The Tale of Arthur Taylor Friend

Arthur Taylor Friend is my 3rd cousin twice removed. He was born on May 9, 1886, in Dadeville, Dade County, Missouri, the sixth of nine children born to John Wesley Friend and Margaret Divine. He grew up on a farm that was very prosperous. His family grew Indian corn, oats and wheat and raised cows, sheep, hogs and chickens. They had about 1000 acres of land, and they were able to sell most of their crops every year.

He married Myrtle Montgomery (1891-1964) on April 11, 1906, when he was 19 years old and Myrtle was just 15. They had four children, one son, two daughters and one child who died at birth. They made their home on a cattle ranch outside the town of Morgan. In 1912, he moved his family to Mansfield, Missouri where he pioneered the Mansfield Mining District. He was also Vice President and general manager of A.T. Friend Mining Co. He owned the town drug store as well as many other businesses and properties in the county. He was a member of the Fuson Camp # 611 and The Woodsmen of the World. He was a very wealthy young man, but he was also very arrogant.

It is said that he had a very bad temper and a big ego. Although most people just avoided him because he “owned the town”, there were some men who had no problem attempting to put him in his place. Many men were fired from their jobs in the mines for “disrespecting” him. The following account is from the Mansfield Missouri Newspaper account dated July 4, 1918.

The trouble began on the morning of June 10, 1918, when Arthur and a man named Chester Crain got into an argument. According to the story the two men had several previous “difficulties” over the months leading up to this day. That evening the two men, once again encountered each other on the town square in front of the O H Garage. After the altercation Arthur attempted to leave, heading north. Suddenly shots rang out, 5 in all from a .38 calibre revolver as Chester began to chase him. Arthur began to run through a vacant lot between Reynolds Garage and the Nugget, and then back again to the sidewalk on Commercial Street where he collapsed. One bullet had entered his Lumbar vertebra and another one entered his right arm about 3 inches from his shoulder. He was quickly picked up by some of the men on the square and carried to his home. Drs. J.A. Fuson and R.M. Rogers were called to attend him but his wounds were beyond medical skill. He died about a half-hour later. He was 32 years old.

Chester was taken into custody and sent to the county jail in nearby Hartville. He was released on a $10,000 bond two day later. The bond was put up by several local businessmen and others in the community. He had over 20 prominent persons volunteer as signers on the bond raising it to $200,000! Chester pled self-defense which was backed up by several witnesses. He stated that Arthur accosted him and threatened his life with a gun and Chester was just defending himself. He was eventually declared not guilty and was released.

Arthur’s funeral was a lavish one and was attended by hundreds of people. One person in attendance said that there were 2 types of people who attended the funeral. The first were those who were just making sure he was dead and those who loved his parents. Such a sad commentary of one person’s life. He was buried in the Friend Cemetery in Bona, Dade County, Missouri.

Myrtle his wife, sold everything they had, and she married Paul McCallister. The family moved to Visalia, Tulare County, California where she died in 1964 at the age of 68.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Freaky Friday’s ~  Once Upon A Murder

Freaky-Fridays-logo1-optimisedIn the early morning hours of Sunday, July 13, 1930, 21-year-old Virgil Bullard and his 3 brother-in-laws began a trip into town. Lexington Missouri was about 4 miles southwest of the farm they lived on. Traveling down the dirt road they soon passed by one of their neighbors’ farm and the owner, Irvan Menaugh came out to the road and stopped them. A few days earlier Virgil had borrowed a team of mules with a threshing outfit from Irvan. Along with the mules he also borrowed some new collars for a span of mules. He had returned them all the day before. Standing by the large wagon, Irvan began to accuse Virgil of swapping the new collars and harnesses with some old ones. Virgil stated that he had left the new collars in the wagon when he returned them all. “No, you didn’t,” Manaugh said. “There were two old collars in place of them, and besides you called my wife a b—- and I am going to kill you!” Irvan then pulled out his gun and fired one shot from the .38 caliber revolver. The bullet struck Virgil, penetrating the skull above his right eye. The 3 other men in the wagon, Mitchell Lee Willard aged 32, Leonard Hughes aged 17 and Douglas Hughes (my Dad) aged 15 tried to get Virgil into town to the Doctors as quickly as possible The Doctor tried to save him but he died a short time later.

It took the police 7 hours of hunting the Menaugh farm and the surrounding area to locate Irvan. They found him hiding in some bushes on his property. He was immediately arrested and was held on the charge of first-degree murder.

