The Story of Cole Younger – 19 A Duel and an Auction

Cole YoungerI left Missouri soon after Judy’s raid for Louisiana, spending three months with Capt. J. C. Lea on what was known as the Widow Amos’ farm on Fortune fork, Tensas parish. We then rented the Bass farm on Lake Providence, in Carroll parish, where I stayed until 1867, when chills and fever drove me north to Missouri. When the bank at Russellville, Ky., was robbed, which has been laid to us, I was with my uncle, Jeff Younger, in St. Clair county, and Jim and Bob were at home here in Lee’s Summit.

At the time of the Richmond and Savannah, Mo., bank robberies, in which, according to newspapers and sensationalists, I was largely concerned, I was living on the Bass plantation, three miles below Lake Providence, in Louisiana. Capt. J. C. and Frank Lea, of Roswell, N. M., and Tom Lea, of Independence, Mo., were living in the same house with me, any one of whom will vouch for the truth of my statement that I was not anywhere near either of these towns at the time of the robberies in question, but was with them at the plantation referred to above. Furthermore, right here I want to state, and I will take my oath solemnly that what I say is the truth, and nothing but the truth, notwithstanding all the accusations that have been made against me, I never, in all my life, had anything whatever to do with robbing any bank in the state of Missouri. I could prove that I was not in the towns where banks were robbed in Missouri, at the time that the raids took place, and in many instances that I was thousands of miles away.

In the fall of 1868 Jim and Bob went with me to Texas. Mother’s health had failed perceptibly, the result in a large measure of her exposure at the time the militia forced her to burn her house, and we sought to make her a home in a milder climate in the southwest. The next two or three years we spent there gathering and driving cattle, my sister joining us and keeping house for us at Syene, Dallas county, where we made our headquarters.

I was at Austin, Texas, when the Gallatin, Mo., bank was robbed; another crime of which we have been accused by the romancers, though never, so far as I know, by the authorities.

In 1870 and 1871 Jim was deputy sheriff of Dallas county.

Jim and Bob sang in the church choir there until 1872, when Bob, who was only seventeen, and in love with one of the local belles, felt keenly the obloquy attaching to the accusation that his brother Cole had robbed the Kansas City fair, and left Dallas.

One of the lies that had been published broadcast concerning me is that I killed five men and shot five others in a row over a “jobbed”horse race in Louisiana. There is this much truth about it—there was a jobbed race, and after it I fought a duel, but not over the race.

In the crowd that was present at the race was one Capt. Jim White, to whom I had sent word during the war that when I met him again he would have to apologize or fight because of circulating some scandal about a young woman friend of mine.

White introduced himself to me after this race, where a friend of mine had been swindled out of considerable money, and we went over to a neighboring plantation to shoot it out. At the first fire his right arm was shattered at the shoulder. He thought he was fatally hurt, and so did I at first, and he called me over and said:

“Captain Younger, whether I die or not, I want to shake hands with you as a friend. I have had some differences of this sort with others and came out all right; people have sneered at my success and said, ‘Wait till Cap’n Younger gets at you. He’ll fix you!’ So I finally made up my mind to fight you, right or wrong.”

I told my friend who owned the plantation to take care of White, and I went to Texas to make in the cattle business some of the money I had lost trying to raise cotton. The next year I was over in Mississippi at a dance, and a young lady asked to be introduced to me.

Her name was White, and we had not talked long before she said:

“Mother says you’ve made a man of father.”

Captain White had crossed the river, quit his drinking associates, but I have never seen him since the day we shot it out.

This duel gave Cole Younger a reputation in that section which was of value to a poor preacher’s widow near Bayou Macon some time later.

There was to be a sale of the property and effects of the Widow Hurley. I attended the sale, hitched my horse in the barn lot and was walking across the garden at the back of the house toward an open space, where the crowd was gathered waiting for the auctioneer to open the sale. As I walked I came upon Mrs. Hurley, crying. “Good morning, Mrs. Hurley,” I said, “I am sorry to see you in tears; what is the trouble?”

She explained that her husband had mortgaged the property and stock before his death and she had not been able to lift it, and they were about to be taken away from her. I asked her what the amount of the indebtedness was, and she told me $80. I took the money out of my pocket and gave it to her, and told her to bid it in when the time came, and I gave her the signal.

Asbury Humphreys, who was the auctioneer, knew me from the story of the duel, and before he began I told him he would have to put the property all up at once.

Some of the fellows from over on the river wanted the cows and hogs put up separately, so they could pick out what they wanted, and Asbury declared he was afraid to change the plan for the sale. They would not let him live there if he did.

“Well, Asbury,” I said, “I’m going to be down beside the wagon where I can see you and you can see me, and when I give you the sign you knock the property down or I’ll have use for this pistol.”

I had not had time to coach Mrs. Hurley, so she made it somewhat embarrassing for Asbury. There was kicking enough when he announced that he had decided to put all the goods up in a lump, but he looked down where I was learning against the wheel of his wagon and stood pat.

When he called for bids Mrs. Hurley bid her whole $80. I had not taken the precaution to tell her to start it lower, and there were now only two ways out of it, either to give her more money or have it knocked down to her right there.

I decided that the shortest way out of it was to have Asbury knock it down to her then and there, so I gave him the sign.

I had to protect Asbury from the crowd for a few minutes, but there was no harm done to any one. Mrs. Hurley had her goods, and the creditor had his money, and I was out $80, while Asbury’s reliability as an auctioneer was called into some question until his position in the matter was fully understood.

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