Contributed by Lester Merklin and produced by Jean Suman, Lynn Nelson, and Susan Stafford.

please click for fullsize portrait of Mary Frances Warfield Beeson  Autobiography of Mary F. Beeson

and her father's death in Old Shawneetown, in her own words and spelling

     I was born in Maroupin County, Illinois, in Jackensville. My parents were married January 29, 1848. I was born December 14, 1849. My father was born in Kentucky near Louisville. He was nineteen when he was married to my Mother. Her maiden name was Mary Jones. Her mother's name was Mary Watson. Seven children were born to my mother and father. After my mothers second marriage two more were born--two boys. I had two sisters and four brothers. Hariet Ellsie Warfield, John S. Warfield, Lemual, Alice Ellen. Alfred, Charley were my full brothers, and sisters.

Letter of Mary Jones

     When I was five years old the railroad gave father three acres of land in Gerared, Illinois if he would build a blacksmith shop and a house on it. He was a blacksmith by trade and built the house and shop. Mother was a teacher when married and had tought two terms or three. She had graduated from the academy at Jacksenville. Father had worked at blacksmithing for three or four years. He then had a hemorhage of the lungs and the doctor advised him to go to Kentucky for his health. He had not been gone but three weeks when my uncle, His brother Ben came to our house. He said he had come home to die. He was just there one day before he died. He was about twenty-eight years old. He was buried by the Masens. He was unmarried. It made us all sad and sick for we all loved him. We wrote to father to tell him of my uncle's arrival then we wrote again immediately after his death but the letter did not reach him for he had left Kentucky for Kansas. While he was in Kansas mother wrote him that dear little brother Lem, only two years old,had died. He then came on to Illinois. Little brother was buried two days before father reached home. Dear Grandmother Jones was with us. We all wept to see him put under the sod. The wind whistled, and moaned. We children went into the parlor and lay on the carpet and cried. Mother and Grandma set dinner on the table but we couldn't eat it.

     Dear Father came home. How glad we were to have him with us again. He was so sad. He cried and kissed us all. Dear Mother could hardly talk and tell him of the sorrow she had born without him. He was home with us for a few weeks then he went back to Kansas again. He took a homestead and wrote and told mother to get ready and he would get a home ready for us and write us when to come, and we children talked of nothing else but going to Kansas, but when we thought of leaving dear grandmother and Uncle Charley and Aunt Sarah behind we would feel sad and unhappy. Grandma and Mother were busy sewing getting us ready to go when father wrote us to come but it was several weeks before we got off. In the meantime Mother's aunt and her husband and two sons came by from Pennsylvania to see us. This made us very happy. They brought us many little presents and candy and nuts. Mother said [saved?] some things but most of the furniture was shipped. At last the time came for us to go to father away off in Kansas. How far away that seemed! We felt like we would never get to come back to dear friends and relatives. A great many came to tell us goodby. Grandma hugged us and cried and cried and we never saw her again. In a few short years she died. She had intended to come to us.

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     When we got on the train we left for St. Louis. There we took the boat, the Admiral for Kansas City. We were on the boat because the river was so low and the boat was stuck several times. I was so anxious to see father and the new home. Soon we came to St. Joseph, Missouri where we got off the boat and visited the penitentary. What impressed me the most was seeing two women there. One was in for the fourth time one for stealing and the other for killing her husband. While on the boat one day at dinner I discovered a good looking cake and asked the steward if I could have a piece of it. The steward replied, "That is not sweet cake it is corn pone." I still thought I wanted it for it looked as good but when my wish was gratified I nibbled a few small bites and left the rest. Then he laughed at me for I wouldn't eat my cake and he saw my embarrasment.

     A few days after arriving we found father. We stopped at the Harris Hotel. About the fourth day a darkey came in and said he had seen Mr. Warfield passing down the street with a suitcase in his hand. He was on his way to the wharf. Mr. Harris the proprieter, told the darkey to overtake him and tell him his family was there. He came back with the darkey and found us at the hotel. I was taken sick at the hotel with pluerisy and we were compelled to stay there three weeks. When I got well we went out in the country to a Mr. Carr's and we boarded there for three months. For father had sold the homestead. When we went in the house the master and the mistress were not home and here came the darkeys, old, little, big and young which frightened we children terribly. We drew back and my little sister cried.

