A Doctor's Memories
Victor C. Vaughan, M.D.

Table of Contents

Chapter 3

The Civil War in Missouri

Before the Civil War my father was not a Democrat, but a Conservative or Whig, the platform of which party stated that “they recognized no political principle other than the Constitution of the country, the Union of the States and the enforcement of laws.” In the state and presidential elections of 1860, which I remember well, the contest in Missouri was between the Whigs and the Northern (Douglas) Democrats, the Southern Democrats and Republicans polling only small numbers.

One morning in April, 1861, my father entered the school room of Hazel Hill Academy with a pained and anxious expression on his face. I was startled and feared the announcement of some family disaster. In a tremulous voice he announced that the secessionists had fired on Fort Sumter and asked that the school be dismissed for the day. The local militia, organized and commanded by my grandfather, Colonel William Dameron, in the Black Hawk War, assembled and was addressed by the leading men of the community. The burden of these speeches was that they must prepare to go and whip South Carolina back into the Union as Andrew Jackson had once threatened to do. Once or twice a week these potential soldiers were drilled and harangued. In the meantime many things were happening in the state and nation. Governor Jackson labored at first to keep the state neutral, but the intemperate speech made by General Lyon, the commander of the United States troops in the state, at a conference with the Governor, drove the latter with a large following into the waiting arms of the Confederacy. Besides, the dominance of the German element of St. Louis in the Union cause made the natives turn to the other direction. “Die schwartze Garde“ and “mit Siegel“ became terms of reproach. The tone of the talks to the local militia rapidly changed and in early June this small troop joined the Governor in his futile attempt to aid the South.

A lasting impression was made upon at least one small boy as he witnessed these events. One man in the militia stood out for the Union to the end. At every meeting, after the change in purpose became apparent, he protested. He appealed to sentiment and to reason. When the final day came, when the ladies presented a Confederate flag, he made a last appeal, which was met with laughter. Then the order to move came. He swung into his saddle and rode with the troop. A shout went up: “What! Bill, are you going with us?” “Yes, you are all going to hell, but you are my friends and I am going with you.” He never came back but he deserved a better destination than he predicted. When the conflict is on, the call to stand by friends is well nigh irresistible.

Four years of my childhood were spent in the midst of an internecine war, with brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, with opportunity to avenge every real or imagined affront, with privilege to plunder and murder, with at least a partial return to the barbaric and savage state, with the revival of the brute instincts which still linger in the best of men. I learned to hate war and to love peace so dearly that I have been willing to do my small bit in fighting for it. I agree with General Sherman in his definition of war; certainly no one was more competent than he to give the definition he did.

So long as regular troops occupied our area, family privacy and property were protected. Guards were placed about the buildings and we felt safe. I remember with pleasure a Colonel McKay, who slept and ate in our home as an honored guest. At that time I had two beautiful golden-chief horses. One day during the Colonel’s stay I rode one of these some miles beyond the outer guards. I was riding along Silver Creek with the stream on one side and high rocks on the other when the shout “Halt!” came from the hills. I looked up and saw “a cousin” who had joined the rebel guerrillas standing above me with a gun in his hand. He said: “Victor, I will have to take that horse.” I knew that I had nothing to fear from him, so leaning forward I touched Golden’s neck and shouted back, “You will have to catch us first.” As the horse fled down the stream a shot rang out far above me but soon I was safely within the Union lines. Of course I did not inform the colonel of my cousin’s proximity.

One of these horses saved me from great injury and demonstrated the marked intelligence of the equine species. I had ridden to a neighbor’s house and was hitching the horse when a large dog sprang at me. As the dog came the horse kicked him but the beast recovered his footing and giving the horse’s heels a wide berth seized me by the arm. The horse struck the dog across the back with a forefoot and made him loosen his hold. Later both of these horses were “commandeered,” one by southern and the other by northern thieves. One morning nearly a year after it had been “confiscated” the latter was found, broken and crippled, standing at the woodland pasture gate, mutely begging recognition by its old friends and admittance to its home. It received both but it never again carried me over the fence or across the ditch. A blooded, coal black mare with silvered fetlocks, lovingly known as “Silver Heels,” disappeared from the pasture, and some months later was recognized by father in the lot of a farmer, about five miles distant from our home, whose sons thieved in the livery of Uncle Sam. Father made a claim, but the jury branded him as a “southern sympathizer,” and the matter rested there and the mare in the possession of the Union man.

