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.

Photo found at Montana Heritage Project

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.

Willard’s death certificate. You can obtain your own copy by visiting Missouri Digital Heritage digital archives.

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.


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!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

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