Michael Jose Papers

Michael H. Jose, a native of Georgia, lived in Cass County, Missouri in 1850 with his wife Mary and their three children. Jose worked as a carpenter, but before the Civil War officially began his family moved west to Ukiah, California. It is unknown why the Jose family moved from Missouri, but they remained in contact with the friends they left behind. F. Brown wrote to his friend Jose after the War ended. His October 1866 letter discussed mutual friends in Henry, Bates, and Vernon County.

Brown mentioned killings committed by bushwhackers and soldiers. The counties along the Missouri-Kansas border suffered severely from guerrilla warfare. Federal soldiers patrolled the area, but attacks on civilian property continued throughout the war. The Union army seized local resources to supply their troops and hunted civilians they believed to be supporting the bushwhackers or participating in the violence of the region.

George Thomas the Carder he was killd by the Brush Whacks old Dan Johnson was Killd by the malishia… Allen Farist was murdered at Knight so was F.F. Eddy supposed to be by Mo. Molitia John Hartman was killd when a prisnor in the Federal line by a Dirty Fellow as gard. Green Osborn was Killd by his neighbor Melitia men permit me to say these are hardley a beginning of the murders & Deaths I could tell you of, but you can begin to guess from this of what we have seen in this Contry
F Brown Letter to Michael Jose, Oct. 14, 1866

The constant violence in the area forced many families to leave their homes and seek refuge in other parts of the country. Brown mentions that the “roads are lined with Wagons moving most all going to Kansas.” Brown even hinted to Jose that he was considering moving to California. The wartime Ozarks resulted in great hardship for farm families. Warring armies pressed for supplies, took produce and livestock from the local farmers whenever their commissary stores were low, resulting in food shortages for most families. Bushwhackers also preyed on the isolation of area settlers, and often ransacked homes, smokehouses, and barns for supplies. Years of war and pillaging had annihilated the surrounding lands. Grist mills which were needed to make flour from grains had been burned, livestock depleted, and farmers had to contend with Mother Nature as well. Brown commented, “we have had a world of grasshoppers here this fall to eat up the wheat.”

The greatest change to the area was the political atmosphere in the area. Brown mentioned that there was “Considerable Political excitement in Vernon County tho all Peacably & in fine humor and I hope will continue so the war Being over lets all do our next fighting at the Ballat Box.” He continued, “we have Federal & ConFeds Right amongst us as neighbors They get along fine together.” However, not all Confederate and Union men were friendly after the war. Post-war Missouri experienced many of the same hardships as they did during the war. Charles D. Drake, a member of the Radical Party, spearheaded a new constitution in 1865. His proposal included an “iron-clad oath,” which required individuals to attest to his/her innocence of eighty-six acts of disloyalty against the state of Missouri and the Union. These acts ranged from providing money, goods, or intelligence to the enemy; to taking up arms; participating in guerrilla warfare, aiding or abetting guerrillas. Even expressing general sympathy the South, or specific individuals that fought for the Southern cause, would be seen as acts of disloyalty. Failing to take this oath would prevent one from voting, holding a public office, and from holding professional licenses such as lawyers, teachers, clergy, and other influential positions.

Missouri’s, post-war years were spent alienating those with ties to the Confederacy, bickering between Radicals and Conservatives, and filing claims of retribution for depredation caused during the War. Brown’s short letter briefly touched on the hostility and fragile balance of Missouri post- civil war. However, with the return of manpower and relative safety of the region, construction on the railroad renewed in 1866, bringing new economic wealth and opportunities to the Ozarks.

Contributed by the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail

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  1. Year: 1850; Census Place: District 16, Cass, Missouri; Roll: M432_395; Page: 77B; Image: 161.
  2. Year: 1860; Census Place: Ukiah, Mendocino, California; Roll: M653_60; Page: 794; Image: 258; Family History Library Film: 803060.
  3. F Brown Letter to Michael Jose. Oct. 14, 1866. 04.54.8A-C. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri. Page 2
  4. F Brown Letter to Michael Jose. Oct. 14, 1866. 04.54.8A-C. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri. Page 3
  5. F Brown Letter to Michael Jose. Oct. 14, 1866. 04.54.8A-C. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri. Page 1
  6. F Brown Letter to Michael Jose. Oct. 14, 1866. 04.54.8A-C. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri. Page 2