Gone But Not Forgiven, Those Vile Rebel Bones Lie In Three States.



BONUS VIDEO: Above is a video posted on You-Tube which was clearly taken at the Dover-Canal Historical Society Museum. Most of the information presented by the museum worker is incorrect but the correct information is included in our story below. The video is included so you can see how much this looks like the images we display on our website,  except for the nose which was damaged by the careless and ghoulish Ohio Yankees. 

Although I am appalled at the heinous treatment the remains of various Missouri Confederate guerrillas have suffered over the years, I cannot say that I'm surprised when I discover such instances. Its what we have come to expect from those who wish to falsely interpret the history of our state and resort to illegal acts sometimes to enforce their prejudices. There are numerous examples where the mortal remains of Missouri Confederate guerrillas have been subjected to profane and inhuman treatment for more than 140 years, and there is no indication this criminal trend will end--unless the public demands it. There is no better example of the degrading treatment of our heroic Missouri guerrillas than the treatment of William Clarke Quantrill's remains. Our first image is a pre-war photo of William Clarke Quantrill as a young boy.                                                                                                          

During the late stages of the Civil War, Quantrill realized that he would never be allowed to surrender under favorable terms (perhaps even to save their lives) in Missouri. So in mid-December 1864, he led a band of thirty-three followers out of western Missouri southeastward in the direction of Kentucky and Tennessee. A member of the group Sylvester Akers later wrote:"It was not the original intention of Quantrill to go to Kentucky. He started from Missouri to Virginia to (join) the army of Lee [where they might surrender safely] and intended to go through Tennessee. At [the] Mississippi [River] he was told he would not be able to pass through the Federal lines in east Tennessee. He then turned aside to go through Kentucky." (1)

Six guerrillas left Quantrill at this point bound for Texas. By mid-January Quantrill and his band entered Kentucky. They were soon in embroiled in battles and once again they were on the run. The next four months were perilous. The Missourians were operating now in hostile, unknown territory where their enemies hounded them. These encounters resulted in casualties and captured guerrillas, which drained their effectiveness.

On the rainy morning of May 10, 1865, Quantrill and his men were resting inside a barn on the James H. Wakefield farm, 30 miles south of Louisville, Kentucky, where they were ambushed by Union guerrillas under the command of Captain Edwin Terrell, a Union hireling. While attempting to mount a new horse and escape, William Clarke Quantrill was shot in the back, the bullet penetrating his left shoulder blade and lodging in his spine, paralyzing him below his shoulders. Quantrill was taken to the infirmary of the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky, where he died on June 6, 1865. The guerrilla's earthly remains were buried in an unmarked earth-level grave located in the cottage yard of St. Joseph's (now St. John's) Catholic Cemetery. If it were not for a strange twist of fate, the location of his remains may have been lost to the annuals of time.

Meanwhile, the mother of the rebel warrior, Caroline Clarke Quantrill, remained unaware of the fate of her eldest son William. Nor did she know he would soon be reviled as the devil incarnate by much of the population of the recently reunified country, thanks to Yankee authors and a Northern press that supported a twisted, Northern-biased history of the Civil War in the West. Mrs. Quantrill had endured a hard and often tragic existence. Caroline was left destitute after her husband died in 1854 and used her skills as a seamstress to support herself. But she was hard pressed to sustain herself, and "eventually, the family was compelled to take in boarders" (2) Four of her children had died in infancy, three others (including William) died before their time, and her last surviving son proved irresponsible and unable or unwilling to support her. Quantrill's grave, in the meantime, remained unmarked and unvisited, its exact location known only to a few people.  

No one dared to imagine the barbaric and profane treatment Quantrill's remains would soon endure. No one, that is, except Union Army veteran and Dover, Ohio newspaper editor William Walter Scott, a former friend of Quantrills and a deceitful acquaintance of Caroline C. Quantrill, William's mother.

