It's my genealogy blog, version 2.0, where I tell stories about our famous (and infamous) ancestors- our unsung heroes, our common man, our ordinary people who did extraordinary things- for our children. "[H]istorians talk about events of the past…[r]arely do we talk about the common man, the unsung hero. These people, many times, are unknown to us. All those people’s story mattered just as much as the stories of the great leaders. It’s easy to lose track of all those individuals but they’re there and they deserve to be remembered. One of the great lessons of history, all history, is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. [T]hey are doing something not just for themselves, but for posterity. For their children." (Author unknown to me) Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (The Holy Bible)
Medical Monday is a part of my effort to return to some shorter posts to get more information out to you. It’s so important to know your medical history. So often a doctor will ask if a particular disease runs in your family. It’s to your advantage to know the correct answer! You can actually get insurance to pay for genetic testing for some diseases if the disease is prevalent in your family history. I’m going to start Medical Mondays with Ralph LARKIN, my great-grandfather.
Ralph’s official “immediate” cause of death was “acute myocardial decompensation”. Wikipedia says this:
“Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is a sudden worsening of the signs and symptoms of heart failure, which typically includes difficulty breathing (dyspnea), leg or feet swelling, and fatigue. ADHF is a common and potentially serious cause of acute respiratory distress. The condition is caused by severe congestion of multiple organs by fluid that is inadequately circulated by the failing heart. An attack of decompensation can be caused by underlying medical illness, such as myocardial infarction, infection, or thyroid disease.”
Ralph’s ADHF was caused by the underlying illness of myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. According to emedicine.com and Wikipedia, Ralph’s signs and symptoms would have looked like this:
“Difficulty breathing, a cardinal symptom of left ventricular failure, may manifest with progressively increasing severity as the following:
-Difficulty breathing with physical activity (exertional dyspnea)
-Difficulty breathing while lying flat (orthopnea)
-Episodes of waking up from sleep gasping for air (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea)
– Acute pulmonary edema
Other cardiac symptoms of heart failure include chest pain/pressure and palpitations. Common noncardiac signs and symptoms of heart failure include loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, weakness, low urine output, waking up at night to urinate, and cerebral symptoms of varying severity, ranging from anxiety to memory impairment and confusion.”
A physical sign that others would have seen include “jugular venous distension” (an enlarged jugular vein). It looks like this photo from Wikipedia (look for the arrow):
Lastly, Ralph’s death certificate lists his heart attack as being caused by Arteriosclerosis which is “hardening of the arteries” (from Mayoclinic.org).
I hope this week is a healthy one for you. If you are in my same line of descent, please take charge of your own medical health. You know your body. Watch out for these symptoms of heart failure. Change your diet and activities to take into consideration that you may be genetically predisposed to have heart problems and let your doctor know this!
I want to start doing some shorter posts since I know we’re all short on time and really- it takes so long to put together a complete story like the ones I’ve been doing the last year or so. So here’s a short blurb. The majority of this information is courtesy of my sister-in-law, Becky.
Levi Allen HUBBARD is my 4th great-grandfather. His wife, my 4th great-grandmother, was Nancy Indiana WHITE.
Levi and Indiana HUBBARD
Nancy went by the name Indiana. Levi’s family came to Missouri from Tennessee. Indiana’s family came to Missouri from…well…Indiana! Levi and Indiana’s first child was Maria Jane who married a widower- Hiram HOFFMAN. I’ll show you the story in Becky’s own words below. She sent this to me because it made her think of my son. She included a comment my son had written on Facebook about the topic back in 2010. I so appreciated her thoughtfulness. My son passed away before this information found it’s way to us, but she was right- my son would have loved it. So here’s an excerpt from Becky’s Facebook post from September 1 of this year:
“Lisa, I think Derek would’ve appreciated this bit of genealogy information.
I’ve been doing a little digging and Jared and Lisa’s 4th great grandfather, Levi Scott Hubbard, had a daughter named Maria Jane Hubbard. She married a widower, Hiram Hoffman who had a son named James B. from a previous marriage. Maria and Hiram had only one daughter that survived between them, Adeline Hoffman. She was born 26 Nov 1860. Hiram contracted measles and died in the service and when Maria applied for a widow’s pension an affidavit was given by her mother…stating she was present during Adeline’s birth and that Adeline was indeed Hiram’s child. In that affidavit it says that the doctor that was present during Adeline’s birth had moved away to Pennsylvania and they go on to mention why there is no public record of baptism for Adeline.
Here’s the part I think Derek would’ve enjoyed knowing.
He comes from Campbellites ….”
Just for fun, here is what my son had to say on the topic:
We joked about him using big words and us having to use a dictionary to understand any conversation with him. He called big and impressive words “mayonnaise words”. My kids started using that phrase when they were younger and ‘mayonnaise’ was itself a big and impressive word to spell.
I loved being a mom to my son and daughter. They caused me to be a better person than I ever would have been without them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing this information with you and taking a walk down memory lane. I hope you’ll take some time this week and learn more about the Campbellites and compare their beliefs to yours. We grow in our faith when we learn and question what we know and believe. Grab your Bible and compare what it says to what you believe and what you learn about the Campbellites. That’s how you’ll be certain of what is truly right.
…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:15, The Holy Bible
Hold fast to your hope and be prepared to share what you believe and why you believe it- “with gentleness and respect”! (And also- go visit Becky’s blog at Down in the Root Cellar/!)
This post is not a post about my family history. Today I want to let you in on something exciting about my own life. I’m pleased to announce that I made a proposal to teach a session at the 2017 Family History Conference of Northwest Arkansas and was given the green light to do it! My session will be about telling your family history stories through blogging- a how-to-do-it class including resources, how to choose a platform, and all the little nuances of doing a blog (and maybe a little about storytelling). This will be my second speaking engagement but the first that I’ve done in at least 15 years. (To put it into perspective- the last time I spoke to a group like this, blogging wasn’t even a thing yet!)
I encourage you to go register for the conference. You don’t have to take my session if you don’t want to, but do go. It’s a good learning conference and it’s free. You can register here at Family History Conference NWA. They don’t have the 2017 schedule up yet but you CAN reserve your spot now and be ready. I don’t think they are requiring you to choose sessions yet but if it should ask you which sessions you want to attend, just pick one. You aren’t locked into a session just because you chose it at registration. They ask you to choose just to get a general gauge for interest in a topic so they can put popular classes into the larger rooms. So don’t worry about locking yourself in- they are very flexible!
