TRAGEDIES OF THE CIVIL WAR (1861)
Some of the fearful murders growing out of the civil war were perpetuated in this township. Each side furnished victims, and the bloody perpetuated are remembered with horror to this day.
The first victim was John S. Reynolds, a Union man Mr. Reynolds was a worthy citizen, and was generally respected and held in high regard by those who knew him. He was a Republican in politics and one of the ten men in Pond Creek township who voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was killed on the night of November 22, 1861, while the Confederates occupied the country, their headquarters being at Springfield.
At about 8 p. m. on the night named, two or more men came to the house and coming in told Mr. Reynolds that they had come to hang him for voting for Lincoln. The man who said this was standing near the fireplace, where also Mr. Reynolds was. Reynolds caught up a coal shovel and struck the intruder over the head and then threw him out of doors. He then fastened the door and held it to keep the murderers out. While leaning against the door one of the diabolical assassins broke a window on another side of the house, put a musket through and fired, shooting Mr. Reynolds through and killing him almost instantly. He held to the door with a strong grip and sank down slowly. Mrs. Reynolds sprang from her bed, caught her dying husband in her arms, and he lied on her breast. He muttered, " 0 that _ ", naming a Confederate enemy of his from Lawrence county, whom it was thought he recognized.
The next man murdered was a Confederate sympathizer a man named Daniel McCraw, who, late in the summer ot 1862, was waylaid and shot and killed by two boys, neither of whom were over 16 years of age. The boys were in the bushes and did their work effectively.
On the night of Nov. 8, 1862, Joel M. Skelton was murdered. Mr. Skelton had removed from Georgia to Pond Creek township in 1854. His sympathies were with the Confederate cause, but he was a harmless and inoffensive, without an enemy among his immediate acquaintances, so far as he knew. On the night in question two men, believed to be from Lawrence county, came to Mr. Skelton and began shoving him shamefully, threatening to kill him, in retaliation for the killing of John Reynolds, and forcing him to dance, turn somersaults, and perform other humiliating and shameful antics in the presence of his wife.
Mrs. Skelton, poor woman, was greatly terrified and implored the miscreants not to murder her husband, and when they said he had done enough to deserve death, she declared he had done nothing, and begged them not to kill him until she could run half a mile away and bring the old pioneer, David Reynolds, well known as a staunch Union man who would come and testify to the harmless character of her husband. The villains promised to spare him until Mr. Reynolds should come, and away the lady ran as fast as her weak, trembling limbs could carry her.
Reaching Mr. Reynolds' house, and imploring his help, the old man refused to return with Mrs. Skelton, saying he was afraid of his own life, but that his wife might go, and so the two women started. But they had not gone far when they heard the report of a revolver, and on arriving at her home, Mrs. Skelton found her husband a corpse, weltering in his blood, almost in his own doorway. Ever since Mrs. Skelton has been partially deranged -- and what wonder?
The same night that Joel Skeleton was killed, Andrew Owens was inhumanly butchered, presumably by the same brutes that murdered Skelton, Two men came to Owen's house, called him out, shot him down, and rode way singing merrily.
Soon afterward, Richard Owen, a citizen of this township, was killed while on his way to Springfield by some Federals. Mr. Owen's son was driving the team and Mr. Owen himself was walking behind the wagon. Two soldiers rode past Mr. Owen and past the wagon, and then turned back and riding to where the unsuspecting man was walking along suddenly shot him dead.
A Union man named John Gower was murdered at his home by Confederate bushwackers in 1863.
In 1864 a young man named Lum Johns, a nephew of Mrs. Townley Risse, was visiting his aunt, was waylaid and killed. He was a Southern sympathizer.
In 1865, James Everhart, an ex-militiaman, was killed by Lieut. Harshbarger, of the 16th Mo. Cavalry, in Nathaniel Batson's door-yard, and was there buried. Everhart had won for himself the name of a horse thief, a robber and rascal, It was believed that the killing was authorized by Gen. Sanborn.
(History of Greene County, Westerm Historical Company, 1883)