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Conditions in Jersey County During the Civil War - 1863 - 1866

The General Outlook

From the issuing of the preliminary proclamation by President Lincoln in September, 1862, warning the states in rebellion that unless they laid down their arms and returned to their allegiance to the Union, on or before January 1, 1863, a proclamation would be issued by hims as commander-in-chief to the army and navy of the United States, that all slaves in the territory occupied by them would be forever free, there were many people whose sympathies were with those of their former homes in the southern states then in rebellion. Others, from political motives, opposed the President's Policy; and there was another class of lawless, vicious, idle persons, some of whom had deserted from one or other of the armies. Some other were officers who had resigned their commissions and returned home.

Jersey County, being separated from Missouri by the Mississippi River only, the lawless and vicious class had but to cross that river to by beyond the reach of the law, the effet of which was to develop the lust of the desparado for any form of crime, especially for larceny, robbery, horse stealing, gambling, murder, etc.

Unusual Conditions
The intemperate conversation and acts of many of our best citizens, although perhaps not intended to be taken exactly as they were, gave the lawless class encouragement in their vicious conduct. In some localities the tension and friction between them and the law abiding people were very great. Persons were arrested and confined in jail, to be released in a day or so. It seemed almost impossible to enforce the law through the instrumentality of the courts. As demonstrating the correctness of these statements, and indictment was found by the grand jury of John Barnes, who was county jailor under Sheriff T. J. Shelby, for permitting persons to escape, to which indictment be pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary.

The Carlin Raid
In August, 1864, quite a number of these lawless and vicious desperadoes, under the leadership of John Carlin, son of ex-governor Thomas Carlin, made there way from Montgomery County into the northeastern part of Jersey County, and in conflict with armed citizens, the leader, John Carlin, was shot and mortally wounded, after which his forces gradually dispersed. The excitement throughout the county, growning out of this raid, was intense and towns and neighborhood organized for protection, among them being Otterville. What happened, except in so far as the statements attributed to Oscar B. Hamilton (which are untrue) are sufficiently correct as given by J. O. Smith in his postmortem statement, contained in the "Democratic Union" of Jerseyville, Ill., published Saturday, August 27, 1864, as follows:

Deposition of J. O. Smith, August 19, 1864
"J. O. Smith, being duly sworn, says: "I went to William Cummings on Monday night; Tuesday started for home about three o'clock; was stopped by a lot of armed men at Caleb's corner, taken to the stone schoolhouse, threatened to be mobbed. Oscar Hamilton said that they had got me and they would finish me. They stripped me of my pocketbook and contents. I wanted to send to Jerseyville for Esquire Hurd, Shephard and one or two others. They said it was useless, for they were no better characters than I was. "Henry Dougherty brought down Parker, a lieutenant or captain, and five or six soldiers. They took me up in the chamber of the stone schoolhouse; then went to work, put up a curtain to the windows, examined the scuttle hole, put a round stick across it, and ordered me to sit down at the table. Asked me who I went with to the guerilla camp. I answered, I have never been to their camp. Parker, the provest marshal, said I was a "_____ ____ liar", asked me what I said to the men I had followed to the burying ground the other night. I said I had not folloaed or been with them at all.

"Inspector General Stratton said, "I had as soon kill him now as at any other time, and would rather do so than take him to Alton. I will kill you before tomorrow night." He then took me under the trapdoor and put a rope around my neck, he hung me up, but I caught the rope with my hands. He then let me down and tied my hands behine me, then said: "Do you belong to the Washington Club?" I answered, I did. That was after I came to. He then said, "I have a list of all of them."

"He then asked me if I could convict William Cummings, he saiid that if I could convict Bill, I need not convict myself. I said that I did not know that Bill had done anything wrong. He then hung me up again and I lost consciousness. I came almost to, and tried to rise and someone kicked me and said, "Get up you __ bushwacker." He then showed me some letters concerning pistols and I admitted and did not deny that I bought them, they were charged in William Cummings' name, and I sold them to citizens. They took one away from me that morning.

"They then started with me on a big bay horse to Kane, a horse that had fallen so that it has skinned its knees, throwing the soldier about ten feet that rode him, he rode my horse. Went to Col. Frey's and stayed all night near there. I was satisfied they wanted me to try to get away. I overheard them say they wanted to get rid of me before tomorrow night, they stated with my horse's halter tied to ring of the saddle of the soldier, when he came to a brushy place he would untie the halter. We ran around in the brush and came out near Col. Frey's in the road. We cam across about 100 men in the vicinity of Carrollton, they used a great deal of language about killing me, said they did not like bushwhackers.