I’d like to take a breather now and talk a little (very short paragraphs) about the people I know Willard associated with in prison and his relationship to them. I thought this would be helpful since a person’s friends can sometimes tell you a lot about the person and the choices they make. One of those people was prisoner #1901, L. D. LAYFIELD. L. D. was received into Leavenworth about a year after Willard. There are two documented incidents of Willard’s relationship with L. D. in Willard’s Violations docket from prison. The first incident was on 30 March 1900 when L. D. passed a not to Willard and Willard refused to surrender the note to the guard when ordered to do so. Willard tore up the note instead. He was put in Solitary for insolence at 5:00 p.m. and was released from Solitary at 3:30 p.m. on April 2nd. I wonder if that note was worth it? I doubt the note was about the escape since it would another year and a half or so before the escape happened. And in case you’re counting- that’s three days in Solitary. The next time we see L. D. is on 21 August 1902 (almost a year after Willard’s escape attempt). Willard and L. D. must have been good friends because on the morning of August 21st Willard was pushing and crowding other prisoners in the yard in order to be near L. D. and Robert CLARKE (whom we’ll talk about next). If I understood all the abbreviations on the Violations docket I could tell you what kind of punishment Guard BROWN gave Willard for this. Unfortunately, I just don’t know at this point. If you figure it out, let me know. The abbreviations are “Rep. And T.T.”. I think “Rep.” is short for reprimanded. I have no idea about “T.T.”.
We don’t get to learn much about Robert CLARKE (prisoner #360). He was received into Leavenworth a little over 2 ½ years before Willard arrived. All I know about him is the incident described above where Willard was pushing and crowding trying to get near Robert and L. D. Willard didn’t get Solitary this time so maybe it was worth it to him.
Charles JONES, prisoner #56, was received into Leavenworth three years before Willard. I’m not sure what to think about Willard’s relationship with Charles. Was it adversarial or friendly? You decide. On 1 May 1901 Guard BROWN reprimanded Willard for striking Charles over the head with a pillow. May of 1901 seemed to be a difficult time for Willard. He was reprimanded a total of 5 times that month and for one of those incidents he was sent to Solitary. His time in Solitary lasted for 5 days. In case you’re not crunching the numbers on your own- he was in trouble a little more than once a week that month. (Kate was a JONES. I wonder if this guy was her relative?)
B. W. STARNES (aka prisoner #2746) is, again, someone that I’m not sure was a friend or foe for Willard. B. W. was mentioned one time on the Violations docket. Guard HULL reprimanded Willard for “[c]ontinually talking with 2746 during work”. Again, there’s a reprimand code that I don’t understand. It’s “Rep. and Ex”. I still think “Rep.” is short for reprimand. I have no guess what “Ex.” is.
Willard referenced Lol SOUTHERLAND (prisoner #1943) when he was recaptured and called Lol his friend. Lol was received into Leavenworth about a year after Willard. He was from Indian Territory. After he was released from Leavenworth he did a second stint there beginning in 1904. Lol shows up twice on Willard’s Violations docket. On 4 January 1902 Guard BROWN (again!) reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking to #1943, in line going to dinner.” Willard got “Rep. & T.T.” both of which we’ve discussed above. On 25 July 1902 Guard BROWN (*sigh*) reprimanded Willard for “[p]utting his jumper in laundry contrary to orders, cross and ugly during the day in stone shed, because he was changed away from 1943 (Lol), giving away his tobacco, and then helping himself to 1943’s tobacco (Lol’s tobacco). For these offenses, Willard earned himself Solitary for 5 days from 5:30 p.m. on 25 July 1902 to 4:00 p.m. on 30 July 1902.
Osceola “Ole” BOBO (prisoner #2296) was received at Leavenworth on 26 October 1900- about two years after Willard. He did a second stint at Leavenworth beginning 25 November 1903. Ole BOBO is only listed once in Willard’s Violations docket. He shows up on 11 April 1903 when Guard BROWN reprimanded Willard for “[c]onstant laughing this p.m. at 2296.” I don’t have enough information at this point to determine whether Willard and Ole BOBO were really were good friends and they picked on each other a lot or whether Willard was maliciously laughing at Ole BOBO. For the violation of “constant laughing”, Willard got “Rep. & T.T.”.
Samuel G. KENNAMER (prisoner #2141) was received into Leavenworth on 7 May 1900- about a year and a half after Willard. On 17 May 1902 Guard BROWN (what is UP with this guy?!?) reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking at noon time to 2141. Willard was given “Rep and T.T.”.
John RILEY (prisoner #2776) was received at Leavenworth shortly after Willard was recaptured and returned to Leavenworth. On 8 September 1902 Guard HULL reprimanded Willard for “[t]alking in the shop to 2776. Willard was given “Rep & Ex.”.
The final acquaintance mentioned in Willard’s Violations docket was Taylor BURNS. Taylor was received at Leavenworth just a few months before the prison break. On 25 October 1902 Guard BROWN (!!!) reprimanded Willard for “[c]rowding himself in line in order to be near 2572.” Willard got “Rep. and T.T.” for this offense.
Keep in mind that Kate’s first husband, Richard THOMPSON, was also in Leavenworth at the same time as Willard. Both men were received at Leavenworth in 1898.
So draw from this what you will. What I see is either a guard who didn’t like Willard or there just weren’t that many guards in the first place (probably a little of both). Truthfully, I also see a young man who hadn’t grown up. A young man who had no remorse for committing Assault to Kill (or nearly killing Roy KIRKPATRICK), no desire to reform, nor any self-control. He was probably a lot of fun to be around until he started getting you in trouble or started doing things you didn’t want to be associated with. I think he was probably defiant, a risk-taker and rule-breaker, and probably felt like whatever consequence he received was worth it to “have a little fun”. He doesn’t strike me as a person who was very concerned about consequences.
Willard healed from his wounds related to the escape attempt. He finished out the totality of his time (remember he forfeited early release for good behavior when he escaped) and was released in 1903.
The Middle Years- Already on the Downhill Slide
If you thought Red reformed in prison, think again.
