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MURDER OF DORCAS CLEAVENGER.

It were more welcome reading if a complete series of historical events, pertaining to our county, contained no reminiscences melancholy in their nature. But, it is the province of history to relate every true story; and it becomes the annalist's duty, anon, to fill the interstices between agreeable recitals with naratives of more solemn interest.

On, Sunday night, May 28, 1837, was perpetrated a nameless crime and the most atrocious murder ever committed in Ray county.

The victim was a Mrs. Dorcas Cleavenger, an amiable, inoffensive lady, the wife of William Cleavenger, who, it will be remembered, was one of the first settlers in Fishing river bottoms; the perpetrators were two fiends incarnate, named Ish and Henry, slaves respectively of Richard Cleavenger and Abraham Froman.

On the afternoon of the day mentioned—Sabbath as it was—Mr. Cleavenger went fishing, leaving his wife and two little children, aged three and five, alone at the house.

Mr. C. did not return home until late at night. The stillness of the midnight hour breathed not a whisper of the horrible disclosure awaiting him. He approached the door, pulled the latch-string, and passed the threshold, little knowing that he was entering the chamber of death! Silence prevailed. The little innocents, nestled closely at their mother's side—three cheeks pressing the same pillow—were wrapped in the happy unconsciousness of sleep; and so was the mother—but not to wake again on earth. The room was dark. The husband called to his wife, speaking her name, but receiving no response, stepped to the bed-side, and, doubtless rebuking himself for having stayed away so long, tenderly placed his hand on her brow; it was pulseless, and cold as marble! He again vainly called, and then, thoroughly alarmed, kindled a light in the fire-place. The blazing fagots threw a ghastly glamour on the pale face of a murdered woman—the mother of his children—she who had been the life of his life and the soul of his soul. There in the dismal glare of a waning light, the poor man stood—wifeless; and motionless with unspeakable woe.

After awhile the heart-broken husband left the 'dead, and the unconscious living, alone, till he could go to the house of his father, happily living not far away, and make known his sad discovery.

The father and other members of the family, on receiving the information, repaired to the house in which the dead woman lay.

The neighbors assembled early next morning to ascertain the cause of Mrs. Cleavenger's death. The coroner was notified. He empanneled a jury, and such proceedings were had as are common in cases of mysterious death.

The jury, after having made some inquiry, but without, it appears, a thorough examination, adopted a verdict that " Mrs. Cleavenger came to her death by an attack of apoplexy."

The same (Monday) evening Mrs. C. was buried, but the people were not satisfied with the result of the coroner's inquest. Dr. Mallet, a physician of the neighborhood, felt assured, upon post mortem examination, that death was not caused by apoplexy. Suspicion was rife that the unfortunate lady had been murdered, and the whole community set about to find the murderer or murderers.

Ish, a man of color, owned by Richard Cleavenger, father of the bereaved husband, was suspected. A party of men, armed with guns, went to the house of the slave's master, and demanded to see the former.

Ish was brought forth, and in reply to questions, answered, with considerable trepidation: That Froman's Henry had come to him, and asked him to go with the former to William Hill's, a neighbor; that he assented, and on the way to Mr Hill's, Henry told him (Ish) that he (Henry) had killed Dorcas Cleavenger, and wanted Ish to go and help him (Henry) to put her on the bed. Blood was found on Ish's coat sleeve; and in reply to the question how it came there, he said it was the blood of Dorcas Cleavenger; that he had no other chance to get it. Ish claimed that he had no hand in killing his " Miss Dorky," but confessed that he helped Froman's Henry to put her to bed, and stated further, Froman's Henry I had killed her.

Ish, however, implicated himself before the interview ended, and he and Henry were arrested.

Their preliminary trial was held June 1st, before justices of the peace, James Dickie and John Dozier. As a result, the negroes were incarcerated at Richmond, to await the July term of the circuit court.

The indictment found against the culprits at that term, will complete the story, and it is subjoined, as well on account of the quaintness of the document, as of its bearing in this case:

State Of Missouri, Ray County.

In the Circuit Court, July term,eighteen hundred and thirty-seven; Ray county, to-wit:

The grand jurors for the state of Missouri, for the body of the county of Ray, aforesaid, upon their oaths, do present:

That Ish and Henry, late of said county of Ray, men of color, and slaves, the said Ish the property of Richard Cleavenger, of said county, and the said Henry, the property of Abraham Froman, of said county, not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, with force and arms, at the county of Ray, aforesaid, in and upon one Dorcas Cleavenger, in the peace of God, and of the state of Missouri, then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, did make an assault; and that they, said Ish and Henry, with both the hands of each of them, said Ish and Henry, about the neck and throat of her, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, did fix and fasten, and that they, said Ish and Henry, with both the hands of each of them, said Ish and Henry, so, as aforesaid, fixed and fastened about the neck and throat of her, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there did violently squeeze and press; and that the said Ish and Henry, also, then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, with both the hands of each of them, said Ish and Henry, threw the said Dorcas Cleavenger down to and upon the ground, and then and there they, the said Ish and Henry, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, jumped and pitched their knees in and upon the belly of the said Dorcas Cleavenger, giving to her, the said Dorcas Clavenger, then and there, by jumping and pitching their knees in and upon the belly of the said Dorcas Cleavenger, as aforesaid, one mortal bruise; as well of which said squeezing and pressing of the neck and throat of her, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, with both the handsof each of them, said Ish and Henry, as aforoesaid, as all of the jumping and pitching of the said Ish and Henry, in and upon the belly of the said Dorcas Cleavenger, as aforesaid, she, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there instantly died.

