Not as much has been said or written about the Border Wars as about the Civil War. And yet, the two are a part of each other. The fighting along the Kansas-Missouri line was cruel and bloody. William Clark Quantrill was a guerrilla warfare leader in this area and had among his followers such outlaws as the James brothers and Cole Younger and his band.
Quantrill and his men were causing such havoc along the border that Gen. Thomas Ewing Jr. issued Order No. 11, the gist of which meant swift and cruel punishment to anyone harboring Confederate soldiers. In this region it was hard to tell who leaned toward the Union and who leaned toward the Confederacy.
The story comes down through my husband's family of an unusual incident that happened about this time. Cole Younger took a chance when he knocked on the door of this farmer, asking for a place for his band of men to camp. They needed to rest, eat and sleep, he told the farmer.
This man stood in the door looking at the band of rough-looking men. What was he to do? If he said they could stay, he might be turned in as a Confederate sympathizer. If he told them they couldn't stay, there was no telling what might happen. He silently assessed the situation and decided for the sake of his family, he must tell them they could stay. However, in return, he extracted a promise from Cole that no one in his family would be harmed.
When the farmer started to tell Cole where he should camp, Cole informed the farmer he had already checked out the situation and had found the perfect place to camp. A spring, feeding into a creek with tall trees and brush, which would hide his men from prying eyes, would be the right site.
Instead of an overnight stay, the men camped there several nights. Needless to say, there was not much sleeping being done inside the house.
When Cole came to the door a few mornings later, he politely thanked the farmer for letting them stay. He talked about the wonderful spring water and the comfortable area where they slept. When he finished talking, he handed the owner some money to pay for the trouble he had caused. He told the man he hoped their stay would not bring suspicion to the household. He and his men disappeared down the road.