Mary Rush vs. John Small et. al. 1866

Mary Elizabeth Randolph married John Rush on November 9, 1863, and the couple lived together in Greene County, Missouri.1 On May 26, 1866, twenty-one men murdered John. Later that year, Mary sued the men for $5,000 in damages. Although the war was over, in 1866 Missouri experienced a full re-occurrence of guerrilla violence. Bushwhackers once again began wrecking havoc and terror, stealing, killing, and attacking citizens. Mary Rush was part of large group of women who had been widowed by the war and its after-effects. Managing a home without a support network, raising a family in the midst of deprivation, tending to crops with a diminished workforce made hardship an everyday reality. Mary was so destitute that she asked the court to process her case without a fee tax or charge.

The defendants in the case thoroughly contested the accusations brought against them. They argued that since Rush could not afford to pursue the case that it should be dismissed. They also stated that since it had been more than six months since the alleged crime was committed, that the statute of limitations had run out for Mrs. Rush to bring charges against them. Although the outcome of the case is unknown, it represents the vicious nature of warfare that continued after the war in Missouri.

Contributed by the Greene County Archives and Records Center

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  1. Mary E. Randolph, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007, accessed October 27, 2010.