29 December 2012
Remembering Our Civil War Heritage and Heroes:
James Berry: The End of Outlaw Berry And the New Life for His Family in
Montana Territory—Part III
By Ken Robison
For The River Press
January 2, 2013
This continues a monthly series commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the veterans that settled in Central Montana. This week outlaw James Berry meets a violent death in Missouri. After his death, his widow and children come up the Missouri River to Fort Benton to settle with her family. This concludes the escapades of Confederate veteran James F. Berry.
After holding up a Union Pacific express train at Big Springs, Nebraska, east of Cheyenne on September 18, 1877, the Sam Bass-Joel Collins gang divided their loot and split up. James F. Berry returned to his home near Mexico, Missouri. Almost one month later Sheriff Henry Glasscock led a posse that tracked Berry down. In a brief shoot-out, Jim Berry was shot in the leg, captured, and taken prisoner to the Ringo House in Mexico. The narrative from the Mexico Weekly Ledger of October 18, 1877 continues:
“The Sheriff and posse will receive a reward of about $4,000. This reward will be divided between the captors, just how we do not know. Glascock got the clue, planned the capture, but of course could not do the work by himself, at least he did not think he could before he started . . . Berry is now resting very easy [at the Ringo House]. He has an ugly leg on him.
“Later. At 20 minutes to one o’clock last Tuesday [Oct. 16] James Berry, one of the Union Pacific train robbers, died at the Ringo House, with little pain or dread of death.
“After receiving his wounds near Kazy’s [R. T. Kasey] house Sunday morning, there was no reaction at all, and Monday night gangrene set in and from this he died Tuesday. Berry did not seem to dread death at all, and often told those around him that he would not die. His brother-in-law, James Craighead of Fulton was with him in his last moments. His sister and friends came in on the 3 o’clock train from Martinsburg, but were too late to see him alive. Lanny Jones went in a buggy for his wife [Mary Elizabeth Price] only in the morning, and she arrived about 4 o’clock and was surprised to find her husband dead. She has the sympathy of all, in this her bereavement. She has 6 children, one boy and five girls, all dependent on her for food and protection. We learn that she is a most excellent lady and worthy the sympathy of all. What ever he may have done, his wife and children still cling to him as a tender love, such as becomes the true woman.
“Monday night Berry made a confession, and said he was in the [Union Pacific train] robbery, but said he was not sorry for it. He made this confession in the presence of several witnesses. He spoke of [Joel] Collins . . . as the leader. He would say nothing about those of the gang who are yet alive. He said he would not ‘squeal’ on them. Dr. Lacy prayed with and for him, several times during the night before the day of his death. He paid no attention to this, except once, when the Dr. had left the foot of his bed and gone out. Berry asked ‘who in the Hell was that?’ He said he was not afraid of death. When told he must die, he seemed to think that he was being scared into telling something and would hoot at the idea of death. He died without scarcely a struggle.
“He suffered much the night previous, but everything was done that could be, to make his illness and death as easy as possible. About half past 3 o’clock Tuesday, Dr. S. N. Russell, County Coroner, summoned . . . a Jury of Inquest [who] produced the verdict that ‘The deceased came to his death by gunshot wounds, eight in number, inflicted on the left leg, by a shot-gun in the hands of H. Glascock, on the morning of October 14th, 1877, as we believe, a necessary act in the discharge of his duty.’
“The remains were on Wednesday morning, interred by friends in the Richland grave yard, in Callaway county.”
“What adds solemnity to the occasion is that only a few hours previous to Berry’s death, his aged mother departed this life, and side by side with his venerable mother the unfortunate boy was laid. What could be more impressive than the thought that the aged widowed mother, and the erring son, both reaching each other and their Maker, as it were, in the same hours. [Jim Berry was buried next to his mother in the Liberty Church Yard Cemetery, approximately three miles north and west of Shamrock Mo.]
“Sheriff Glascock. No one was more unrelenting in their attention to the patient, than Sheriff Glascock. He spared neither time nor trouble to make Berry easy in his affliction and Berry showed no hard feelings and expressed himself in a way that he harbored nothing against his captor. Glascock, of course, feels bad, and will always remember the death bed scene, but he has nothing to blame himself with and no honest, justice-loving citizen can ever bear a hard feeling for what the Sheriff did in the matter. He gave Berry two chances to save himself. He issued a challenge to halt and when he did not do it, he shot over him thinking that would bring him to a pause, but no, Berry still kept on and yet the Sheriff called to him again to halt, but Berry paying no attention, Glascock shot at his legs, thinking to cripple him, and thus capture him, but his Allwise Creator saw best to make his wounds deadly, and for this Glascock is sorry, but perhaps if Berry had his choice, he would have preferred death to long confinement, for at that time, he begged the Sheriff to shoot him, that he did not want to live.
“Berry’s Guilt. There can be no mistake about Berry’s being guilty, for he confessed it before witnesses, and for this reason Glascock can not feel the remorse he would, if he had made a mistake in his man, and in addition to his confession we have other proof, which is sufficient in itself, for we took occasion on Tuesday to interview Detective Leach, on this point, thinking that his evidence might be pertinent to the occasion. We were introduced to Leach at the depot, just before he left, by Sheriff Glascock, and was surprised at the personal appearance of the man. He was a short wiry-looking little fellow, dressed in a very outlandish manner. He had on an old pair of shoes, almost worn out pants, a new hat and a loose coat with the tails cut off. The only thing in his appearance that would strike a casual observer was that brilliancy of his eye. He had an eagle eye surely; under his coat he had a long ‘45’ caliber pistol with two belts full of cartridges. He was evidently ‘fixed’ for any body. During our conversation with him, he stated that he could identify Berry if it was necessary, but as he had confessed there would be no need of it. He says he knew Berry about 2 years ago, when he [Berry] was in business at North Platte, Neb., with a man named Garretson. He said that they broke up and left their creditors in the lurch . . .