During the last months of the war we preserved a few horses by keeping them in the woods down on Sweet Springs. At that period rebel guerrillas were nonexistent in northern Missouri except in the imagination of the state militia, but the groundless fears of the latter were of service to the natives, since under them, the militia, “the brave protectors of our homes and firesides,” did not dare to venture into the woods. As a blind we kept old and crippled horses in the barn lot. When a squad of soldiers came to “impress” horses we showed this bunch and said: “Take your pick.” The woody recess on Sweet Springs served not only for the preservation of horses, but there we stored away the family carriage, the best wagon, harness and other farm valuables. We kept at the “woodpile” an old wagon without a body and with harness made with pieces of rope. One Sunday afternoon a squad of militia came and ordered us to bring immediately a load of corn to Huntsville, their camp. We showed them the old wagon without a body and the corn standing on the stalk and told them that we would gladly comply with their order if they would tell us how. They did not know that we had made a collapsible wagon body out of fence rails, tied together with rope, when we were compelled to gather corn to feed the animals, both the crippled ones in the barnyard and the sound ones in the woods. Surely adversity is a great teacher. During the fall and winter Of 1864-65, cribs stood empty and the ears of corn remained on the stalks from which they were plucked as necessity demanded, or I should say, as the hunger of man and beast required.

We did not altogether escape the rebel guerrillas. One day “Bill Anderson” at the head of his desperadoes and cutthroats rode into Huntsville, the village in which he had been reared, shot down peaceful citizens against whom he had a boy’s dislike, robbed the bank and rode away.

The day before the Centralia massacre (September 27, 1864) Quantrell breakfasted, as an uninvited guest, at my father’s table. His men were gaily bedecked. Some carried gold watchcases as cap boxes. At Centralia he took a troop of paroled Union soldiers from the train, lined them up and shot them dead. Then setting fire to the train, he ordered the engineer to start it and jump at his own risk.

With the exception of Colonel McKay and his command, I saw no regular United States soldiers during the Civil War. I saw no regular Confederate soldiers, except during the few days in 1864 when General Price made his raid and attacked Glasgow, eighteen miles from my father’s home. The night before that event Price’s scouts tore down the telegraph lines along the plank road in front of our home. This done, they did not tarry.

Missouri never seceded from the Union. This matter was referred by the legislature to a committee elected by the people and this body never severed the relation of the state to the Union. It is true that a minority of the legislature met at Neosho in October, 1861, passed a secession act and appointed two senators and eight congressmen to the Confederate Congress but this was clearly illegal. The Federal government never regarded the state as a part of the Confederacy and Missouri slaves were not emancipated by Lincoln’s proclamation, but by act of the State Legislature passed in 1865. The number of soldiers furnished by Missouri to the Union Army was one hundred and ten thousand. How many of these were colored I do not know. How many enlisted in the Confederate forces is not known but is estimated at about forty thousand.

So far as I know, the most despicable and brutal act inflicted upon the people of the state was that of General Ewing of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Infantry in Order Number 11. This order compelled the residents of three counties (Jackson, Cass and Bates) and a part of the fourth (Vernon) to desert their homes. Those who were willing to swear allegiance to the Union were permitted to live within an area of one mile from a military post, while those who would not take the oath became outcasts and their homes were plundered and burned. This man, and not General Weyler of Cuban fame, was the instigator, in modern times at least, of the establishment of “Reconcentrados Camps.” It is said that one of his own officers, Colonel Bingham, remonstrated, and when repulsed, swore that he would make the name of his superior infamous. At least Colonel Bingham painted a reconcentrados scene, prints of which hung in many a Missouri home for long years and helped to keep alive the fires of sectional animosity, now happily extinguished. How far Federal authorities were responsible for this order I leave to historians to debate.

