniel was baptized at St. Charles Borremeo Church with his seven-month-old brother Jacob.⁸ The children were baptized by a Catholic priest in compliance with orders of the Spanish authorities for those who petitioned for land. The baptismal records show that John and Christina were residents of Post St. Andre’. The godfather was James Mackay, Captain Commandant of the said post. Their last child, Jacques [Jacob], was born in 1799. Daniel died sometime between when he was baptized and 1803. On 31 October 1802, John our ancestor was born near Point Labadie.

Osage Sioux Indian Warriors

Osage Warriors by George Catlin

It was the act of letting their horses roam freely that caused John’s death. Several accounts of his death have been recorded but the version most often repeated is the one recorded by historian, Lyman Draper. Draper interviewed Uri Musick, a neighbor of the Ridenhour’s. The account verbatim with misspellings and poor punctuation says, “Ridenhower and his wife, both mounted were out horse-hunting – met Indians, who wanted them to give up their horses. Ridenhower desisting, they shot him, and he soon died. When the Indians came near Ridenhower, they cried out “Stop”, but Ridenhower rather hastened on – several shots were fired at him. He soon fell off, from his wounds. His wife did not try to get away, but dismounted, and took off the bridle, and scared her horse away; and all the horses, 8 or 10, scampered home together. Mrs. Ridenhower, after scaring off her horse, gave Ridenhower some water from the branch in her shoe. The Indians, as they came up, slapped her with their “whipping?” sticks for scaring off the horses, but let her go. Capt. Conway pursued the trail (of the Indians) several days, without avail.”⁹  After John’s death, several settlers in the area left their land grants.

Draper cited Point Labadie Creek, on the bluff just below the Point as the location of John’s death. However, topography in that area has changed so much it is impossible to identify the exact location. John is supposedly buried in a private cemetery in the south of Survey No. 161. He is buried in an unmarked grave where Ridenhours and Reeds were later buried. The creek on which the survey was located was named Ridenhour Creek but was later changed to Fiddle Creek.

Sometime between April and June 1803, Christina Ridenhour took the six children, and moved closer to St Andre’. On 15 June 1803, an inventory of John’s estate was conducted by James Mackay. Ephraim Richardson was named the executor for the children consisting of four boys and two girls. Survey No. 161 was appraised at three hundred dollars. A horse and foal were appraised at one-hundred and forty dollars. It’s understandable why John risked his life to protect his string of horses.

About a month later a sale of the items in John’s estate took place. As his widow, Christina received half of the estate valued at six hundred and sixty-eight dollars. The other half belonged to the children. Survey No. 161 was not sold and was kept as part of the children’s share of the estate.

Christiana [Christina] appeared before the Federal Land Commission Board, on 26 January 1806, to claim Survey No. 161 for herself and her children Henry, Mary, Betsy, John, Barnett, and Jacques. The purpose of the Land Board was to hold hearings to straighten out the titles of the Spanish Land grants caused by the sale of the land to the French and the subsequent takeover of the territory of Louisiana by the United States in 1803. She produced a certificate from the Lt. Governor, dated 7 December 1799, and a certificate of Survey dated 19 December 1799. The Land Board rejected the claim. A certificate confirming the title was finally issued to Christina and her children on 7 February 1809 after Congress loosened the requirements.

The document below reads: “Christiana widow of (John) Ridenhour claims 500 arpens situate in the District of St. Andrew granted to their deceased father John Ridinhour by a concession which they produced of a permission to (?) Dellasus the 7th Dec 1799 and claimed by the aforesaid persons as representatives of their Decd father who had cultivated & inhabited the same on the 20th October 1800. Wm. Belle agent for the aforesd.¹⁰

2 (2)

On 27 September 1806, Christina bought another one-hundred fifty arpents of land adjoining her other two-hundred arpents on Wild Horse Creek.

Christina married John Johnson sometime between 1809 and 1820 when a legal notice appeared in the Missouri Gazette Newspaper for a pending suit concerning some land in the estate of Andrew Zumwalt. Andrew was Christina’s grandfather. The notice listed Andrew’s heirs and Christina was identified as “Teney Johnson, nee Teney Zumwalt. Teney was a nickname for Christina. John Johnson died sometime before 14 October 1825 when Christina was appointed Executrix for his estate. Christina swore that John Johnson’s heirs were brothers and sisters living the County of St. Louis.

John Ridenhour and Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour are my fourth great-grandparents.

John Ridenhour (Abt. 1755-1803) m. Elizabeth (Abt. 1760-?)
Mary Ridenhour (1782-Aft. 1830)
Henry Ridenhour (1784-Bet 1840 and 1850)

John Ridenhour (Abt. 1755-1803) m. Christina Zumwalt (1765-?)
Bernard Ridenhour (1792-1856)
Elizabeth Ridenhour (1794-Bef. 1852)
Daniel Ridenhour (1797-Bet. 1800-1803
Jacob Ridenhour (1799-Aft. 1850)
John Ridenhour (1802-1852)