According to family stories, Charley Hughes, the father of 20-year-old Nellie Hughes Bullard, went down to the courthouse in Lexington with his shotgun and tried to get into the jail to kill Irvan. He was very distraught as Virgil had not only left behind a young wife but she was also pregnant. Because Charley was a well known and respected Horse and mule breeder and Horse Trainer in Lafayette County he was not arrested for his actions. Irvan Menaugh was found not guilty and was released.

This was a horrific event in our family history. All of my dad’s family disliked the Menaughs because of this. Not quite the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, but the feud still rages on today.

About 10 years ago I met a cousin named Cathy from my mothers’ side. I was put in Lexington MO Signtouch with her about a month before my husband and I made a trip to Missouri. She was almost as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. Because of the very strained relation I always had with my mother, I had spent the first 11 years of my Genealogy journey only researching my dad’s side of the family. When we met, Cathy gave me a packet of the research she had on the McGowan side of the family. We had such a full schedule while in Missouri and a 36-hour drive back to Arizona, I didn’t have time to look at the information until after I got home.

Virgil DCImagine my surprise when I was entering all the information I had received into my Smith/McGowan tree and when I got to my cousins’ immediate family I came across the name Menaugh! Cathy’s mom had married the son of Irvan Menaugh after the death of her husband. Cathy had never heard this story so I emailed her the newspaper article. We both agreed that the fact that her step-grandfather had murdered my aunt’s husband was indeed quite FREAKY!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Saturday’s Dilemma ~ John Pleasant Smith’s Death

shockedThis dilemma is a little different from the previous ones I have written about. With this one, I would really appreciate your advice or input into what to do. Let me start at the beginning.


John Pleasant Smith was born on September 8, 1882, in Hazel Hill, Missouri. He first married my Grandmother Ella McGowan on September 17, 1904. They had 6 children, 2 of them died at a young age. My mother was their youngest child. Ella died 2 years after my mother was born from heart disease.  He then married a widow named Nellie Jane Barrett on May 26, 1926. They never had children and Nellie raised his children. She passed away on February 4, 1948. Grandpa then married another widow, Nellie Robinson on February 15, 1949.

Dad and Grandpa colorized

My parents moved us from Missouri to Arizona when I was 11 months old. My mother and sister had asthma and was told we should move to a drier climate. John was the only Grandparent that I ever met. All the rest had died long before I was born. He came to visit us in Arizona once in about 1962. In 1967 my family moved back to Missouri and we first lived in the same small town that Grandpa did. I was able to get to spend time with him and got to know him pretty well. After a few months, we moved into Independence, Missouri.

About a year later my Grandpa died at the age of 85. Now here is where my dilemma begins. The day he died he was out in his large yard with a push mower, mowing the lawn. This was nothing new. Although he was older, he still stood straight and tall. He dug graves at the local cemetery, and he managed a small farm on his own. He was in exceptional health for his age. He had gone to the doctor a couple of months earlier and he was given a prescription. I don’t know what it was for, but he hated the way the medicine made him feel. On this day, Nellie brought his pill out to him as he was mowing, insisting that he take it. He stumbled and fell backward over the mower. He broke his neck but lived for 6 days before dying.

Grandpas HSAfter the funeral, my Aunt Mae who was married to my mother’s brother Gene told us this story. Nellie and Grandpa had been having marital problems for years. On the day of the accident, she was at the house helping Nellie with some baking. When she went out to give Grandpa the pill she was irritated because she knew he wouldn’t want to take it. Aunt Mae heard loud voices, so she went to the back door and saw Nellie trying to force Grandpa to take the medicine. When he refused Nellie pushed him, HARD, and that caused him to stumble back over the push mower. Nellie told Aunt Mae if she tells what she saw the same could happen to her.

As far as I know, Aunt Mae never told anyone except my mother, dad, sister, and I. By the next year we moved away and never saw Nellie again. Because I wasn’t raised around family it has been easy to keep this secret. Over the last 10 plus years, I have “found” a lot of my mother’s family online. So, here is my dilemma.  The cousins have enjoyed reading my blogs about the Smith family and I have told them how I like to be as factual as possible, etc. What I am wondering is should I ask them what they have heard about Grandpas’ death? If they don’t know what really happened should I mention it to them? I do know that once Grandpa died no one in the family saw Nellie again as she sold the farm and left. What would you do?



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.




Disaster ~ Captain John “Mad Jack” Oldham ~ 52 Ancestors #9

Plimoth_Plantation.I believe that one of the best parts of Genealogy is finding the stories of our Ancestors that show them in a “not so good light”. It shows us that they were just like us, doing the good things, the bad things, and even a few ugly things. This prompt helped me to find this story about my 10x Great Uncle, Captain John “Mad Jack” Oldham. I was surprised and excited to see so many twists and turns that guided his life. Bonus points, he did the good, the bad and the ugly!

