“Quantrill No Ruffian”

“William Clarke Quantrill, notorious Civil War guerrilla, was not a ruffian type man who frightened small boys, the late Thomas J. Walker often told his children.

Walker, an Independence druggist many years, was a 4-year-old when Quantrill came to the Morgan Walker farm near Blue Springs one December day in 1860.

Mrs. William H. Childers of Lee’s Summit, the former Henrietta Walker who grew up in Independence, said her father often remarked that as a child he “ate dinner at the same table with Quantrill” at his grandfather’s farm.

Donald Hale’s mention of the Quantrill role in a raid planned on the Morgan Walker farm reminded Mrs. Childers of her father’s stories.  Hale gave the talk Jan. 6 in one of the series of illustrated lectures held at the Independence square courthouse under sponsorship of the archives committee of the Jackson County Historical Society.

“The old farm was north of Blue Springs on what is now Highway No. 7,” Mrs. Childers said.  “Great-grandfather, who was a blacksmith as well as a farmer, had largelandholdings and many slaves.”

Hale said Quantrill was opposed to slavery when he came to Kansas as a young teacher, but speculation has it that he became a rebel when he saw bloody acts of violence against Missouri slaveholders by the abolitionists from across the border in Kansas.

He rode into Jackson County with a band of young Quaker abolitionists from Lawrence to steal slaves at the Walker farm.  Scouting ahead, Quantrill ended up by telling Walker’s son, Andrew, of the impending raid.

“The story goes,” Mrs. Childers said, “that Uncle Andrew, then 24, took Quantrill to see his father, Morgan Walker, who was my great-grandfather.

“Quantrill was invited to eat dinner with the family while they talked.  Morgan Walker asked Quantrill to remove his gun because no one sat at his table wearing a fun.  My father, a small boy visiting at his grandfather’s, remembered how Quantrill took off his gun and laid it by the door.

“My father said he didn’t recall having any fear of the famous guerrilla–that he appeared to be a kindly and refined man.

“Quantrill told them of the raid that was to take place that night.  Father recalled that they gathered all of the neighbors together to ambush the raiders.  He said they probably would have killed them all but that my great-grandmother, Polly Cox Walker, thinking to help the men ambush the raiders by placing a lamp in the window, blinded them instead.”

Thomas J. Walker, the son of John Riley Walker, Morgan’s son, was born in 1856 on a nearby farm.  He recalls that the family had to leave Jackson County in 1863 when Order No. 11 forced the eviction of all Southern sympathizers.

“Father often told how his family, with alll the possessions they could pack into a wagon , crossed the Missouri River and went to Nebraska City, Neb., where they lived until the war ended in 1865.  Father got his first schooling there.

“When the family returned home they found their homes destroyed.  Only one slave cabin was standing on the Morgan Walker farm, all else had been burned and all of the family possessions had been taken.”

Mrs. Childers said that during earlier raids by the Kansas “Red Legs” her great-grandmother had told how she counted homes of five of their neighbors burning at the same time.

“Great-grandmother Walker was a true rebel,” Mrs. Childers said.  “I have heard the story how she stood on a fence and waved a Confederate flag as the Union troops filed by.  They all expected her to be shot, but she was never harmed.”

Mrs. Childers said her father often told of how he was “arrested” once while riding with uncle and aunt, Ed and Betty Gaddy, when some Union Soldiers marching out of Independence accosted them.

“Uncle Ed Gaddy slipped off the horse and hid in the bushes, knowing that the woman and child would not be harmed.  Aunt Betty and father were taken to Liberty.  Father said he slept on the floor with the soldiers and that his aunt had sent a Negro boy to tell his mother where he was.  They were released the next day, unharmed.”

Thomas Walker opened a drugstore in Blue Springs in the 1880’s.  In 1890 he opened a store in Independence on the southeast corner of the square.  He sold the store to Mize Peters in 1912.

End of p. 8.

p. 9

Mrs. Childers, like her father, became a pharmacist.  Her late husband, William H. Childers, also was a pharmacist and they worked together many years.

Morgan Walker and his wife, and a number of other relatives, as well as their slaves are buried in the old family cemetery on the old Morgan Walker farm, now owned by Rodney Choplin.”

Article printed in the Historical Society Journal of Jackson County (Missouri), March 1974, Vol XVI, No. 1, pp. 8 and 9.

Want to know more about “Quantrill of Missouri”? Then don’t miss the Col. John T. Coffee Camp’s 11th annual Heritage Dinner, featuring Paul R. Petersen , award winning author of “Quantrill of Missouri” , “Quantrill in Texas” and the upcoming book “Quantrill in Kansas” The dinner is free but you must RSVP before April 26, 2011. For information about this event and how to RSVP click on the following link:



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