“After that Berry went to the Black Hills. The next time [Leach] saw Berry he came to [Leach’s] store in Ogallala [Nebraska], (for he had a store there and attends it when not scouting) to get a pair of boots on ‘tick’ [credit]. Leach would not let him have them; Berry then went and got this man Collins to come and pay for the boots, Collins raked up money sufficient to pay for the boots and Berry put them on. A few days after this the train was robbed . . . and Leach went at once to the scene of the robbery and took the trail and followed the robbers two hundred miles through the wilds by himself. At last he came up on their camp and saw them sitting around the fire counting the money. He saw Berry and Collins and recognized them both, as the men that came for the boots. He heard them all talk about their plans and learned their different addresses, and he says the deceased is the same Berry that bought the boots and the same one he saw in the camp with the money. This and Berry’s confession settles without the shadow of a doubt, the fact that Berry was guilty.
“We could give you a full account of Leach’s movements on Berry’s trail, but they are of no interest, so we will close this painful story with a short account of the robbery.
“The Reward. The individual reward offered for Berry was $500, and ten per cent of the money recovered, one of the $500 packages was $35 short, so that left the amount of money recovered, $2,769, ten percent of that added to the $500 makes the total reward $776. At a meeting of the captors last night it was declared that each of the 4 men that assisted the Sheriff, were to have $100 each and Glascock was to have the $376. As it will take $76 dollars to pay the expenses of the trip, which falls on the sheriff, he will get as his portion $300. We understand that there is a good chance for a large reward which was offered in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Leach’s Say. During our interview, Tuesday, with Leach, the detective who followed the Big Spring robbers through 200 miles of wilderness in Nebraska, until he obtained information as to their destination, he took occasion to say that one night, when he was taking a peep into the camp of the robbers, he heard Collins administer the oath to Berry and the rest of the gang, to the effect, that as one of them should ‘preach’ on the other; and each one took a solemn oath that he would not be taken alive. The next night he slipped into the camp after the band were all asleep, and did not think a human being was in hundreds of miles of them, and stumbled upon the money [$60,000 in gold coins], sewed up in a blanket, fixed for strapping upon a mule. He tried to pull it out of the camp, but it was so heavy he could not move it, and while he was endeavoring to get into it and carry it off by piece-meal, some one of the gang awoke, and he (Leach) made himself scarce, and only the darkness saved him. He says in his scout after them, he crawled miles after them, through the grass, on his hands and knees. He often saw them, and knew Berry, Collins and some of the others.
After the gang separated, Leach followed after Berry . . . to this place [Mexico], where Berry stopped for supplies . . . “ Thus ends the Mexico Ledger account.
At least three mysteries remain about the Jim Berry story:
(1) How was Jim Berry captured? The Mexico Ledger details Sheriff Glasscock’s version—that he shot Berry after ordering him to surrender and firing a warning shot in the air. But was this the true version? Relatives and friends of Berry dispute the Sheriff’s claim. By their account, Sheriff Glasscock came up behind a sleeping Jim Berry, who was laying on his side in the shade of a large tree. The sheriff fired a shot at the sleeping Berry, a horse neighed, and the wounded Berry emptied his two six-shooters simultaneously with the shot that wounded him. Only then, wounded and out of ammunition, was Berry captured. Perhaps we’ll never know with certainly how Berry was captured, but the weight of evidence seems to support Sheriff Glasscock. After all, Berry lived and talked with several people before his death. Berry does not seem to have disputed the sheriff’s version before he died.
(2) Is this a photograph of Jim Berry? According to The Black Hills Pioneer of Deadwood City, S.D., the men in this photo are Left to Right: Joel Collins and Jim Berry standing; Frank Towle and Jack Farrell seated. Yet, Perhaps the most authoritative website on Sam Bass and his gang is maintained by Round Rock, Texas where Sam Bass is buried. This Round Rock site is
According to this site, this is the only known authenticated photo of Sam Bass, and Jim Berry is not one of the men. Left to Right: Sam Bass, Joe Collins, John E. Gardner, and Joel Collins. The photo is attributed to Robert G. McCubbin, Jr. The Round Rock site is likely correct. No known photo of Jim Berry has been located, although a sketch of his likeness appeared in the Mexico Ledger.
(3) Less than one-third of Berry’s cut of the Union Pacific loot was recovered—what happened to the other $7,000? Although Berry’s home was searched, had he been able to hide the money? Did his wife benefit from this stolen money? Mrs. Berry and the six children continued to live on the farm for three years after Jim Berry’s death—they had relatives and friends, but it seems very likely that the stolen money helped them survive.
The Union Pacific stolen money may also have helped Mrs. Mary Berry pay the passage for her family to come to Fort Benton on the steamboat Red Cloud three years later. On June 10, 1880, Mrs. Mary E. Price Berry with her children stepped ashore at Fort Benton after a long trip up the Missouri River. The children were Jennie Lee born Aug. 30, 1864 at Reece River Valley, Nevada; twins Anne Natalie and Adelaide “Addie” Price born May 14, 1867; three more children were born near Mexico, Missouri, Nora (1869), John R. (Dec. 14, 1871), and Myra (Sep. 19, 1877).
Mrs. Mary Berry brought her family to Fort Benton to join her father Cyrus Price and brothers Charles W. and Kyle Price who came to Montana Territory in the 1860s and became successful ranchers. The 1880 census, shortly the Berry family arrival, has Mrs. Berry keeping house in her father’s household at Ulida, Chestnut Valley near today’s Cascade. Mrs. Berry lived in the Highwood Mountain area until 1885 when she married C. B. Houser and moved to Butte. In February 1885, daughter Addie Price Berry married prominent Highwood rancher John Harris and descendants remain in this area.