After getting out of prison, Red married a woman who was 4 years older than he. He married Cynthia Katherine JONES (who went by “Kate”). Kate brought two children into the marriage and together, Kate and Willard had one daughter named Mildred. Red was Kate’s second husband; Kate was Red’s first wife. They were married on 2 July 1905 in McDonald County, Missouri. Other than having an additional child to care for, life didn’t change much for Kate. Willard liked to drink and fight, just like Richard.
In January of 1907, Red was in the paper again for being in trouble with the law. The article does pose a bit of a mystery as it mentions Red’s brother “Ott”. The problem is, Red never had a brother named Ott. I thought this over for awhile and finally I hit on an explanation that I think solves this little problem. I remember my dad telling me stories about my 2nd great-grandfather, Alonzo “Poppy” DRAKE (who was also Red and Ott’s brother). Dad told me one thing he remembered about Poppy was his accent. Poppy retained a foreign-sounding accent on some words he used. For instance, when he said “calm down” it came out sounding like “cam down”. So if Poppy had an accent surely his brothers Red and Ott also retained an accent of some sort. The newspaper that reported the incident was not in McDonald County, Missouri. It was in the neighboring state of Arkansas. After looking through the family history and putting various puzzle pieces together this is what I propose to you. The reporter most likely did not know the DRAKE family. I propose that he interviewed Red and Ott and when he asked their names, he wrote their names down phonetically. Red’s brother Art’s name came out sounding like Ott when said with an accent. So in reality the men in this article are Red and his brother Arthur, or “Art” which sounded like “Ott”. If you have a better theory, by all means please post it in the comments. Anyway, back to the article. In January of 1905 Red did some work for a Mr. VAUGHAN. Mr. VAUGHAN was in the act of paying Red when Red grabbed the man’s “purse” (could this be the origin of the word “murse” meaning “man purse”??) and ran off with it. Meanwhile, Art became engaged in a fight with the YEARGAIN’s over the incident. Art drew a gun on the YEARGAIN’s but apparently did not shoot. Red was subsequently captured as was Art. They were taken to the jail in Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri. The article doesn’t say exactly what Red’s charges were although I’m certain there were charges. Art was charged with carrying concealed weapons. Notice the article said weapons. Either the reporter made a typo or Art was carrying more than one weapon. (Art continued to get in trouble with the law even when he no longer had Red to get into trouble with.) The reporter wasn’t kind to the DRAKE’s. He described the two brothers as “alleged rough characters” (probably true) and dissed the whole family saying we “had a bad reputation”. Lucky for him he didn’t have the courage to sign his name to the article therefore I have no idea whom to malign for this slight against the family. (I hope you’re laughing right now as I’m being just a bit tongue-in-cheek. Well, maybe not. You guys know I would totally rat that guy out for a good story! hahaha)
In 1910, the family- Willard and Kate, Edward and Kenneth (Richard and Kate’s boys), and Mildred (Willard and Kate’s daughter) were living on Depot Street in South West City, McDonald County, Missouri. Willard did odd jobs and Kate was a laundress. If Kate was fortunate enough to have a machine for doing laundry, she probably didn’t have a nice electric machine like this 1911 Maytag model.
The boys- Edward and Kenneth- were attending school. Mildred was 4 years old so she wasn’t in school in 1910.
It didn’t take Kate long to figure out she hadn’t made an improvement in her life when she married Willard. Sometime around 1911, she decided to do something about it. Willard had a friend named Bud LEONARD whom he liked to go visit and hang out with. (Bud was in and out of jail after Willard’s death so probably was also not a very good character.) One day when Willard went over to Bud’s farm, Kate “hooked up the team, loaded the family and took them to Galena, Kansas.” Mildred said she was 6 years old when this happened. Kate’s older boys were mining in Galena at that time. Kate and Mildred boarded with them and eventually she bought a restaurant from a relative of hers.
On 27 January 1912, Willard was shot. He died 3 days later on 30 January 1912.
Family oral history has always said that Red was at the barber shop in South West City, Missouri getting his hair cut when the sheriff walked in. Red reached in his jacket pocket for some tobacco, the sheriff thought Red was going for a gun, and the sheriff shot him dead. Mildred, Red’s daughter, said in an interview that Red “got beat up and was shot in the back outside of a restaurant on Red Hot Street near the smelter in Southwest City.” I didn’t even know South West City had a smelter OR a Red Hot Street! There was, however, a Red Hot Street and a smelter in Galena, Kansas. (You can find a photo of Red Hot Street in Galena, Kansas at Legends of America. The photo is about 1/3 of the way down the page on the left side.) Perhaps Mildred remembered the town incorrectly- maybe not. Who can say for sure? (And by the way, whatever things you think of when you think of a street called Red Hot Street- it most likely really was all of that from what I’ve read.) The only other clue I have is his death certificate which lists his cause of death as “Gun shot wound followed by Septicemia”- Septicemia being a blood infection. He likely died because his organs began to fail one by one due to the Septicemia. The length of illness was 3 days as listed above 27 January-30 January 1912. I have found no newspaper articles, stories, or records of any kind that would explain what happened the day Willard was shot. This is the best I can give you.
NOTES TO CLOSE WITH
When Mildred was interviewed later in life she said she thought that Willard’s dad came here on the Trail of Tears and that his dad was a Sheriff in Oak Grove, Oklahoma at one point. I can’t confirm that William DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandfather) was ever a sheriff nor that the family lived in a place called Oak Grove, Oklahoma. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true- just that I don’t have any information to verify it or prove it wrong either way. I can say without a doubt though that William DRAKE did not come here on the Trail of Tears nor did he come here via a route from North Carolina to Tennessee to Arkansas as Mildred thought. HOWEVER, Willard’s mom- Hester MITCHELL DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandmother)- her family did come from Tennessee. According to my information they came to Missouri sometime between 1852 and 1860 as opposed to coming on the Trail of Tears. Keep in mind though, this information could be incorrect or incomplete so if someone wants to get to work confirming when Hester’s family got here, that would be great! While we’re talking about Willard’s parents, I want to correct a mistake I made in the first post about Willard. I stated he was Irish. Thank you to my sister-in-law, Becky, for bringing this to my attention. Willard is not Irish. He is actually Scottish through his maternal great-grandfather (my 5th great-grandfather), John MITCHELL. It is believed the DRAKE’s came from England. Sorry for the mix-up. I will be going back to the first post and making that correction so that everyone has the correct information.