The Anne

John was born on April 9, 1592, in Derbyshire, England. He was the son of William and Philippa (Sowter), Oldham. The Oldham’s were a well to do family in the area. In the Spring of 1623, 3 years after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth, John boarded the ship, The Anne, along with his sister Lucretia, his brother Thomas, and his brothers’ wife Elizabeth Rhoades who was pregnant. They landed there in the Summer of 1623.

It was soon made obvious that John did not fit in with the Puritans, They had come for religious reasons and he had come for monetary ones. He was determined to become wealthy in this new land. He had purchased 10 acres of land in Plymouth before leaving England which meant he owned more land there than anyone else. This included Edward Winslow who was the Governor of the area. William Bradford said of John “He is a rough and ready man, a man of considerable practical ability, but heady, self-willed, and of an ungovernable temper.”  John became dissatisfied with the way things were run and by the Pilgrims Holier-than-thou attitudes. When Reverend John Lyford arrived in 1624 the two men developed a close bond. Bradford also said about the two’s friendship “They were plotting against them and disturbing their peace, both in respects of their civil and church-state.”

Wethersfield John Oldham PlaqueJohn began to write letters of complaint against Winslow, Bradford, and Brewster. They were to be sent by ship back to England, but Bradford opened them and read them before the ship left. Upon finding out what happened to the letters, John became “A Mad Jack in a mood” and he lashed out. Miles Standish was head of the Military and he tried to stop John who pulled a knife and yelled at Miles “You are a Rascal! A Beggarly Rascal”. These were harsh words for that time. He was brought up before the court and as a result, he and Lyford were banished from Plymouth, an extreme punishment in this wild frontier. 

John Oldham path rock marker

He, Lyford and 10 other men left Plymouth and were the first to set out along the old Connecticut Path to establishing Wethersfield Ct, the first English settlement on the Connecticut River. John Oldham was considered the first Englishman to conduct explorations there. After his trip north, there was a severe outbreak of smallpox. Many natives, including the Pequot, held him responsible for the death of thousands from Maine to New York. John became a successful sea captain, merchant, and Indian trader. He grew rich in coastal trade and trading with the Indians. He was made the overseer of shot and powder for Massachusetts Bay Colony.,

oldham mad jack marker block island

John made several trips to England and back and on one trip he brought his 2 nephews to live with him. In July 1636 he was on a voyage to trade with the Indians on Block Island. On July 20 his boat was boarded by a band of 14 angry Indians, presumed to be from Pequot tribes. The attack was due to a disagreement over a previous trade. He and five of his crew were brutally murdered, his ship was seized by the Indians and his two nephews were captured by the Indians, but they were later rescued. The ship’s cargo was looted. The Bay Colony was outraged at this latest incident and sent John Endicott with a force to retaliate. This is thought of as the incident that caused the Pequot War and brought about the extinction of that tribe by the following year.

John Oldham definitely experienced a lot of disasters in his 44 years of life. Not only in his personal life but to all those around him. There is so much written about him I could probably write 8 more blogs and not repeat myself. Who knows, I might just do that in the future.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Hometown Tuesday ~ Nelson County, Kentucky circa 1788

hometown tuesdaySamuel Chestnut was born in 1788 in what was to become Nelson Co., KY. His parents were William Gordon Chestnut and Sarah Graham. Although his Scottish-Irish ancestors are believed to have originally settled in Pennsylvania and Virginia sometime before the start of the Revolutionary War, a few ventured west into the State of Kentucky. He married into the neighboring Gum Family by marrying their daughter Rachel in December of 1807 in Madison County Kentucky. Samuel and Rachel eventually had seven children.

The State of Kentucky was founded in 1792. This county was sparsely populatedKentucky map with only a few towns. Most of the settlers of this area lived on farms far from any town. There was plenty of rich fertile land to grow their crops. Samuel and Rachel were very prosperous and it didn’t hurt that his father, who died in 1802, had left a sizable inheritance for him.

Samuel Chestnut war of 1812In 1812 the War broke out and Samuel enlisted in the Mounted Kentucky Volunteers. He had participated in the Battle of the Thames which was a big victory for Kentucky. He served in this unit until the end of the War. 

In 1832 Samuel made the trip into Manchester, Kentucky to buy supplies. He did this at least twice a year and he knew several of the townspeople. He stopped at a couple of stores before heading into the General Store. After gathering a few supplies he took them to the counter to pay for them. When he pulled out his coin purse he was jumped from behind, robbed and fatally stabbed. He was 44 years old. The man who killed him was never caught. 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time an  Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.