In 1898 Mrs. Mary Price Houser moved on to Kalispell and lived there for twenty years. After the death of her son, John R. Berry, at the Montana Soldier’s Home, she came to Great Falls to make her home with her daughter, Mrs. Anne Townsend, until her death in 1927. Mary E. Price Berry Houser rests today in Riverside Cemetery, Fort Benton with her father and brother.
Confederate veteran James Berry lived a life packed with adventure dashing headlong from Quantrill’s Raiders to Nevada Territory to early Montana Territory to outlaw days as a stage and train robber to his violent death. Fortunately, his family survived to become prominent in Montana history.
[Sources: US Census 1850-1880; 2012 http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jamesberry.html; http://penningtons.tripod.com/roster.html ; Sam Bass & Gang. By Rick Miller. Austin, TX, State House Press, 1999; The Tenderfoot Bandits Sam Bass and Joel Collins, their lives and hard times. By Paula Reed and Grover Ted Tate. Tucson, AZ: Westernlore Press, 1988; “John Harris and Addie Berry Harris Family” Collection of Harris-Berry Family Material Collected by William H. Patterson Held at OHRC; “Historical Sketch of James F. Berry (1838-1877)” by John F. Harris (Great Grandson); Sedelia Weekly Bazoo 23 Oct 1877; The (Jefferson City Mo.) State Journal 19 Oct 1877; http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/home/index.asp?page=1768]
Photos: [please run both photos!]
1. Sam Bass—Joel Collins Gang without Jim Berry: Bass standing left; Joel Collins seated right. (Courtesy of Round Rock, Texas)
2. Sketch of James F. Berry—the only known image of Berry. (Courtesy of OHRC)
26 December 2012
Remembering Our Civil War Heritage and Heroes:
James Berry: Confederate Veteran Turns to a Life of Crime and
Joins the Sam Bass Gang —Part II
By Ken Robison
For The River Press
December 26, 2012
This continues a monthly series commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the veterans that settled in Central Montana. This month Confederate soldier James Berry, who had served with Quantrill’s Raiders before coming to Montana Territory during the Civil war, returned to Missouri in 1867. Berry would turn to a life of crime and join the Joel Collins-Sam Bass gang to take part in a spectacular train robbery. This continues the escapades of Confederate veteran James F. Berry.
While Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Price Berry with her three young children left Montana Territory by steamboat for a tough late season journey down the Missouri River in August 1867, her husband James Berry apparently proceeded overland to join his family on their farm near Mexico, Callaway County, Missouri. Little is known of the family over the next decade. Their fourth child, Nora Dickinson Berry was born in March 1870 followed by son John R. Berry in December 1871, both in Mexico, Mo. The census of July 1870 recorded the Berry family living in Bassetts Mill, El Paso County, Colorado Territory with James listed as a stock raiser.
Despite occasional excursions, the Berry family remained settled on their rented farm near Mexico, Mo. According to Sam Bass biographer Rick Miller, wandering Jim Berry left his family about 1875 for the Black Hills. At North Platte, Nebraska, he operated a grocery store with a partner. This business suddenly folded after Berry and his partner “swindled a prominent man out of money that he had posted with them for the purchase of goods.” Jim Berry was turning to a life of crime, very likely not for the first time.
Moving on, Jim Berry joined the gold rush in the Black Hills, yet he failed to strike it rich by the early spring of 1877. Earlier that winter, young Sam Bass and his boss Joel Collins arrived at the booming new town of Deadwood, Dakota Territory after driving a herd of cattle from Uvalde County, Texas. Collins sold the cattle, and paid off his cowboys. At this time Deadwood was a tough, wide-open gold mining town populated by miners, cattlemen, adventurers, and gamblers. Collins had bought his cattle on credit from friends in Texas, and he owed most of the money he’d received for them. Yet, while drinking, he gambled away the money he’d received for the herd. Bass and Collins decided to stay on in Deadwood playing poker for a living and enjoying life in the boomtown. Collins built a house and bought a quartz mine. The mine proved a dud, and Collins realized his money was gone. He became desperate, and with Sam Bass decided to form a gang. They tried mining and failed. They tried freighting and failed to make money. Out of desperation the fledgling Collins-Bass gang decided to rob stage coaches.
Known as the Black Hills Bandits, the gang consisted of Joel Collins, Sam Bass, Jim Berry from Missouri, Jack Davis an experienced stagecoach robber, Bill Heffridge, Canadian Tom Nixon, Frank Towle, and Robert “Reddy” McKimie. Rick Miller described Jim Beery “as 5’ 9” or 5’ 10”, 180 pounds, sandy or red hair with a little gray in it, a sandy beard and moustache with a long chin beard. He had a red florid complexion, blue eyes, talked a great deal, and when he was drinking his full round face became quite red.”
The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Company ran a stage line to and from booming Deadwood, and this seemed an attractive target for the new gang. Traffic each day brought nine Concord coaches, each with six horses, and each coach carried some eighteen passengers. The first task for the gang was to steal good saddle horses, and this they proceeded to do.
After biding their time, the gang decided to strike for the first time the evening of March 25, 1877. Under cover of darkness the gang rode two miles out of Deadwood and hid in the brush. Hearing the clatter of the coach approaching, the bandits charged from the brush and challenged the driver to stop. From this point their plan fell apart. Reddy McKimie, against orders, shot the coach driver. The horses bolted down the road leaving the robbers afoot. Two trailing mounted armed guards, alerted by the shot, rode up to the scene as the Collins-Bass gang fled into the brush.
Despite their disastrous beginning, the gang continued to rob coaches through the summer with only modest success. After six more robberies, they had little to show for their dangerous efforts. After deciding to move on to train robberies, Jim Berry with Collins rode in to Ogalalla, Kansas for Berry to acquire a new pair of boots. He entered the store of shopkeeper and part-time detective M. F. Leech and asked for a pair of boots on credit. Leech refused, and Berry had to scramble with Collins to raise the price of the boots. Leech would later play an important role in Berry’s story.