I often say something to the effect of “It’s all about choices” or “It’s all about options”. It’s hard to look at Willard’s story and see anyone who made good choices. I once worked as a paralegal for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise in their Tribunal. I learned a lot of things on that job. My boss (best boss ever- shout out to Diane BARR!) once told me that when people are choosing a partner they almost always default to the same type of person over and over unless this tendency is called to their attention and they make active efforts to choose a different type of person the second (or subsequent) time around. She had a lot of insight. Kate could have used a good talking to from Diane. Richard was a violent drunk. So was Willard. Kate chose the same kind of man the next time around. She didn’t learn.
I am grateful that Mildred’s descendants (including Kerry LANGSTAFF) took the time to both interview Mildred and to share a summary of the interview on Ancestry. Some of the information from that summary is included in the blog posts I’ve been posting about Willard and Kate (especially the part about Willard and Kate’s marriage which wouldn’t have had nearly the detail without Mildred’s interview). I appreciate that Kerry took the time to correspond with me about Mildred, Kate, Willard, and Richard.
I also appreciate that Kyle THOMPSON, a descendant of Kate and Richard’s, took the time to respond to my request for information about Kate as well. One thing Kyle told me that was interesting was that Kate’s dad’s family (the Jones’) owned property near Pea Ridge, Arkansas and that some of their property was a part of the battlefield there. Both Kerry and Kyle noted that Kate’s family was Native American and they believe her family came here on the Trail of Tears.
Thank you to Becky, my sister-in-law, for always finding that one extra story that HAS to be told and for keeping tabs on me and making sure I get it right! You can thank her too by swinging by her blog and reading her amazing stories. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Willard, or Red- whichever you prefer to call him. He is buried in South West City Cemetery. The next time you’re over there, leave him some flowers. He’s buried right next to William and Hester DRAKE (my 3rd great-grandparents- Willard’s parents) and Ervin DRAKE (my 4th great-grandfather and the grandfather of Willard) in the back of the cemetery. Bring enough flowers for all of them and pay your respects.
One tiny request. October is National Family History Month. It takes me about 2 months to compile and write a story like this. Save your future descendants some time and start writing your stories now. You don’t have to be a professional writer. They will value your stories more if your stories SOUND like you- the way you would tell the story. They’ll thank you! You may even end up being their favorite for this one small gesture of kindness!
MOST DESPARATE AND SUCCESSFUL PRISON MUTINY EVER IN THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY!
Reporters wrote some stellar headlines in the coming days. They declared the prison break “the most successful prison mutiny” and compared it to the “border ruffian days”. The guards were hyped up and ready for the manhunt. Twenty-six prisoners had escaped. The twenty-seventh (Quinn FORT, one of the three ringleaders) lay dead at the new prison construction site having been shot by WALDRUP. Guard Joseph B. WALDRUP died shortly after being shot in the forehead by Quinn FORT. The escapees made it to the edge of town and released their hostages. As fate would have it, Warden R. W. McCLAUGHRY was gone when the riot broke out. He was in Kansas City arranging for the annual convention of the National Prison Reform Association’s convention planned for the following day. When he learned of the escaped prisoners he immediately came back. He arrived three hours after the escape and right away began planning for the recapture of the convicts. He laid no blame on his guards but rather blamed the fact that the prison did not have a sufficient number of guards. He made sure to let the press know that he had as many guards as he was allowed to have and was hopeful that in the next congressional session the number of allowed guards would be increased. He claimed he should have had twice as many guards as he currently had.
Meanwhile the convicts were headed for Indian Territory at “breakneck speed”. They used relays. Their relays consisted of stealing a farmer’s horse (and/or wagon), riding it at high rates of speed until the horse gave out then abandoning the horse and stealing another. In this way they were keeping ahead of the guards and police who were searching for them. As I said before, on the evening of the escape the hunt was called off due to rough terrain and darkness. Through the night the warden had the prisoners’ photos and descriptions telegraphed out to surrounding towns and districts. He asked that the districts have police out looking for the prisoners all night and that guards be posted at bridges in order to cut off the escapees at the Kansas River. There were not enough police so farmers were armed and posted to guard bridges. There were $60 rewards for capture of the convicts. Work on the new prison was suspended and the remaining prisoners were kept in their cells in order to have the largest number of guards to participate in the manhunt.
This is likely the photo and description of Willard that would have been telegraphed out to other districts.
As word got out that the escapees were infiltrating the countryside, citizens became fearful and armed themselves. Everyone was on edge and on the lookout. The prisoners were stealing what they needed wherever they could even if they had to hold up people at gunpoint to get it. The prisoners were armed with the guns they had taken out of the guard towers during the riots. They were stealing horses, vehicles and wagons, clothing, and food as needed. The warden advised that the majority of the prisoners were headed for Indian Territory and surely Willard was too since that’s where his family was. The prisoners had over 100 miles of rough and increasingly guarded terrain to cover to get there.
SHOOT OUT BETWEEN FARMERS AND PRISONERS! 8 NOVEMBER 1901
On the day of the escape (November 7th) the weather was forecast to be fair and cooler. On November 8th, the day of the shoot out, the weather was forecast to be “partly cloudy and colder”. Temperatures that day (November 8th) were in the low 50’s for a high and dipping down to freezing at the coldest. Willard was originally traveling with a group of 8 men. On the evening of the escape, the men stopped Mail Carrier FERGUSON on the west end of Leavenworth and stole FERGUSON’s horse and mail cart.
This is an image of a circa 1901 rural horse-drawn mail cart I found online (Pinterest).
By November 8th, the 8 men had in their possession some of the weapons stolen from the prison and one weapon stolen from a farmer which they obtained while they were on the run. The firearms included two shotguns and a Krag-Jorgensen rifle.
An 1898 Krag-Jorgensen rifle.
While other groups headed west or southwest out of Leavenworth, Willard’s gang decided to go northwest into the countryside. A few miles west of Leavenworth, the group split up into two groups of 3 and 5 men each. Willard’s group was the group of 5. These five men were described as:
Willard DRAKE, white man, convicted of Larceny at age 19 and sentenced to 5 years. Willard was listed as being 23-year-old white man but I believe he was only 21 years old at the time based on the date of birth on Willard’s death certificate and his tombstone.