And so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say that the said Ish and Henry, her, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, in manner and by the means aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, did then and there kill and murder. Against the form of the statute, in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state.

T. C. Burch, Circuit Attorney. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do further present: That Ish, late of said county of Ray, a person of color, and a slave, the property of Richard Cleavenger, of said county of Ray; and Henry, late of said county of Ray, a person of color, and a slave, the property of Abraham Froman, of said county, not having the fear of God before their eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, with force and arms, at the county of Ray, aforesaid, in and upon one Dorcas Cleavenger, in the peace of God and the state of Missouri, then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, did make and assault, and that the said Ish, his left hand about the neck and throat of said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did fix and fasten, and that he, said Ish, with his left hand, so as aforesaid, fixed and fastened about the neck and throat of her, said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there did violently, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, squeeze and press; and that the said Ish also then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, jumped and plunged the right knee of him, said Ish, in and upon the belly of the said Dorcas Cleavenger, giving to her, said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there, bv jumping and plunging his, said Ish's, right knee in and upon the belly of the said Dorcas, as aforesaid, one mortal bruise, as well of which said squeezing and pressing of the neck and throat of said Dorcas Cleavenger, with the left hand of the said Ish, as last aforesaid, as also of the jumping and plunging of the right knee of said Ish in and upon the belly of said Dorcas Cleavenger, as last aforesaid, she, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, then and there instantly died; and that the said Henry, at the time of committing the felony and murder last aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, was present, aiding, helping, abetting, comforting, assisting, and maintaining the said Ish in the felony and murder last aforesaid, in manner and form last aforesaid, to do, commit and perpetrate.

And so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say that the said Ish and Henry, her, the said Dorcas Cleavenger, in the manner and by the means last aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice aforethought, did then and there kill and murder. Against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state.

T. C. Burch, Circuit Attorney.

The above indictment was returned a "true bill," July 10, 1837. On that day Ish and Henry were led into court, and having no counsel, Alex. W. Doniphan, William T. Wood and Eldridge Benner were appointed to defend them. ^Amos Rees was appointed to assist in the prosecution.

July 11th, the prisoners appeared in court, and being ready for trial the same proceeded.

After hearing all the evidence in the case, the jury—Joseph Ewing, Samuel McCuistion, Abraham Linville, Harry Lile, William T. Tisdale, John H. Smith, Henry Clarke, Reuben Holman, Henry Hill, Albert Snowden, Allen Ball and Samuel Boon—retired, consulted, and returned with the following verdict, endorsed on the bill of indictment:

We, of the jury, find the defendants guilty in manner and form, as charged in the within indictment.

Joseph Ewing, Foreman.

Thereupon, the court ordered and adjudged that the said defendants be remanded back to the jail of this county, there to remain in close confinement until Friday, the 11th day of August next, and on that day, between the hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon and three o'clock in the afternoon, they be taken from thence to a gallows, to be erected for the purpose at some convenient place, within one-half mile of the town of Richmond, there to be hung by the neck until each of them are dead; and that the sheriff of this county carry the foregoing into execution.

At the designated time and place, Ish and Henry were duly hanged by the neck until they were dead—Hardy Holman, sheriff, being the executioner.

Ish and Henry were the first to be convicted of murder, and theirs was the first public execution in the county.

The writer inadvertently omitted to state in the proper place, that the scene of the murder just narrated, was near what is now the site of Fredericksburg, or New Garden post office, in Fishing River township.

UNLAWFUL HOMICIDE.

The first unlawful homicide was committed at or near Buffalo bridge, on Crooked river, in the year 1 823, by one Love Snowden, a desperate character of untamed disposition, the brutal propensities of whose nature overwhelmed the promptings of a decent manhood.

The citizens of the neighborhood had met for social pastime, near the bridge above mentioned. A quarrel began between Snowden and a neighbor, named Woods. Persons gathered around the parties in order to quell the disturbance. The difficulty was, apparently, amicably settled, and the two men shook hands in token of peace. Every body thought the affair at an end, and for a while all went as smoothly as if nothing had occurred to mar the enjoyment of the occasion. But the fiendish fire of Snowden's nature was not permitted to smolder; it continued to rankle, till, in a moment of violent rage, he plunged a knife to the hilt in the breast of the unwary, unfortunate Woods, inflicting a wound of which he expired in a few moments.

Snowden was subsequently apprehended and placed in jail. His case came up for trial at the July term, 1824, of the circuit court; a change of venue to Lillard (Lafayette) county was granted.

Afterwards, however, he was brought before the judge of the Ray circuit court, on a writ of habeas corpus, directed to the sheriff of Lillard county.

Appearing in court, Snowden plead not guilty, and for trial, put himself on God and his country.

For want of sufficient evidence, he was acquitted under the law of the land; but whether in the eyes of his countrymen and his God, is quite another matter.

The early records of the circuit court show that Love Snowden was arraigned before that tribunal no less than thirty times, within little more than three years, variously charged with assault and battery, stabbing, disturbing the peace, and finally with murder—after which his name disappears from the records.

At the close of the trial alluded to, Snowden went immediately to the house of his father, with whom the former's wife had been staying. The father and son became involved in a quarrel over a saddle, which the latter claimed belonged to his wife. The old man refused to give up the saddle, and the younger Snowden in order to get possession of it, brutally belabored his aged father. After this unfilial attack, Love Snowden left the community, to the delight, not only of the public in general, but even of his kindred, and has never been heard of since.

About the year 1838, the Mormons began to infest the country; and after numerous skirmishes and affrays had" occurred in Jackson, Clay,

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