Martha Hood vs. David Rusk, et al. – 1865

Martha Hood married William B. Hood on July 30, 1854. The couple had five children and lived in Carthage, Missouri. On July 20, 1864, Martha claimed fifteen men unlawfully detained her husband at gunpoint. The men restrained William while Richard Fisher shot him at point blank range with his pistol. The bullet passed through the right side of William’s body, and the men left him for dead. He lingered in great misery and bodily pain for eight days until he died on July 28. Martha sued the fifteen men for five thousand dollars in damages to the quality of her life and her ability to raise, cloth, feed and educate her children.

In conjunction with this suit are documents entitled Martha Hood vs. Wiley Web, et al. These court records include Wiley Webb’s statement and his denial of involvement with the charges.

Martha named David Rusk, Monroe Scott, Hugh Challes, Thomas Halsell, Edward Halsell, Thomas Hockins, Hubbard Johnson, Daniel Johnson, John M Wilson, Wiley Webb, John Webb, James Tunnel, William A McRea, Isaac Scott and Richard Fisher in the murder of her husband. Martha Clark claimed that these same men killed her husband, Orange Clark, on the same day.

John M. Richardson represented both Martha Clark and Martha Hood in their cases against the accused murders. The language used in both cases is very similar, and both plaintiffs ask for the same amount in damages. Guerrilla warfare plagued Missouri for over a decade. Many civilians spent the postwar years in court, attempting to receive restitution for the atrocities committed against their families.

Contributed by the Jasper County Records Center

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