In his book The Devil Knows How to Ride, Edward E. Leslie describes William Walter Scott as "a boyhood friend of Quantrill and benefactor of his Mother, who spent twenty- five years researching and collecting information about his life."(3) W. W. Scott planned to use his research to write a biography about his "infamous" childhood companion to earn some kind of "reputation." He befriended Caroline Quantrill in order to achieve this goal. For reasons unknown, Scott felt compelled to deceive Mrs. Quantrill by stealing her son's skull and at least five other bones from his grave in Louisville. Scott later attempted to sell the bones for profit. In 1884, Scott visited Louisville, Kentucky, in search of Quantrill's remains. Although the cemetery where he had been buried had been renamed, he finally located it and persuaded the sexton's wife, Bridget, to show him the unmarked grave.

In December 1887, Scott returned to Louisville with Mrs. Quantrill in tow, only to learn that the sexton, Patrick Shelly, had died. Fortunately for the pair, Shelly's wife had been appointed his successor. "Mrs. Quantrill convinced Bridget to allow the grave to be opened so that the bones could be placed in a zinc-lined box and re-buried." (4). At 3:00 P.M. on December 8, 1887, after Scott paid the required inducements, the digging began and the bones were quickly unearthed. Scott wrote in his notes that "Every vestige of the coffin had disappeared except a rotten piece of (board) the size of a man's hand."

"His hair has slipped off in a half circle around the skull and was of a bleached yellow color" (5)...."Scott wrapped the skull in newspaper. The ribs and part of the backbone crumbled when touched, however everything else went temporarily into a small box, which was not zinc-lined. The grave was filled in, and the box was buried near the surface." (6)  Apparently, William Scott was not one to waste time. A mere nine days later, he wrote a note to the secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Major Franklin G. Adams. He enclosed a lock of Quantrill's hair, and inquired; "What would his (Quantrill's) skull be worth to your Society?" (7). 

The KSHS secretary offered to raise funds to acquire the illicit relics. But ever the wily newspaperman, Scott--concerned about the negative publicity that might occur--refused to follow up on Adam's offer, at least for the moment. He told Adams, "The mother is now old, and I would not for any money have her feelings hurt. In a short time she will pass away, and then publicity would not matter" (8)

Consequently, Scott decided to delay his long-planned biography of the Confederate guerrilla chieftain until Mrs. Quantrill passed away. Ironically, on November 6, 1902, W. W. Scott, himself, died of a heart attack, more than a year before Mrs. Caroline Clarke Quantrill passed away.  The next image is of  W. W.  Scott, graverobber.                                   

After his death, Scott's widow wrote a letter to the secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society and pleaded with him to keep her husband's attempts to sell Quantrill's skull and bones a secret. She then sold her husband's files along with Quantrill's bones to Kansas State Historical Society member, William E. Connelley, who later became the secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society. Connelley soon attempted to trade Quantrill's bones, along with a lock of his hair, for weapons once owned by Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok. Unable to complete the deal, he finally donated the bones to the historical society.

On November 23, 1903, eighty-three-year-old Caroline Clarke Quantrill left this earth. A mere three days later, the Kansas State Historical Society announced they would be displaying her son's bones and hair.

The response was swift and decisive. Many people were quick to criticize this morbid display of human body parts of the rebel guerrilla. Others saw it as glorifying the guerrilla chief. Despite opposition led by numerous Methodist ministers and the Kansas Division of the Grand Army of the Republic, the KSHS refused to be swayed. Later that year, "Quantrill's shinbones went on display in a glass case, along with three arm bones that had been donated by Connelley and some relics of the Lawrence raid."(9) The furor eventually died down until 1907, when a man named John Sharp, who claimed to be Quantrill, raised a cry calling for the disposal  of the "fraudulent" bones. In 1910, the bones were finally consigned to a vault, and eventually they ended up in the archeology laboratory.

Meanwhile, in 1905, several Dover boys formed the D. J. S. Club (the meaning of the abbreviations has been lost). In 1910, the club became the Zeta Chapter of the Alpha Pi fraternity. Someone obtained Quantrill's skull from W.W. Scott's son Walter, and it was used in Zeta's initiation ritual. Covered with shellac with red lights wired into the skull's eye sockets, the skull was nicknamed "Jake." Scott shared with close friends the secret that it was actually Quantrill's skull.Zeta was disbanded in 1942, and a fraternity trustee named Nelson McMillan bought the skull. He kept it in a box in his cellar until 1972, when he gave it to the Dover Historical society. The trustees had a wax head fashioned from the skull, which was stored in an antique refrigerator, while the skull was displayed in the Reeves Museum for the next twenty years.