     There was a house and a blacksmith shop just across the road from Mr. Carr's which my father rented for a year at the end of that time father met a young fellow who lived about two miles from us and wanted to sell his claim. He told father he could have it for seventy-five dollars. He paid him the seventy-five and when he went to the place the next morning he found a man by the name of Harris in possission who told him that he had jumped the claim. My father carried it to court and father won the case. It was tried twice and both times my father won. About five or six months later father Met Harris in town and Harris told him if, he, father, would pay him $500 and get his wife a new dress he would drop the case, and would not bother him any more.

     A short time before this Harris came to our home late in the evening acting like he was drunk. A Mr. McCauley and a Mr. Brown called that evening to get sickles groun and stayed for supper. Mr. Harris also stayed. After supper father played the violin for them for he was an expert violinist. Mr. McCauley and Mr. Brown left but Mr. Harris stayed on. Three of us children were asleep in the trundle bed in the front room. There was a box stove in the room and as father stooped over to pick up some wood to make kindling, Harris grabbed his whiskers from behind and grabbed a sad iron from the stove throwing it at him, but it missed his head and almost hit we children striking against the casing of the door. Father came down straddle of him grappled with him. Harris made a desperate effort to get a dagger from his pocket but failed. Harris was willing to quit so

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father let him up and he wanted to go home but father was too wise for he knew he probably would bring a crowd and kill father so father kept him all night. Father bathed his face and bruses and made him go to bed. Then he told my father he had come to cut his heart out but that father was too much for him. At this time I was about ten years old.

     The house on the claim when father bought it was not fit for occupancy so father built another. He put the framework up and then he returned to where we were living to stay all night. While he was away some one took the framework down and hauled it away. Father went to Kansas City and got more lumber to rebuild. He had the framework up and two sides of the house and part of another, the third side being enclosed with quilts when three of four Mexicans with large bread knifes appeared. We were all frightened for we feared they had come to kill us. Earlier in the day a Mexican called at the house and wanted to come in and get warm but Mother shook her head and pointed down the road to where smoke was coming out of a little shack on the claim. He went down and got warm but we were afraid that Mother had offended him and he told the other four Mexicans and that they were coming to kill us. We were relieved when they ask to grind their knives. They came up to the door and thanked us for the use of the grinding stone. We were relieved when they ask to grind their knives, but almost immediatedly the thought came that they were shapening their knives to kill us. Then the burden rolled away.

     About this time the people who lived down the draw from us moved away, Harris included. Their farms were taken by some people from Kentucky, and among these people was a lady who taught school. She lived about a mile from us and she taught school in one of her rooms. I was eleven years old. We only had four months of school a year. During this first school year an Indian came to our home. He wore a breach clout and carried a tomahawk. The dog tried to bite him and we tried to keep the dog off, while the Indian brandished his tomahawk at the dog and we thought if he killed the dog he would kill us next. He had a paper in his hand and wanted mother to read it but she was afraid and wouldn't go near the Indian. She pointed below the house to where there was a man camped. He went to the wagon and then acted as if he were coming back several times but finally walked off.. We heard afterwards that he was a friendly Indian and just wanted to something to eat.

     Shortly after this I went to stay with a half breed Indian for company for six weeks but most of the time was put in working at hard work. I had to wash, iron, scrub, churn, work butter and take care of kids. While there I got a fright. Her husband went to the city and brought home a brand new clock and and lounge. The next morning I had to get breakfast all by myself and the hired man came in and asked me if I were frightened and I said "Yes". I heard him say to the man of the house "I'll get the ax and cut it all to pieces" speaking of the couch, and "I'll slam the clock on the floor". Neither one came out till

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nearly noon and the dinner was on the table then the man came out and ate with the hired man and went to the woods. After that she came out, but I being only twelve years old was so frightened and worried over such carrying on that I could not eat. Father said when I went home that he wouldn't have had me stay for anything if he had known how things were.