One day I was throwing wood from the wagon. Hearing a horse charging toward me I turned my head. A militiamen sat on his horse beside the wagon. His right hand held the reins, his left elbow rested on the rim of a rear wheel and in this hand he held a cocked pistol with the barrel almost touching my upturned face. Through his closed teeth he growled into my ear: “Where are those damned rebels you have been feeding in this house?” Terror such as I have never known before or since, seized me. Tears came to my eyes. My tongue became inarticulate. My heart seemed to stand still. I clutched a stick of wood to support my trembling frame. It seemed an eternity before I could find words to answer. I assured him finally that I had not seen a rebel since the night that Price’s scouts had torn down the telegraph lines. This time I told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But this experience was so often repeated that I learned to tell a lie with a cocked pistol in my face as readily as under other conditions. In fact I came to find enjoyment in lying in these cases. Such is the power of education and training. The small family, Mother, a younger brother, Sister and I, sitting before the blazing logs in the great fireplace at night would hear the rush of horses under the leafless trees in the yard. We knew what was happening. The house was being encompassed by soldiers. Then there was an interval of intense and oppressive silence, sometimes broken by screams of terror from the negro women and children, but even they learned to keep mute. Then the butt of a musket would strike against the front door. I as the eldest child and man of the house, for I had recently completed my thirteenth year, opened the door and faced the inevitable pistol. “Where is your father ?” Then I lied with ease and readiness. We all lied; even the negroes lied. Irene would say as the searching party went through her cabin: “ ‘Fore God I hadn’t seen Mars John for weeks,” when the truth was that she had prepared his dinner not two hours before and he was then in the woods down on Sweet Springs.

As I have said elsewhere my father had served in the quartermaster’s corps before his marriage. A falling tree had caught him, breaking both legs, one in two places. One of these fractures never entirely healed and left a suppurating sore from which spicules of bone frequently worked their way through the tissues, causing great pain and at times complete temporary disability.

Shortly before the war, a man giving his name as Young came into the neighborhood, and served a Mr. Philpot as a day laborer working with the negroes and as one of them. Naturally he was not received as a guest in the country homes. He had served in this capacity but a few days when he and Mr. Philpot’s best horse simultaneously disappeared. Both were captured, the horse returned to its owner, and the man sent to the Missouri penitentiary. Father had been foreman of the jury that convicted and sentenced this man. In the fall of 1864 Young, now as lieutenant-colonel of a marauding band of home guards, revisited the scenes of his former activities. He was no longer dressed in prison stripes but in the striking livery of Uncle Sam. He shot Mr. Philpot in the barnyard from which he had taken the horse. His next victim was to be my father, hence his frequent visits to our home.

Failing in his purpose he came with his troop late in January or early in February, 1865, and took possession of the farm and all that was thereon. He did not burn the buildings because they gave him and his men shelter. He permitted Mother and her children the occupancy of one room but even in this there was no privacy as soldiers passed through it day and night. One evening four men spread their blankets before the fire, when Mother seized a musket from the corner, drew a bead on them and ordered them from the room. I may say that this was not mere bravado on Mother’s part. She was an accomplished shot, as she had frequently demonstrated to the family by killing an occasional stray cat or a vicious dog. The soldiers took up their blankets and beat a hasty retreat, leaving Mother in possession of their guns, with a threat that she would use one of them on any man who entered her room without permission. They threatened Mother with no other show of personal violence, but she was subjected to every other conceivable insult. The soldiers gathered the negroes from the cabins, seated them at Mother’s table and ordered her to wait on them as they had done for her. On her refusal to comply with this demand the soldiers performed this function themselves. They boxed up books, linen and other valuables before our eyes and shipped them to their homes.

A neighbor boy became, after the war, a Methodist preacher. He was assigned to a circuit in one of the northern border counties. One Sunday afternoon after preaching in a rural church he was invited to tarry over night in the home of one of the elders. That night he was handed the family Bible and asked to read a chapter and lead in prayer. He was surprised on opening the holy book to find that it was his own family Bible and contained a record of his own birth. He says that he prayed loudly and earnestly for the conversion of thieves.

During Colonel Young’s domination of our home and especially after the insult directed at my mother, I swore that the chief function of my life should be to kill this man, but fate soon relieved me of this obligation. Shortly after the escape of the family, about which I am soon to tell, a train passed over his drunken body. I am sure that Satan welcomed him as an efficient coadjutor.

