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Postcards: After a few years of planning, Battle of Albany event near

By Linda Emley

On Aug. 28, 2011, I sent the following email to Ray County Historical Society board members. “Darryl  Levings from The Kansas City Star was in Lexington a few weeks ago. He drove through Richmond on his way back to KC, and stopped at Ray County Library. He saw one of our brochures and gave us a call. He said he would be over in 10 minutes and warning me that he was going to ask me what was my favorite Civil War thing in the museum. He is writing a book about the Civil War and wants to come back to do a book signing. Thanks to Darryl’s visit, our museum is listed on page A20 of the Sunday Star this week. He chose the top 10 Civil War items in museums around Kansas City, and we are very lucky to be listed in this article. Several of the museums included are operated by the state, so we are in good company.
“There are several other things we are working on. The Maupin boys from Orrick came in and they want us to help them recreate the battle of Albany in October of 2014. They run the ranch in Lexington where the battle of Lexington is being held in a couple of weeks. We have already started forming a committee. I would like to see the Farris do a Wild West show and we could have a parade for Capt. Anderson’s funeral from the courthouse to the cemetery.”
When I ran across this email a few days ago, the past three years ran through my mind. So many things have happened since I wrote it in 2011.
Darryl Levings wrote a book about the Civil War artifacts and we were mentioned because of his visit to our museum. Earlier this year, he was the guest speaker at our quarterly meetings so we finally got to do the book signing we talked about.
And now the Battle of Albany has arrived. On Oct. 24, 25 and 26, the Ray County Museum and Fairgrounds will be transformed into a 1864 living history event that no one will want to miss. You will be amazed at all the things you will see. We are going to recreate Anderson’s funeral, just like we had originally hoped for. I’m sad that we didn’t get to have a Wild West show at the Farris Theater, but maybe we can do that some time in the future.
Many stories have been written about the Battle of Albany, which only lasted 10 minutes. Just in case anyone hasn’t heard it before, here is the story as it was told by Major Cox:
“Lieutenant Baker was sent ahead to reconnoiter and bring on the fight, and then retreat through our line. Baker dashed up to where Anderson and his men camped and opened fire. Instantly, Anderson and his men were in their saddles and gave chase to Baker, who retreated under instructions and came dashing through our line. Anderson and some twenty of his men came on, a revolver in each hand. When my men opened fire many of Anderson’s command went down, others turned and fled, but Anderson and two of his men went right through the line shooting and yelling, and it was as Anderson and one of his men turned back that both of them were killed.”
Four federal troops were wounded and 11 rangers lost their lives. The Rangers killed were Hank Patterson, Mr. Simonds, Anson Tolliver, Paul Debenhorst, Smith Jobson, Mr. Luckett, John Mcllvane, Jasper Moody, William Tarkington, John Pringle and Capt. Anderson.
The body of Bloody Bill was taken to the Ray County Courthouse and placed on public display. His body was dragged around the courthouse square before he was buried at the edge of Pioneer Cemetery. The other Partisan Rangers killed with Anderson were buried near the battlefield at Albany. Some claimed that Anderson’s head was removed and placed on a pole, but others say it was not. This is a highly debated issue, but we don’t believe that he was beheaded. Another much-discussed topic is if the young unknown Jesse James was riding with Anderson when he was killed. Jesse James did ride with Anderson, but not all of Anderson’s men were with him when he died at Albany.
A few years later, Jesse James made it known that he was a friend of Bill Anderson when he shot a cashier while robbing a bank in Gallatin. Jesse shot the cashier, Capt. John Sheets, because he believed he was Samuel Cox, the man who killed Bill Anderson. It was after this bank robbery that the James Gang started on its road to notoriety, thanks to their names appearing in a newspaper story about the bank robbery.
Anderson taught Jesse James how to fight. When Frank James was riding with Quantrell, a 16-year-old Jesse wanted to join, but Quantrell thought he was too young. Anderson told Jesse that 16 was just fine, so he joined Anderson. Would Jesse James’s life be different if Anderson had said no? That’s something we’ll never know.
Bill Anderson was only 24 when he died. Not many people who die so young are remembered 150 years after their death, but Anderson was not a normal man. In 1862, his father was killed in Kansas, so Bill and his brother Jim killed their father’s murderer and moved back to Missouri. Due to his bushwhacking, his three sisters were arrested and held in a Union jail in Kansas City. In 1863, the jail collapsed, killing one sister and injuring the other two. William Clarke Quantrell and 400 men burned Lawrence, Kan. to avenge the death of those who died in the jail.
The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Albany will soon be history, but there are two things that will still be standing after the dust settles Monday morning, Oct. 27. Two Civil War panels are being placed in Ray County and will be dedicated during the Battle of Albany. They are part of the Civil War Marker Program administrated by Missouri State Parks. One will be at the Albany Battle site north of Orrick, and the other one will be on the east lawn of the Ray County Courthouse.
We’ve been working with two state parks historians from Jefferson City on these panels since October, 2011. It’s been exciting to watch the creation of these historic panels.
It was explained us as follows, “This is a program sponsored by Missouri State Parks that provides interpretive panels for communities with a Civil War story to tell.  They are low-profile interpretive panels as you might see along a walking trail in a state or national park. The Civil War Marker Program is a statewide program dedicated to the Civil War story.  The community provides the location and the state provides the panel, base and installation.  The development process involves research, writing, graphic layout and panel production.  the process can take anywhere from Eight to 18 months, so 2014 would be very do-able.”
On April 5, 2012, the planners (we know them as Allison and Frank) drove up from Jefferson City and our panel planning started. David Blyth, Robbie Maupin and I worked many hours to help make our local story historically correct. We supplied pictures and documents that we had and the state worked hard to find a few more that we needed. David Blyth has a personal interest because it was on his Blyth family farm where Capt. Anderson spent his last night on Earth. Three Maupin men rode with Anderson, so Robbie Maupin supplied details and pictures of the Maupin men.
After many emails, phone calls and sites visits, our final meeting took place Sept. 23, 2014. Robbie and David weren’t able to attend this meeting, so I called in a favor from my friend Tim Miller, who shares my passion for Civil War history. He moved to Ray County in the spring of 2013 and on his first visit to the museum, he asked me for directions to the Battle of Albany site.
I soon learned how important Capt. Anderson’s story was to Tim and others who share his southern heritage. I thought I had a good general understanding of Civil War history, but I soon learned there are many stories that never made it to the textbooks we used in school. I’ll never forget the first time Tim told me about Order No. 11and how people in parts of western Missouri were ordered to leave their homes during the Civil War.
After Frank, Allison, Tim and I spent half the day dissecting every word on the two state panels, we drove to Albany and picked the site for our Civil War panel.
The panels will be installed a few days before the Battle of Albany next month. We will have a dedication ceremony at the Albany site Oct. 25. This will be a small private event due to limited space. On Sunday, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m., we will dedicate the panel at Ray County Courthouse. Please come join us because this is an event you won’t want to miss.albany

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