Although it seemed that Quantrill's mortal remains were destined to be desecrated until they disintegrated into dust, fate intervened. Sometime in 1987, Robert L Hawkins III, attorney and commander-in-chief of the Missouri Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans learned of the deplorable treatment of Quantrill's remains.

In an interview with author Leslie, Hawkins said: "It would be inappropriate to leave the remains of any American soldier in a box in a museum. That would be true no matter which side he fought on in this or any other war." (10) Determined to right this wrong, Hawkins immediately began to explore ways to ensure the bones were properly buried. When he wrote a letter to the Kansas State Historical Society, Commander Hawkins was advised that law prohibited deaccession and/or release of the relics to outside parties.

Undaunted by this set back, Hawkins vowed to continue his quest. In 1989, the Kansas legislature passed the Unmarked Burial Sites Preservation Act, which prohibited disturbance of unmarked burial sites and specified procedures for the care of burial sites as well as all human skeletal remains located within the state. Originally intended to protect Indian burial sites, the Kansas State Historical Society took advantage of this opportunity to rid its collection of the remains of more than hundred human beings.Quantrill's bones were placed in a small pine box and relocated to a "secured" place at a different location along with the remains of at least one hundred other humans. After four score and five years of being displayed and handled like a prized ham in a butcher's case, access to the guerrilla chieftain's remains were tightly restricted.

Meanwhile Hawkins and his fellow SVC members decided the proper resting place for Quantrill's bones would be the Confederate Cemetery at Higginsville, Missouri. Despite concerns that it might be more politically correct to bury the bones in Dover, Ohio, Hawkins won approval from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for the Higginsville burial.The wheels of government turned slowly, but by the summer of 1992, it appeared that years of hard work were ready to pay off. However a dispute with the legislature led to an expected change in management at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. So in many ways, the effort to bury Quantrill's bones was set back to square one, again. Moreover, while Hawkins was away on a short vacation, opposition forces made yet other attempt to disrupt his plans.

A fax was sent to a judge in Ohio inquiring if there was any interest in burying the remains in Dover. The Dover Historical Society swiftly agreed to bury the bones along with the skull in a Dover plot. However, they required that the ceremony "be conducted with no publicity and a minimum of fanfare." (11) Next is an image of Quantrill taken in 1859.

Hawkins and the SCV, however, refused to allow Quantrill's "remains to be buried at midnight." Yet they soon discovered that in addition to convincing the new acting director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to enforce the original plan, they also needed to win over a second group of bureaucrats. Nonetheless, against all odds, Hawkins and his supporters won unanimous approval for the Missouri interment.

On October 24, 1992 over six hundred people attended a half-hour ceremony celebrating the interment of five bones belonging to Col. William Clarke Quantrill, into Missouri soil. During his eulogy, Commander Robert Hawkins gave his reply to those who criticized the decision to bury what was left of Quantrill's mortal remains in the Missouri soil he fought so hard to defend:"We do not wish him buried where people are ashamed of him, where no one remembers or cares to recall the brutality of a partisan warfare that created men like Captain Quantrill and those who rode with him, where he would be laid to rest with a sense of relief that a difficult task had finally been done, with no military honors and no remembrance of the suffering and sacrifice of days gone by. He belongs here--here, with those who were truly his people." (12)   

In the early afternoon of October 30, 1992, less than two dozen people gathered at the Fourth Street Cemetery in Dover, Ohio. They attended a Catholic funeral and watched as a child's coffin was lowered into a hole where some of Quantrill's other remains were laid in 1889. So, finally, all of Quantrill's known remains were at long last laid to rest, although in three different graves located thousands of miles apart. Not to disparage the heroic effort it took to accomplish this feat, there was one glaring detail everyone had overlooked. Everyone that is, excepting for one dedicated defender of Southern rights. If it weren't for her dedication and persistence, the complete story of Quantrill's remains might have been left unfinished.