¹Fagan, L, H. F Bridgens, T. S Wagner, and Friend & Aub. Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania: from actual surveys. [Philadelphia: Published by H.F. Bridgens, . Phil’a Philadelphia: Printed by T.S. Wagner, 38 Hudson St, 1860] Map.
²Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years, Mona McCown and Nona Harwell
⁴Maryland State Archives database, Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution ( :accessed 31 Aug 2017), Listing for Ridinghour [Ridenhour], Volume 18, Page 261.
Reitenauer Immigrants, The Early Years, Mona McCown and Nona Harwell
⁶Land Record for John Ridenhour, Book C, Page 195, Dec 1799, Commissioner’s Certificates, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles, digital images, Missouri State Archives, “1st Board of Land Commissioners, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 30 Aug 2017).
⁷A History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, and Gasconade Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed
⁸St. Charles Borremeo Church (St. Charles, Missouri, United States), “St. Charles Borremeo Church Records,” Baptism Record for Daniel Ridenhour, s0138 I, P. 61, State Historical Society of Missouri, St. Louis
⁹Draper’s Notes, Lyman Draper (Microfilm) Jefferson Memorial Archive, St Louis, Mo
¹⁰Christiana Ridenhour filed claim dated 7 Dec 1799 with Board of Land Commissioners for 500 arpens granted to John Ridenhour, 20 Oct 1808; Original Claimants – 1st Board of Land Commissioners, U.S. Recorder of Land Titles; digital images, Missouri State Archives, “Land Records, 1777-1969,” Missouri Digital Heritage ( : accessed 23 Aug 2017).


A great deal of information can be found in the document Reitnauer Immigrants, The Early Years. The document can be found online. I have checked out the information I referenced in this document to concur with McCown and Nona Harwell. Some of the information is so well written that I have copied the information verbatim, or slightly paraphrased, into this story and have marked these passages with quotes. There is a great deal of sources that I need to find, however. Unfortunately, so many of the online documents, like maps, are in French and are very hard to read because of their age.


John Ridenhour

John Ridenhour was born 31 October 1802 in the Upper Louisiana territory. The land, which was part of a Spanish land grant, was under control of the French who sold the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase to the United States government on 30 April 1803. The land where he was born lay on Ridenhour Creek near Boles, Franklin County, Missouri.

John was the last of seven children born to John Ridenhour and Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour. They lived on land that was wild, uncultivated, and teeming with animals. This was also the land of the Osage Indians, the Indians that killed his father on 3 April 1803. His mother had to petition the U.S. government to honor the land grant that her husband John had purchased from the Spanish.

John married Elizabeth Reed about 1824. She was born 30 November 1800 near Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky to Edward Reed and Margaret (Close) Reed. The Reed’s moved to Missouri around 1810. During the next six years their three children, Reuben, Martin (our ancestor), and Amelia were born.

Ridenhour, John Deed

John Sold his Portion of Inherited Land to his Brother Bernard

On 5, March 1832, John sold his share of the land inherited from his mother to his brother Bernard. The land had the Missouri River as a boundary to the north, on the east and west were lands of the United States and the land to the south was owned by his brother Reuben. This was the land granted to his father by the Spanish government. He then moved the family to Gasconade County where they were enumerated in the 1840 Census. Living with them were their children Reuben, Martin, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira. Adam, their son, was born after the 1840 Census was taken. Thomas Benton was born in 1842 and their last child, Christina, was born in 1846.

On 21 August 1841, John purchased 83.36 acres of land from John Hutten. The land, located in Osage County, was in the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section twenty and the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section twenty in township forty-one, range seven west.

1850 Ridenhour Census

1850 Census²

By 1850, the oldest of John and Elizabeth’s children were out of the home leaving Elvira, Adam, Thomas, and Margaret. Amelia, their daughter, most likely died before 1850. Living next to them was their son Reuben and daughter Elizabeth and her husband Samuel Hawkins.

At the time of his death, John owned two hundred acres of land. He sold the land purchased from John Hutten to his son Martin in February 1852 indicating that he was possibly ill and unable to use the land. John died six months later on 4 August 1852. He is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County, Missouri.

John died without a will. His son-in-law, Samuel Hawkins, was appointed the administrator of his estate. After his death, Reuben, Martin, and Alvira quit-claimed their undivided portion of land inherited from their father’s estate to Samuel. Reuben sold his land first for fifty dollars in 1853 followed by Martin and Alvira who received one hundred dollars each.

A year before the Civil War, Elizabeth was living with her daughter Margaret, aged fourteen. Margaret was listed as a farmer in the 1860 census. Three of her sons, Martin, Adam, and Thomas enlisted in the 34th Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia. After their discharge in 1864, they enrolled in the 50th Regiment Infantry. Their discharge took place after a month of service on 27 April 1865, after the Civil War was over. The Civil War era must have been very stressful for Elizabeth, a widow, having to support a young daughter, and having three sons serving in the Missouri Militia.

My beautiful picture

John’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery

Elizabeth was not found in the 1870 Census so little is known of her life between 1860 and 1870. She died 2 June 1872 in Belle. She is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County with her husband John.


Elizabeth’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery










John Ridenhour (1802-1851) m. Elizabeth Reed (1800-1872)

Reuben Ridenhour (Abt. 1826-1877)
Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904)
Amelia Ridenhour (Abt 1830-Bef. 1850)
Elizabeth Ridenhour (Abt 1832-?)
Elvira Clara Ridenhour (1836-1914)
Adam Ridenhour (1840-1915)
Thomas Benton Ridenhour (1842-1927)
Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1846-1909)

¹Franklin, Missouri, Deed Records, B: 431-432, John Ridenhour to Bernard Ridenhour, 5 Mar 1832; Franklin County, Missouri Recorder of Deeds, Union.

