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Friday, May 6, 2016

Politics and gunfighters

Sunday, April 1, 2012


A couple of bills making their way through the Missouri legislature caught my attention.

In an AP story this week I read where one House member has introduced a measure calling for the jumping jack to be named the official state exercise. Sounds a little silly but there's some rationale behind Rep. Pat Conway's bill.

"Students from Pershing Elementary School in St. Joseph have promoted the initiative, even appearing at hearings in the Capitol in support of the idea.

"Many Missouri streets and schools are named for Missouri-born Army General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, who is credited with inventing jumping jacks as a training drill for cadets when he taught at West Point in the late 1800s."

Another way of looking at the bill is that it is honoring one of the most famous generals in our nation's history.

Another bill would designate the fritillary, scientifically known as speyeria idalia, as the official state butterfly. I could not find any reasoning behind that request.

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Wild, Wild West

Few of us think of this part of Missouri as being part of the old West complete with bad guys and such, believing those to be confined to the western part of the state (think of Jesse James). However, that may not have always been the case.

"Take for example the case of John C. Crawford. John had a reputation as a killer and at 9:00 p.m. November 17, 1880, he was shot and killed in Parker's Saloon in Malden. Tim Barham (who later became) city marshal, the first one for the new city of Malden, he was an expert pistol shot and was reputed to have killed several men before he came to Malden.

"The cause of the trouble was not known at the time and since Malden was a wide-open town with three booming saloons owned by Dan Smith, Mart Keen and George Parke, with a newspaper known as the "Clipper" being published over the Parker Saloon, you had a picture of something like they show in the movies. Willie (Kid) Nash, Barham and Keen were jointly charged with the murder. The "Kid" was a known gambler. Fireworks started again when a man by the name of Sweeny was arrested for the murder and he was on the spot to take the rap.

"When the case came up for trial, it was discontinued from time to time until it came to court three years later with T. R. R. Ely, the new prosecuting attorney, assisted by R. A. Hatcher of New Madrid and John P. Taylor. On December 4, 1883 the defendants went to trial.

"After an hour of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of guilty in the first degree for Barham and he was sentenced to be hanged.

"After the trial, while Barham was awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court on appeal, he was appointed marshal at Clarkton and while serving his duties in the capacity caught some post office robbers and his case went from term to term until it was dismissed "for failure to bring the defendant to trial."

Tim Barham, while serving his first term as marshal at Malden shot and killed a man on the streets of Malden by the name of West Hall, who had come to Malden to kill Barham. The intrigue of the operations in those old days (is) recorded in full in an article by the late beloved R.A. (Bob) Cox, in a paper presented to the Dunklin County Historical Society, November 19, 1943."

Whit Thrower detailed the Wild, Wild, (Almost) West on the pages of the Tuesday, Jan. 31, 1950 edition of the Dunklin Democrat. That's to the DDD's unofficial, but much appreciated historian, Vivian Helton for passing that information along.

Several of you take the time to tell me how much you enjoy reading the blurbs from bygone days. I hope you also take a moment to thank Mrs. Helton when your paths cross.

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Don't forget to vote

Municipal and school board elections are Tuesday. Please make sure you take a few minutes out of your day and cast a vote. There are those who say not voting is a form of voting as well. I don't buy that and for those who think such is the case I wish they had an opportunity to speak with someone in a country where the right to decide who represents them in government isn't permitted.

Bud Hunt is regional vice

president, publisher of the

Daily Dunklin Democrat, Daily Statesman, Delta News-Citizen, Missourian-News and

North Stoddard Countian.