James HOFFMAN (who was named by one guard as playing a prominent role in the mutiny although he was not named as a ringleader), 25-year-old white man, convicted of Robbery at age 20 and sentenced to 5 years.
John GREEN, 25-year-old white man, convicted of Larceny at age 21 and sentenced to 7 years.
Fred MOORE, 17-year-old negro man, convicted of Larceny at age 16 and sentenced to 5 years. He was the youngest of all escapees at 17 years old.
Jay J. POFFENHOLZ (sometimes spelled POFFENKOLZ) was a white man. He was a German soldier who had come to the United States and enlisted in the army at the start of the Spanish American War. He was a military convict- unlike the others who had been sent to Leavenworth by non-military courts. He was the only one of the group for whom there was no physical description published in the newspapers. He was convicted of Burglary and Violating Article of War 68 (Failure to Suppress Mutiny) at age 25 and was sentenced to 5 years. He was 25 years old at the time of the escape. The oldest escapee was 28 so J.J. was one of the older escapees.
Willard and his group took refuge in farmer John WEISHAAR’s barn about ½ mile southwest of Nortonville, Kansas- about 28 miles from Leavenworth. About one o’clock in the afternoon, Fay WEISHAAR (John WEISHAAR’s son) saw the five men enter his barn. Fay didn’t know about the prison escape. However, John WEISHAAR had already been alerted to the escaped convicts so when his son told him about the five men who went into the barn, he knew right away what he was dealing with. John rushed to town and gathered a posse of six men to go get Willard’s gang out of his barn. At 2:30 that afternoon, the seven men- Walter MOXLEY, John HAYES, Henry W. SKINNER, Clarence “Cal” DILL, Ren WAGGENER, Roy KIRKPATRICK, and John WEISHAAR- rode out to the WEISHAAR farm armed with Winchester rifles and shotguns. The plan they devised was that Fay WEISHAAR and another citizen, John EVANS, would enter the barn on the pretext of Mr. EVANS buying some hay. The two men entered the barn as planned. The convicts brandished their weapons and ordered the two men out of the barn or they would be killed. The two men retreated and met up with the rest of the posse to discuss the situation. The posse was positioned where they were covering the door of the barn. The men chose to make one more attempt to get the convicts to leave the barn on their own and surrender. EVANS and the younger WEISHAAR entered the barn again. They told the escapees they were surrounded and it would be wise for them to surrender. The convicts refused. WEISHAAR and EVANS again retreated from the barn and met up with the posse to discuss how best to proceed.
Suddenly the barn door flew open! John GREEN made an unarmed dash for freedom. The posse shouted a warning cry and then began firing. James HOFFMAN came out of the barn door immediately after GREEN and was carrying the Krag-Jorgensen rifle. Both sides were firing at each other. J.J. POFFENHOLZ and then Willard came out of the barn immediately after HOFFMAN. POFFENHOLZ and Willard were both armed with shotguns. A running firefight ensued. About 150 yards out from the barn, HOFFMAN suddenly dropped his weapon and threw up his hands. He stumbled and staggered forward a few steps and then dropped to the ground, dead. A rifle ball had pierced his heart. POFFENHOLZ ran past the dead man another 50 yards before he, too, fell dead. He had also been shot in the chest. John GREEN made it about 300 yards before he was brought to the ground with a shot to his right leg. Willard was the last man out of the barn. He made it less than 50 yards out of the barn. While his comrades were being shot down, he raised his gun to shoot posse member Roy KIRKPATRICK. Cal DILL saw Willard raise his gun. Cal took aim with his rifle and shot Willard in the right arm. Willard dropped his gun but picked it back up and ran into the barn where the remaining convict, Fred MOORE, remained.
The shooting subsided. The posse called in to Willard and Fred MOORE to surrender. Fred MOORE walked out with his hands held above his head in surrender. Willard, carrying his weapon with his uninjured left arm, came out with his hands above his head in surrender also. In later versions of the story it was reported that Willard told the men, “If you fellows had not winged me I’d given you a fight yet.” That same later report also claimed Willard was “in an ugly mood”; his injured arm was hanging limp and he was in pain from his wounds. Both men were taken to town by some of the posse. MOORE was taken to jail and placed under guard there. Willard was taken to Dr. GROFF where his wound was treated. The other members of the posse stayed behind to guard GREEN until he could be taken to the doctor to be treated too. The two dead men were taken to a warehouse room in town until the law could come and get the bodies.
The three men who splintered off form Willard’s original group of 8 men had been spotted elsewhere and were being trailed when Willard’s gang of 5 was caught. No one in the posse that caught Willard’s gang was injured or killed in the shootout- at least not according to the newspaper accounts. Each posse member received $50 for the capture of Willard’s gang. The whole firefight was said to have only lasted about 5 or 6 minutes. The 17-year-old (MOORE- the youngest escapee of all) never left the barn and was never injured. He was said to have talked freely after his surrender about the location of the three ringleaders and about stealing the mail carrier’s horse and cart. After the fight, Willard and his group were described as being “utterly without fear”. As more prisoners were recaptured and details came out, it was learned that one prisoner was shot but not killed as he was escaping. Willard would later identify that prisoner as his friend, Lol SOUTHERLAND.
By the end of the day on 8 November 1901 (or at least by the time of publication for the local newspapers) a total of 11 men (including Willard) had been recaptured or killed. Warden McCLAUGHRY vowed he would capture them all. He almost succeeded. In the end, he and his men recaptured all but five escaped convicts as of the fourth anniversary of the prison break. Because of Willard’s escape attempt, he forfeited any chance of early release for good behavior. He returned to the prison on 10 November 1901. Because of his wounds he spent time in the infirmary as opposed to solitary where the other prisoners went.