²1850 U.S. census, Osage, Missouri, pop. sch., Jefferson, p. 422A, dwell. 123, fam. 123, Household of John Ridenhour.


Martin Ridenhour

When Martin Ridenhour was born his family had already been in Franklin County, Missouri for close to thirty years. He was born on 14 December 1827 to John S. Ridenhour and Elizabeth (Reed) Ridenhour. His grandfather, John Ridenhour, and his grandmother, Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour had arrived in the area as early as 1797. Martin never knew his grandfather as John was killed by the Osage Indians in 1803.
While Martin was a young boy the family settled for a while in Gasconade County and then moved to Osage County. That area eventually became Maries County. They resided their entire lives west of Belle, and close to the county line separating Maries from Osage County. The land was rich and well-watered.

Martin was one of eight children, four boys, and four girls. These children were born over a period of about twenty years. Martin was very close in age to his older brother Reuben. Three girls, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira were born over the next nine years. Two boys, Adam and Thomas Benton followed and the baby of the family, Margaret Christina, was born in 1846.

Ridenhour, Martin, Marriage Record, (2)

Martin and Sarah’s Marriage Record

At the age of twenty, Martin left this large family and married Sarah Ann Mahon on 2 November 1848.¹ They lived not too far from Martin’s father and mother and his brother Reuben. Their first child John Shepherd was born on 14 December 1849. He was the first of twelve children who were born between 1849 and 1872. This family would know heart-ache. Four of their children died before they did. Their son William Alexander died in 1863 at the age of six. The next child to die was Martha Louise who died in 1882 at the age of twenty-seven. Thomas Huston died in 1899 at the age of thirty-one. The last child to die was David Jasper who died in 1901 at the age of thirty. All but William Alexander left spouses and children behind. It’s so sad that three of their grown children were struck down during the prime of their lives.

On 24 February 1852, Martin and Sarah purchase forty-one acres of land from his father John. It is possible John was sick at the time of the sale and was divesting his land for John died about a week later on 5 March 1852. John had amassed quite a bit of land during his lifetime. In March 1854, Martin quit-claimed his undivided portion of his father’s land to Samuel Hawkins, the husband of Martin’s sister Elizabeth.²

Ridenhour, Martin, Osage County, MO, Recorder of Deeds, Book E, P. 220 (2)

Martin Ridenhour Provided a Quit Claim Deed to Samuel Hawkins, his Brother-in-Law, for His Undivided Portion of Land in his Father’s Estate


During the summer of 1862, guerrilla forces were organizing and threatening the citizens and county governments through the state of Missouri. As a result on 22 July, the Missouri State Militia and United States military command began organizing a militia to put down robbery, plunder, and guerrilla warfare. Every able-bodied man was commanded to enroll in the nearest military post and report for duty. Each man was to bring his gun and horse if he had one.

Ridenhour, Martin, Civil War Records, Missouri Archives, Civil War-World War I Database (2)Thirty-four-year-old Martin enrolled in the 34th Enrolled Missouri Militia, Company F, on 22 August 1862 Shortly after their daughter Sarah was born.³ Martin’s younger brothers Adam and Thomas enlisted in the unit at the same time. Adam and Thomas were called into service on 28 September 1864 at Jake’s Prairie in Gasconade County. The purpose was to repel Price’s invasion of Missouri. Skirmishes took place on the Osage River on October 5-6, Jefferson City October 7, and on the Big Piney River on November 1, 1864. All three brothers were discharged on 10 November 1864. The record indicates that Martin served twenty-seven days of actual service. Adam and Thomas would enroll again, this time in the 50th Regiment Infantry Volunteers. They would serve from 20 February to 5 August 1865.

The Civil War was a time of disruption, not only to the every-day life of Missouri citizens but to their financial welfare. Many people lost loved ones and saw their wealth drain away; but not Martin. Between 1860 and 1870, according to the census records, the value of his estate increased considerably. Not only did he own six horses, a mule, and a pair of working oxen, but also four milk cows and twenty-five head of cattle, twenty-seven sheep, and thirty swine. Martin tilled the land which produced winter wheat, oats, Indian corn, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Sarah was responsible for the family garden, and butter and molasses production. All of this was accomplished with forty acres of land and forty acres of timber and the hard work of all family members.
This prosperity continued into the 1880s. Martin had increased his ownership of land to eighty tilled or fallow acres, eight acres of permanent pasture, one-hundred and twenty acres of forest, and thirty-one acres of old fields. With the part-time help of Andrew and Thomas, he continued to raise cows, sheep, and pigs. Education was important and all of the children attended school as soon as they were able.

Ridenhour, Martin, Headstone (2)

Martin Ridenhour’s Headstone

Records are sparse for the years between 1880 and 1900. By 1900 the children had left home. Martin was seventy-two and Sarah was sixty-six. They lived with their son Adam and his family. Four years later Martin left this earth on 6 December 1904 leaving a large family behind and a legacy of hard work. All of his children would prosper and have families of their own. Sarah lived another fourteen years with Adam and died at the age of eighty-four on 25 February 1918.

