Marion Co TOC
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The Tutt, King, And Everett War
Compiled by & used with permission of Vicki A. Roberts
This war, or feud, concerned at least three families and covered a good portion of the early days of our county's history. It has been called the King-Everett War, the Tutt-Everett War, and the Marion Co. War. Accounts of this even in Marion Co. history have been told by more than one individual, and all accounts agree that the battles were fought in Marion and Searcy Cos. from 1844 to 1850. Not all agree, however, that it was a political feud. Everything was going well in both counties until the legislature got kind of sticky about boundaries and legal procedures and such in 1838. Both the Tutt and Everett families wound up in Marion Co. with both seeking control.
When Marion Co. was formed in 1836, the Everetts were already here and in control of the law and order aspects of life. Two accounts state they were from Kentucky, all tall and powerful men. Ewell was the eldest with John, Cimmeron "Sim", Jesse , and Bart being younger. About 1845 Jesse, together with an Everett follower named Jacob Stratton, moved to Denton Co. TX. Little is known of the other brothers, but "Sim," when sober, was a quiet and peaceable citizen; however, when drinking, as was frequently the case when he was in town, he seemed more inclined to court a fight than to avoid one. He was said to be the most powerful man in the county in a straight knockdown or fisticuffs.
In Searcy Co., law and order were in the capable hands of the Tutt family. R.B. Tutt reputedly moved his family there from Tennessee but, according to records, was actually from North Carolina. They settled in the St. Joe Community. R.B. liked to gamble at cards, was a horse racer, and was fond of fighting and drinking. He had three sons, Ben, Hansford "Hamp," and David Casey. In 1845 "Hamp" and Nancy Tutt (his second wife) purchased 160 acres from Matthew and Catherine (Wolf) Adams, which included the land we know today at Tutt Hill, lying just north of Crooked Creek in Yellville. Their house stood in what used to be Oscar McEntire's garden. "Hamp" ran a grocery store and saloon, the only public house in the county. He bought a few dry goods and a few barrels of "fightin' whiskey" and soon became very popular with many, especially the whiskey drinkers.
The King family, brothers Old Billy, James, Hosea, and Solomon, moved into the area from Alabama. These were the old men and had nothing to do with the feud, but some of their sons did. Old Billy had three grown sons, Jack, Loomis, and Dick. Jack and Loomis were heavy drinkers while Dick was steady and didn't imbibe much. Old Hosea had two sons, Young Bill and Little Tom, who was one of those feisty dogs among men. James had no children.
The Tutts were small or medium built men and no match for the Everetts in physical force. "Hamp" Tutt cultivated the friendship of many of the fighting bullies of the county in order to have them on his side in the event of trouble. Many were the fights between the Tutts and the Everetts, with the Everetts usually being worsted.Top of Page
Politically, the Tutts and the Kings were Whigs while the Everetts were Democrats. The voters either backed the Tutts or they backed the Everetts. When "your man" was in office, you could get away with just about anything, including bloody murder, and never run afoul of the law. As a result, every election was a dog fight.
The animosity between these families was worked to a fever pitch at all times. Soon the whole male population, about 300 strong, was classed as being friends of one side or the other. In June 1844, during the Presidential election, a large crowd assembled at the Tutt house for some political speechifying. After most of the crowd had left, a fight broke out between the Tutts and the Everetts. The speakers rushed into the house for their guns, which earlier they had hidden under the beds, but the guns weren't there. They all rushed out and joined in the general melee anyway. Fists and rocks were freely used by everyone. "Sim" Everett, like a caged lion, was laying flat everyone that came within his reach. One of the Tutt followers, Alfred Burnes, caught up a hoe handle, ran up behind "Sim," and struck him on the head. Burnes, believing him to be dead, made a hasty retreat. "Sim" lay there for some time as if he were dead and all hands ceased fighting. It was a bloody scene. Blood was flowing freely from heads and noses where deep cuts had been made by the flying rocks and fists. Afterwards each side went armed with pistols, knives, and the like. Lawsuits followed for many years as a result of "The June Fight of 1844," as it became known.
In 1847 the good folks elected Jesse Mooney Sheriff of Marion Co. He was neither Whig nor Democrat, Tutt nor Everett. he was a Southern Democrat, big and blond with the kind of good looks that men envy and women admire. Jesse lost his first wife in childbirth. He had inherited a large plantation, a ferry, and a trading post on White River from his father Jacob Mooney. Old Jake had come to Arkansas in 1809 to carve out a future for his family, making him one of the first white men on White River. Handsome and popular, Jesse Mooney promised to serve all warrants, without fear or favor, and he was elected by a landslide over the other two candidates. Jesse's opponents in the Sheriff's race were Bart Everett and "Hamp" Tutt.
