The Mysterious Life of Sarah Catherine "Kate" King Quantrill.

The most mysterious of all Quantrill's relationships was the story of his wife Sarah Catherine King most commonly known as Kate. During and after the war Kate used the name Kate Clarke taking Quantrill's middle name as her own for her personal safety. When Kansas Jayhawkers and Union militia discovered any Southern women sympathizers they were either insulted, abused or in many cases raped. Such was the case with Cole and Jim Younger's sister, Isaac, James and Dick Berry's sisters, two sisters of Isaac, Thomas and Robert Hall, two of Buck Fields' cousins, and the sisters of John and Joseph Hall, all guerrillas who rode with Quantrill. Female Negro slaves that refused to go back to Kansas with the Jayhawkers during their depredatory raids were raped in the presence of their owners. Quantrill greatly feared for his wife's safety especially after the August 1863 women's prison collapse in Kansas City where a number of women relatives of Quantrill's men were rounded up, put in a three story brick building then undermined by soldiers of the 9th and 11th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment causing its collapse killing five young women and maiming several more.

After Quantrill's death at the end of the war his wife Kate continued to be extremely cautious about keeping her identity secret because of her husband’s old enemies. As a result, not much is known about her between the post war years and the time she allegedly returned to Jackson County shortly before going to live in the Jackson County Home for the Aged, which was situated on land owned by the Younger family before the war. Very few knew her true identity. Suse Younger, the Younger's’ former slave, worked at the home, which was run by Emma Younger and her husband Kit Rose around the time that Kate was probably living there. Two newspaper articles of the time give us some clues as to her life during and after the war. We hope you enjoy this image of the lovely Kate King-Quantrill.                       

Even the site of Kate's grave is a mystery. A newspaper article mentioned that she was buried in an unmarked grave in the Maple Hill  Cemetery in Kansas, and only recently a marker was erected by well-intentioned persons.

Another marker placed many years ago that has the inscription, “Kate King Quantrill, 1848–1930, age 82,” erected by Fred Ford and Arthur Dealy in the Slaughter Cemetery in Blue Springs is part of another story. Ford was a neighbor of Kate’s nephew, Arthur Dealy. Kate stayed with Dealy until she was quite elderly, before she was put in the Jackson County Home for the Aged, commonly known as the Old Folks Home or the Poor Farm. When Kate died in 1930, a local mortician with the Ketterlin Funeral Home had the contract to bury paupers from the Jackson County Home in the Maple Hill Cemetery. The body was embalmed at Ketterlin, but the mortician suddenly moved to the Ozarks and left the funeral home full of embalmed bodies. A month passed before Kate’s relatives were notified. When Dealy learned that she had not been buried, he and Ford retrieved her body and brought it to the Slaughter Cemetery close to the family farm in Blue Springs, Missouri. There she was quietly laid to rest next to the graves of her parents and siblings without notice being given to the newspapers.

Through painstaking research larges amounts of new information has been discovered concerning Kate by Paul R. Petersen, author of Quantrill of Missouri, Quantrill in Texas & Quantrill at Lawrence. Petersen promises that the information he has gathered unlocking the many mysteries surrounding Kate besides dispelling many old rumors will be shared in a future book about Quantrill's time in Kentucky. Until then Kate will continue to remain a mystery to her admirers and to Civil War historians.  

©Paul R. Paul R. Petersen © Quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay.                                                                                                              

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