At that time there was said to be an organized society of southern sympathizers, known, if I remember correctly, as Knights of the Golden Circle, in Illinois. I know nothing about the truth of this statement, but whisperings of the existence of such an organization came to us over the “grapevine telegraph” and we believed them. I do know that in our loyal sister state Father found friends and helpers. In Montgomery County, Illinois, he had refuge during most of the time that Colonel Young was lying in wait for him in Missouri. From this haven Father made occasional excursions to see how we were doing. Finally having made all preparation for our flight into Egypt (a name for southern Illinois), he returned to his straw pallet on Sweet Springs and watched for a chance. In these movements he was accompanied by one of Mother’s brothers, Uncle Green Dameron. The opportunity came sooner than we expected. Colonel Young, having exhausted the visible resources of the old farm, led his men away to richer fields. We were kept informed of his whereabouts by “grapevine telegraph.”

On the night of February 14, 1865, a memorable date in my life, all were astir in the old home. Two wagons, the family carryall and riding horses were brought from Sweet Springs. Uncle Jeff, the only negro man left on the place, was instructed so far as he could comprehend as to our destination and given charge of the farm and all that remained on it. Sometime in the night we were on the way. The party consisted of Father, Mother, the three children, including myself, Uncle Green Dameron, Doctor Perkinson, the neighborhood physician, and two neighbor boys, both about fifteen, Claibourne Jackson and William Birge. We took our breakfast at a friendly farm house some miles away and then avoiding the chief highways and as many towns as possible continued eastward. We crossed the Mississippi River at the village of Louisiana without question. Father had arranged for our crossing the Illinois River at Apple Creek Ferry, not far from Louisiana. But when we arrived at this place we found the flimsy ferry, a flat boat guided by poles, quite unable to stem the current and withstand the blocks of floating ice. We continued our weary journey through the day and throughout the long night up the western bank of the Illinois. We were among total strangers and feared that we might fall into the hands of enemies. We made cautious inquiry as to the possibility of crossing the river at every hamlet, but were compelled to proceed to Peoria before we found possible chance of transportation. I never visit this city, famous in pre-Volstead days for its distilleries, without an initial shudder. There must have been some corn juice there as early as 1865, for we were questioned, suspected and threatened by drunken men at the wharf. But we gave gentle answer and were allowed to move on to the boat, one bystander expressing the hope, which did not seem groundless, that we would go to the bottom instead of the other shore. Without mishap we landed and continued on our way.

The first night after leaving Peoria I had an extremely unusual experience. We had traveled some hours after dark. The last thing that I remember that night was tying my horse in a fence corner and supplying it with an armful of corn thrown on the frozen ground. When I became conscious again I was in bed with the doctor and he was trying to awaken me. By the light of the kerosene lamp in the farmhouse I found my clothes, placed more carefully than I would have arranged them had I been awake, on a chair. The doctor told me that I had eaten supper and behaved as a normal boy, but the long journey of the night before had rendered the desire to sleep irresistible.

A few days later we arrived at our destination and were installed in a double log cabin, which Father had previously provided. The McDavids and other friends supplied our immediate wants while our scanty stores from the wagons furnished our cabin.

As soon as we were installed in our new home, Father sent me to the rural school. At the first recess, the boys selected one of their own number of about my size and age, formed a ring about us, and told us to fight it out. My opponent began by hurling at me all the vile epithets in which his vocabulary was rich. He called me a rebel, a secessionist, a white livered scoundrel, a puke and other names unfit for this page. I showed no resentment. Finally emboldened by my attitude, half squatting, with his hands on his knees, he peered into my face and said: “He is a pretty decent boy for the upbringing he has had.” This was too much, since it implied a slur on my family and my ancestors. The fight was on. For some minutes it raged. I will not give the details since the boy is not here to tell his story and I am not an impartial narrator. Suffice it to say that this was my only fight in that school. From that time I was one of the boys and I must pay tribute to the fairness with which the “sucker” boys initiated the “puke.” I have seen less honor displayed in contests between older and more intelligent males of the genus homo.

That summer Jackson, Birge and I broke the ground and cultivated sixty acres of corn. Father worked as a carpenter as his lame leg did not permit his following the plow, but did not incapacitate him for the more arduous labor of converting huge sections of oak trees into clapboards and making roofs of the same.