Martin and Sarah are buried in Pilot Knob Baptist Church Cemetery in Osage County along with ninety-six Ridenhour descendants. Today the Belle High School sits on the land where Martin and Sarah’s house once stood.

Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904) m. Sarah Ann Mahon (1833-1918)

John Shepherd Ridenhour (1849-1920)
Nancy Elizabeth Ridenhour (1851-1928)
Mary Jane Ridenhour (1852-1927)
Martha Louisa Ridenhour (1854-1882)
William Alexander Ridenhour (1857-1863)
Susan Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1859-1947)
Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)
Andrew Jackson Ridenhour (1864-1945)
Virginia Harriett Ridenhour (1866-1945)
Thomas Huston Ridenhour (1868-1899)
David Jasper Ridenhour (1871-1901)
Adam Louis Ridenhour (1872-1937)

¹Osage, Missouri, marriage record, Marriage Book A, 1845-1861, Martin Ridenhour [Ridenhour]-Sarah Ann Mahon [Mahon], 1848; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Lynn.

²Osage, Missouri, Deeds, E: 220-221 , Martin Ridenhour sold his undivided land portion from John S. Ridenhour estate, 16 March 1854; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Linn.

³”Soldiers Records: War 1812-World War I,” database, Missouri Digital Heritage ( :accessed 24 Oct 2017) Record for Martin Ridenhour, Box 69, Roll s00783

Sarah Frances Ridenhour

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Sara

Julius and Sarah, Possibly Their Wedding Day

I know very little about my great-grandmother Sarah Frances Ridenhour other than information taken from her marriage and census records. She was born in Maries County, Missouri during the Civil War to Martin Ridenhour and Sarah Ann Rebecca (Mahon) Ridenhour on 12 September 1862, or possibly on 12 November 1861 as shown on her death certificate. She was the seventh of twelve children; six were boys and six were girls.

I am very fortunate to have a picture of Sarah and Julius Schwegler, the man she married on 28 November 1880 in Osage County, Missouri. A few observations from this picture tell me she is a pretty woman. She was as tall as Julius; the Schwegler men were short in stature. At best, she was 5’4 or 5’5 inches tall. Her dress most likely is traditional German or Swiss wedding attire.

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Francis - Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002

Julius and Sarah Were Married by a Justice of the Peace

Sarah was the mother of six children born over the span of twenty-three years. Her first child, Oliver Martin, was born in 1881 when she was just eighteen years of age. This poor little boy died four years later in 1885. At that time her second child, Harley Defraney, was two years of age. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1886, followed by my grandfather Wright Harrison in 1892. Her only girl Ida, born in July 1901, only lived four months. Her last boy, Rainey Adam, was born in 1904.

Ridenhour, Sarah Frances, headstone

Rest in Peace Sarah

I’ve wondered what it would be like to live with six men and no daughters to help with the household chores. My mother once told me that her father and uncles were quiet men. They didn’t talk much and preferred to be alone. Hopefully, Sarah’s daughters-in-law provided some talk and interaction that women need.  

Unfortunately, my mother never knew her grandmother as Sarah died three years before my mother was born. Sarah suffered from chronic nephritis and valvular heart disease. She died at home on 17 August 1924 and was buried the next day in Bethel Cemetery in Paydown. Her headstone reads “Peaceful be thy Silent Slumber.” Sarah was sixty-two years of age.

Julius Schwegler (1859-1943) m. Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)

Oliver Martin Schwegler (1881-1885)
Harley Defraney Schwegler (1883-1965)
Benjamin Franklin Schwegler (1886-1969)
Harrison Wright Schwegler (1892-1978)
Ida J. Schwegler (1901-1901)
Rainey Adam Schwegler (1904-1990)

William Jefferson Williams…Not Your Average Man

Williams, William J, and Stubblefield, Rebecca A.

William Jefferson Williams and Elizabeth (Stubblefield) Williams

People could say that William Jefferson Williams was a scalawag, litigious, and complex man. Yet he was hardworking and a family man. William Jefferson Williams left a large footprint on this earth and there are many, many records to prove this.

Jeff Williams, as he was sometimes called and the name used in this bio, was born 12 December 1818 in the area where Franklin County, Tennessee is today. He was born to Philip Williams and Catherine (Miller) Williams. Philip had volunteered for the first Seminole War and arrived home in time for the birth of his third son, Jeff. They lived in a time when settlers continued to move into Indian lands creating a constant threat to the settlers. The Seminole Wars were the result of the West Florida boundary dispute the United States had with Spain. The U.S. also accused Spain of harboring run-away-slaves and not restraining the Indians in West Florida from raiding the U.S. In the 1830s men still talked about the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Second Seminole War (1835-42) resulted from efforts to move the Seminoles to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).¹

In 1837, U.S. leaders put out a call for volunteers to help with the cause. Jeff and his brothers were at an age when the idea of military action was exciting. In October of 1837, Jeff Williams, along with his brothers Hardy and Jacob Marion, enlisted to fight in Captain Snodgrass’s Company I, North Alabama Mounted Volunteers, from Jackson County, Alabama and commanded by Company Commander A. J. Jacobway. There was such a tremendous response to the call for action that more volunteers than needed signed up. Recruits guarded areas already under control because so many signed up for duty, including the volunteers from Captain Snodgrass’s mounted Alabama volunteers. Enlisted regular troops did the actual fighting as recruits were generally undisciplined. Most likely disappointed at their inaction, the brothers sought a discharge from the Mounted Volunteers at Fort Mitchell, Georgia after serving seven months of volunteer duty.²

Williams, William J, Land Patent, No. 6674, 9 Jan 1854_Page_1

Land Grant Given to Jeff Williams for his Service in the Second Seminole War

The Williams family land lay in the rolling foothills of the Sequatchie Mountains. To the east, in the distance, the grey silhouette of the mountains could be seen. It was in these rolling hills that Jeff asked Elizabeth Stubblefield to marry him.