Collins conceived, planned and carried into execution one of the boldest train robberies that ever occurred in the United States up to that time. When all was ready the Collins-Bass gang including Jim Berry, heavily armed and masked, on September 18, 1877, held up the Union Pacific express train at Big Springs, a small station a few miles beyond Ogallala. The day after the robbery, on September 19th Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Berry gave birth to daughter Myra Berry at Mexico, Mo.
The Mexico Missouri Weekly Ledger reported the sensational train robbery a month later on October 18 under the headline: “THE TRIGGER. One of the Pacific Train Robbers Captured. Our Sheriff a Terror to the Banditti. Frantic Attempt of Berry to Escape. A Well Regulated Shot-gun Does its Duty. Great credit is Due Sheriff Glascock and the men with Him, For Their Indomitable will and Courage. $2,804 of the Stolen Money Recovered.
“Omaha, Neb., Sept. 19.—News reached [Omaha] at an early hour this morning that a Union Pacific express car on the morning train that left Cheyenne yesterday about 2 p. m. was robbed at Big Spring by masked men with drawn revolvers, who threatened to shoot Messenger Miller, compelled him to unlock the safe containing $60,000 in cold coin, and succeeded in escaping with the whole amount.
“The telegraph operator at the station was compelled to break his instrument to prevent his reporting the occurrence. A half-dozen men were in the party. They went northward, but it is believed to be a feint, and it is believed that their ultimate destination is southward. E. Moreman [E. M. Morsman], superintendent of the Union Pacific express office offers a $10,000 reward for the capture of the parties and the return of the money . . . A pro rata of the said reward will be paid for the return of a portion of the money or the capture of any of the men.
“Account From Cheyenne. Cheyenne, W. T., Sept. 19.—Big Springs, the station where the robbery of the express train was committed last night, is a water station 162 miles east of this place. There are only one or two houses besides the station. The robbers rode to the station in the evening, and took possession of everything, tearing the telegraph instruments out and throwing them away. A red light was then hung out to stop the train which reached there about eleven o’clock. On the conductor’s stepping out to see what was wanted he was confronted by men who ordered him to throw up his hands. The engineer and fireman were secured and a guard placed at the end of the coach door. The station agent was compelled to knock on the express door and on its being opened for him, the robbers rushed in, overpowering Messenger [Charles] Miller and taking possession of the car. They secured
SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS
in coin and about $300 in currency from the express car. The through safe, which is stationary and has a combination lock, they left undisturbed. It contained a very large sum of money. [In fact Miller was brutally beaten for not opening the safe.]
“The arrival of a freight train evidently interfered with their plans, for after putting out the fire in the locomotive of the express train they mounted and rode away without disturbing the occupants of the sleeping car. . .”
After the robbery, the gang split up with Jim Berry making his way back to his home near Mexico, Mo. On arrival, the unshaven, dirty, weary Berry check into a hotel in Mexico carrying heavy saddlebags that he would not entrust to a porter. He got a haircut and shave with a trim goatee and mustache. He ordered $300 worth of groceries and arranged for them to be delivered to his family on the farm about twenty miles south of town. Berry also ordered a suit at Blum’s store. The day after his arrival in Mexico, just as soon as the town’s three banks opened, Berry made a fatal mistake—trading in $9,000 in gold coins for currency. Berry explained his bonanza by claiming that he had struck it rich mining in the Black Hills. The banks shipped the coins to St. Louis, Mo., where they were quickly identified as likely being from the Big Springs robbery. Just three days after trading the gold for currency, detectives including M. L. Leech arrived in Mexico to confer with the Audrain County Sheriff, Henry Glasscock.
The Mexico Weekly Ledger of Oct. 18th continued its account of the pursuit and capture of Jim Beery: “Berry’s Capture. Monday, Oct. 15, 3 o’clock, p. m. We have just interviewed [Sheriff Henry Glasscock] H. Glascock and J. Berry, concerning the arrest of Berry, Sunday morning [Oct. 14], and we give you the facts as near as possible in our limited time . . .
“It appears that last Saturday night [Oct. 13] as our Sheriff was eating supper about half past six o’clock, he received a message that a man was in town after the suit of clothes Berry had left at Blum’s. The man’s name was Bose Kazy [or R. T. Kasey], he lived near Berry’s. He told Blum that Berry had told him that he could have the clothes if he would pay the balance of $30 due on them. This was the way he had his ‘job’ fixed up. Glascock ran right down to Kabrick’s Hall and hid behind the counter and saw Kazy come out, [at] half past seven. Glascock followed him to Wallace & McKenny’s livery stable. Just as Glascock got near the stable he met John Carter and told him to come along. Carter, Glascock and Kazy all got to the stable at the same time. Kazy paid for his horse feed and started to get on his horse. Sheriff Glascock took Kazy by the collar, presented a pistol to his head and told him he would shoot him if he moved. Kazy did not move. Glascock ordered two more horses saddled. They then tied Kazy on his horse and the cavalcade moved off, Glascock leading Kazy’s horse. They went down to the branch near Tom Smith’s, in South Mexico, and as they thought no one would get wind of them there, they stopped.
“Glascock then went and got John Coons, Bob Steele and a young man named Moore. All got horses and double-barreled shot-guns which were loaded with buck shot. They then told Kazy they would have to know where Berry was. He said he had not seen him since he (Berry) had told him he could have the clothes, which was about a week before. The posse then got around Kazy put their guns to his heart and told him if he led them into any trap or did not take them at once to his house they would shoot him down in a minute. He said he would take them to his home if it would do them any good.”