The southern Illinois of 1865 was quite different from that of to-day. Then there were vast expanses of virgin prairies. Here and there small clumps of trees indicated the location of farmhouses, which for the most part were small wooden buildings, but with abundant hospitality within. The prairies were broken at long distances by sluggish streams with heavily wooded shores, varying in width with the size of the stream and its smaller tributaries. The dwellers in the open lands were quite as dif- ferent from those on the creek bottoms as were their surroundings. The former were of the ordinary American farmer type, mostly from Ohio, Indiana and farther east, though with a goodly sprinkling from Kentucky and Virginia. Those along the streams were the most primitive people I have ever seen in this country. In fact they were but little better supplied with creature comforts than the present peasants of the Balkans and quite as ignorant and shiftless. I have ridden through the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina and know something of the “poor white trash” of these regions and I saw more of them in Camps Sevier and Wheeler during the war. Their intellects impressed me as fertile soil lying fallow, ready to prove productive under skilful cultivation, and then I recall that they have produced an Andrew Jackson and an Abraham Lincoln. But it was different with the people that I knew on the creek bottoms of southern Illinois in 1865. To me their brains seemed absolutely sterile. I have often wondered what has become of these people. If I could be convinced that their descendants have become worthy citizens I should have less faith in heredity and more in environment. Our cabin lay on the edge of a forest and I made acquaintances in both directions. A ride of a mile to the west carried me to the residence of farmer Brown whose intelligent sons and daughters I respected; while a ride of less distance to the east brought me to the windowless hut of neighbor Trelawney, whose half grown children roamed in the forest with less clothing than a modern fashionable woman wears. These children gathered acorns for the winter and berries for more immediate consumption.

One day I drove to Hillsboro, the county seat of Montgomery County, and went to the hotel for lunch. The proprietor asked if I did not live near McDavid’s Point and if a young lady, recently arrived, could ride with me to that place. Although I was at the girl-shy age I accepted the responsibility. Seated in the buggy by the side of a handsome girl, I was informed that she had recently graduated at a seminary in New York State and that she was making a visit to her father’s brother, Mr. Trelawney. I assured her that I knew her uncle and should safely conduct her to his door. At our cabin I told her that it would be necessary to continue our journey on horseback. She asked if there was no carriage road to her uncle’s. I lied-a habit acquired during the war-and told her that a bridge was down. Mounted, we proceeded through the roadless forest. I drew rein at the door of the Trelawney hut. She exclaimed: “My uncle does not live here ?” I told her that we were before the residence of the only Trelawney I knew. She asked me to wait. She went into the house as stark naked children stared from the doorway and retreated in fright at her approach. Returning she asked if my mother could give her shelter for the night. The next morning Mr. Trelawney brought his eldest daughter, with her nakedness decently hidden, and I drove the pair to the railroad station. Did the daughter ever return, and what became of the other little Trelawneys, are questions for which I would greatly like to have answers. They would be of sociological and eugenic interest.

During the summer Father interrupted the making of clapboards long enough to purchase a drove of hogs and a number of young horses. As soon as the corn was “laid by,” I became for a short time a herder of horses. It was my business to see that individuals did not stray and to keep the bunch together. It was at this time that I had my first experience with malaria. In 1865 every man, woman and child in southern Illinois, at least within my range, shook with ague every other day. Father, as a precursor to later Italian savants, believed in and practiced the prophylactic use of quinine. He had a great demijohn filled with chopped Peruvian bark, while the interspaces were occupied by spiritus frumenti. Of this noxious mixture each member of the family had to swallow a liberal draught every morning before breakfast. I shunned the mixture on the plea that I had to ride with the horses. Besides, some nights I did not get home, since the herd often led me far away.

On a hot August morning as I sat on my horse in the treeless prairie, I felt cold chills playing hide and seek up and down my spine. As the sun’s rays became more vertical the chilly sensations grew in strength. Soon my teeth were chattering. I dismounted, removed the saddle, staked my horse, and using the saddle as a pillow, I wrapped my blanket about me and sought comfort but found none. The sun did its best to warm me but failed. In my misery I heard the horses moving. The sun was driving them to shade and water. In single file and at a lazy trot they were making for the creek bottom, some miles distant. My horse, impatient to follow, was straining at his tether and calling to his fellows. There was but one thing to do and soon I was loping after the herd with every joint and ligament in my body out of gear and with my teeth clattering like castanets with every footfall of my horse. After miles of agony and about high noon, my herd, having quenched their thirst, were standing with heads down, tails switching and hoofs stamping, fighting the innumerable hosts of every genus and species of insect created to make miserable the life of man and beast. I had again taken to the ground with the saddle for a pillow, busy fighting the voracious mosquitoes. Rather abruptly the chilly sensation left me and another tormentor came. The fever laid its tight grip upon me. Currents of heated blood under high pressure flowed through my throbbing arteries, ringing in my ears and benumbing my senses.

