Kate's Uncle Strother was one of the most prominent and known men in the entire county. The "Plum Orchard Farm" was described to be known both far and near and it sat on the divide between Sni-A-Bar Creek and the Missouri River. This magnificent spread was a sight to behold. Unfortunately, it was quite a sight, and target, for the Kansas Jayhawkers during the Civil War. Kate got a first hand look and introduction to the 11th Kansas Cavalry and all of their jayhawking whims. I'll let her Uncle Strother fill you in on what happened. Strother......
"Lieutenant Ridgeway with sixteen men took dinner at my house on Monday, the 18th, 1864. Fifteen or sixteen men of his command came up just as the Lieutenant got ready to leave and all left except two, they remained behind the command. They asked me if I had any brandy in the house. They went to work searching the house and I told them not to break any locks and I would satisfy them that there is none about the house. In searching the lower hall, they found a small shotgun belonging to my son setting by the side of the wardrobe. They took the gun and said they had orders from Head Quarters to take all such property. On Tuesday, the 19th, a portion of the command returned to my house about one o' clock p.m. I was about at the time on my way home. I met Dr. Renick and he told me that the Kansas troops were at my house and to hurry home! But before I got home, I met four of them and as they seen me, they put spurs to their horses and came charging up to me hollering "Plug him! Plug him!" I said "Gentlemen, don't shoot me until you know what you do it for." The conditions were that I gave them every cent of money I had which was forty dollars and they divided that equally among the four. They then swore me not to tell their comrades which was at my house. I then asked them if they was through with me and they said Yes. One said "No, by God! Your watch!" It was a heavy gold watch. I then went to my house and when I got there, they had my large ox wagon loaded up and they had three yoke of cattle. Two belonged to myself and the other one, Mrs. Livesay. I asked them to leave the latter yoke but they absolutely refused. I learned from some of the men that seemed to take no part in the robbing that the leader's name was Jeff Clarkson and they said it was no use to say anything to him for he said he was acting under orders."
Author Bruce Nichols made mention of these events in his book "Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III, January-August 1864." On pages 52 and 53 is this passage:
"A portion of Lieutenant John Ridgeway's command of 11th Kansas Cavalry regiment garrisoned at Sibley, northeast Jackson County, seems to have gone berserk in mid-January. These 50 or 60 Kansas cavalrymen ostensibly rode into the countryside to gather forage for their horses, but instead turned to liberating slaves and robbing rural families in Clay Township, northwest Lafayette County. The Kansas troopers took money and jewelry but also took wagons and teams in which to transport the slaves they forcibly freed from farms. The vicitms were at a loss to know what to do since they were under the impression that even the Kansas troops represented law and order, so for a while Union authorities did not know about the jayhawking depredations still underway. On January 19th, two of the victims, Strother Renick and James Musselman, rode to Lexington to get help. Now knowing which Union troops would listen to them, Renick and Musselman ignored the Lexington military commander there, and instead told their story to a local man-Richard C. Vaughn, who happened to be a brigadier general in the EMM. General Vaughn telegraphed district commander, Brigadier General, Egbert Brown, to personally inform him of the jayhawking by the 11th Kansas. General Brown immediately sent a large force of the 1st Cavalry MSM to western Lafayette County to stop the raiding, where the Missouri troops discovered the Kansas troops had ridden back into Jackson County. The troopers of the 1st at first had a difficult time getting statements from the victims of the Kansas raidings, as most of the remaining inhabitants of west Lafayette County were hiding in the brush in fear for their lives from the Jayhawkers. The troopers did recover some of the stolen stock and a wagon and composed a detailed report of the thefts by January 22nd."
It is safe to say that Kate endured a lot as a child and her fear was daily as the border wars raged around her. A family genealogy site on the Livesay / Renicks claims "They (Strother and Rebecca) also gave shelter to Ann Ward, wife of Rebecca's brother, William
Wallace Livesay and their three small children during the Civil War." Kate's first cousin, William S. Renick was also arrested and charged with the robbery and plundering of the steamboat, Little Blue around Sibley, Missouri in 1862. The Provost Marshal records are sketchy at best on this case and it seems the charges were unfounded.
One interesting side note...on the 1860 Lafayette County census, same page and probably not too far from the Renicks neighbor-wise, was a young 22 year old widow named Margaret Gill. Margaret had three youths living with her named James, an 18 year old farmhand, Rachel who was 16, and 13 year old, John. Their last name?.....Prock. Yep, the same John Prock who was one of Quantrill's guerrillas and participated in the Lawrence raid!
I hope you enjoyed the first post of 2015! More research results are on the way and post number two isn't far off!
Kate's picture credited to Diane at FindAGrave.com
Plum Orchard Farm picture credited to Bill Wealot at FindAGrave.com