     That summer I went to school four months. That summer another Indian made his appearance. We children were sitting on the front porch when he stepped up. We ran in the house and crawled under the bed but when we found he just wanted something to eat we came out. On our way to school we had to ride across a stream where we often saw a large snake. When the snake heard the horse hoofs in the water she would come to the edge of the water and the little ones would run in her mouth until she was many times larger around.

     This same fall mother and father went to visit an acquaintance that lived about ten miles away and didn't get home until after dark. About dusk the wolves began to howl. We would go to the door to see if anyone was coming and then immediatedly lock the door again. We were tickled children when we heard them coming. The next summer we went to visit a neighbor, Mrs. Dunham, a widow, living a mile away and just got home before the hail began to fall. It came down so large that a lot of them wouldn't go into a pint cup. It knocked some of the cows down. The cattle ran and tore around. This same summer two of my father's half brothers came out from Illinois on their way to Pike's Peak in a covered wagon, looking for a gold mine. On the way one Uncle sickened with Typhoid fever. Two of the men went to the peak leaving my other uncle to stay and doctor the sick one. He turned around and brought the sick uncle back to our house. The Great uncle who had come to see us in Illinois was at our house at this time and he being a doctor cared for my sick uncle when he arrived. A few days after they reached home we had another storm. It was a small cyclone, and threatened to blow the house down. It twisted the smoke house half way around. After the storm we found the dog and some chickens under the house. The house had to be raised to let the dog out and a knot hole in the floor let a little sunlight under the house encouraging the rooster to crow or we perhaps would never have known the chickens were there.

     My great uncle scouting around discovered a lovely strawberry patch within the hundred and sixty acres and asked we girls if we didn't want to go and help him pick berries. We went and came back with a couple of water buckets full of wild strawberries. We did this many times. There was a Mrs. White living with us. She was a widow woman, and went to work for a neighbor by the name of Mocaby who had freed his slaves. She later married a man by the name of Cole who was striker for my father in the blacksmith shop. My father started to build a house for them on our place but never

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completed it for they got frightened and moved to town. We raised a splended garden that summer--lots of beans, cucumbers, watermelons, potatoes, etc. We cut wild grass for hay and could sell all we could take to Kansas City to be used in the livery barns. Three or four men came out to cut grass for father had told them they could have all they wanted to cut. Two of the men went to town with a load of hay and on the way back two men coming the same way tried to crowd them into a fence so that the hubs of the wagon would catch on the poles of the worn fence. One of the men got out to pull the wagon away from the fence and they shot him with buck shot. The other man brought him on to our house and we sent for the doctor. When the doctor came he said he would have to take him to Kansas City. He took some of the shot out of him before he left and when he was taken in the next day the doctor tried to get the rest of it but the man died about Christmas time. He was about thirty.

     We lived on the border between Missouri and Kansas all this time, in E. Johnson Co., Kansas. The next summer 1861 twenty men came to the house talking like Mexicans, and father thought they were Mexican until he saw their faces. They came in with their revolvers cocked. They demanded his arms and ammunition if he had any. He pointed to his shotgun on the wall and said that was all the guns he had. They said they had been informed that he had a lot. They went to the dresser and bureau drawers and pulled the contents out spitting tobacco juice on them. A man stood with a revolver in each hand pointing to my father and told him to stand perfectly still while the others ramsacked the house. They then called my father who was in his night clothes to the door and I instinctively stepped in front of him and told him I would hold the light. Mother always said it was this act of mine that saved father from being killed that night. As soon as they left father put on this shoes and crept up the slough where these fellows had camped and heard them talking. He found out their leaders name was Dick Yager. They told father before they left that he couldn't live there any longer. They said, "If your sympathy is with the South you can't stay and if it is with the North you can't". Before leaving they took all our jewelry and money.