Williams, William J, to Stubblefield, Elizabeth, Marriage Record, 2

Jeff and Elizabeth’s Marriage Record

They married on 1 June 1838.³ He was nineteen and she was fifteen. Shortly thereafter Elizabeth became pregnant with their first child Catherine.

Another life-altering event occurred that changed their lives forever. Jeff and Elizabeth decided to travel west to Missouri with friends and family members. Saying goodbye to loved ones, maybe never to see them again, was extremely hard as would the difficult trip traveling by wagon train five hundred and twenty-five miles to their destination. For Elizabeth, it would have been even harder as she was pregnant. Catherine was born on 23 June 1839 in Gasconade County, Missouri. The birth of her brother Henry followed a year later on 5 June 1840. The year 1842 brought good and bad news; the good news is their third son John was born. But sadly they received communication that Jeff’s father Philip had died.

Through the years Jeff Williams was in and out of court. Several times he was the plaintiff, meaning he was suing someone for a grievance. And many times he was on the receiving end of the complaint as the defendant. James Page sued him in 1843 for causes unknown. This case lasted for more than two years and ended when both sides agreed to dismiss the case and pay for their own court costs.

Who knows what was going on in Jeff’s mind when he assaulted John Owens in May of 1846? The grand jury of Osage County was impaneled on 5 May 1846 and found that there was sufficient cause to charge Jeff with felonious assault. In those days court proceedings took place every quarter which caused legal proceedings to last over a period of time. Jeff’s case went to trial on 13 Apr 1847 and over the course of several years, the truth about the assault was revealed. Jeff had assaulted John Owens with a stick three feet long, two inches in diameter, and weighing four pounds. He hit Owens on the head, back, arms, and shoulders leaving cuts and bruises. This trial ended in 1842 when Jeff was found guilty of the assault and ordered to pay a fine of one hundred dollars and spend three months in jail.

Two more children, Nathaniel and Cynthia were born to the couple in 1848 and 1849 respectively. The 1850 agricultural census showed that Jeff owned 20 acres of land. Many families the size of the Williams family had more land to sustain their needs. He owned two horses, one mule, seven cows, five sheep, and thirty hogs. And he raised Indian corn and Irish potatoes. The sheep provided six pounds of wool and the cows provided one hundred pounds of butter. The sale of products and livestock was probably enough to feed the family well and evidently there was enough of an excess over the years to allow Jeff to buy forty more acres of land in 1851.

Before his assault trial ended, Jeff Williams was also called into court by Hugh Wilson in 1851. Wilson testified that on or about 3 May 1850, Jeff Williams sold him his claim on the government of the United States that he received for his service as a volunteer in Captain Augustus Rainey’s company which was mustered in the services of the United States in 1846. The court record indicated that Jeff Williams had volunteered for Captain Rainey’s Company, Third Missouri Volunteers, enrolled in Van Buren, Missouri, and mustered in at Fort Leavenworth. Over the course of two years, testimony was taken and the case was dismissed on 25 April 1853. However, Jeff Williams was ordered to pay the court costs.

Williams, William J, Osage County Historical Society, Loose Files, File 156, Doc. 19 (3) - Copy

Indictment for Running His Horse Through Linn, MO

And while all of this was going on in his life, perhaps to let off steam, Jeff Williams ran his horse through the town of Linn, Missouri on 26 October 1852. The State of Missouri charged him for “wrongfully and unlawfully running his horse upon a public road and highway so as to interrupt traveling therein, and to put to fright the horses and other animals, by them rode or driven.” Jeff threw himself upon the mercy of the court and pleaded guilty. His court fine was $5.00 and he was remanded to the custody of the sheriff until the fine was paid.

Despite all the drama in his life, Jeff continued to farm. The year 1854 produced a flurry of buying and selling of land ending with Jeff owning about one hundred and sixty-two acres. That year Benjamin Franklin was born to the couple.

On 9 November 1855, Jeff Williams attended a get-together at the home belonging to James Owens for the purpose of moving rails. The rails were on land next to the Owens home. This land had been cleared by the Owens family but claimed by Runge [first name unknown] and Charles Kuhagen. Jeff’s simple act of charity would ensnare him in a burglary and assault trial that would last two years and provide hundreds of pages of testimony from people who were involved.

The day began when a group of men and women arrived in order to help move rails. The idea was abandoned and the group began drinking. Fred Crider produced a fiddle and dancing commenced. While everyone was dancing a fight took place that involved several men who were accused of assaulting Helmuth Gens, Charles Kuhagen, and Runge. Apparently, the Owens family had cleared a parcel of land and before they went to the courthouse to file a claim on the land Kuhagen and Runge made the claim on the land. This created a great deal of resentment toward these men, and Helmuth Gens, Kuhagen’s brother-in-law.

