Postcards: Bloody Bill got a proper tombstone, 103 years after death

By Linda Emley

I’ve spent the last three years and 20 days planning the Battle of Albany reenactment. It’s hard to believe that we are only 24 days away from the biggest event ever at the Ray County Museum. My dream is for everyone in Ray County to come be a part of this historic reenactment. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some stories about the battle.
Capt. William Anderson was killed at the Battle of Albany and is buried at the Richmond Pioneer Cemetery, that is also known as the Mormon Cemetery.
I just had a lady walk into my office and give me a copy of an old newspaper article about a woman named Mrs. Allison who lived in Richmond when Anderson was killed.
She was also present for his formal funeral held belatedly in 1908. I will share more about her story after I’ve had a chance to do further research.
Not many people have a funeral long after they are buried, so we decided it was important to re-create this as part of the Battle of Albany. On Saturday, Oct. 25 at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday the 26th at 3:30 p.m., there will be a funeral march from the Ray County Courthouse to the Mormon Cemetery. There will be bagpipe music and a funeral for Anderson at his gravesite.
The following two newspaper articles helped us plan the funeral reenactment 106 years after his first funeral.
Found this in The Richmond Missourian dated Thursday, June 11, 1908. “YOUNGER HERE. Cole Younger And Jim Cummins Meet Here – The Cole Younger Carnival In Full Blast! Shows to Run All Of The Week. Under Auspicies Of The Red Men. The Cole Younger Shows, under the personal charge of Col. Lew Nichols and Cole Younger arrived here Sunday afternoon. The seven or eight cars were loaded with tents and paraphernalia and crowded with show mysteries. Three private sleeping cars housed the show folks.
“Early Monday the tents began to ‘go up’ around the Square and in the stone lot. Monday night the attractions were in full blast. On Monday afternoon however, the first event of the week occurred. When the cars of the Greater Nichols Amusement Company rolled into town, and Cole Younger knew that he had reached Richmond, he helped to put into execution a resolve that he had doubtless formulated long ago – to help decorate the grave of his friend and loyal companion in arms – Capt. Bill Anderson. A remarkable coincidence was the fact that Jim Cummins, another old comrade and soldier was here. Jim Cummins was better acquainted here and managed the details of the joint tribute of respect for other days.
“Monday afternoon, the Band of the Amusement Company struck up a funeral march and with solemn tread and bowed heads, Cole Younger, Jim Cummins, representatives of the amusement company and others made their way to the Old Cemetery north of town. The grave had already been beautifully decorated with flowers.
“Arriving at the Old Cemetery, the crowd gathered around Cole Younger while he, in a reminiscent yet reverent way, addressed them in a few short sentences.
“He said that as a soldier, prior to 1863, he had known and served with Capt. Bill Anderson as a solider, that he was a fearless man, standing back for nothing in the performance of his duty as he conceived it. As such, Mr. Younger said he knew and loved him. He (Mr. Younger), knew personally nothing of his work in 1864 north of the river – but that up to that time he was a conscientious man and a brave soldier.
“Mr. Younger was followed by Honorable James L. Farris, son of the late Captain J.L. Farris of the Confederate Army. He spoke for some 20 minutes, paying high tribute to the power of endurance, courage and daring of the dead soldier. In a masterly way, he drew attention to the fact that the war had not been in vain; that the conditions and circumstances of the time of Capt. Bill Anderson demanded just such a man as he; that if he went to extremes, it was because it was the inevitable and necessary result of war – which Sherman properly and aptly called ‘Hell’. He saw it that it was time to cover the dust of the hero with the flowers of affection and honor. To conclude, Cole Younger cleared up a misunderstanding. He made it plain that at the time of his death, Capt. Bill Anderson was acting under the direct orders of General Sterling Price. That he had heard for some years before he knew it. In 1866, he said that he stayed all night at the home of Governor King here in Ray County. Governor King told Mr. Younger that he recognized the handwriting of General McClain in the order found in Captain Bill Anderson’s pockets. General McClain was an adjutant of General Price.
“In the calm light of history, the deeds done by Anderson do not meet the same sort of condemnation that the hasty judgment of a strenuous and perilous time accorded him. At the conclusion of the exercises, ‘taps’ was sounded and the Company withdrew.
“Capt. Bill Anderson was killed in October 1864 and his body brought to Richmond for burial. He was killed at the crossroads fight near Albany, about a mile and a half north of Orrick, this county.”
The rest of the article tells about the acts that were part of the carnival show. It was called “the cleanest street fair” that was ever seen in Richmond. The balloon ascension was thrilling in the extreme as Lucy May Colton, the “aeronautess” had nerve to burn when she jumped from the clouds and came down head first in a way that thrilled and chilled the old-timers.
The great Colton did an 85-foot jump from the top of a ladder in the courthouse yard and landed in a net.
The final paragraph summed it up as follows. “The Red Man managed the shows well and deserves more money than they got out of it. The wet weather and the flooded river kept business away. But the Red Man made friends by their politeness and square dealing. The Missourian expects crowds here for the remainder of the shows which close on Saturday night.”
Another account from the Missourian, this one dated Aug. 2, 1936 (Ray Country Chapters, by Jewell Mayes). “Cole younger Told His Secrets Here in Richmond. Related at Dinner given by James L. Farris, Jr., Jewell Mayes Being the Only Survivor of That Now Mystical Group – A Funeral a Generation Too Late. The “dinner in Richmond” was at 6 o’clock dining at the home of the late Honorable James L. Farris, with Cole Younger as the special guest of the occasion. At the hour of writing this sketch, we were not quite sure of the year, but it was more than 25 years ago, in the autumn that Cole Younger traveled with a carnival that visited Richmond, comparatively soon after the Youngers were paroled from the Minnesota Penitentiary at Stillwater. The guests were all ex-confederates, except host Farris and the writer of these lines. The dining finished, the round-table ran long into the night, Cole Younger doing all the talking, except as Richmondites asked him questions, every question being frankly answered, seemingly without reservation. Once, during the evening, Younger stopped suddenly, looking keenly from face to face, with a strange look upon his face and, following a long pause during which the room was as still as death, he slowly said: ‘Gentlemen, it staggers me when I realize that ever so many things I have told you tonight have never before passed my lips. Without asking a pledge of my friends, I shall depend upon each of you to carry to your graves anything that might further darken the good name of the family of my dear father and mother, who had fondly counted upon me becoming a Methodist minister.’ Then, Younger fell to telling of the plan decided upon by the James and Younger boys to surrender to Judge King at Richmond, desiring to be tried before King in this home county of ours.
“It was during the week that Cole Younger spent here in Richmond that he took the show band and Elder James Dunn to the Old City Cemetery for a religious service at the grave of Capt. Bill Anderson, whose dust lies in the ancient graveyard on North Thornton Street – a generation too late. We may recreate this true story at some length some day. A few things may be told, later, about the Cole Younger dinner conference, but many incidents must remain unrepeated until that full group may meet together Over Yonder!”
Anderson’s didn’t get a tombstone until 1967. Donald Hale from Independence obtained a grave marker from the U. S. government and placed it on his grave 103 years after his death.

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