     Soon after this we heard a shot ring out and a man on horseback came running up and made his horse jump the fence and ran on down through the garden and down the draw, through the brush and across the stream to the Indian Mission three miles away. The man who was with him was killed as he crossed a bridge. They were opposed to anyone opposed to slavery. Out to kill and get what they could. About this time another man came to the house and spent the biggest part of the day talking with my father. His name was Jim Neuning. His claim joined my father's. He stood for slavery and we think he was trying to get him to join the slavery forces. Shortly after this the Union soldiers came and camped within a short distance of the house. My father was arrested and taken to their camp where he was interregated to find out what he stood for. He was released the next morning.

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     Within two days we moved to Shawneetown. We took just what we could in two wagons. A little later on in the fall when the weather was getting chilly father went back to the place to see how things were and get some beans that we had left when he heard or thought he heard a horse's hoofs beating. He ran out of the house and jumped on a horse and started off for town as hard as he could go. They chased him for four miles. But father out distanced them and when it came to where the roads turned they happened to take the other road and that is all that saved father that time. Some week or so after this the horse that father rode was stolen from our barn in town. We believe it was either the same outlaws or some of their gang that stole it. A couple of months later they stole our team and hack.

     While we were living at Shawneetown we children had measles very bad and nearly lost my youngest brother, Alfred. Mother was up with us and she stepped out on the back porch. She thought she heard somebody sigh. She looked and she saw a woman sitting down by the side of the house. It look like she was all bundled up Mother called to her. "Mrs McFarland what are you doing there?" When she got in she told Mother that Mr. McFarland had come home drunk and took the baby and was pounding it and she jerked it from him and made for the door and just as she reached the door he struck her over the head and back with a chair. As a result of this attack Mrs. McFarland was confined to her bed for weeks. The two boys, one thirteen and the other eleven practically kept the family by their efforts in helping neighbors do chores. The husband used all he could get his hands on for drink. What a blessing is prohibien!

     While we were at the same home one of our friends, Abelitien Brown, was called into a hotel by Mr. Holms, the proprieter, at the request of a Jim Neuning, a slavery man, who was playing cards with a lot of other men at the table. As Brown entered the door Neuning shot him dead without a word of warning, because he was a abolitienist. He left a family ten miles out in the country and when he failed to come home that night which was unusual the next day his wife sent a man to see what the trouble was. When he got there he found out that Mr. Brown had been killed. He returned and told her. Mrs. Brown was the Mother of twins six months old. Immediately she got ready to go to town. She took his good suit, shirt, etc. but when she reached Shawneetown she found the arrangements were all made and that Mr. Brown was already in his casket. She laid his clothes down but when she went to get them no one could find them. We went out in the hack (before it was taken) and brought Mrs. Brown and the children in and they stayed with us a week or so.

     The same fall that Mr. Brown was killed Harvey Beeson, my husband's second cousin rented Mrs. Brown's place and my father bought the crop. The next summer my father rented Jerry King's blacksmith shop and shod horses for the gobernment. He made five or six hundred dollars but hadn't received the money yet. The last of August we moved out to the Brown place as my father had bought the crop. We stayed with Mrs.

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Brown until Mr. Harvey Beesons could get moved away from the renters house. He was going to Iowa. It was here that we became acquanited with Mr. Allan Beeson, an uncle of Harvey Beeson and later my stepfather and father-in-law. For several days father worked cutting down sugar cane. He worked until noon one day and then went to town. When he got back the little boys, my brothers and Mrs. Cole's little boy who was living with us again, and had gone to the spring for water. There they saw three campers. One man was drinking and cursed them. Father told Mother he thought he had seen a couple of spies as he was coming home. He told mother he was offered one hundred and twenty five dollars for the horse he was riding. As father was talking to mother the boys came up from the spring and told father that one of the men cursed them, and had asked if they could get corn, hay and seed there. Father went down and came back with them and helped them get the corn and hay and weed then he helped carry the things down to the spring for them, They talked ther until ten o'clock then father came caring several big apples which these men had given him. Father went straight to bed when he came home.