Williams, William J, Osage County Circuit Court, Book B, Page 234 - Copy_Page_1

The Jury Found Fred Crider and Jeff Williams Not Guilty

During the trial, Helmuth Gens testified that on the 9th of November Jesse Owens, Lansford Shockley, Jonathan Stubblefield, Nathaniel Stubblefield, Frederick Crider, Jeff Williams, James Owens, John Griffith, and others had broken into and entered his home. The group of men was armed with sticks, clubs, knives, guns, axes, and an iron wedge. Runge and Kuhagen were accosted and received cuts and bruises. One of the men had drawn up a note payable to James Owens for one hundred dollars and forced Gens to sign it. It was this action that caused Helmuth Gens to go to the authorities which resulted in all of the charges being issues. Finally, at the end of 1857, the case ended with Jeff Williams and others being acquitted of the charges against them. Nathaniel Stubblefield and Jesse Owens were found guilty of assault.

In the middle of the trial, in November 1856, Robert was born. Two years later in 1858, Martha their last child was born. Over nineteen years, Elizabeth would bear eleven children and lose two of them, Charles and Robert.

Two years later, Jeff was ensnared in another court case with William Haley. On 10 December 1859, the constable of Osage County was ordered to serve a writ to William Haley in a judgment obtained by William Campbell. The writ was executed on 6 January 1860 by then deputy constable, Jeff Williams. When the writ was presented to him, Haley stated he would pay Campbell but would not pay Jeff Williams a commission for his part in serving the writ. In those days much of the legal administrative costs were paid by fees assessed for carrying out legal activities. When Haley refused to pay Jeff, Jeff seized a dark brown horse belonging to Haley and sold the horse. That was when Haley took him to court. A jury found Jeff not guilty and assessed Haley $59.90 in court costs over and above what he owed Campbell and Jeff. In 1873 Jeff took William Haley to court. It appears that Haley had not paid what he owed Jeff. The prosecuting attorney refused to take up the case and referred Jeff to the State of Missouri legal system if he wanted to recoup his money. No further documents were found in the case.

The Civil War was well underway when the following decree was issued by Lt. Col. Williams of A Company, 28th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia on 9 August 1862:
“All the Enrolled Militia (E.M.M.) within this Sub-District (composed of the counties of Cole, Osage, Miller north of the Osage River and Maries west of the Gasconade River) are hereby summoned and called into active service and will assemble without delay in Jefferson City. The militia duly enrolled and not yet organized into companies will immediately upon their arrival at this post be organized into companies of not less than sixty-seven nor more than one hundred men. Parts of companies will be consolidated. The militia when organized into companies will be subsisted, their horses foraged, and transportation taken when needed from Rebels of all shades and Union men when necessary giving the latter receipts for what is taken which will be claimed against the State of Missouri. All who do not now enroll and organize for the defense of the State will be regarded and treated as traitors and hereafter can claim no protection from the Federal Government.”⁴

Jeff enlisted as the captain of Company C. On 29 August the company was called into service. The primary responsibility of the E.M.M. during the Civil War was to guard railroad bridges and other strategic resources to aid the war effort. Jeff’s company was called to action several times including 30 September 1862 when he was ordered to “concentrate all your available force at St. Aubert Station P. R. R. immediately. Let each man take three days rations.”⁵

Next year, in 1863, Jeff was captain of Company A of the 9th Provisional Regiment. His son Henry was the bugler of the Company. They were enrolled and called into service on 17 March and discharged on 31 December. Both were allowed to return to their homes, continue farming, and take part in the lives of their spouse and children for the remainder of the war. In 1864, Jeff’s oldest daughter Catherine and her husband Fred Crider sold their land to Jeff and moved to Texas.

The Civil War did not diminish Jeff’s financial stability. In 1870 the agriculture census showed him owning 150 acres of improved land and 183 acres of unimproved land. He owned seven horses, twelve mules, seven cows, two oxen, thirty sheep, and four hogs. He was growing winter wheat, Indian corn, oats, peas, beans, and Irish potatoes. From the sheep, twenty-four pounds of wool were produced and the cows produced eighty pounds of butter. Fifty gallons of molasses were also produced. No doubt it took every member of the family who could help, along with hired help, to keep this farm going. Unfortunately, their son Charles was sickly and died at the age of twenty the next year on 30 June 1871. He is buried next to Jeff in Francis Cemetery.

In 1880 all of Jeff’s children had left home with the exception of his son William and William’s wife Sephronia. The 1880 agricultural census showed William as owning the land. The number of acres of land they owned had decreased by eighty-three. They still owned horses, mules, cows, and hogs added chickens and got rid of their oxen and sheep. They grew Indian corn, oats, wheat, Sorghum, and Irish potatoes. And some lands were set aside for an apple orchard. The family made extra money through the sale of cattle and wood they cut from their timber. Life appeared to be good.