As the "patriarch" of the Everett family, Bart considered himself to be a "Kentucky Colonel," a lawyer, and a bit more important than the average man. "Hamp" Tutt wouldn't have known what "patriarch" meant, but he was "he-coon" of the Tutt clan. He was a mountaineer and proud of it, though shrewder and more ambitious than the average man.
Sheriff Mooney held to his campaign promises. Outlaws were either arrested, run out of town, or killed by the new sheriff. He ran for and won a second term as Sheriff. During the elections there were many fights and brawls. In one free-for-all, Mooney and "Hamp" Tutt met in a hand-to-hand conflict. Mooney was armed with a loaded walking cane and Tutt with a flat rock. Mooney struck Tutt with the cane, but Tutt kept so close, striking with the rock, that Mooney couldn't use his cane effectively and finally fell to the ground, senseless. A nephew of Tutt, S.W. Ferrall, ran in to shoot Mooney in the head with a pistol. John "Uncle Jacky" Hurst sprang to assist Mooney and took the shot in his thigh. The fight ended with the gun shot and Mooney was taken to his house.Top of Page
Many rumors were spread by the Tutts to discredit Mooney. One such rumor had it that he owned all the river bottom land between the Missouri line and Batestown (sic), Arkansas, and had a "pretty widder woman and a housefull of kids" in several locations. Since "Hamp" Tutt was so dead set against Mooney, he became the champion of the Everetts. In 1848, when Mooney was elected to his second term as sheriff, Ewell Everett was elected Judge and George Adams, a Tutt man, was elected Constable. The situation grew worse with neighbor against neighbor. The principal parties went forth armed with knives, pistols, and rifles.
Shortly before this, about 1845, Jesse N. Everett and one of the Everett party named Jacob Stratton moved to Denton Co. TX.
On Monday, 9 October 1848, another town meeting was held. All parties met at Tutt's Store. Hamp Tutt was wise enough to keep out of the way. He knew a row would be raised and he feared he would be killed. Jesse Turner, Esquire, spoke that day. After his talk the two parties, armed to the teeth, had some words and drew up in battle array.
The Everetts came with their friends. Jesse Everett was in TX, Ewell Everett wasn't there but his boys were, and Hayne Everett wasn't there either. But, from their actions, it was plain they meant business if molested, and that it would take little to bring on a conflict. They formed a line in front of Tutt's Store and Saloon where the Tutts and their friends were collected and began heckling them for a fight. The two groups spat epithets back and forth and it seemed that any minute the fight would begin.
Sheriff Mooney, out of town that day with his pregnant wife, had left Constable Adams in charge. When the brawling began, rocks and bricks and sticks appeared like magic in upraised hands. Sim Everett was laid low by a weeding hoe one of the King boys had "appropriated" from in front of the blacksmith shop. The soft curls the young ladies delighted in running their fingers through were now tangled and matted with blood. Constable Adams was in a dither! He wished Sheriff Mooney were at home instead of "babysittin' his woman" 'cuz he sure could use his help. And he got his wish when a whirlwind suddenly sprang up and came between the two factions, covering them with dust and blowing their hats off. Everyone scattered. Onlookers and antagonists all returned to their homes, and warlike demonstrations ceased for a time.
When Sheriff Mooney got back to town, he found Bart Everett pacing up and down in front of the jail demanding the arrest of the Kings. Mooney obtained warrants for their arrest and rode across Buffalo River into Searcy Co. Searcy Co. Deputy Ben Code, who operated the ferry across the river which was the county line, teamed up with him and they arrived at the King place just as they were sitting down to eat. The Kings were peaceable folk so, even though they had been warned there were arrest warrants out for Cherokee Bob and the King boys, they mounted up and rode out with Sheriff Mooney and Deputy Code. When they reached the county line, where Constable Adams awaited them, Code offered to accompany them on to Yellville. But Mooney declared he'd go it alone. He knew Bill King for a good and trustworthy man and expected no trouble. However, Mooney was still concerned for his pregnant wife. Bill King said for him to go ahead and check on her. He'd take his boys on to Yellville with Constable Adams' help. Gratefully, Mooney rode off, promising to name the baby William King if it were a boy.Top of Page
Unbeknownst to the Kings, who were unarmed, and the lawmen, the Everetts lay in wait about half a mile inside the Marion Co. Line. They began an indiscriminate attack, killing Uncle Billy King and his son Lumas. Hosea and James King made their escape. Cherokee Bob and Young Billy King were seriously wounded but managed to crawl off into the dense undergrowth. Late Saturday night, Young Billy crawled into the yard of a Tutt sympathizer. Their hounds alerted them, and they hid the boy until the next day when Constable Adams listened to the dying boy's story.