"We started towards Green's, five or six of the boys from Gullem (Ottervillle) in the rear. The inspector-general rode back and ordered these boys to ride on ahead of us, leaving no citizen, but only the soldiers behind me, my halter strap was then tied to the soldier's saddle, the soldier then untied my halter strap and held it in his hand, and then started my horse in a gallop. We then passed on until we got 300 yards by Green's, horse on a lope, while trying to hold in the horse, to keep him from stumbling. I was shot in the arm. I turned my face and said, "For God's sake, don't shoot me!" The next shot struck me in the side and I fell to the ground. The captain said, "Why do you shoot a man when he is down?" A soldier then said, " I wanted to kill the _______."

"When I fell, my horse was straight in the road, they then took me up to Green's and put me on the porch. Pogue was there when I was shot and saw the whole of it, he was ahead with the officers.

"One circumstance I forgot, At Gullem (Otterville), Parker called me into the anteroom and ordered me to go to the end and ordered a soldier to go to the opposite end, I begged him not to shoot me.

"The inspector general asked me if I had a family. I said I had a wife and nine children, one over twenty, then the inspector general said he could take care of my family. When Parker told me to go to the other end of the room , I did not want to, he then said, "Get down on your knees and beg my pardon."

"I have never done an unconstitutional act, and I love the government of our fathers. I expect to die soon, I can't stay long."

"Being questioned by Lawyer Pogue, he said, "My horse was not out of line. I fell square in the road. I did not say that I got out of line because I was afraid that the soldier's horse would stumble on me. I forgive my murderers".
"Signed, J. O. Smith"

"State of Illinois
Jersey County
"I, J. M. Hurd, a justice of the peace of said county, do hereby certify that the foregoing statement was made, subscribed and sworn to before me, by the said J. O. Smith at the National Hotel in Jerseyville, in the presence of Dr. J. L. White, J. C. Dobelbower, and the wife of the said Smith, this nineteenth day of August, 1864, about five o'clock.
"Signed, J. M. Hurd, J.P."

Coroner's Request
The substnce of the evidence at the inquest of the body of J. O. Smith, held August 20, 1864, was as follows:
"Dr. James Bringhurst, sworn, says that Smith's death was the result of a shot through the body, entering near the backbone, and coming out in front, near the side. "I first saw him on Wednesday, at Kane, I found a shot through the arm, and the one above described through the body, gave strict directions to have him kept as quiet as possible, and very much to my surprise I found him the next day at Jerseyville, had been brought in a spring wagon, do not know but he may have died of the wound if kept quiet, but think his chance very much lessened by his being moved when he was."

"Dr. J. L. Wite, sworn, corroborated the statement of Dr. Bringhurst in regard to the cause of his death".

"L. Kirby, sworn, says he was not with the company that shot Smith and Mr. Parker, of Jerseyville was not with them. Saw the man Smith at Judge Green's, on the porch, after he was shot, heard a man dressed in soldier's clothes, say, "I shot him, I was placed there for that purpose, he tried to get away."

"William H. Pogue, sworn, says, I was ahead in the squad of men that shot Smith, saw him lying on the ground very near the middle of the road soon after he was shot, did not see him shot, the squad belonged to Captain Stratton, heard a soldier say he had shot Smith for trying to get away, don't know the soldier's name. Smith said he did not try to get away. Lieutenant Parker was not with us when Smith was shot".

"Tell Nole, sworn, says, "We were riding in a gallop, citizens all in front of Smith, riding two and two, I was on the right and the man that led Smith's horse was one or two behind me, and Smith's horse on the left, heard two reports of pistol or carbine, looked around, found my horse was shot in the rump, saw Smith lying, I think, about three feet from the middle of the road, his horse standing by him with his head turned to the left a little out of line, do not know which shot hit my horse."
"Virgil Stillwell, sworn, says; he saw about the same as Tell Noble."

"State of Illinois
Jersey County"
August 20, 1864
"We the undersigned, summoned and sworn as a jury of inquest to inquire how and in what manner, and by whom, or what, J. O. Smith, came to his death, find, after examining the body and matresses, that the said, J. O. Smith, came to his death by being shot, either by pistol or carbine, in the hands of soldiers under the charge of Captain Stratton and Lieutenant White, while said Smith was in their custody in the southern part of Greene County, Illinois.
P. C. Walker, Robert White, James Ross, Senior, O. P. Powell, M. L. Hill, C. H. Knapp, J. N. Maupin, J. F. Smith, C. M. Hamilton, L. M. Cutting, Edward Trabue, Cyrus Tolma, Foreman.