The fact that Sheriff Glasscock felt he needed to raise a posse brought comment about Berry in the Sedelia Weekly Bazoo of October 23, “up to the time of receiving the shot, his bearing was that of a man who would fight to the last. Indeed, he had given previous examples of his desperate and daring nature. He was one of Bill Anderson’s most daring followers, and his unshrinking courage was tested in many a terrible fray which that bold partisan led all into who followed his banner. Indeed, so great was the terror of his name, that while in Mexico, where he exchanged his gold for greenbacks, although believed to be one of The Express Robbers, there was none bold enough to arrest him.”
From the Mexico Weekly Ledger, “The men started out toward Kazy’s house and passed Jeff Jones about 12 o’clock Saturday night. About 3 o’clock they got to John Armstrong’s; Sheriff Glascock told him what they had done and wanted Armstrong to go with them and show them where Kazy lived, as he was afraid that Kazy would fool them. Armstrong said he did not know where Kazy lived and so would not go. We don’t know whether Armstrong knew or not. It was then 3 o’clock Sunday morning. When they got within about one-half mile of Kazy’s house they took Kazy off, tied him and left Bob Steele to guard him, then Glascock placed two men north of the house and stable. Moore and himself going on the south and west side and as the open timber was there they though he might be over in that.
“Kazy had pluck, for before they tied him they told him to tell where Berry was or he would be sorry for it, but he said he knew nothing. They did not alarm Kazy’s house at all, it was not quite daylight yet. They all secreted themselves in thickets as mentioned above to await results. Glascock told his men, “boys if you see him, halt him, if he shows fight shoot him down, if he runs shoot him in the legs, catch him ‘at all hazards.’
“In about one-half hour Glascock heard a horse ‘nicker’ about one-half a mile off as he thought. Moore and Glascock then crept toward the noise, went 300 yards down the branch, came to a fence, saw fresh horse tracks; Glascock got over the fence and got into a thicket, heard the horse snort about 50 yards off in the brush. Glascock then crawled toward the horse about 90 steps, got upon his knees and saw the back of the horse 40 yards off. Glascock took off his hat and crept up 20 yards closer. Then he raised up and saw Berry unhitching the horse from a tree. Berry then led his horse aslant toward Glascock, as Berry now says to lead him to water. Glascock cocked both barrels of his gun, ran out about 20 yards, within about 20 feet of Berry and demanded him to halt! Berry started to run. Glascock shot, but aimed too high which caused the charge to go over Berry’s head. He shot again and 7 buck shot lodged in Berry’s left leg below the knee. Berry fell to the ground, when Glascock got to him he was trying to get his pistol out, but he could not get it out before Glascock was on him and snatched it away from him, he then asked Glascock to shoot him, that he did not want to live.
“Glascock told him no; that he did not want to kill him. He wanted him to have justice. Just then Moore came up.
“What strikes us as strange, is, that Berry, the ‘best man in Callaway county,’ thus taken by one man. Only last Sunday, when Berry was in the hands of Audrain’s sheriff, we heard men in Callaway county say that no 20 men could take Berry, and that when Glascock went out the first time, he did not want to find Berry, &c. they seemed to take pride in Berry’s being a bully, and then for Callaway’s best man to run at the ominous word ‘halt!’ The fact of the business is that Berry is no coward, but he was taken at a disadvantage, and the persuasive influence of a double-barreled breech-loader in the hands of a determined officer will make even the boldest criminal tremble. Berry, after being caught, even begged the sheriff to shoot him; but the sheriff being a humane man, declined to accede to his request. We take great pride in the fact that our sheriff captured Berry.
“After Moore came up, Glascock called for the rest of the posse, when they all gathered round Berry. Glascock then searched him and found in his belt five $500 packages, and in his pocket book was found $304. He had a gold watch and chain, one dress coat, three overcoats and comfort. He had doubtless slept there within 10 feet of the horse. They then took him to Kazy’s house, when Mrs. Kazy got breakfast for the men, while a messenger was sent to Williamsburg for medical assistance.
“Immediately after breakfast Sheriff Glascock and John Carter started for Berry’s house to look for the balance of the money. Upon arriving there, Glascock inquired of Mrs. [Mary Elizabeth] Berry the whereabouts of Berry; she replied that she did not know, as she had not seen him for four or five days, and thought he had left the country. Glascock then showed her the watch and chain, when one of the children said: ‘Oh, I thought that was papa’s.’ Glascock then told her that he had got Berry. When she asked if he had been taken alive and receiving an affirmative reply, said: ‘I never thought he would be taken alive. He has said a great many times he would never be taken alive.’ At this they all began to cry, the wife, one little boy and 5 little girls. It was a very distressing scene.
“Glascock searched the house but found no money. The house was well provisioned for the winter. Hams without number, sacks of flour and coffee, kegs of molasses &c., &c.
“After Glascock left Kazy’s about 40 of the citizens come around and some threats were made about taking him away, but they did not make any attempts at all, it all ended in talk.
“Sunday night they arrived at Mexico, and placed Berry in a room at the Ringo House and summoned Dr. Russell to attend him. At this writing he is under the influence of chloroform. It is not thought that his wounds will prove serious. He will be sent to Omaha as soon as he is able to be moved. Kazy never did tell anything, he stuck up till the end that he knew nothing of Berry. He showed his nerve, but that did not keep Berry out of Limerick.”
To be continued next week.