Williams, William J, Headstone Picture 2

William Jefferson Williams’ Headstone

Jeff Williams committed suicide on 11 December 1885. What had changed between 1880, when it appeared that he was doing well financially, and 1885 when he took his life? Most likely the recession that occurred in the U.S. between 1882 and 1885 caused his financial well-being to decline. And the final settlement for his estate bears that out. At the time of the final settlement, after the sale of items in his estate and outstanding bills were accounted the estate was in the arrears of $73.66 leaving Elizabeth with no money.

Family lore says he took his life because he was upset that he couldn’t buy his grandsons the hats that they wanted. The truth is he was in desperate financial trouble.

Jeff Williams is buried in Francis Cemetery in Osage County. His sons Henry, Charles, and Robert are buried near-by. It is unknown where Elizabeth is buried.

Jeff Williams led an interesting life having volunteered for military service in the Seminole War, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. He traveled from Tennessee to Missouri and saw things many of his generation never saw. He used the court system to his advantage and sometimes that worked against him. He was a rabble-rouser yet appeared to be a man of principle and hard-work. It’s a shame he ended his life in a tragic way, at his own hands. No doubt he is one of our family’s most fascinating characters.


²Dan’s World, Williams ( : accessed 1 Sep 2014), Philip Williams Family History

³2013;, Tennessee, State Marriages, 1780-2002 ( : accessed 27 Oct 2013); William J. Williams to Elizabeth A. Stubblefield

⁴Records of Events 28th Enrolled Militia of Osage County, Missouri,


Augustus Baker…his death changed history

The Civil War did not start on 12 April 1861. It started many years before with the debate over slavery and divided many citizens of the United States. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was designed to settle the dispute with Missouri entering the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state. The Homestead Act of 1862 was primarily responsible for the settlement of the west. But prior to that, in 1856, heads of families were allowed to enter 160 acres as a homestead from transferable government grants to veterans. By the end of 1857, nearly all grants were gone in Vernon County. ¹ The act of making Kansas a territory, in 1858, essentially repealed the Missouri Compromise. The border between Kansas and Missouri became a place of war with pro-slavery Bushwhackers in Missouri and the free-soil Jayhawkers warring with each other prior to the Civil war and lasting several years after. This is the environment that Augustus Baker and his family navigated.

Baker, Augustus, Land Patent Purchase from George Hamilton, 10 Dec 1859_Page_1

Deed for one of the many properties Augustus Baker owned

Augustus Baker immigrated to the United States from Germany but nothing is known of his family origins.² His was born on 21 April 1827. At the age of twenty-one, he married Rebecca Pryor on 1 March 1849. They had three daughters, Emma Ann who was born about 1852, Mary Elizabeth who was born in 1854, and Laura Rebecca who was born in 1859. Their fourth daughter, Adaline, was born in 1862 and died in 1864 after the death of Augustus.

Over the course of his short life, Augustus amassed a little more than five-hundred and seventy-six acres of land in Bates County later to be Vernon County. The majority of the land was in township thirty-six, range thirty-three, sections thirty and thirty-one. A portion of this land would later be inherited by his daughter Mary Elizabeth Baker. In addition, he purchased four hundred and forty acres of land in Bourbon County, Kansas. Several of these tracts of land that he purchased were land grants given to veterans of the War of 1812 for their service. Many times veterans had no interest in moving west and instead sold their land grant to others. In total Augustus owned a little more than one-thousand and sixteen acres of land, some of which were purchased during the Civil War. He was an optimistic and opportunistic man.

In 1858, Ben Riggins, contracted Charles Goodlander to build a 16 x 20, two-story frame business building on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Bigler (now Market) Street in Fort Scott, Kansas.³ Sometime after, and possibly as early as September 1859, Augustus and Riggins formed a mercantile partnership, Riggins & Baker.


A Receipts from Riggins & Baker Mercantile Store

On 23 September 1861, a few months after the start of the Civil War, Riggins wrote to Augustus from Shawnee, Kansas. Because of the turmoil in the county, he traded some of his lands in Bourbon for a house in Shawnee. He never expected to move back to Fort Scott and asked Augustus to sell the building and settle up as best as he could. He and Augustus owed substantial amounts of money on accounts and others owed them a lot of money as well. Commerce at the time was done on credit and the good name of the individuals who had transactions with each other. The difficulties of the war made it almost impossible to do business. Riggins told Augustus that he would not pay out his last dollar toward his debts leaving his family to suffer. Shawnee would later be burned by Quantrill’s Raiders and Riggins and his family was forced to move to Kansas City.

“Guerilla warfare erupted on an unprecedented scale in 1862. Though nominally Union-held, much of Missouri remained a vast no-mans land tenuously controlled by small military outposts. The very conditions that created the need for more troops left many able-bodied potential fighting men unwilling to leave their homes and families for volunteer service elsewhere.”⁴ Needless to say life in Bourbon and Vernon Counties went from bad to worse causing martial law to be enacted in Missouri in August of that year.

In early 1863 Augustus was still running the Riggins & Baker Mercantile Store in Fort Scott. He and Ben Riggins continued to correspond with each other as creditors pressed them for money.