Nolle Prossed Indictments
At the October term, 1862, indictments were found against Captain M. S. Littlefield, of Company F, Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and Lieutenant W. H. Scott for bringing negroes into the state of Illinois. These indictments were continued from term to term and finally were nolle prossed. Indictments were also found in that term against ex-Lieutenant Mortimer B. Scott, for receiving stolen property - buying a stolen mare - and later for larceny. These indictments were continued from term, and then were also nolle prossed.

Possee of Substaantial Citizens
There were a great many horses stolen and other robberies committed and other lawlessness prevailed to such an extent throughout the county, with which it was rumored that ex-Lieutenant Mortimer B. Scott was connected, that a posse of substantial citizens of Jersey County, headed by Hon. William Shephard, Hugh N. Cross, David B. Beaty, Benjamin Wedding, Levi C. Cory, and many others of similar standing from Jerseyville and vicinity, surrounded the Scott residence on his farm west of Delhi, and there arrested Scott and some of his associates, among whom were one called "Tom Moss", and another called "Henderson." Some stolen horses were found there and informaiton secured through which other stolen horses were secured. Henderson, Moss and Scott were brought to Jerseyville, but, owing to the general excitement caused by these proceedings, and for fear that Henderson would be mobbed, he was taken to the military prison at Alton. The others were kept in jail here. Scott gave bail, Moss escaped from the prison at Jerseyville and Henderson from the military prison at Alton. Later Henderson and Moss returned in disguise to Jerseyville. Henderson was recognized by some of the people of Jerseyville, and Lieutenant Parker, provost marshall, undertook to arrest him, and was shot by Henderson in the arm, who then escaped and went to Fidelity in the eastern part of the county, where he and Moss, on November 7, 1864, in a drunken spree, came into conflict with the citizens of Fidelity, during which three men were killed, namely; Robert Watson, Wilbur A. Hoag, and George Miller, the latter a merchant who was operating a store there. These desperadoes escaped across the line into Macoupin County, where they were followed by a constable and posse from Fidelity. Another posse had gone from Rhoades Point and had found Henderson, who was wounded, in a house near Macoupin Creek. He was taken into custody by the Rhoades Point posse, but was later turned over to the constable and posse from Fidelity, who were returning with him to Fidelity, when he was shot and instantly killed by some person. The corpse was taken back to Fidelity, put in a coffin, and later taken to near what is now the Cemetery at Medora, and there buried. There was no mark put on the grave, and no trace can be found of its location. The story told relative to Henderson's being shot on the county line is not true.

Authentic Account
The facts herein given are obtained from the only survivor now living in the county who was present during the transaction, according to the best knowledge of the writer. Moss escaped, but later was arrested and incarcerated in the jail at Jerseyville, and tried at the special August term in 1865, convicted and was executed on September 1, 1865, by hanging in the courthouse. Hon. T. J. Selby was sheriff of this county at that time. This is the only execution of the death penalty within the limits of Jersey County since its organization.

History of Indictment of Moss
During the time of the last incarcaration of Moss before his trial and execution, citizens voluntarily contributed a fund to keep a close guard around the jail to prevent his escaping a second time. Moss was indicted under the name of William A. Brown, alias Tom Moss, alias Amci Moss. Henderson, his associate is said to have also been going under an assumed name. These two men were from Missouri, and were desperadoes of the most pronounced character. The indictment against Moss for shooting Robert Watson, was found April 20, 1865. George H. Jackson is endorsed as foreman of the grand jury, and William Brown was the state's attorney. Witnesses endorsed on the indictment are: Wilson T. Whitfield, Quinn M. Hauskins, Isaac Christopher, Dr. B. Hudson, James Hauskins, Dr. James Bringhurst, Dr. John L. White, and Herny Folger.