By the time the November 8th edition of the Leavenworth Times came out, 11 of the 26 escapees had been accounted for and that included Willard. The story of the shootout ran in the papers for days alongside stories of the captures and exploits of the other inmates. No doubt some embellishment of the stories crept in here and there. For instance, later versions of the story said that Willard and J.J. scaled a barbed wire fence before J.J. was killed and Willard surrendered. I find the original story more credible therefore that is the story I told in this blog post. Later versions also state that Willard was shot twice- in the wrist and in the arm (which I do believe to be true), that J.J. lived for 40 minutes after being shot in the heart, and that James HOFFMAN was shot twice as well. Later versions also have a few different names listed for the posse members who caught Willard’s gang. However, the names of who shot the men in Willard’s gang remained consistent. Willard did try to shoot Roy KIRKPATRICK and Cal DILL did shoot Willard to stop him from committing murder. Another change in story was of how Quinn FORT died. Initially it was reported that he was shot by the same guard he shot (the guard who later died)- they shot each other at the same moment. Later the story was changed to say Quinn was shot by “a fellow mutineer”.
More details came out as more men were recaptured and began talking. It was also reported that the day of Jay J. POFFENHOLZ’s escape, he received a letter from his mom who lived in Chicago. He didn’t get the letter because he chose to escape. The letter implored him to be on his best behavior because she was trying to convince one of the Illinois senators to take up Jay’s case with the war department and secure a pardon for Jay. The love of a mom, right? I’m not sure we ever consider beforehand how our decisions will affect our loved ones, do we? By the end of the ordeal, the total count of the deceased was one guard (WALDRUP), one prisoner shot before escaping (FORT), and two men from Willard’s gang (POFFENHOLZ and HOFFMAN).
You might think this is the end of Willard’s story. It isn’t. I’ll leave the remainder of his story until next time, though. There are more exciting moments to come so don’t miss it!
In the months leading up to the prison break, some of the prisoners hatched a plan and then waited for the right moment to act on that plan to escape. The three ringleaders buried three revolvers inside the enclosure at the site where the new prison was being built in anticipation of an opportunity to escape. In newspaper articles, the prison claimed the plan was a not a new plan but was successful because of the limited number of guards and the fact that the prison was utilizing the better behaved inmates to build the new prison that was offsite. Prison officials claimed the conspiracy was not hatched by their inmate laborers but rather by the “inside gangs” that were left behind at the prison. The inmates chose a time of day when the guards were unarmed and acting as the foremen of the new prison construction site which was quite a distance from the then-current prison site. The new prison site was described as being west and a little north of Leavenworth near the south line of the government’s reservation about 2 miles from the old prison site. The new site had about 450 convicts working there putting up walls, building cell houses, and other labor. Each night the laborer convicts were marched back to the old prison near the fort. In the morning they would be marched back out to the new prison site. The new site was enclosed on two sides with stone walls and on the other two sides with high board fence that was to be replaced with masonry. On top of the board fence were lines of barbed wire and at intervals around the enclosure were guard towers where guards were stationed while prisoners worked. This is the background upon which the “mutiny” (as it was called by prison officials and media) began.
At 3:40 on 7 November 1901, the three convicts set their plan into motion by creating an uprising. They immediately captured three foremen/guards. The prisoners in charge of the uprising confiscated 20 rifles and revolvers from the guards and held the guards for nearly 30 minutes. In addition to the 3 guards, they also captured Frank E. HINES (sometimes spelled HINDS), the construction engineer and superintendent of construction, whom they used as a shield during the riot. HINES later escaped and gave a statement about the riot.
“At the time of the outbreak I was working in my office inside the enclosure, shortly
befor[e] 4 o’clock, one of the prisoners stepped to the door of the office and said:
‘Well, boys, we want you.’ I thought little of this because the convicts had the
privilege of coming to the office and asking me for any article they might need in
“I turned about and found myself facing a 45-caliber Colts revolver, in another instant
a second prisoner appeared with another revolver, with the demand for us to hold up
our hands. They marched us outside the building where we were confronted by a
third convict with a pistol. The three convicts began to march us toward the west
gate, taking care to keep our bodies between them and the guard tower walls. Just
inside the west gate is a steel cage enclosure in which the convicts are locked before
the outside is finally opened. The three convicts marched us in this enclosure and
guarded us there while a number of rioters ran into the cage and ascended the ladder
to the guard tower which is located just above the entrance. They took this guard
entirely by surprise and captured all his arms. They then marched the guard down into
the enclosure and converted him into another human fortress to protect themselves from
the fire of the guards in the towers.” (The Topeka Daily Capital, 9 November 1901)
At this point, the northwest tower guard began to fire into the crowd but saw that he was endangering the captured guards and quit firing. By this time about 30 convicts had joined in the riot. The crowd moved southward toward the southwest tower where Guard BURROWS was stationed, keeping the captured guards in front of them. Burrows chose to shoot at the crowd in spite of the danger to his colleagues who were being used as shields. The convicts who were armed returned fire. BURROWS was shot in the neck and the prisoners entered his tower and took his arms. They entered another tower in the same way and captured Guard WALDRUP (sometimes spelled WALDRUPE). WALDRUP was shot in the forehead and in the left hip. Captain of the Guard TELFORD, realizing that the prisoners fully intended to kill him at the first opportunity, broke away and managed to escape. The prisoners fired several shots at him before he could reach cover. There was mass chaos with both sides- guards and prisoners- firing shots at each other. One of the three prisoners who began the riot, Quinn FORD (one of the ringleaders), was killed. As the prisoners were about to attack the fourth guard tower, HINES (according to the post-riot statement he gave) shouted at the prisoners to stop or they would get everyone killed. He much preferred that the shooting stop and some prisoners escape as opposed to all of them getting killed. He led the prisoners to an entrance that was boarded up and had not been used for quite a while. The prisoners who began the riot fashioned battering rams, broke down the doors, and escaped. The thirty prisoners who had joined in the riot finished battering down the wooden stockade fence/walls and escaping. Despite HINES’ attempt to save himself and the three other civilians who had been captured, there was a guard outside the fence who persisted in shooting and one of the shots nearly hit HINES’ arm. Unfortunately for HINES, the convicts grabbed the four men and forced them to continue their jobs as human shields outside the fence. As the group neared 14th Street near the northwest city limits, they allowed the four captured men to go free. (The Topeka Daily Capital, 9 November 1901)
In addition to HINES, the captured men included W. F. CARROLL (foreman and stone mason), Harmon BONE (foreman and brickworker), and Arthur TRELFORD (Prison Captain of the Guard). The guards who were injured or killed were HOFFMAN, C. E. BURROWS, and J. B. WALDRUP.