The Federal forces “occupying” Missouri, under martial law, were spread too thin to maintain regular law and order, let alone effectively suppress the Guerilla movement, characterized by military law experts as “rising of the people.” Seeking to tighten their hold on the state, they attempted to organize in each county a pro-Union militia, technically a state force but in practice a Federal force.⁵

It was under this backdrop that Augustus, along with about fifty others, attended a meeting of male citizens in Nevada for the purpose of organizing a company of enrolled militia under the leadership of Colonel Marvin’s 60th regiment. Augustus, a well-respected man, was chosen over C. C. Frizell, a citizen of the county who had served with the Cedar County militia. Frizell had been on a few raids with Kansas troops and had a bad reputation. Many were concerned that he would use his position to take land from people and feather his own nest. Frizell took his defeat very poorly.

The Baker’s lived on Ball Town Road, west of Nevada, Missouri. On the evening of 6 May 1863, about 7:30 pm and while Augustus was out, two men approached their home. When Rebecca answered the door, they said they were Federals from Butler County and asked for some supper. Rebecca invited them in. When Augustus came home, he recognized the men and extended his hand to Frizell to shake. Frizell refused to shake hands with him. At that point, both men drew their pistols and demanded his arms and his money. Augustus stated his money was in Fort Scott. Rebecca had some money, about three or four dollars in silver and one and a half-dollar in paper money and offered to get it. One of the men went with Rebecca to their second floor where he took rifle molds, boxes of caps and bullets, and Augustus’ pocketbook. After they came downstairs Rebecca went to stand next to Augustus and put her hand on his shoulder. At that point, the tallest man stepped forward and shot Augustus in his head. Later at the trial of his murderers, Rebecca testified that the man who pulled the trigger was Frizell.⁶

The incidents that occurred after the trial led to the burning of Nevada, Missouri. On 24 May 1863, men from Frizell’s pro-Union St. Clair and Cedar County companies were returning home after testifying at his trial. They were recognized as Federals and attacked by Bushwhackers led by Captain Marchbanks and Captain Hill. During the attack two of the pro-Union men were killed. When word of the Bushwhacker attack reached the St. Clair and Cedar militia, cries of vengeance were made.

On 26 May 1863, Captain Anderson Morton led a hundred well-armed men from the Cedar and St. Clair Militia on a raid into Vernon County. They failed to find the Bushwhackers and systematically burned every building in Vernon. Citizens were told, “We are going to burn this house. Get your things out in twenty minutes. If you want help, we will help you, but the house must be burned. This damned Rebel den shall be destroyed.” ⁷ On Tuesday, 27 May 1863, C. C. Frizell was found guilty and hanged for his crime. John Upton, his accomplice, became a fugitive of the law and it is unknown if he was ever caught.

In 1865, Ben Riggins was still trying to get the accounts of the Riggins & Baker enterprise squared away. In November of the same year, Rebecca relinquished her right to administer the estate of her husband in favor of R. W. McNeil, Public Administrator. She signed an undated receipt which reads: Received from R. W. McNeil, Public Administrator having charge of the Estate of Augustus Baker deceased one bin of corn inventoried and appraised at the sum of two hundred ($200.) It being what the law allows me as the widow of the deceased. In December she bought 5 cows, 4 steers, 4 heifers, calves, and 1 two-horse plow for $264.50. Back then the widow was allowed to keep some of the estate of her husband. Everything else was inventoried and sold. Anything within the inventory that she wanted she had to buy like everyone else. Some of the lands purchased by Augustus were sold to pay taxes and raise cash for the family.

Baker, Augustus, Headstone

Augustus Baker’s Headstone

Augustus Baker is buried along a creek branch in view of where his homestead stood in Richards Township. The Coleman Cemetery grew up around his gravesite. We were there several years ago and found the cemetery in the woods next to the creek. It was shady and dry. Many of the headstones were broken or fallen over. Fortunately, Augustus’ headstone was still in good shape.

In 2004-5, a great-grandson of Augustus, William C. Coleman, attempted to have his remains disinterred and buried in the National Cemetery. The request was denied as military records indicated that Augustus was not, by current standards, eligible for burial in the National Cemetery as he had not been officially mustered into the military prior to his death.

Rebecca was left to raise their daughters and suffer the loss of two-year-old Adaline a year after Augustus died. She would marry Samuel L. Shackelford in 1866 and would bear him two sons, John and Augustus. She died of malaria at the age of fifty-five. She is likely buried in an unmarked grave next to Augustus and Adaline. In 2006, a stone was erected to mark her grave in Coleman Cemetery without knowing for sure that is where she is buried.

Augustus Baker (1827-1863) m. Rebecca Pryor (1830-1885)

Emma Ann Baker (Abt. 1852-?)
Mary Elizabeth Baker (1854-1940)
Laura Rebecca Baker (1859-1932)
Adaline Baker (1862-1864)



¹From the website,
²William C. Coleman, Search for Augustus C. Baker (1827-1863) & Rebecca (Pryor) Baker (1830-1885) Among the Jayhawkers and the Bushwhackers (Self-published)
³Ralph Richards, The Forts of Fort Scott and the Fateful Borderland (Kansas City, MO, Lowell Press, 1949 and reprint 1976) P. 155
⁴Mark Lause, A Brief History of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, (Can no longer be found at this web address.)
⁵Patrick Brophy, Fire and Sword, A Missouri County in the Civil War (Nevada, Missouri Bushwacker Books, 2008) P. 147.
⁶Ibid, P. 146.
⁷1887 History of Vernon County, Missouri, P. 312-314.