The sky became overcast with clouds. An ominous silence pervaded the air. Not a leaf moved, and as the gloom deepened the swarms of insects grew more voracious. The heavy artillery of heaven began a bombardment which shook the earth while vivid flashes of lightning awakened terror in my fevered brain. Suddenly the frightened herd with a snort made a stampede in the direction of the open prairie. My horse attempted to follow but the rope held. As soon as I could girth the saddle with my trembling hands I was on his back and rushing away in pursuit. By the time I reached the prairie the flood gates were open and the water falling in torrents. I made no attempt to guide my horse, but held the reins tight in my left hand to support my trembling frame and to check as far as possible the dangerous speed at which my wild horse was carrying me. With my right hand I clutched a bunch of his mane and leaned forward as much as the high pommel of the saddle permitted. I recall having a fear that the girth might loosen and wishing that I had left the saddle under the trees. Repeatedly I felt that I must fall. but this sensation resulted only in a firmer grip on mane and rein. By the flashes of lightning I could occasionally see the fleeing herd, at first far away and then nearer. I realized with some grain of satisfaction that my fleet footed horse had not lost his sense of direction and was gaining on his fellows. I have never been able to figure out satisfactorily how many hours or how many miles I rode that night. As suddenly as it had come, the storm passed. What remained of the cloud dispersed and the harvest moon stood revealed in all its beauty. The man in it smiled down benignantly and by his light I tried to count the horses now leisurely feeding on the rich grass, but I could not be sure that my still fevered brain registered the numbers correctly. As the God of Day heralded his coming by flaming banners in the east my fever left me and was followed try the sweating stage. As fast as the sun dried my clothes on the outside the flowing pores of my skin wet them within. When this had passed I felt quite normal and was wholly unconscious of the preparation already in progress by the plasmodium for the invasion and destruction of other thousands of my red blood corpuscles.

Late that afternoon I led a troop of tired and docile horses into the corral at the log cabin. This was my first and last personal experience with malaria in Egypt. Before I had finished the relation of my experiences, I began to swallow double doses from the demijohn and these were repeated at frequent intervals during the night and the following days, and at longer intervals during the following weeks.

That summer I saw enough of a people held in bondage by malaria to make a lasting impression upon a boy’s mind. How- much the present dwellers in southern Illinois owe to the open-eyed and keen-witted Jesuit who penetrated the interior of Peru and to his patroness, the Princess Chinchon, I will not attempt to estimate; but if quinine has clothed and redeemed the recent generations of Trelawneys, I am willing to pronounce it a gift from heaven.

When the corn had grown sufficiently mature, the stalks were cut close to the ground and with their hanging ears and green blades hauled to the pens and thrown to the hogs. These animals with eager relish converted this provender into pork and at the proper time were sold at fair profit.

Mr. Trelawney had a few razor-back hogs which, tired of the scanty mast found in the woods, would collect about our pen with covetous eyes on the luscious corn being devoured by our porkers. One, a tall, long, lean, red boar, managed to find a weak rail and broke into the pen. Here Brother and I found him one day at feeding time. I took one of Father’s heavy, green clapboards and stationed myself near the broken fence. Brother, from the other side of the pen, set up a shout. The great boar came leaping over the tame animals and as he was in mid air I struck. The heavy edge of the board landed across the hog’s forehead and it fell stone dead at my feet. Brother and I were in consternation. Our little play had grown serious. We greatly feared the anger of Trelawney and we dreaded to go to Father with our story. We harnessed a horse and dragged the dead body far into the forest and hid it in the bushes. But we had heard that “murder will out,” and for days we carried our guilty consciences in our trembling bodies. Waking and sleeping, that dead boar was before us. Trelawney came, hunting for his prize animal. We assured him that we had not seen it, adding the crime of lying to that of murder. Trelawney evidently did not suspect us and after our denial he turned back into the woods saying: “Wall, I guess he’s left the world and crumb a tree.” But our sense of guilt grew enormously and finally we made a full confession to Father who immediately rode to Trelawney’s house and paid him for the hog. Thus the sense of guilt was removed and the wild red boar no longer troubled our dreams.