Sheriff Mooney was accused by the Tutts of knowing of the ambush and slayings. He decided it was time to "lay down the law." On 4 July 1849, he and Constable Adams gathered a group of men and deputized each one. While Mooney was explaining their duties to them, the Tutts gathered in the saloon, the Everetts took cover behind the buildings across the street and the fight was on. Guns fired all afternoon, and the smell of gun smoke and death lay over the town. When their ammunition was gone, the feuders spilled out into the street. Sticks, bricks, axes, knives, anything that could kill or maim became weapons in the hands of these men who allowed the worst in themselves to rule them rather than their hearts and minds. Ewell Everett's son Frank shot Jack King with an old squirrel rifle and he died the next day (one account says Jack King was shot by a man named Watkins). A man named Mears advanced on Frank as if to disarm him. Frank struck him with the gun, breaking his arm. Sim Everett shot at Dave Sinclair but missed. Sinclair returned fire, wounding Sim. Sim picked up a rock and pursued Sinclair; but spotting King, who had been wounded at the start, he turned to him and smashed in his skull in a most shocking manner, dying in the act. King lived until morning. Dick King shot a man named Watkins in the forehead at the hairline. The bullet cut a trench through the skin on top of his head without fracturing his skull. He fell to the ground as if dead, but soon recovered. Bart Everett shot at Jack King's brother, grazing his shoulder. He in turn shot back. Bart was standing under a black locust tree and, when the bullet struck him, he clasped his arms around the tree, sank to the ground, and died. He had tied a ribbon around his hat for a hat band. When his body was removed from the tree, some of the men tied this ribbon around the tree where it hung for several months before rotting away. Ten men, including Bart Everett and Davis, Ben, and Lunsford Tutt, died on the streets of Yellville that fateful day. Only four Kings were involved in the battle. Hosea's sons, Jack and Tom and Old Billy's boys, Lumas and Richard. None of the Burnes nor Cowans nor any of the older King men were there. Dave Sinclair rode out of town to Searcy County right after the fight. A posse of Everett's friends found him next morning asleep near the top of a tree. Attempting to escape, he was killed by a rifle shot.
When Jesse Everett heard of the deaths of his bothers Bart and Sim, he left Texas to avenge their deaths. Hearing of this, Hamp Tutt was on the lookout. One day, on his way home from Lebanon, he was fired upon. Arriving in Yellville, he told his friends he was sure it was Jesse Everett. Once again the county was in an uproar and several unsuccessful attempts were made on Hamp's life by Jesse and his friend Jacob Stratton, a bold and daring man and a great hunter. Hamp remained on the alert; Jesse and Jacob remained in hiding.
Sheriff Mooney knew he needed help. He sent his eldest son, Tom, to Little Rock to beg aid from the governor. The horror is that Tom arrived safely in Little Rock, but never made it back. The carcass of his white horse washed up at the mouth of Rush Creek several weeks later, but Tom's body was never found.Top of Page
In September 1849 Arkansas Governor John Sheldon Roane sent General Allan Wood to Marion County to investigate this upheaval and to order out the militia if he deemed it necessary. Obviously Wood felt the need and was given command of the militia raised in Carroll County. Sheriff Mooney and Constable Adams were relieved of their duties. Upon the arrival of Wood and his militia, the Everetts and their friends retreated to Searcy County where they had many friends and relatives.
On 27 September 1849 Governor Roane ordered William Thornhill, Searcy County Sheriff, to arrest those Everetts and their friends who had murdered the Kings. Thornhill had heard they were at large in Searcy County so in early October General Wood moved his headquarters to Lebanon, Searcy County, in order to round up the culprits and those witnesses needed for court proceedings. Wood learned the Everetts were at a Methodist camp meeting in Wiley's Cove. he ordered Captain W.C. Mitchell to Wiley's Cove to demand the Everetts be surrendered into his custody, expecting this move might force the Everett group to flee for Marion County. At the same time he ordered Captain Tilford Denton and his men to the place on the Yellville-Lebabon road where it crosses Tomahawk and to be ready to arrest the fugitives if they took flight. However, the Methodist campers immediately complied with Captain Mitchell's request and arrests followed.
