KILLINGS AT MARTINSBURG
Copied from Mexico Intelligencer (weekly)
Dec. 20, 1888 p3 c1, 2, 3 & p6 c1
Twenty Years Ago
An Incident that Revives a Dark Period in Missouri History
The Manner in Which an ex-Sheriff and the Present Sheriff of Audrain Took a Hand in Registration.
The killing of the Fletcher Brothers and Andrew Marshall at Martinsburg during the Grant-Seymour Canvass
The Bodies of the Victims Exhumed and Re-interred in the ex-Confederate Lot at the Mexico Cemetery.
The re-interment of the bodies of Samuel and David Fletcher at this place last week recalls a bloody chapter in the history of the registration days of Missouri.
On a bright September day just 20 years ago, three men, Samuel and David Fletcher and Andrew Marshall were shot and killed by registering officers of Martinsburg. The incident created widespread indignation among the people of this section of the state, arousing a feeling of revenge that did not die out for years.
It was during Grant’s first canvass. Seymour and Blair were the Democratic candidates.
The proscription laws enacted under the Drake constitution virtually disenfranchised every Democrat in the state.
Gen. Frank P. Blair who had served with such signal ability and gallantry on the side of the Union during the whole war was not allowed to vote. Union Democrats as well as those whose sympathies were with the South were alike excluded from any participation in the elections. As a consequence feeling ran high and those charged with the enforcement of the obnoxious law were held in bitter enmity by Democrats generally. In many instances, only men of bad repute and desperate character would serve as registering officers in many parts of the state, conflicts were daily occurrences between the officers and citizens who felt that they were unjustly deprived of the right of suffrage, and that, too, by men who in many instances were regarded as totally unworthy of filling any public trust.
The tragedy at Martinsburg occurred on September 30, 1868. The trouble which led to the killing of the Fletchers and Marshall really began at Elzea’s school house the day before.
The registering officers were James Galloway, Capt. Detienne, W.H. Day and Capt. Swift. On the morning of Sept. 29th, these men met at Elzea’s school house for the purpose of registering voters. The idea was to disenfranchise enough Democrats to elect the Republican candidates for Congress. Among those who met at Elzea’s to register were Harrison Glasscock, subsequently sheriff of this county, and G.W. Adams, the present sheriff. As soon as the Board opened for business, Glasscock presented himself for registration. Galloway began to fire questions at him right and left. Glasscock had been in the Federal militia and asserted his right to vote with an earnestness that meant trouble to the disenfranchisers. To make matters worse, Glasscock’s hired hand, who name was Fife, asked to be registered and
KILLINGS AT MARTINSBURG pg 2
Galloway, mistaking the name, remarked in a tantalizing manner that he knew a family of “Fights” and there was damn little fight in them too. Fife warmly replied that he didn’t belong to that family and if Galloway would walk outside he would demonstrate while his name was Fife, he could fight.
This incident was not calculated to pour oil on troubled waters and it was not long until Glasscock and Galloway were using bitter language towards each other.
Finally Glasscock wanted to know if he was to be registered. Galloway replied that his case would be referred to the board. This, of course, meant disenfranchisement, and Glasscock fairly boiled over with rage. Shaking his fist in the face of Galloway, Glasscock said:
“Who constitutes the Board? A lot of damned dirty cowards like yourself? There is not a man among you.”
Galloway replied that Glasscock was not very dangerous, when the latter reached over the small school desk and grabbing Galloway by the coat collar, began to drag him towards the door. The house was crowded and there was a general stampede through the windows and out the door. Glasscock and Galloway were both large men and the scuffle was a stubborn one. Glasscock, however, had gotten his man nearly to the door, when the other officers began to gather around and it looked like there was going to be foul play. Adams had been back in the corner, and when he saw the registering officers closing in on Glasscock he went to the rescue of the latter.
Galloway was in the act of pulling his pistol when Adams, anticipating him, drew his revolver. By this time, all hands had gotten out of the door and registering officers were calling on the constable, P. Osterhouse, to arrest Glasscock. Osterhouse knew Glasscock and while he was thoroughly in sympathy with Galloway, he did not relish the idea of arresting the disenfranchised man. Finally he summoned sufficient courage to enable him to demand Glasscock’s surrender. As he did so, he placed his hand on his revolver. Instantly Glasscock had his pistol square in the face of the constable and said: “If you move a muscle of your body, I will blow your damned head off.”
