Volume 6, Number 12, Summer 1979
Copyright 1979 Donna Davis Ricchiuti
The stories appearing in this publication have shown a great effort in attempting to preserve the traditions and heritage of the Ozarks. For the most part, this can be achieved only through memories and inexperienced writers. As such, I would like to submit an ending to a story of an event which took place in the town of Galena at the beginning of the Civil War. I have seen this story reported more than once but always with different endings. It recently occurred to me that I am one of few people who would be able to furnish the conclusion.
In the Spring 1978 issue, there appeared an interesting article written by Mr. Leonard J. Williams entitled, "The Battle of Dug Springs". The last portion of this article described the capture and death of Clemuel Davis and the escape of his son, Samuel. This unfortunate incident nearly caused extinction of a now large and thriving branch of this Davis family and, assuredly, altered our futures as well. It was through this tragedy that Samuel Davis was to become a part of the history of the Ozark region.
Precisely one hundred years from the date of this event, my first child was born. The realization that my children would never hear the family stories that I had enjoyed since childhood provided the incentive to record family history. My collection of stories has since led to a rather fanatic search for records. Thus, I am able to preface this story with a little earlier family information. But, in the main, this writing will be about my great-grandfather...
SAMUEL MARION DAVIS
GALENA, Stone County, Missouri
Sams father was Clemuel Davis born between 1817 and 1821 in North Carolina. He migrated to Missouri through Tennessee and Illinois during the early 1830s. In the year of 1835 in Benton County, Missouri, he married Martha Priestly who was born in Virginia. The ritual was performed by a Solomon Davis. By 1840, they had migrated down to Washington Co., Arkansas, where they appeared on census. This was the year of Sams birth although he always maintained that he was born in Benton Co., Arkansas. The family returned to Missouri within the year and settled in Taney Co. Always nearby lived Clemuels mother, Sarah, and his step-father, Austin Stockstill, both of whom were born in North Carolina. They had a large family and resided on Bear Creek. In these earlier years, Clemuel resided with Richard Davis and wife whom I have assumed to be his grandparents for lack of more definite information.
Clemuel farmed lands on Railey Creek in a section which became Stone Co. in 1851. The farm was described as being on a bend in the river similar to the shape of a horseshoe. During this twenty year period, Clemuel and Martha had their family of five children: Samuel Marion; John Wesley who married Elcie Melton; Sarah Elizabeth who married William Baker; Martha Evaline who married Thomas Hugh Butler and, Clarissa Isabelle who married Rufus A. Gideon.
Clemuel prospered and by the year 1860, he owned a store in the town of Galena. He has never been included on lists of early Galena merchants, but he is listed as such on the 1860 census which confirmed strong family hearsay. My conclusion is that he purchased the store from T.C. and Elizabeth Berry in 1859.
Two years prior to the war, Samuel Marion Davis married Nancy Lavina Manning who was born in Huntsville, Alabama. They were married in Forsythe by the Reverend William Hilton. The large Manning family had migrated from Sevier Co., Tennessee, through Alabama and had settled in the southwestern counties of Missouri. Nancy Manning was always known as Vina. She was the daughter of William P. and Leutitia McNabb Manning. Bill Manning was listed as a Constable on the 1860 Stone Co. census. The allied families of Wilhelm, McNabb (McNat), Wells, Hilton, McCullough, and others, also settled in these counties.
When a civil war became apparent, Clemuel made his decision in favor of the Union. The few records located on Clemuel indicate that he was involved in the affairs of his community. It was natural that he would take the initiative in the matter of war. On June 10, 1861, Clemuel organized Company E of the Missouri Homeguards and served as the Captain of this cavalry unit. Several friends and relatives enrolled on the day of organization which included his sons, Sam and John; his friend, John Cox; his in-law, Bill Manning with his son, Joseph.
As a preface to the fateful evening, it was said that the men had returned home after a big battle and that Clemuel was ill with a fever. The bloody Battle of Wilsons Creek had begun on August 1st and the Union Army had been defeated on August 10th. The entire area was now at the mercy of the Secessionists. Those Unionists who chose to remain near their families melted into the countryside and managed an occasional visit home under cover of darkness. It was a battle of wits to remain undetected and on the evening of August 28th, the men were trapped. The store was surrounded by Confederate soldiers and among them were eight citizens who had betrayed the Davises to the Southerners. Clemuel, Sam and their visitors, John Cox and son, James, were ordered to surrender. They were promised that if they complied, their lives would be spared. Sam was inclined to fight but Clemuel was concerned about the women and children. Apparently, the store also served as their home.
As Clemuel prepared to depart, he gave a farewell kiss to his infant daughter held in the arms of his wife. Later, Martha found Clemuels gold watch tucked into the folds of the babys garments. The watch remains in our family today. Clemuels children recalled how the men looted their home and took the cattle, sheep, horses, and other livestock. One youngster managed to save a small China statue given to her by her father before their home was set afire.