Another Desperate Affair
In April, 1866, there was a spirit of extreme tension and unrest in the district along the rivers above Grafton, growing out of several robberies, horse stealings and other crimes perpetrated in that vicinity by night prowlers, and lawless and vicious persons, the result being that in order to make an end of these conditions, a posse of citizens took that law into their own hand and killed Charles Parker, Thomas Dunoway, George Clifton, James Fairborn and William Rollins. The latter had escaped, but was brought back to Grafton, and was in the custody of Sheriff T. J. Selby, who surrendered him upon the demand of the delegation from the posse. Rollins was put on a horse and taken up the hollow a short distance and shot to death in plain hearing of the sheriff and persons who were with him. Later the grand jury returned an indictment against John Murphy for the murder of William Rollins; against Nicholas Caslick, Jr., and William Smith for the murder of George Clifton and James Fairburn. The trial of Caslick, Jr., and Smith was had at the special December term of 1866. The jury was as follows, J. T. Hauskins, Theodore Updike, P. C. Walker, Peter P. Voorhees, Wesley Updike, Silas Bates, Samuel R. Marshall, Thomas Kirby, William Davison, J. M. Terry, Isaac McAllister, and Henry Turner. Their verdict was not guilty. The trial of John Murphy for killing William Rollins was at the April term, 1867. The jury were: J. P. Bell, W. E. Keller, Charles T. Edee, Lewis Kirkpatrick, Sidney Liles, N. E. Landon, William Kelly, Levi Halliday, B. F. O'Rourke, Richard Quinn, Francis Schattgen and James Thrush. They returned a verdict of not guilty. Hon. William Brown was state's attorney and prosecuted these cases.

In order to show cleraly the condition of the public mind and spirit of anxiety and unrest felt by all the better class of citizens at that time, the proceedings of public meetings held at the courthouse in Jerseyville, in August, 1864, as printed in the "Democratic Union" of August 27, 1864 are given as follows:

Jerseyville Self-Protecting Society
At a meeting of the citizens of Jerseyville and vicinity held at the courthouse in said town on the 17th day of August, 1864, C. H. Goodrich was chosen chairman, and Benjamin Wedding secretary.
The object of the meetiing was explained by D. E. Beaty to be for the purpose of organizing the whole community for mutual protection of persons and property against any unauthorized raid, or threatened by raid, in said county, and against any horse thieves and lawless characters generally. On motion of W. H. Pogue the chair appointed a committee of four: G. G. Lyon, David E. Beaty, Peter P. Voorhees and E. M. Smith to draft resolutions for the government of said organization. In absence of the committee, the meeting was addressed by John C. Dobelbower, E. Trahue, R. M. Knapp, William Shephard, Smith M. Titus, Job Collins, C. H. Goodrich and others. Mr. Goodrich said he had not lost confidence in the people of Jersey County, that the unity of sentiment upon the subject, for which the meeting was called, was just what he knew it would be from his long acquaintance with the citizens of hte county.

The Committee's Report
Resolved: That we organize ourselves into a club for the purpose of protecting our persons and property, to be governed by the following rules:
First: A committee of six (three from each political party) shall have control and direction of said organization, said committee shall have full power to divide said organization into as many sub-divisions as they may think that the experiences of the case require.
Second; All men enrolling themselves, shall be the duty of all, to properly arm themselves.
Third: Each member shall pledge his honor as a gentleman, to faithfully obey all orders given by said committee, and to abstain from all political conversation while on duty. That all insinuations as to the actions of any member of said company detailed for any duty, shall be strictly prohibited, believing that said censure should come from the commanding officer, after an investigation of the matter.
On motion of W. H. Pogue, D. E. Beaty, Levi Cory, E. M. Smith, S. M. Titus, W. H. Pogue and B. Wedding were appointed the committee in accordance with the rule 1st.
On motion of William Shephard, the committee was authorized to make rules and regulations in accordance with the above report, for the government of said club, to report at the next meeting.
On motion of E. Trabue, the proceedings of this meeting were ordered to be published in the Democratic Union.
Adjourned to meet Friday evening, August 19, at the courthouse at seven o'clock.
C. H. Goodrich, Chairman & B. Wedding, Secretary.

Jerseyville, Ill, August 19, 1864
The citizens met pursuant to adjournment, the chairman being absent, John C. Dobelbower was appointed presidetn, pro-tem. The committee on organization reported the folowing
Rules and regulations for the government of the Self-Protecting Society of Jerseyville Precinct.
Rules 1st: The general signal shall, for an en masse meeting of the members be as follows:
At night, a red light on the courthouse and firing of cannon three times.
In the day, a white flag on the courthouse and firing of cannon twice.
Rules 2nd: A badge shall be furnished by said committee, to be furnished to members deatiled at the time duty is required of them.
Signed, S. M. Titus, E. M. Smith, Benjamin Wedding, D. E. Beaty, W. H. Pogue
Which on motion was adopted. The meeting then proceeded to appoint a committeeman to fill the vacancy caused by L. D. Cory, Esq., who declined to act, when, on motion, P. P. Voorhees was appointed.
On motion of Mr. Voorhees, it was agreed that all members of said society should be above the age of eighteen years.
On motion of George Wharton, the committee on organization was authorized to enroll those who willingly consent to become members of said society.
The roll was then presented and fifty-six citizens enrolled themselves.
On motion adjourned to Wednesday evening, August 24, 1864, John C. Dobelbower, Chairman, Benjamin Wedding, Secretary.