Because of the lateness of the day, the convicts’ head start, and the rough wooded terrain surrounding Leavenworth, none of the convicts were captured on this day. Stay tuned tomorrow for what happens after the escapees get away. Be prepared for gunfights, a statement from the warden, and a blow-by-blow account of Red’s escapade.
P.S.- Just for fun I came back and added a portion of Wikipedia’s historical timeline for Leavenworth Penitentiary.
Note: If you’ve read my blog any length of time you know that I don’t mind unpacking the skeletons from the family closet. You might ask, “Why?” My response would be a three part answer. First, those who are wise learn from the mistakes of others and I want the younger generations of the family to learn from the mistakes of those who came before them. Second, you remember what you’re entertained by and I want you to remember our family history and pass it on. Third, what my ancestors did doesn’t bother me. I wasn’t them, I didn’t influence them nor did they influence me, I didn’t know them- what they did doesn’t reflect who I am. I have the opportunity to make my own decisions and my own path in life- just like they did and just like you do. We will all give an account for what we’ve done at some point or other.
I’ve made my own mistakes for which I will be judged. I am not, therefore, passing judgment on my people when I write their stories. My goal is never to judge, shame, or disrespect. Only to tell the tales with which I’ve been entrusted. Because, as the saying goes, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. One more thing. I think it’s wise to remember that not everyone who is accused (or even convicted) is truly guilty. Innocent people get convicted on a somewhat alarming basis. An important aspect of the conviction is the honesty of those in control of the legal system at the time of conviction as well as the ways laws are written. Whereas I think all evidence should come in, the law disagrees- but that’s a story for another time and another place. So with respect, I present to you my 2nd great grand uncle, Willard DRAKE.
LIVE BY THE SWORD, DIE BY THE SWORD
“…For all who take the sword will perish by the sword…” Matthew 26:52, The Holy Bible
Willard Nelson Drake
Willard Nelson DRAKE is my 2nd great grand uncle on my father’s side. He went by “Red”. Red only lived 33 years. But what he did with those 33 years- well, let the record speak for itself…
All my life I remember hearing only a few stories about Red, all of them told to me by my father and grandmother. This is what I knew about Red at the beginning of my research. I knew that Red was killed in South West City, McDonald County, Missouri by a police officer. The story goes that Red was getting a hair cut at the barber shop in South West City. While he was in the chair, the officer came in and wanted to talk to Red. Red reached into his jacket to get a cigar out of his shirt pocket. The officer thought Red was reaching for a gun (Red did, after all, have quite a bad reputation by this time) and the officer shot him dead. Red (like many of those, I hear, in the earlier generations of my Drake family) loved to fight and drink and was in trouble most all of his life. Indeed, newspapers of his day described my family (the Drakes) as having “a bad reputation”. I would ask you to keep in mind the truthfulness of today’s media and the bias of their reporting, but it seems to have been well-known in the community that they really did like to drink and fight. But one last note- remember that according to studies, a thing has only to be repeated 7 times to become a part of a believed (and contrived) narrative. If you hear and repeat enough times that someone is guilty (or loves to fight and drink, or….), they become guilty in popular opinion.
Don’t let anyone tell you what to think. Just read on, and decide the matter for yourself.
The Early Years
Willard was born on 30 June 1879 at Coy, McDonald County, Missouri. He was the third child born to William and Hester Ann Eglentine (MITCHELL) DRAKE. He had six biological siblings (all brothers) and the family adopted one girl- Perlie A. CALVIN. Willard went by the name Red although I don’t know at what point in his life he took that name. I have yet to find an official record that references him as Red, although there are a couple of newspaper articles referencing him as Red. True to his name, he had reddish brown hair. He had “azure blue eyes” to go with that red hair to complete the look he inherited from his Irish ancestors. He had a “sharp pointed nose” and “outstanding” ears according to a physical description of him that would some day be printed about him in The Leavenworth Times newspaper. To my great excitement I was able to find a photo of Red at the age of approximately 19. Here he is, the 19-year-old Red Drake:
Photo from Willard DRAKE’s inmate file located at NARA in Kansas City, Missouri. A big THANK YOU to archivist Eric Chasco for my copy!
From the stories I’ve read about Red, I imagine he was a handful right from the get-go. One of those kids that are going to learn everything the hardest possible way, never listen to anyone, and always get his own way- no matter who he has to take down to get his way.
The Other Early Years: Kate, Before Willard
I made contact with the wife of my 3rd cousin once removed (Kerry- wife of the great-grandson of Cynthia Katherine “Kate” JONES THOMPSON DRAKE). I found her through Ancestry.com because she posted information about Kate, Richard (Kate’s first husband), and Willard on Ancestry. What follows is a little about Kate’s life before she married Willard, as submitted by Kerry on Ancestry.com.
Cynthia Katherine JONES went by “Kate”. Kate was older than Red by 4 years. Kate is believed to have been Native American. She had black eyes and darker-toned skin and pierced ears. She was a tall, slender woman.
(Ancestry.com- originally submitted by ‘kujayhawkfan’. I’ve contacted this contributor and am waiting to hear back from him/her.)
It is believed that older generations of Kate’s family had come from Georgia on the Trail of Tears. In Mid-August of 1896, at the age of 25, Kate married 60-year-old Richard THOMPSON. The marriage was not a good one. Richard was a drinker and he and Kate fought frequently. Sometime around 1900 in a drunken rage, Richard shot Kate intending to kill her. Kate was holding one of their babies at the time she was shot. The shot hit her hip instead. She lived with the physical effects of that shot the rest of her life. Richard was arrested and convicted. He was sent to Leavenworth in 1898- the same year that Willard was sent to Leavenworth. You read that right- they were there together. Kate took the opportunity to divorce Richard while he was in prison.
