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.