[Sources: US Census 1850-1880; 2012 http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jamesberry.html; http://penningtons.tripod.com/roster.html ; Sam Bass & Gang. By Rick Miller. Austin, TX, State House Press, 1999; The Tenderfoot Bandits Sam Bass and Joel Collins, their lives and hard times. By Paula Reed and Grover Ted Tate. Tucson, AZ: Westernlore Press, 1988; “John Harris and Addie Berry Harris Family” Collection of Harris-Berry Family Material Collected by William H. Patterson Held at OHRC; “Historical Sketch of James F. Berry (1838-1877)” by John F. Harris (Great Grandson); Sedelia Weekly Bazoo 23 Oct 1877; The (Jefferson City Mo.) State Journal 19 Oct 1877]
1. Sketch of James F. Berry. (Courtesy of OHRC)
2. Sam Bass—Joel Collins Gang: Bass standing left; Collins seated right. (Courtesy of Williamson County Historical Commission)
3. Sketch of Union Pacific Train Robbery. (Courtesy of OHRC)
25 November 2012
Remembering Our Civil War Heritage and Heroes:
James Berry: Quantrill Raider and Train Robber
Who Left Deep Tentacles in Montana—Part I
By Ken Robison
For The River Press
November 28, 2012
This continues a monthly series commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the veterans that settled in Central Montana. This month features Confederate soldier James Berry who came to Montana Territory during the Civil war; returned to Missouri for a life of crime as part of the Sam Bass gang; and after his violent death, his widow and family came to the Shonkin area to join her father.
The border war between Missouri and Kansas, known as “Bleeding Kansas,” was a series of violent confrontations from 1854 and 1861 involving anti-slavery “Free-Staters” or “Jayhawkers” based in Kansas Territory versus pro-slavery “Border Ruffian” elements or “Bushwhackers” from Missouri. Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war between Northerners and Southerners over the issue of slavery. It set the stage with the outbreak of the Civil War for special animosity and violence in both Kansas and Missouri. Jayhawkers raided Missouri farms thought to be pro-secessionist, freeing slaves and wrecking havoc. Bushwhackers raided Kansas towns and farms burning and pillaging.
Throughout the South, Confederate veterans fought and died for their cause, the War of Southern Independence, But in the states of Missouri and Kansas, more than soldiers died, as the conflict became one of “total warfare,” sweeping though the civilian population of farms and towns with a ferocity greater than perhaps any other region.
Despite the fact that Missouri’s Governor favored secession and pro-secessionist officers led the state’s militia, the Missouri State Guard, the state remained in the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War because of decisive action by Union troops stationed in St. Louis. Along the Missouri River corridor a large slave-owning area known as “Little Dixie” remained in insurrection throughout the early years of the war. For the Confederacy, the Missouri State Guard under General Sterling “Old Pap” Price conducted much of the fighting. Supporting the partisan rangers of the State Guard were quasi-military units such as William Clarke Quantrill’s Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson’s gang. These units wrote their own rules of warfare and often dressing in civilian clothes or Union uniforms. They left a bloody trail as they employed hit and run tactics, often taking no prisoners.
Three Berry brothers, Isaac “Ike”, Richard “Dick”, and James “Jim” Berry grew up in Callaway County, Missouri in the heart of “Little Dixie.” James F. Berry was born in 1838 near Shamrock, Callaway County, fifth of ten children of farmer Caleb and Virginia Fulkerson Berry. By 1860 James was off the farm, owning and operating a grocery store in nearby Williamsburg. He was described as being very talkative, having sandy red hair, often with a chin beard, 5’ 9” tall, with a round full face that got very red when he was drinking.
As with many unconventional forces of the Confederacy, few records were kept and even fewer survive, and this is the case with Quantrill and Anderson’s men. Post-Civil War reconstructions, such as the William Pennington List offer well-researched insight into those who likely served in the war with both William Quantrill and Bill Anderson. Among Quantrill’s men were later famed outlaws, Jesse and Frank James and the Younger Brothers.
Pennington’s List includes the three Berry brothers, Ike, Dick, and Jim Berry together with Samuel Morgan Hays, husband of their sister, Rebecca Berry, reporting briefly on each member:
Berry, Ike (Isaac). Was at Lawrence [Kansas] with Quantrill, Centralia [Missouri] with "Bloody Bill" Anderson 9/27/1864. Purportedly convinced Anderson to burn Danville [Missouri] 10/14/1864. Survived War becoming a liquor merchant/ Restaurateur. Died 1928, Mo.
Berry, Richard. With “Bloody Bill” Anderson Unit. Survived War - Was with Quantrill at Lawrence [Kansas]. Brother of Ike.
Berry, James. With “Bloody Bill” Anderson Unit. Rode with the Sam Bass gang after the war, robbing banks and trains throughout the mid-west. Killed, Oct 21, 1877 by Sheriff Glasscock in Adrian County, MO.
Hays, Samuel Morgan. With Quantrill. Indicted 18 Nov 1863 for the murder of George Burt at Lawrence [Kansas], 21 Aug 1863. Sam was married to Rebecca Berry.
Historian Rick Miller writes of Jim Berry in his book Sam Bass & Gang: [Jim Berry] “was reportedly a member of Bloody Bill Anderson’s guerilla troop, associated with the infamous Quantrill’s raiders in Missouri during the Civil war.” Years later, in 1877, the Sedalia Mo. Weekly Bazoo wrote, “Jim Berry’s bearing was that of a man who would fight to the last. Indeed, he had given previous examples of his desperate and daring nature. He was one of Bill Anderson’s most daring followers, and his unshrinking courage was tested in many a terrible fray which that bold partisan led all into who followed his banner.” The [Missouri] State Journal added, “Jim Berry was known to have been one of the most desperate members of that terrible company of rough-riders who followed the fortunes of Bill Anderson during the war, and they also knew that he had two or three brothers living in Callaway who were fully as dangerous as he.”
Miller writes also of Ike Berry: “According to the St. Louis Daily Missouri Democrat, 12 November 1864 . . . [Bloody Bill] Anderson’s ‘orderly’ was a man named Ike Berry, whom he called ‘Weasel,’ Both Anderson and Berry were intoxicated and together severely pistol-whipped and tortured Lewis, and Anderson even rode a horse over him until the family was able to produce five thousand dollars. Lewis died, largely as a result of his injuries, on February 2, 1866.”