     About twelve o'clock the bush whackers came. There was said to be about five hundred of them. They surrounded the house and kicked and yelled like wild Indians. They had probally followed him from the spring up and had listened to him talking to the men at the spring. They entered the house and the leader said to father, "You are my prisener". Father said, "let me get my hat and coat". The man said, "You don't need any". Father put on his shoes and started off with them. Mother my sister and myself followed two or three hundred yards when one of the men said, "You women better go back". Father said, "Mother you's better go back, I don't think Billie will hurt me and if he does you couldn't do me any good". So we went back to the house then I said to my sister lets go to the spring, for we saw a fire burning. She was crying and didn't want to go. I went by myself, I and the dog. As I got near the spring I could see that a lot of the stuff from the wagons had been thrown on the ground. I picked up four or five boxes of matches and threw them in a candy bucket and as I did so I looked in front of me and about five feet there laid a man dead. He had been shot four or five times. He was one of the men who had ask my father for corn, hay and weed. there were three of them, one a southerner, one a boy of seventeen and the other the dead man.

     The southerner left when the bushwackers came and came back after they had left and took the wagons on. The bushwackers yanked the seventeen year old boy out of the wagon by the hair of his head and then told him to run. As he did so they shot him but did not kill him. He fell within twenty or thirty yards of a house where a widow and her children were living. She got up and gave her bed to him. I ran back to our house. I was so scared I don't know how I got there. I ran right on to Mrs. Browns after telling the folks what I had seen and told Mrs. Brown about it. During the day the took the boy to O'Lathey and he died that A.M. Just as I entered Mrs. Browns door I heard a shot fired and I said, "Oh they have killed my father". Later we found he had been shot just at this time.

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     We slept no more that night. Mother spent the night weeping. Just six weeks later my little brother Charley was born. Early the next morning I ran to the widows house to see if she were dead or alive. Then I ran on down the main traveled road and found my father lying dead on the ground. about one half mile from the widow ladys house. His right hand lay across his heart and his left hand hung at his side. I put my hand on his and found it icy cold.

     Just then Mrs. Brown's hired man rode up from the same direction the bushwhackers would have gone and asked me many questions. We always believed he knew these bushwackers were coming and was perhaps with them. He soon saw my mother coming and told me I had better keep her from coming any farther so I met her and told her not to go farther. She turned and walked back to the house with me. She asked me if I had seen him and if he were dead. Four men Mr. Gambel (Mrs. Browns hired man) Allan Beeson, Mr. Gregg and Mr. Pulley carried my father to a wagon and brought him to our house. There they laid him out. On Sunday he was buried three miles from where we lived, close to O'lathey. My father had helped to bury this widows little boy just the Sunday before and little did we dream then that he would be buried in the same graveyard the next Sunday. After the funeral three men went home with us and advised mother to move to Wyandott. They advised Mrs. Brown and the widow lady to go too. So both familes moved to Wyandott.

     We were glad to have Mrs. Brown and the widow lady in the same town for we knew no one in Wyandott. We had to carry water nearly half a mile up a very steep hill. When there was snow on the ground we would melt that instead of caring water. I was fourteen in December and my father was killed in the October before that. He was killed in 1862. During the time we were at Wyandott Mr. Allan Beeson came in and brought us a load of corn, a jug of milk and one half gallen of cream. Mrs. Cole was staying with us at the time and went home with Allan Beeson to work with him. She worked there until her husband came home from the army, some twelve or fourteen months.

     While in Shawneetown we became acquainted with a family by the name of Styles. It was proved later that Mrs. Styles was a Union Spy. The same night that they killed my father they killed him. The bushwackers are who killed them both were members of Quantrill's band. There were about five hundred of them. After Mr. Styles's death the Union soldiers moved Mrs. Styles to Leavenworth, Kansas. My mother made a trip to Leavenworth, Kansas and there left the papers for my father's work shoeing horses for the government with Mrs. Styles to settle the amount but we never heard anything more from them. My Mother wrote once about it but we never heard anything more from them or Mrs. Styles.