Jerseyville, Ill., August 24, 1864
The society met pursuant to adjournment, J. C. Dobelbower in the chair, the minutes of last meeting were read and after discussion, approved. On motion of William Shephard, the society's commitee was constituted a board of enrollment. J. A. Davies moved that the committee appoint a commanding officer of the society, for the purpose of drilling, which motion, after a thorough discussion, was laid on the table. Job Collins moved that the committee be instructed to select six, twelve or twenty-four members, to be ready for any emergency that might arise, which also was talbed.
In the opinion of a large majority of the members present, J. A. Davies was guilty of violating Rules 3 and 4 of our organization, when, on motion of Mr. Pogue, it was resolved that, J. A. Davies, having used language derogatory to the character of a gentleman, and contrary to the rules of this body, he be and he is hereby expelled.
On motion of Mr. Walker it was agreed that each member pay fifty cents to the committee for incidental expenses.
On motion adjourned to meet on call of the committee. J. C. Doberbower, Chairman, Benjamin Wedding, Secretary.

Jersey County Horse Thief Detecting Society
From the time the first settlers located in what is now Jersey County, there had been horse thieves harassing them. These thieves were first Indians, and later white men. Such conditions led to the formation of societies for detecting horse thieves, in the older settlements and later in Jerseyville, which later became the head associations with branches in the other settlements in the county. These societies had their regular officers, and when a horse was stolen, the president notified the members and a chase after the thief was started. This chase did not top at the river, it was continued as long as any substantial trace could be found. Horse and thief were frequently returned. In some instances the horse was returned with the report that the thier got away, when sometimes later perhaps, the body of a man suspended from a limg of a tree, would be found. These societies were maintained with much rigor until after the close of the main society was framed and preserved by Capt. Jonathan E. Cooper, towit:
List of members of the Jersey County Horse Thief Detecting Society:
Robert L. Hill, president, Isaac Harbert, Jr., secretary, Thomas L. McGill, treasurer, and John Frost, Joel Corey Isaac Darneille, George H. Collins, Edward A. D'Arch, John Kimball, Sidney A. Potts, Albert G. Miner, Hugh L. Gross, Nathaniel Miner, Joseph Dundan, William Hamilton, Harrison Colean, Solomon Calhoun, Julius C. Wright, James Harriott, Frances Colean, William H. Frost, Caleb Stone, N. L. Adams, C. B. Fisher, Cyrus Tollman, John Carpenter, E. Van Horn, James A. Goodrich, Thomas Cummings, William Lavender, C. D. W. Warren, Benjamin F. Massey, Isaac E. Foreman, John M. Brown, John Brown, Peter Voorhees, Richard Johnson, John Cowen, Jacob Van Dike, Asa Snell, Horatio N. Belt, William S. Wilson, R. Henderson, John Cope, Joseph Robbins, Robert Whitehead, John N. English, John L. Terrill, Aaron Rue, Joseph McReynolds, James T. Post, Abijah Davis, J. Van Lew, George W. Lowder, James C. Perry, Isaac Baird, C. H. Goodrich, Cyrus Morrell, Alexander Coles, James A. Potts, Murry Cheney, George H. Jackson, John M. Smith, William Kelley, James Downey, Samuel L. McGill, Joel Hinson, Samuel T. Kendall, Henry Cope, James McKinney, Amos Pruitt, John Anderson, Harmon P. Crum, R. H. Van Dike, Melane Anderson, Jonathan E. Cooper, James C. Graham, Robert B. Robbins, Perley Silloway, Warren A. Smith, A. D. Holliday, Joshua Allen, David T. Bonnell, Thomas Perrine, William D. Landon, John Denfer.

Source[History of Jersey County, Illinois 1919, Edited by Oscar B. Hamilton, President ot Jersey County Historiical Society, Published 1919]