On 13 October 1849 General Wood reported from Yellville to Governor Roane that in his opinion there was not one person in Marion County that was impartial. If he placed the prisoners in the hands of one party, they would promptly be set free. If he placed them in the hands of the other party, all out war would ensue. Mooney and some others were allowed to make bail. Everett and Stratton were jailed at Smithville in Lawrence County. Martial law lasted for six weeks and all was quiet. But winter was coming on, the citizen-soldiers needed to be home, so the troops were removed. Within a week of their departure, a mob of Everett followers rode to Smithville, pulled down the jail with ropes and crowbars, and released Everett and Stratton. This mob took to the woods around Yellville shouting their defiant slogan, "Kill Hamp Tutt!" Knowing the Everetts were gunning for him, Hamp Tutt made his will in August 1850. Some sources say Stratton provoked Hamp into a gun fight but that he outdrew Stratton and survived.
Hamp Tutt spent considerable time hiding from the Everetts, mostly fortified in his own home. Everett spent his time trying to waylay Tutt and dispatch him. Everett even changed his tactics, letting it be known he was gone from the county. Tutt remained on the alert, seldom if ever leaving Yellville. About this time a handsome young stranger, known only as The Dutchman, came from Indiana to visit his uncle Dave Wickersham, an Everett man, at Cowan Barrens. As the sole surviving Tutt, Hamp was a wealthy man and he had big plans. He planned to build a brick house befitting a man of his means. Next election he planned to run for County Representative. He had his eye on the governor's mansion too. His head was full of big plans for his future instead of caution for the present. This was a tragic mistake. While walking along Crooked Creek on his way to the brick works to see how his order was coming along, Hamp Tutt was shot from ambush and killed. And never again was The Dutchman seen in Yellville.
The will of Hamp Tutt, which follows, was probated 28 September 1850, indicating he was killed less than a month after it was written.Top of Page
I, Hansford Tutt, of the county of Marion and State of Arkansas do make this my last will and testament. First, I give unto my beloved wife Nancy the plantation upon which I now live and the Inston place adjoining during her widowhood and upon her death or remarriage I want the said lands equally divided between my children. The balance of my personal estate I want divided between my children except for Susan Coker and Milton B. Tutt who had had $200 each advanced to them, which sum they are to account for. My son William P. Tutt has also had the sum of $150 advanced to him and this sum he is to account for. I wish my wife to have the use of Bill and Lew during her widowhood for the purpose of raising my children. I want my Negro woman, Millie, sold on a credit of 12 months and the proceeds applied on my debts. I want my son Hansford Tutt, one bay filly. I give unto my daughter Rachel Tutt one sorrel filly. I want my interest in the Abraham Wood place sold for the purpose of paying the amount I am liable for on said land, and my executors are hereby authorized to transfer my interest at a private sale. I also give my son Hansford $15 to buy a saddle and give Rachel $15 to buy a saddle. I give my wife, Nancy, two horses, to wit: One bay mare and the other bay mare. The balance of the horses I want applied to my debts. I also give my wife four cows and calves and one yoke of oxen. I also give my wife all my household and kitchen furniture except one bed which Rachel is to have. I give unto my wife and children jointly all my growing crops. I give unto my wife 10 good pork hogs and 10 stock hogs. I hereby appoint M.B. Tutt and Calvin Coker my executors. given under my hand and seal this 27th day of August 1850. (Signed) Hansford Tutt. Filed the 28th day of September 1850. Witnesses: James A. Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, David K. Tutt.
There was nothing left in Marion County for the Everett family. Shortly after Hamp's death, Everett and Stratton and some of their friends left one night, canoed down White River, took a steamboat down the Mississippi and up Red River to Shreveport, Louisiana, where cholera was raging. Everett caught it and died suddenly.
Thus ended the Tutt, King, and Everett War in Marion County. It was the only great family feud ever known in the State of Arkansas. It cast gloom over Marion County for many years. It began with ambition. It ended with crime, bloodshed, murder, and death.
The past three issues of Bramble Bush have carried the story, compiled from several sources, of the Tutt, King, and Everett War of Yellville. This story has been written many times over the years by many different authors. In each version something was omitted, forgotten, or just plain left out, while a slightly different twist, different memory train, different approach was used. Just as the last issue of Bramble Bush went to press, I tripped over a source new to me and probably new to many others. I regretted not having this version to include in my compilation, and decided to print it here in its entirety. It's from a series of articles by A.C. Jeffries that were printed in the Melbourne, [AR] Clipper in 1877. I hope you have enjoyed reading this series as much as I did researching it. And I truly hope this final article will be of interest and will peak even further your interest in historical events in Marion County.
NOTES OF INTEREST