COURT TRANSCRIPT, BALDKNOBBER SWORN STATEMENTS
HUGH RATLIF, of lawful age being at the same place produced sworn and examined on his oath tates as follows. I am a homesteader of the U.S. and have a homestead in Douglas County. My homestead is the S.1/2 fo the N.E. of Sec. 4 and the N.W. 1/4 of the S.E. 4 and the S. E. 1/4 of the N.W. 1/4 of 4 T. 27 and Range 17. I made this homestead Jan. 17, 1884 at the Springfield, Missouri U.S. Land office.
Three weeks ago last Saturday night there was a band of night raiders came to my house on my homestead. The first thing that I knew of them was I heard the door crash and I was awakended by the door being broken open and I raised up in my bed and said what is up and no one made an answer but a kind of grunt and then I saw that the house was full of men and there were five of that crowd that made a direct pull for my bed where I laid and one of this crowd had a rope in his hand. He tried or intended to put this rope around my neck and the other four tried to pull me from the bed. About this time my wife threw her left arm out and one of the crowd caught her arm between his knee and the bed railing and mashed it and she had her little baby in her arm and my wife cried out to the men that they were killing the child and two of the men loosened me at the side and tried to take me out at the end of the bed and in their scuffle they broke the bed down and after the bed was broken down and on the floor they had the advantage of me and four or five men caught a hold of me and carried me out of the house forty steps from the door and I asked them what they were treating me this way for, and they did not make any reply, and they set me down on the ground. Then one of them held a pistol pointed at me and put a rope around my neck, and they dragged me along to tall stump in the clearing and there tied me to the stump and Mr. JACK SILVY, who was one of the crowd, said to me we want you to pay your just an honest debts and to tend your own business and to furnish no more money to homesteaders in this Country. I had funised the money in part to C.T. ATWOOD to make his homestead and to give no more numbers of land and to keep your mouth shut about this affair. I told them that I had always paid my just debts and owed no man when they told me to furnish no more money to men to make homesteads . I turned around to JACK SILVEY and reffered him to a converstation that he and I had had the day ATWOOD came to Springfield to homestead his land that I would see that he was not wronged. And I said to him that you said that you would rather give what you had on the land that ATWOOD homesteaded rather than have the place go to some dam rascal, he made no reply to this, Then old JACK SILVEY told them to let me loose. They whipped me. JACK SILVEY and a young man by the name of ELLIOTT DENNY whipped me. They gave me nine licks, and a man by the name of JOHN DENNY was the one that drew the pistol on me. The night was clear and bright. It was a bright moonlight night. Just as bright as you ever saw the moon shine. I knew these men as neighbors, and I recognized them. I know them by their appearance and their make up. After they whipped me they left me and went off in the direction of CALEB ATWOODS. ATWOOD lived about one mile from me. S.W. from me. They went off in that direction. They said that the reason they whipped me was that I furnished the money to CALEB ATWOOD to make that homestead that he did make. The following are witnesses to this occurrence MARY RATLIEF, WM. ATWOOD, ARMILDA RATLIF. These witnesses are here. In Springfield. I have my family and am on my way to Cedar County. I do not propose to live in any Country where they treat me this way. I have lift my Homestead on account of the treatment of these men. Witnesses- SARVIS POINT- the gang stayed all night there. I am satisfied that he knows all about this matter. The following men were in the crowd there that night at my house and at ATWOODS:
JACK SILVEY JR.
JACK SILVEY SR.
One JIM FILPOT, a boy of 15, was in the crowd that did the whipping but we think that it would be best to leave him out and make a witness of him. SERILDA DENNY said that if these men did not watch she would tell about the whole thing. She did not believe in it and was mad about the matter and said that the men were going out on a BALL KNOB raid. (JOICE DENNY- JOSE DENNY) went home with the SILVEY girls from Church. There was a fire below the barn field and she said that JACK SILVEY and JACK SILVEY SR. were around the fire and that JACK SILVEY came to the house and told his wife not to put any one the bed. And he got his saddle and left about 12 oclock and that the next morning he and he uncle JACK SILVEY were in the bed. This about one mile from my house. BILL SILVEY, one of the defendants, told TOM LEE that they could not do any thing with Buck that is the name that RATCLIFF is known by till they put a rope around his neck. He said that the next morning after the whipping occured TOM asked him how he knew it. He said that he met a stranger and that he told him all about it. JULIA DENNY said that WASH SILVEY said had he known that these men were going to whip RATCLIFF that he would have stopped the whole thing. BILL HAMMOND stayed at the house of WASH SILVEY the night that this band did their work and he says that they came there late in the night and carried away two saddles and went to the barn and got horses and took the horses and went in the direction of RATCLIFFS. He says that he saw two of the SILVEYS start away. TOM HAMMONDS said that he knew eight of the men that were in it. GEO. HAMMOND says that he was asked to go with the band. JAMES DENNY was asked to join the band and he refused. The SILVEYS asked him to join. I can postively swear without any mistake as to the identity of four men who were: JACK SILVEY SR, JACK SILVEY JR, ELLIOTT DENNY, and JOHN DENNY. I am sure of it and would swear to it in any Court in the world. And I am well satisfied as to the identity of GEORGE SILVEY FRANK WRIGHT and R.E. DENNY. WM CARDWELL stayed all night on the night of the whipping at JOHN DENNY. DENNY was absent when I want there and he came in about 2 A.M. and the next morning I asked him where he had been and he said ask me no questions. And he took his revolver out of his pocket and put it in a box. His mother said that he had been out all night. This was the night of the whipping. His Mothers name is MAHALA DENNY. All of these men, the defendants can be found close to Seymour, in the vacinity of SARVIS POINT with the exceptions FRANK WRIGHT and old JACK SILVEY will be found close to Ava in Douglas County. The Witnesses are in the same locality.
OUR address, that is of CALEB ATWOOD and HUGH RATCLIFF is Fair Play in Cedar County Missouri.
Sworn before McLain Jones 6th day of December 1886 U.S.C. Notes: this is from the typed version of the statement as close to original as could be kept.
Provided November 22, 2000 by Dave Blevins Webster Co., MO. This document may not be sold, nor given to anyone, who may attempt to derive profit from same.
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