Mar 03, 2009, 09:27 PM
Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust
Crowley's Teapots of Gold
SHOOTING OF HIRAM CROWLEY
Attempted Assassination of "Wooly" Hiram Crowley Nearly 50 Years Ago:
A Mystery That Has Never Been Settled, (article from the Richmond
newspaper, "The Missourian") by Jewell Mayes
Sitting across the desk from me, tonight, is a gentleman, slight of build,
graying hair, a man of few words. I have known him since childhood. His
word or his bond are good. he tells me this narrative about my kinsman, the
"Wooly" Hiram Crowley, some parts of which my mother (whose mother was Mary
Crowley-Stephenson) confidentially whispered to me years ago.
This trusted friend who pledges me to secrecy as to his identity in
connection with this peep into the grave, nets up the picture and tells the
true story of the attempted assassination of "Wooly" Hiram Crowley. He
frankly told me the name of the man whom he thinks fired the fatal shot --
but he further tied me to secrecy, because some of the man's family are
Without further comment, this is the narrative as he tells it to me
tonight, as we sit together in our room, with a single lamp burning.
"Wooly" Hiram Crowley got his nickname partly because his cousin, "Smooth"
Hiram Crowley, was smooth-shaven.
The nicknames, "Wooly" and "Smooth", came into use to designate which Hiram
Crowley was being referred to.
"Wooly" Hiram was an economical, saving man, living frugally, credited with
having large sums of money secreted about his home. Banks were far and few
between -- and Hiram was not trustful of banks of that day.
He lived near the south edge of Caldwell County, near the Ray line, more
than two miles west and north of Lisbonville.
It must have been about 1878 or 1879, maybe a little later. Hiram's wife
was dead, his only daughter married, and his two sons, James "Blutcher Jim"
and Jefferson, on that late evening, at the moment of the shooting, were at
an entertainment at Old Lisbonville, sometimes known as Chickenbristle.
Hiram was sitting alone by the fireplace in his home, eating apples. He had
pulled down the window blinds but failed to get one entirely down, lacking
about 2 inches. The rifle shot crashed through the window, aimed under the
narrow space below the window blind, the bullet striking him in the upper
part of his body, a serious yet not immediately fatal wound, but from the
result of which he in fact died two years later.
The bullet knocked him off the box on which he was sitting --yet his mind
acted with remarkable quickness.
He realized that the light of the fireplace would expose him to further
shots, since he could not put out the fire -- so he instantly crawled to
his bureau drawer, got his pistol, then crawled under the bed, ready to
He heard his assailant, the assassin, walking around the house but no
further attempt was made to shoot him again or to enter the room.
Soon he noted that he was bleeding rapidly, and that if he remained there
he would bleed to death. Taking his pistol with him, he staggered along a
half-mile to the home of his cousin, General William Crowley, and fell
exhausted on the doorstep.
He was sufficiently conscious to knock on the door -- they came and dragged
him into the house, finding him more dead than alive.
Dr. George James of Lawson was sent for -- and his incorrect random
accusations as to the authorship of the crime prevented his practicing any
more in that family.
After recuperating, somewhat, becoming able to take care of himself, Mr.
Crowley went back to the old home where he had lived so long, where he was
locally looked upon by many as a miser with a lot of hidden money.
Some time after he was shot, he took his cousin, "Smooth" Hiram Crowley's
daughter, Miss Sina Crowley, out to the barn and uncovered cast-iron
tea-kettles fairly filled with gold coins. This was not all he had "put
This also is the first time that this circumstance has ever been made
public. Cousin Sina Crowley said, before her death, she never told any of
the relatives of this confidential trust in her. It is not known to this
day whether or not those tea-kettles of gold were ever taken up by Mr.
Crowley, who died 10 months afterwards.
When asked as to whether he had any idea as to who shot him, Mr. Crowley
always answered, "I have." "But," he said, "I am not going to say." Uncle
Hiram's course in this matter was in keeping with a by-word saying that was
part of his life, that of caution. When asked what he thought about
something he did not want to express himself on he would often answer in
"Well, it might" -- then, waiting a few minutes, he would complete the
sentence, " and, again, it might not."
Nobody was arrested.
>From the notes of Evelyn Petty, Clay County Historian:
Mr. Parks of Lathrop and Mrs. Barnes, also of Lathrop, (descendants of this
Crowley family) told Evelyn during a visit with them in 1966, that
"Blutcher" Jim shot both the father and Jefferson (brother of Blutcher
Jim). They said the father dodged and lived. Poor Jefferson was not so
lucky. The only other male heir was murdered when he was 21. He got off the
train at Converse and started to walk home through the country. He was
found dead in a well.
I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow
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