The four men were marched during the night to the farm of George Burgess on Crane Creek. Bill Cox, the other son of John Cox, was taken prisoner during the night and was brought to the group. All were closely guarded around a small brush fire until daylight. They were offered no food and once again were force-marched another five miles to McCullahs spring. The two sons of John Cox were then released. The decision was based on their youth, although both joined the Union Army almost immediately. Though not much older himself, there could be no reprieve for Sam. He was an enemy soldier to the Confederates and, to the citizens, he was an important part of their scheme. Courageously, Bill Cox remained behind and from his hiding place witnessed the murders. Later, he wrote in his journal what had taken place as seen through his eyes. This writing will expand and continue those events.
The soldiers had turned the men over to the citizens, to be taken as prisoners to Springfield. When the soldiers departed, the citizens marched them another half mile to a narrow hollow secreted in the woods. They were ordered into a line and were told they were to be shot. John Cox, seeing the futility of his situation, dropped to his knees to pray. Clemuel glanced at his son standing beside him and was motivated into action. Hasty words were whispered .
"Son no use just standing here lets run for it." With a desperate hope for survival, Clemuel and Sam bolted in opposite directions. At once, Sam was shot in the side but kept running. Clemuel was being chased by seven of the men. Sam heard gun shots in the lengthening distance and knew that his father had been killed. Clemuel had been wounded and then he was beaten over the head with rocks even after he was dead. The viciousness of their attack was evident four years later when Sam returned to remove his father s remains from the temporary grave in the hollow.
Although badly wounded, Sam managed to escape with only one pursuer. A shot went wild from the derringer pistol. The second shot found its mark and Sam was again wounded along side of his head causing him to stumble and fall. All of his life, he believed it was Divine Guidance which caused him to fall among some stones. He glanced back in time to see the man pull a long bowie knife from his belt. The stone Sam threw caught him in the temple and he was the first of these men to die.
Sam continued to run but the blood was pumping over the top of his boot leaving a trail. He made it to a stream where he used the bowie knife to cut off his boot. He continued to run and crawl
under thick, thorny bushes up a mountain side. Near exhaustion, he succeeded in concealing himself and then he watched as the bushwackers came in search of him. They roamed the area the entire day and they beat the bushes with heavy sticks. Time and time again they came within ten feet of his hiding place. In retelling this story, Sam never failed to mention his awful thirst of that seemingly endless day. At dusk, the men gave up the search and were overheard consoling one another in the belief that Sam was dead.
After the men had departed, Sam began crawling and dragging himself down the hillside. Hours passed before he stumbled into the cabin of his Uncle John. No home was safe to a Unionist and a weary, wounded and grief-stricken Sam was forced to keep moving until he was safely hidden in a cave. His wife and Doc Gonce were summoned and were cautiously led to the cave by Uncle John.
I have been told that Doc Gonce was not a bonafide physician but practiced the profession nevertheless. Doc probed for the bullet lodged in Sams side using a long, rusty hat pin. The bullet remained with Sam during his lifetime giving him chronic pain and serving as a constant reminder of his ordeal. Vina continued to return to the cave by herself. She was in constant fear of being followed and refused to carry a pine torch or even a candle to light her way through the black nights. Vina was sixteen years of age.
For several weeks, Sams condition remained grave as the burning infection ran its course. His constant worry was the fear of discovery. Under Vinas care, Sam gradually recovered enough strength to leave this dangerous area. He and Vina cautiously made their way to relatives in Springfield.
Sam had been shocked by the participants of this raid. He had known these men all of his life and had trusted them as friends, neighbors and relatives. Not once did Sam give them the doubt of having served the Confederate cause, but always referred to them as bushwackers. Records I have located verify this accusation although, one person did join the Southern army at a later time. The purpose of this deception was clear. These men had all borrowed money from Clemuel and they plotted this betrayal as the most expedient way to absolve their debts. Through the years, Sam became reconciled to the identities of the raiders with the exception of one. Always, it was incomprehensible to him and most abominable that a preacher had partaken in such a foul deed.
The deception of Bill Manning was indeed vile; his father-in-law and a fellow Unionist who had joined Company E in the spirit of camaraderie. His military record bears the scar of his deceit in a notation, "traitor to the Union cause." I have been told that Bill Manning was a known bushwacker in the Galena area throughout the war years and rode with such men as the infamous outlaw, Alf Bolin. Bills brother, George Manning, was not strongly committed to either side. Consequently, he served on both sides to preserve his main concern which was his farm. Constantly harassed after the war, he
moved his family to McDonald County. Both of Bill Mannings sons were in the Union army. James Manning has a Union pension record on file submitted by his widow, but tradition in both branches of the family make his commitment cloudy. He was shot and killed in Noel in 1874. Records indicate the shooting was accidental; a Manning history stated the James gang; some Mannings blamed Sam Davis; and, many condemned both. Bills other son, Joseph Manning, had to flee the area after the battle. He found an Iowa Regiment encamped at Laclede and served with this unit until the end of the war. Thereafter, Laclede, Missouri, became his home which was a distance from the main Manning clan. He and Sam remained lifelong friends.