Sketchy as the sources are, it is convincingly clear that the three Berry boys served under Quantrill and Anderson during the Civil War, and only the toughest of the rough rode with them. Examining Jim Berry’s activities during the Civil War in detail it is clear that he served only briefly in the war before heading to the western territories, while Ike and Dick Berry continued to fight for the Confederacy through most of the war.
By late 1861, William Quantrill had formed a raider force that likely included the three Berrys and their brother in law Sam Hays. During the winter his force grew in strength to around two hundred men, and were better mounted and armed. Throughout 1862 Quantrill and his men raided around Kansas City, Independence, and Olathe. After a raid on Independence, on March 19, 1862, the Union issued a general order that all guerrillas were to be treated as common criminals rather than soldiers and prisoners of war, and they were to be shot on sight. This "No Quarter" policy apparently was a turning point for Quantrill and his men. Until this time they often paroled prisoners, a common practice by both sides early in the war. After the authorities issued the "No Quarter" order, Quantrill and his men exercised the same policy of no quarter towards their captives, usually killing them on the spot.
Hoping to cause the Union Army to soften their policy towards guerillas, the Confederate government passed the Partisan Ranger Act. The act legitimized guerrilla bands as rangers acting under the authority of the Confederate Army. The Union Army command ignored the Partisan Ranger Act, but from this time on the men who rode with Quantrill and similar bands considered themselves soldiers in the Confederate Army, and the CSA bore the responsibility for their actions.
In July 1862 the Union issued Order No. 19, requiring all able-bodied men in pro-slavery Jackson County to enlist in Missouri Union militias and help exterminate the guerillas. This was at a time when marauding Kansas Jayhawkers operating as Federal militia, were preying on slave holding families in Jackson County. The order led many young men in Jackson and surrounding counties to flood into the camps of Quantrill and General Price’s other units.
On August 11, 1862, Quantrill led twenty-five veterans and four hundred new recruits into Independence, Mo. The Union commander surrendered his force to a Confederate officer present. Four days later, Quantrill received a commission as captain, and his men were mustered in as partisan rangers in the Confederate army, organized as Shelby’s 2nd Missouri Cavalry Regiment. This unit was also designated the 12th Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, CSA. This regiment, including Jim Berry was informally known as the “Jackson’s County Cavalry” since a majority of its men came from the Jackson county area of western Missouri. Although Col. Upton Hays and later Colonels Beal G. Jeans and David Shanks commanded this cavalry unit, it remained closely associated with Quantrill and his Raiders. .
Five days later, on August 16 at the Battle of Lone Jack, Quantrill’s Raiders join the Confederate army in defeating Union forces in nearby Lone Jack, Missouri. On September 12, Quantrill raided Olathe, Kansas killing fourteen, while sacking and looting the town. The Fourth Kansas Cavalry chased the Raiders for ten days through four counties in Missouri. Throughout the early fall of 1862, Quantrill’s men were chased relentlessly by the Fourth Kansas and Sixth Missouri Cavalry.
During the summer of 1862 Bill Anderson formed his own gang, robbing to support themselves, and killing Union soldiers, quickly gaining the sobriquet, of “Bloody Bill.” Early in 1863 Anderson traveled to Jackson Co., Mo. to join Quantrill. Initially, Quantrill gave Anderson a chilly reception perceiving him to be brash and overconfident.
In May 1863 Anderson’s gang joined Quantrill’s Raiders on a raid near Council Grove, Kansas, in which they robbed a store west of town. After the robbery a US Marshal with a large posse intercepted the raiders about 150 miles from the Kansas-Missouri border. In the resulting skirmish, several raiders were captured or killed as they spit into two groups to return to Missouri.
During early summer 1863 Bloody Bill Anderson was made a Lieutenant, serving under Quantrill in a unit led by George M. Todd. It is possible that the Berry boys began serving under Anderson by this time, although this is not clear. During June and July Anderson took part in several raids that killed Union soldiers in Westport, Kansas City, and Lafayette County, Mo.
On August 21st Quantrill led his force of about 400 men into Lawrence, Kansas, the strongest abolitionist city in the state. The attack had been carefully planned with independent columns approaching in a coordinated pre-dawn attack. Over four hours, the raiders pillaged and set fire to the town, killing about 185 civilian men and boys, most of the male population, while burning about a quarter of the city to the ground. Their principal target, Jayhawker Senator James H. Lane, escaped death by racing through a cornfield in his nightclothes.
By 9 a.m., the raiders were on their way out of town. The Lawrence Massacre was one of the bloodiest events in the history of “Bleeding Kansas.” The city seal of Lawrence commemorates Quantrill’s attack with a depiction of a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the burnt city. Quantrill led his force along the Texas Road en route to winter quarters in Texas. Along the way on October 6th they fought a minor battle at Fort Blair in Cherokee County, Kansas.
It seems clear that Ike and Dick Berry were among the raiders that day of infamy at Lawrence, Kansas although it is possible that Jim Berry had already left the war behind and headed westward to Nevada.
Some time during mid 1863, Jim Berry arrived in mining fields around Reese River, Lander County in central Nevada. There on November 26, 1863 James F. Berry married Mary Elizabeth Price. Mollie, as she was known, with her father Cyrus and brothers Kyle and Charles had moved by wagon train from Callaway County, Mo. to nearby Austin, Nevada in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil war. The Price family likely knew the Berrys back in Missouri, and Cyrus Price seemed determined to leave Little Dixie after the suicide death of his wife and before the family became swept up in the war.
Jennie Lee Berry, the first of six children, was born at Reece River Valley, Nevada on August 30, 1864. Shortly after, Jim Berry joined the gold rush to the new Montana Territory. A combination of the gold strikes on Grasshopper Creek and Alder Gulch, Montana Territory during the Civil War and the decisive defeat of Gen. Price’s army in 1864 brought many Missourians to the new territory during and after the Civil War—so many in fact that a legend was born that Montana was settled by “the left wing of Price's army.” There is an element of truth to this legend as evidenced by the arrival of Missourian Jim Berry and his family and many others in the new territory after serving with Gen. Price’s army.