1898- The Leavenworth Years: Willard, Before Kate
While Kate and Richard were living out their years together, Willard was doing what Willard did. Drinking and getting into trouble with the law. The earliest record I could find for Willard other than a census record was a May, 1898 newspaper article. During the week of 15 May 1898 Willard was arrested but he escaped from then-Deputy Constable BARKER. He hid out but stayed in touch with his dad, William DRAKE. On Monday, 23 May 1898, U.S. Marshal Heck BRUNER was passing through the area. While there, he heard about what Willard did and determined to catch Willard and bring him in. He stopped by William DRAKE’s home and told William that he wished to arrest a man with whom Willard was acquainted and he would pay Willard a fair amount of money to go with him and help capture this other man. William was convinced that Marshal BRUNER was being truthful and took the marshal to Willard’s hideout. Willard went with Marshal BRUNER to do the work. By the time they reached Grove it was dark and the pair stopped over to spend the night, having to share a room and a bed. Red woke up the following morning to find himself handcuffed to the bed. Red came to the sudden realization he had been played by the marshal. Marshal BRUNER took Red on to Vinita where Red had a hearing in front of a federal judge. I have been unable to locate an article stating what Red was originally arrested for or what his punishment was for that crime plus the escape. (This incident was reported in the 26 May 1898 edition of The Springfield Missouri Republican found on http://www.newspapers.com.) Although I was unable to find a record of what Red did in May of 1898, family oral history says that Red assaulted a police officer and tried to kill him- possibly shooting the officer during the assault.
The next time I find Red, he is being sentenced for “Assault to Kill”. The Indian Chieftain article of 13 October 1898 (found on OKHistory.org.) says that Willard was sentenced to 5 years “at hard labor” for an “assault to kill” incident that happened “over near Southwest City”. Again, I haven’t found any other articles that explain what happened although I’m sure there were several if he assaulted an officer.
The morning of 5 October 1898, Willard and 22 other prisoners were brought up to Vinita from Muskogee to be heard in Judge THOMAS’ courtroom. Willard was in jail on a charge of Assault with Intent to Kill. He pled ‘not guilty’ and was held over for trial. (Vinita, Indian Territory’s paper, The Daily Chieftain, Vol. 1 No. 3.) The following day the same newspaper reported the following:
Found at newspapers.com
United States Marshal Leo E. BENNETT was in charge of getting the prisoners up and to Vinita (from Muskogee) for Court on the morning of 6 October. As an aside, Marshal BENNETT had quite an exciting history if you want to Google it. (One interesting tidbit about him is that the famous black lawman Bass REEVES worked for Marshal BENNETT.) Willard’s trial and jury was the first one up on the docket in front of Judge THOMAS. His trial gives new meaning to our 6th amendment right to a speedy trial. By noon, Willard’s trial was over. In the space of less than 5 hours, he was convicted and facing time in Leavenworth.
After his conviction Willard sat in jail (probably in Muskogee) until the trial term was over and it was known which prisoners would be taken to the federal penitentiary. On the night of 29 October 1898 (a Saturday night) those prisoners were taken north by the marshal with the exception of 13. I’m assuming there was not enough room for the final 13 because the article in the Indian Chieftain on 3 November 1898 stated the remaining 13 would be taken when it was “convenient” for the marshal to do so. Willard went with the first group of prisoners.
On 30 October 1898 Willard was received into Leavenworth Penitentiary and assigned inmate number #1386. His inmate file gave his occupation as ‘farmer’. It says his sentence expired officially on 7 October 1903 but with good time he could be out as early as 7 December 1902. I’ve looked over Willard’s inmate file several times. There are things I wish it had that it doesn’t but I’m grateful for what it does say. Willard’s family did not abandon him while he was in prison. There are several pages logging letters that he received and sent to family and friends. My first and immediate thought upon seeing those were that I wish I had just ONE letter listed on that log! Family members who maintained contact with him included his brothers Gilbert, Alonzo (my 2nd great-grandfather), and Charlie; his sister, Annie (possibly sister-in-law? Alonzo was married to Mary Anne BAKER who went by Annie); his dad listed as both “W. D. Drake”, “W~~~M Drake”, and “William Drake” and his mom whose name is not listed at all but only indicated as “Mother” in one instance and, I believe, the “E. Drake” is also her but can’t prove it by the spreadsheet; and a cousin, Gertrude DRAKE. Friends also kept in touch including Cora BAKER (also listed as Carrie BAKER), Charles SUTTER, White MITCHELL, Russell SHANNON, W. A. KINSEY, and Judy THOMAS (Judy’s from Muskogee- could she be Judge Thomas’ relative?!). Although the family all came from in and around South West City, McDonald County, Missouri, I was very surprised to see the variety of addresses for the friends who wrote to him. His friends’ addresses included not only South West City, but also Nicholia, Idaho; Cattey, Indian Territory; Adair, Indian Territory; Bonham, Texas; Napanucka, Indian Territory; and Muskogee, Indian Territory.
Continuing through the file I found Willard’s Violations docket. His offenses are five pages long! He frequently created disturbances in one form or another. He was fond of laughing (loudly), leaving when he wasn’t supposed to, smoking and chewing tobacco, fighting and inciting fights (throwing rocks, using profane and vulgar language, disobeying orders, writing and passing notes and then refusing to surrender said notes when ordered to do so, striking prisoner #56 over the head with a pillow (pillow fights in prison?!), having contraband in his cell (including a knife and a lead pencil), being absent from roll call without permission, lying (especially when confronted about doing what he wasn’t supposed to be doing), inattention/gazing out the window, loud whistling, “wasting bread” (prison hooch, anyone?), insolence, taking others’ possessions (including a guard’s book and an inmate’s tobacco), pushing/crowding/cutting in line, mocking/shaming others (both inmates and guards), and neglecting/shirking work duties.
He was most in trouble for talking, though. Talking in the cell room, in ranks on the Yard, during work hours, in solitary cell, during work hours, talking repeatedly/constantly, talking with prisoner #2746 during work hours (continually), talking in line on the yard, “unnecessary talking” in line, talking to prisoner #2141 at noon time, talking in the shop to prisoner #2776, talking on the stairway when leaving the shop, talking in the shop…talking, talking, talking!!! There’s another full page of talking violations. The boy couldn’t shut up! I get it, he’s 19, he’s under strict guidelines- but he put himself there and his inability to follow directions was staggering.
You might be wondering what he could possibly be talking about so much. Well, there was one more massive violation that I haven’t mentioned yet and it could be the cause of many of those conversations, loud laughing/whistling, those disturbances that created distractions, and those incidences of cutting in line to be next to a particular prisoner. On 7 November 1901, Willard participated in a massive prison break from Leavenworth!
Until next time- and I can’t wait!!
~Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog