Looking Back: The Real Story
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
In Pearl Wilcox’s book Jackson County Pioneers, we find on page 81 the following excerpt:
“Bad feeling due to the (Civil) war still existed and sometimes precipitated quarrels and fights between (Pink Hill) neighbors. Many of the men had engaged in guerrilla warfare; some were Confederate veterans restored to citizenship and full rights; others returned Union men. Old feuds flared.
One night in the fall of 1871 during a service in the unfinished Methodist Church, three men lost their lives in a shooting scrape. Elijah Gardner, Robert St Clair and Grandville Love were killed.”
Some corrections are necessary. Gardner’s first name was Elias. He died on February 24, 1869. Originally buried in the Gardner Family cemetery, his grandson had the graves of Gardner and his wife moved the Buckner Cemetery.
Robert St Clair died on April 10, 1869. He is buried in the St Clair Cemetery on Holloway Road. Love’s first name was Granville without the “d,” and he was the only one shot at the Pink Hill Methodist Church. He was shot in his leg and died from his wound. He is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery. Having visited all three gravesites, I can attest to the accuracy of the names and dates IF the tombstones are correct!
According to an account I located on Ancestry.com, Gardner was born in Kentucky in 1816. The 1850 US Census listed his residence in Kentucky; however, by the 1860 US Census he owned a farm in Jackson County, Missouri, presumably near Pink Hill. A family researcher related that Eli Gardner was drinking in a saloon after the Civil War.
An argument broke out between he and his friend, Lewis. Gardner’s first shot took off Lewis’ hat and his second shot hit Lewis in the chest and killed him. Robert St Clair, a prominent man in Pink Hill, attempted to stop the argument. He was shot in the arm which had to be amputated. He died a few weeks later from gangrene.
Gardner said he had killed one man and he would kill others who provoked him. A posse led by Young Keasler arrived at the Gardner home where Eli had fortified himself in a barn and refused to surrender. He shot Keasler but eventually Gardner was shot and killed.
George A. Gardner, 18-years old at the time, witnessed the killing of his father. Two years later on September 16, 1871 at the Pink Hill Methodist Church, Gardner challenged Keshlear and both men were wounded by gunfire. Granville Love, a bystander was shot and later died from his wound.
This resulted in a complaint by the citizens of Sni-A-Bar Township against carrying of firearms. The protest read:
“We, the undersigned, citizens of Sni-a-bar township, Jackson County, Mo. deeply regret the homicides lately committed in our township, by which Elisa Gardner, Robert St Clair and Granville Love lost their lives; and believing that no justifiable cause existed for any of the said homicides and feeling it is our duty, as peaceable and law-abiding citizens, to do all in our power to prevent any future occurrences of the same sad and disgraceful character.
We hereby enter our solemn protest against the practice of carrying pistols and other deadly weapons in a peaceable community—believing as we do, that no necessity exists for any man to so arm himself…..and abandon habits which only produce evil and immorality…..”
This protest was signed by 99 citizens. Obviously, outlawing guns is not as easily done today.
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