Ms. Nancy Hitt is that one in a million, a true flower of the South, who has dedicated much of her time, effort, and resources in locating and marking the grave of numerous confederate veterans. It didn't matter if the graves were located in Albany, New York  or even in foreign soil, once Nancy discovered an unmarked Confederate's grave, she endeavored to find a way to provide a military marker for them. Although Nancy Hitt deserves praise and recognition for all of her accomplishments, that will happen in the near future. It should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Nancy Hitt was the driving force behind the effort to have Quantrill's original grave marked.

At this point she does not recall when she began the search for Quantrill's grave in Kentucky, a long and tedious process. Originally, she had applied for three different markers commemorating important events that occurred during Quantrill's last days in Kentucky.

But on March 26, 2002, Nancy received permission from the Frankfort branch of the Kentucky Historical Society to place a highway marker outside the cemetery where Quantrill was originally buried. On March 24, 2004, Nancy paid $1,200 out of her own pocket, along with $500.00 donated by the William Clarke Quantrill Society, and the marker was designed and built. Things seemed to be progressing smoothly, and a memorial service was scheduled to commemorate the event. Soon the press was notified of the upcoming event. Once the story was made public, the forces that have dedicated themselves to defiling the heritage and legacy of our Confederate heroes sprang into action. These reprehensible people, whose names will not soil this announcement, accosted the Catholic bishop in Kentucky in an attempt to persuade him to revoke his permission to place the marker.

So by September 2004, the project had been canceled, and the funds were returned to Nancy Hitt. That marker was dumped in a corner of a warehouse in Shelbyville, Kentucky, where it sits today, gathering dust and rust. Needless to say the two other markers were never manufactured. Much like the men she unselfishly honors, Nancy Hitt does not give up easily. Over the next four years, she made numerous attempts to have the marker placed, each and every time she was unsuccessful. But she did not abandon her quest, but it had to be held on hold.

While discussing the issue in the fall of 2007 with Emory Cantey, Don Gilmore, Rick Mack, and Patrick Marquis, Nancy Hit decided to try a different tact to achieve her goal of placing a monument on our hero's grave. Based upon a previous incident where the publication of events before they occurred led to their ultimate ruin, a decision was made to keep the project confidential until it was completed. Soon, we determined that the plot was still owned by the Quantrill family. Additionally, there was no record that any of Quantrill's remains were ever unearthed and relocated. And clearly many of the original remains were not, but lie moldering in the present grave. All interested parties were contacted and permission was granted to place a memorial marker on Quantrill's original grave.

Because the government had paid for the headstone on Quantrill's grave in Higginsville, Missouri, they refused to provide a second stone. Although we would have enjoyed sharing the chance to correct this 140-year-old miscarriage of justice with others, we could ill-afford the chance of notifying those who would oppose us in our plans. Additionally, it made the decision-making process quick and painless. Therefore, the five of us gladly shared the cost incurred. We felt it was the least we could do to honor the legacy of Colonel William Clarke Quantrill, and it was an honor for us. 

So now that the marker is set in the ground, it is time to share this chapter of Quantrill's story with the rest of the world. We are planning a memorial service sometime in the fall, details of which will be published as they become available. Although it appears that we finally have won this battle, the war is far from over. In coming stories on this website, you will learn how the Confederate marker of Alexander Franklin James sits in a museum instead of on his grave, where it belongs. You will also learn about the plight of the Smith Cemetery, where the remains of numerous guerrillas have cynically been plowed under and paved over. You will also learn how, as a member of quantrillsguerrilas.com, you will be able to participate in future efforts to right other wrongs perpetrated against our Confederate heritage. So if you are ready to participate in making history as well as reading about it, hook your reins to our saddle and hold on to your hats!    References: (1) Sylvester Akers Manuscript 1909.  Reprint, 1910, New York Pageant, 1956.  (2) Paul R. Petersen, Quantrill of Missouri. (Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2003). (3). Edward Leslie, The Devil Knows How To Ride (New York: Random House Books, 1996. (4). Ibid. (5). Ibid. (6). Ibid. (7). Ibid. (8). Ibid. (9.) Ibid. (10). Ibid. (11). Ibid. (12). Ibid. ©Patrick R. Marquis, 2008Quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay." Below are images of Quantrills bones which are now buried in Missouri, and his skull which purportedly lies in Ohio.      



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