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     A few months before mother went to Leavensworth to transact business we moved out to the Sharp place which Allan Beeson rented. Allan Beeson took mother to Leavensworth and when they returned Mr. Beeson handed me a certificate which told me that he and my mother were married. Mr. Beeson had two sons at home, Jess and Elwood and two in the army Oliver and Lewis. Jess had been paroled from the army and had just lost his wife with smallpox, and had come to share a home with his father. Jess went back into the army and stayed there until the end of the war. He was a message carrier from Fort Scott to Fort Smith. He had a beautiful horse and this was shot and fell under him. His thumb was shot off and the first joint of this first three fingers. His hip shot through by the same bullet that killed the horse. He pulled his feet out from under the horse and crawled to a stream near by hiding under the trunk of a tree staying there all day until dark. He tied up his hand and hip with a hankerchief and crawled fifteen miles to the nearest house where he was received aid. The man of the house gave him something to eat and took him on the Fort Scott where he was put in the hospital. He was there three or four months. This was in the spring and he came home that fall.

     Mr. Lewis Beeson and his brother Oliver came home about the same time. Shortly Lewis came home weighing ninety pounds when he ordinarily weighed two hundred and thirty pounds. This difference was caused by chronic diarrhea. They hadn't been home but a few days when we heard that Price's army was coming. Mr. Beeson and the three boys got horses and rode for Fort Scott. They had only been gone an hour when the soldiers came. They couldn't ride fast on account of Lewis' condition. One rode on each side of him so he wouldn't fall. There was many others going to Fort Scott. When they came through our place like they did in many others, they killed the hogs, and took everything we had to eat. I was sick and we were without food till the next day.

     They had a battle within a quarter of a mile of our house and the roar of the cannon was deafening. There was a string of horses about a half a mile long. Each man held about eight horses each. They resorted to sabers before the battle was over. This was on the Osage River. There were about sixty thousand men engaged. The Union men were victorious. It was here that Marmaduke was captured, and at this time (before they went to battle). They first fought with sabers on their horses then they dropped their sabers and dismounted using their guns. In passing through Price's army destroyed, burned and killed. (Old man Woodall sick and old, between seventy and seventy five years old) was chased by Price's men while he was riding horseback, shot and killed. Mr. Stevens another of our neighbors was shot and killed without provocation. His body fell against the store door. Then they set fire to the building and burnt him. A man about a mile from Ft. Lincoln whose name was Campbell rode out on his horse and told the confederates he was a sympathizer and he would let them have his horse. So he did. Then they told him some of them were without coats and they wanted his coat. They got that. Then they asked for his trousers and got them. They also took his boots. He was left in his socks and underwear to walk home two or three miles in the drizzling rain.

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     Another man seventy-eight years old was met by some of Price's men at his own door and asked for money. He told them he had no money for them. Then he secretly nodded his head to his daughter that he was going to the woods. They soon followed him and later he was found lying across a path with a bullet hole in his head and it looked as if his eyes had been gouged out with sticks. They brought him to the house and he died that night. He was a close neighbor of ours.

     My stepfather told my brothers to take some of our choice stock and go down and hide them in the woods. There were three horses and a yolk of oxen. The boys hid them in the brush and when they saw them coming they dropped their guns and ran. The rebels broke their guns and took the stock. They butchered about ten head of hogs, all we had. They took all our bedding burned our hay and fed all our corn. They destroyed our bees and took our honey. They took all the mens new clothing and ours too so that none of us had a change.

     The boys got home the next day about sundown we were so happy to see them for we had mourned them as dead. We all cried when they came in we were so glad. We had an Uncle that had disappeared and we did not know where he was. He came back after about three days. When he got to the place where he had lived a year or more he didn't know where he was and asked what place it was. I told him it was Allan Beeson's place. He had almost lost his mind. I was sixteen years at this time.

Mary Frances Warfield married Clarkson Lewis Beeson April 2, 1865 in Kansas. They had fourteen children. Her husband died in 1911 and she died January 4, 1945 in Walla Walla, Washington. Mr. Merklin said she had very little education, but was a great old lady who died at the age of 94.
~Jean Suman.

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