The circumstances, the particular men and the described manner in which Clemuel was killed inspired a deep fury in Sam which was to explode many times during the following years. A year passed before Sam was sufficiently recovered from his wounds to join the Union army. His unit was assigned to the command of General Sherman and he participated in the strategic March Through Georgia. At one time he served as a scout and penetrated deep into enemy lines. He and his partner, Mr. Gentry, stole a large Confederate payroll. The two became such a nuisance that a sizeable bounty was offered by the Southern army.
While guarding a prisoner compound, Sam was taunted by one prisoner who recounted the details of the killing of Clemuel. He threatened Sam that they would eventually kill him too. Twice Sam warned the man to keep his silence and to keep his head down behind the compound walls. There was not a third warning. Sam killed the second man who had taken part in the raid. His appearance before the court martial proceedings was brief. After hearing his story and viewing the still-draining wound, the officers dismissed the charge His sentence was a reduction to the ranks and he viewed this penalty as worthwhile.
Sam served continuously throughout the war and was discharged in New Orleans in 1854. He returned to the turbulent Ozarks and to his farm on Railey Creek. After a period of celebrating and reuniting with old friends, the happy fiddle music faded away. Foremost on Sams mind was his duty to avenge the murder of his father and he undertook this task coldly and in various ways. There was an "accidental" drowning; a shoemaker found with an axe in his skull; a man who never left his supper table; and one who never reached his destination of Texas.
Bill Cox made special note of the fact that William Anderson was among the bushwackers and records show a financial transaction with Clemuel. Known as "Bloody Bill" Anderson, he is described as the most vicious of the guerrilla chieftains spanning the Civil War era. His band of marauders frequently joined forces with Todd and Quantrill and numbered 350 men. After his most notorious raid, the Massacre at Centralia, a special detail of the Union army was assigned to his destruction. This unit was ambushed and destroyed by Andersons
men and the majority of the 120 soldiers were killed. Shortly afterwards, the outlaws were trapped by a chosen unit of Union sharpshooters and Anderson was among the fatalities. Indicative of his character, his saddle yielded several pistols, silver and human scalps.
Bill Manning lived brazenly in nearby Lawrence County secure in the company of many allies. Sam rode there openly and called him from his home. Sam refused his request to pray as this solemnity had been denied to his father. He shot and killed Manning on his front porch. No other person at this home was harmed, nothing was taken, and the home was left intact. The numerous southern sympathizers of this district had Sam indicted for this murder but a warrant was never served. The people in the Stone County area let it be known that such action would not be tolerated by them.
Eventually, more killings were necessary as Sams revenge became synonymous with the feuds running rampant in the area. More and more, he had to travel cautiously and began to vary his routes to town each week. There are other stories about Sam. Some incidents show the restraint in his character by sparing the lives of those seeking retaliation for the men he had killed. He was active with other citizens in helping to defend Galena against bushwackers who repeatedly plundered the area. Dead Mans Pond is one such story.
Lawlessness was rampant and was beginning to attract national notoriety. Citizens banded together and were determined to restore the law.
Alone on the farm with her young family, Vina heard the muffled approach of horses one night. She warily opened her cabin door to the frightening sight of a circle of masked riders carrying pine torches. Even more hostile was the eerie silence of so large a group, an effective tactic practiced by night riders. She recalled being so terrified that she was unaware that the paper she was forced to sign was the deed to the farm. Trouble had been expected as Sams friends had encountered him shortly before this visit and had warned him to leave. Soon after, word was passed back to Galena. Sams brother, John, hitched up the wagon and moved Vina and the children to Kansas where Sam had relocated. He was a Constable and very successful as a wheat farmer in Paola for several years.
Sam returned to Galena only once to visit his ailing sister, Sarah. He was discovered and again left one man dead in order to escape a trap. He decided to put more distance between his troubles in Missouri. With no destination in mind, he hitched up the team of horses and began to move further westward. The frontier town of Pueblo, Colorado, became his home for the next thirty years.
In his sixties, Sam again strapped on his guns. He enforced his earlier request to a local gambler that further credit should be denied to a son. He was taken seriously on this second visit without mishap. Close to eighty years, Sam proved to his sons that he was nearly the same crack shot with a gun as he had been years before when he had shot at targets with Frank and Jesse James.
Vina died in Pueblo in 1917 at the age of 72 years. It is known that she often thought of her father and brother, but she was regarded as a quiet woman. Her grandchildren remember her today with a great fondness. Shortly after her death, the Davises were bound for the California oilfields. Sam, always restless, found peace in death at the age of 83 years. He died in Maricopa, California, in 1923 surrounded by his five surviving sons, a daughter, and numerous grand- and great-grandchildren. He was buried beside his beloved Vina in Pueblo.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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