Jim Berry’s activities in frontier Montana from 1864-67 remain unknown, but in May 1867 twin daughters, Anna/Anne Natalle and Adelaide “Addie” Price Berry were born in Virginia City. Apparently during the summer of 1867, Jim Berry headed overland back to Missouri. His wife Mary and their three children went overland from Virginia City to Fort Benton to board a steamboat to go down the Missouri River to their home near Mexico, Audrain County, Missouri. The steamer Gallatin departed Fort Benton September 2nd with the Berry family on board. Family legend tells that Mrs. Elizabeth Meagher, wife of recently deceased Thomas Francis Meagher was also on the steamboat that carried a total of eleven ladies and six children on this trip.
The steamboat Gallatin departed Fort Benton for Omaha with 150 passengers and upwards of a quarter of a million dollars in gold dust onboard. After trouble from late season low water, the boat reached a point thirteen miles below Camp Cooke on the morning of the September 5th. Here the Gallatin ran hard on the rocks at Holmes Rapids, and for six days the crew and passengers worked with block, tackle, and spars, struggling to get her afloat. On Sunday, Sept. 8th, the steamer Only Chance came along and about 25 of the Gallatin’s passengers, gave up and took passage down on that boat, an action they would later regret.
By Wednesday September 11th, the Gallatin’s crew and passengers had strained and racked the boat so badly that it was considered unsafe to remain onboard any longer. All the passengers and freight were put ashore, and the boat dismantled, even to the deck planking. Her splendid machinery was left in place, in hopes she might eventually get through, and the steamer was tied to the bank. Later passenger accounts spoke highly of the conduct of Capt. Howe, who worked day and night, in the cold weather and water to save his boat and secure comfort for the passengers.
The eleven lady passengers, including Elizabeth Meagher and Mary Berry, with the six children, provisions, baggage, and a few male passengers were put on two mackinaw boats. The balance of the passengers started overland on foot to reach the steamer Huntsville at Cow Island, fifty miles below. Eight miles down river, the mackinaws met Captain Jacobs of the Huntsville, coming up with a yawl to their relief. He agreed to carry passengers on the Huntsville to Omaha for $75 currency, while Capt. Howe of the Gallatin generously gave all the provisions he had and all the money left from his trip.
Having no cooking utensils, the mackinaw party, including Elizabeth Meagher and Mary Berry, laid down to sleep about eleven o’clock that night, rather hungrier than was pleasant. To add to their discomfort the rain coldly and continuously poured down on them through the night, with wolves howling in the distance. Berry family legend tells that Mrs. Meagher had plenty of Buffalo robes and shared them with Mrs. Berry who wrapped her six-month old twins in the robes, saving their lives.
An early start and the mackinaws reached the Huntsville by 10 a. m., while the foot passengers, hungry and weary, wet, foot-sore and demoralized, came struggling in by squads until night, thankful for their deliverance from a shipwreck on the Upper Missouri.
The money and provisions from Captain Howe left $21.50 due from each cabin passenger and $6 from deck passengers, which was paid. The Huntsville then waited for the arrival of the ship’s Clerk and additional travelers from Fort Benton.
Boating conditions in that late season were horrible. The steamboat Imperial was hard aground twelve miles below Cow Island on September 14th, with poor prospects of getting off. Another boat, the Zephyr, was above Cow Island, and it was believed would have to remain all winter in the mountains. The Only Chance had a terribly rough trip down to Cow Island, pounding over rocks all the way. She left Cow Island September 12th and made her way down to Omaha, the passengers, including the twenty-five from the Gallatin, suffering all the way from poor quality food leading to much sickness and two deaths from dysentery. One passenger recorded that “a gladder set of boys never walked a steamboat plank” upon their arrival at Omaha October 4th. Onboard were over 200 passengers and about $3 million in treasure.
The steamboat Huntsville with Elizabeth Meagher and the Berry family aboard departed Cow Island September 19th. The boat passed Fort Peck on the 28th and worked her way down the Missouri slowed by the late season low water, the almost constant need to spar across sand bars, and frequent high winds. At long last, the trip from hell ended at Omaha on the 17th of October. The Berry family likely continued on to Missouri by train after their life-threatening trip down the Missouri River.
The escapades of Confederate veteran James F. Berry and his family will continue next month in Part 2.
[Sources: US Census 1850-1880; 2012 http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-jamesberry.html; http://penningtons.tripod.com/roster.html ; Sam Bass & Gang. By Rick Miller. Austin, TX, State House Press, 1999; The Tenderfoot Bandits Sam Bass and Joel Collins, their lives and hard times. By Paula Reed and Grover Ted Tate. Tucson, AZ: Westernlore Press, 1988; “John Harris and Addie Berry Harris Family” Collection of Harris-Berry Family Material Collected by William H. Patterson Held at OHRC; “Historical Sketch of James F. Berry (1838-1877)” by John F. Harris (Great Grandson); Sedelia Weekly Bazoo 23 Oct 1877; The (Jefferson City Mo.) State Journal 19 Oct 1877; http://www.missouridivision-scv-org/mounits/12mocav.htm ; http://www.whitsett-wall.com/Documents/James%20Simeon%20Whitsett,%20 Civil%20 War%20Guerrilla.pdf ; “Mrs. Thomas Francis Meagher’s Sad Departure from Fort Benton In 1867: What a Way to Treat a Lady!” Fort Benton Historian Blog August 3, 2005]
1. Sketch of James F. Berry from Missouri Ledger. [Courtesy of OHRC]
2. General Sterling “Old Pap” Price, Commander of Missouri State Guard [Courtesy of OHRC]
3. William Clarke Quantrill, Confederate Raider [Courtesy of OHRC]