In October, 1865, accompanied by other exiles, we turned our caravan westward and within a short time reached our old Missouri home where Uncle Jeff rendered a satisfactory account of his stewardship and where we began life under new conditions.

Although General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, Jefferson Davis was in prison at Fortress Monroe and the slaves of the South had been emancipated, war conditions had not ceased in Missouri and were to continue for five years more. It is true that marauding bands no longer rode through the state but the bad element wielded a more powerful weapon than a cocked pistol- that of legal enactment.

In January, 1865, a Constitutional Convention, composed for the most part of delegates who came from oblivion and having signed a document prepared by one Charles Drake, now of odious memory, returned to the realm from which they came. From the name of its author and from its likeness in severity to the laws written by Draco of ancient Greece, the Missouri Constitution of 1865 is known as the Draconian Law. If a more iniquitous constitution has been written within the Christian era I am not aware of it. Some of its provisions were:

(I) The ousting ordinance.- This ordinance which was passed by the Constitutional Convention on March I7, 1865, provided that the offices of the judges and the clerks of the Supreme Court and of all the Circuit Courts of the state, and also certain county offices, such as recorders, circuit attorneys, and sheriffs, should be vacated. It also gave the Governor authority to fill all these places with his own appointees (see Violette’s History of Missouri, page 413). Most of the men thus deposed were Union men; at least they had been elected by Union voters, since southern sympathizers in the state had been disfranchised in 1862. This ordinance was put into operation without having been submitted to the vote of even the restricted electorate and it placed in the hands of the Governor every judicial office in the state.

(2) Voters’ disqualifications.-

Every man wishing to vote was required to appear before a registrar and subscribe to an ironclad oath. At first the registrars were elected, but when it was found that they were occasionally too lenient, they became in 1868 appointees of the Governor. Even when one swallowed the “ironclad” the registrar endorsed his application to vote or rejected it as he saw fit.

(3) Professional disqualifications.-

No lawyer could advise with a client, plead a case at the bar or accept a fee; no minister could preach a sermon, lead in prayer or officiate at a christening or perform a marriage ceremony; no one could give instruction in the state university or in any public school, without subscribing to the “ironclad” oath. Strange to say, physicians and undertakers were not mentioned in these disqualifications. (4) County courts were authorized to bond their respective counties for prospective railroads on a two-thirds vote of the restricted electorate and some courts issued these bonds without submitting the question to any vote.

By these means the Republican party attempted to fasten its grip on the state in perpetuity. Is it any wonder that I cast my first vote in 1872 for Horace Greeley in preference to General Grant, although I never admired the old egotist of the New York Tribune, or that I adhered to the Democratic party until detached therefrom by the vagaries of Mr. Bryan in 1896?

However, these shackles on citizenship became obnoxious to many individuals in the party which forged them, and under the leadership of Carl Schurz, Joseph Pulitzer, Gratz Brown and others the Republicans split into what were known locally as Liberal and Black Republicans. Finally the former group affiliated with the Democrats and in 1872 a Democrat, Silas Woodson, was elected Governor and this office was held continuously by that party until 1909, when Herbert S. Hadley, a gentleman and a scholar although a Republican, occupied the Governor’s residence at Jefferson City and now presides with honor and dignity over the destinies of Washington University, St. Louis.

The first of the above mentioned measures to be mollified was that pertaining to professional disqualifications. Father Cummings, who said mass, heard confession, administered the last rites of the church and prayed for relief from purgatory, without taking the oath, was fined five hundred dollars and sentenced to jail until it should be paid. The last of the obnoxious measures to pass into oblivion was the bond issue, which, according to a historian, aggregated fifteen millions of dollars for which the people received no benefit. The United States Supreme Court-that oracle of unerring wisdom and divine justice enshrined by our forefathers-pronounced these issues constitutional and ordered their payment. Some of the bondholders built castles far east of the Mississippi. However, those thus enriched have long since deserted their earthly mansions and, if our accepted theology be true, are now sojourning in a climate where ice is unknown and the average temperature of which exceeds that of old Missouri in the worst dog days.

It was not until 1875 that Missouri had a constitution more consonant with present day civilization, but before that time I had ceased to be a resident of this state.

A Doctor's Memories
Victor C. Vaughan, M.D.

Table of Contents