Osterhouse was standing in a leaning position and he remained as motionless as a statue until Glasscock told him to move off.
A great many of the citizens anticipating bloodshed left as soon as the trouble began. Of the Democrats present, only Glasscock and Adams had pistols.
That night on the way to Martinsburg, the officer stayed with Sam Huffman, where the incident of the day was fully talked over. It was then determined to summon to the aid of the registering officers, Frank Harlinger, Rich and Emmet Purdy and Charles Ready, and if any further resistance was made to the officers, pistols were to be used. In pursuance of this plan, the pistols were all discharged and reloaded while at Huffman’s and preparations fully made for the morrow. When on the following morning the registering board opened out at Martinsburg, Ready, Harlinger and the Purdy brothers were on hand all armed. Ready was a sort of guiding counsel, indicating by a nod of the head who was to be permitted to register and who not. He was extensively acquainted in the east end, was an active politician and knew just who to depend on to vote the Republican ticket and who not. His conduct aroused intense feeling among the Democrats. The chairman of the Democratic township club, David Fletcher, demanded that Ready be excluded from the house as he was not a member of the
KILLINGS AT MARTINSBURG pg 3
board. Fletcher was acting for the Democrats, who were insisting on a fair registration, and he told Galloway that if Ready was not excluded from the house, trouble would ensue. After dinner when registering was resumed, Ready was absent.
In a short time he put in his appearance, however, and endeavored to go into the room. He was met at the door by Sam Fletcher, who demanded that he remain on the outside.
In the meantime, Harlinger had sworn out a warrant for Fletcher’s arrest and Sheriff Kit Carson promptly executed it, and Fletcher started off with the officer. As they did so, Catlett, who was in sympathy with Ready and the registering officers, shouted to Carson to disarm Fletcher. Fletcher turned and said: “I would like to see you disarm me.” Catlett disclaimed having said anything when Dave Fletcher stated that he had said it. Catlett sharply retorted: “You are a liar.”
“No man can call me a liar,” said Dave Fletcher, and he drew his revolver. As he did so, Galloway appeared on the scene, and without any ceremony shot Dave Fletcher dead. Marshall came behind Galloway, when the latter turned and sent a deadly bullet through him.
In an instant the firing became general and Sam Fletcher became a victim also.
At the October term following, Galloway and others were indicted for murder. A change of venue was secured to Shelby county and prisoners were acquitted on the grounds of self defense.
The Fletchers were blacksmiths, who had come from Virginia and located in Martinsburg. They were hard working young men of good character and were greatly esteemed by those who knew them best. Friends had the remains interred in the little burial ground at Martinsburg where they remained until yesterday, when they were exhumed and brought to this city and placed in the new cemetery.
Marshall was buried at Martinsburg by relatives and his remains were not disturbed. The Fletchers had no relatives in this state. A number of friends who had kindly recollections of the young men, old soldier friends mostly, concluded to have the bodies placed in the lot at the new cemetery which had been purchased for a repository for the remains of ex-Confederate soldiers whose graves are in danger of being neglected. One of the caskets had become filled with water and the remains were in a surprising state of preservation, the features being quite recognizable. The teeth were all in place and the bullet hole through the head was a forcible reminder of the bloody ending. The other body, on being exposed to the air, returned to dust.
They were brought here under the supervision of Joseph Muster, and a number of ex-Confederates at this place assisted in the second interment.
Newspaper clipping from the “TRUE INDEX” pg 4
Murder of Virginians by Missouri Radicals
The Beckingham Register has received a letter from Martinsburg, Adrain (Audrain) County, Mo., giving an account of the cold blooded murder in that place of three young Virginians, ex-Confederate soldiers, by Radical registering officers of that state. Two of them were David F. and Wm. Fletcher of Rockingham and the other, Lt. Marshall of Fauquier. They were all gallant soldiers of the 7th Va. Cavalry and after “peace” was declared, removed to Missouri where they lived near together up to the time of their murder. No details are given of the murder, except that during the mockery of registration in Martinsburg, they were shot down and killed by the Radical registration officer and his co-assassins. We have made inquiries to ascertain the name of Lt. Marshall, but without success – though the belief is that he was the son of either Navy John Marshall or Rob’t Marshall of Happy Creek.