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J. W. Douglas

Events that happened August 7 1854 Had impact on today.

Based on information widely reported in newspapers of this period
all over the country and detailed in our local History Book called 
"Notes of Yesterday", which was published in 1966, we have known about
 a serious situation that developped around our Town in the 1850ies, 
culminating in the 1854 melee. 
In those early days in our county and city there were many "rowdies" in
 the area committing various offenses, including horse stealing.
Smithville at the time had a "Citizens Committee" and they had advized 
these "rowdies" they were not welcome in Smithville and to leave the area. 
On Monday August 7 1854, which was also "Election Day" the outlaws came
 to town to clean out the town. They were armed with revolvers and Bowie
 knives and under the command of the Shackleford brothers, Samual and 
William and their friend John Callaway.
Arriving in town they forced a confrontation  between the Shacklefords 
and John W Douglas and Squire J. Ross, well respected local people, which
 resulted in Samual Shackleford shooting Squire John Ross and mortually 
wounding him. After that he aimed and shot at John W. Douglas and
 M. Imhoff. Mr Douglas was seriously woounded but returned fire and also
 used his Bowie knife to defend himself.
But Shackleford took Douglas' revolver and Bowie knife and then mortually
 wounded Douglas.By this time may other people got involved in the melee 
including John Callaway, who shot at and wounded M. Imhoff and William Slater. 
Local minister Rev. Payne was also present and was shot at by the Shackleford 
clan. Ultimately Samuel Shackleford was also seriously wounded and the 
group retreated in a local drugstore. The local people now had a chance to
 take action and threatened to burn the building, the rowdies then surrendered. 
The atmosphere was so charged with anger that the locals decided to take 
immediate action with the rowdies encouraged by many other poeple that had
 been around the area because of "election day" and had heard about the fights
and witnessed the murders.
The fate of Samuel, William Shackleford and John W. Callaway was decided upon
then and there as their guilt to murder and mayhem was fully acknowledged and
 the punishment was hanging. This took place at the large sugar tree which 
was by the Westside of the old wagon bridge on the south bank of the river.
Researching this terrible event and trying to locate where the victims were 
buried we sofar have only been able to locate the gravesite of Squire John
 Ross who was buried at the local Rollins cemetery ( North East of town). 

However just recently (2018) the Corps of Engineers ( Litton Center) contacted 
the Historical Society stating they had a gravemarker that had been "found", 
if we were interested? The gravemarker turned out to be made for 
John W. Douglas. 
Further research into the Douglas family lead to the discovery that they came
 to the county in the very early days and settled around Paradise(Gosneyville)
 and starting with George Washington Douglas who was John W.Douglas' father the 
family is buried at Paradise Cemetery. 
In addition trying to determine if any family could be contacted, we have learned 
that our own Carol Dawkins (Douglas) is the 6th generation of that family and 
pleased to be part of Historical Society plan to install the found gravestone
 next to where his father was buried. 
Hereby partially closing one of the mysteries of history in appropriate fashion.

Visitors and new members always welcome . . .

Smithville Historical Society
Smithville, MO  |  64089