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The History of St Charles County, Missouri, published in 1885 by the National Historical Company includes the following account of The Slicker Wars

The Slicker Wars

    The Slicker organization originated in Benton county, this State, in about 1841. The name came from the mode of inflicting punishment by the Slickers, which was to tie the culprit to a tree and "slick" or whip him with hickory withes. He was then given notice to leave the country within a stated time. They were organized for the purpose of breaking up a band of horse thieves and counterfeiters who had their headquarters among the hills and fastnesses of Benton county. Similar organizations were formed in various parts of the State and were known by the general name of "Slickers." In some instances bad men and even the very thieves and counterfeiters against whom they were warring, contrived to become members of those societies and through their evil influence and false and malicious representations innocent and unoffending persons were severely and cruelly punished. This led to the organization of the anti-Slicker companies, and in some parts of the State actual war raged between the opposing factions, and many persons were killed, wounded, or maltreated.

During the high water in June, 1844, several small steamers ascended the Cuivre river to Chain of Rocks, in Lincoln county, where there was a small village consisting of several stores, a mill, one or two shops, etc. One of these boats, called the Bee, made several trips between St. Louis and that place, and on one of her trips landed a man at the Chain of Rocks who gave his name as Hal Grammar, and who proved to be a counterfeiter, horse thief, and bad character generally.

The next time the Bee came up she brought a peddler, who landed from the boat and proceeded to the hotel to get his dinner. He left his pack in the office of the hotel and passed into the dining-room, and while engaged in eating his dinner Hal Grammar and his confederates, who at that time were unknown, stole the goods and left. Grammar was captured soon after, but had disposed of the goods, which were never found. He escaped from his captors, and it soon became evident to the citizens that there was a regular organization of thieves and counterfeiters in their county, and that Grammar was doubtless the originator and chief of the band.

The county became flooded with counterfeit money; horses, cattle and hogs were stolen and run out of the country; and the thieves finally became so bold that they butchered beef cattle on the farms of their owners, and shipped the meat to St. Louis in boats prepared for the purpose.

The evil having become unendurable, the citizens organized a company of Slickers for the purpose of ridding themselves of their grievance. Many of the best men of the county joined the organization, and Mr. James Stallard, of Hurricane township, was elected captain. In the company were such men as Ira T. Nelson, Rolla Mayes, Abraham and Joshua King, Rufus Gibson, Mitchell Bosman, John and Malachi Davis, Washington Noel, Lewis G. Martin, Sebran Wallace, Littleton Dryden, William and Benjamin Cooper, William Wilson, Thomas Wallace, James Bedows, Abraham Barkhead, Dr. William Wise, James Day, John Argent, George Smith, John W. McRee, Johu Dalton, Joseph Wright, James Oliver, James and John Lindsay, Kinchen Robinson, Jacob Boone, Levi Bailey, Jacob Groshong, George Pollard, Elihu Jones, Taylor Crumes, Willis Hutton, Samuel and James Alexander, Andrew Hill, Jacob Conn, John Loving, Charles McIntosh, Charles W. Martin, Lawrence B. Sitten, Tandy R. Nichols, James Blademore, Harrison Anderson, Joseph Woodson, Carroll Sitten, Zoar Perkins, M. Martin, Vincent Shields, and others, among whom, as was afterward ascertained, were several of the counterfeiters and thieves. All of those whose names were given were good, honest, law-abiding citizens, who went into the organization from the best of motives. Only seven of the entire number are now living.

The thieves and counterfeiters were hunted out and tried, and most of them were whipped and ordered to leave the country, which they were glad to do; but a, few of the ringleaders were executed.

These vigorous measures soon restored peace and security to the honest people of the county, and the Slickers ought then to have disbanded, but they kept up their organization, and, as usual with such bodies, soon began to punish some that were innocent together with the guilty.

In the spring of 1845 reports came to the Slickers that the sons of Mr. James Trumbull were in sympathy with counterfeiters, and were encouraging and abetting them in their unlawful business. The reports were not true, but were made by malicious and evil minded persons, and led to a serious and deadly affray. The boys were ordered to 1eave the country, which they positively refused to do. The Slickers therefore determined to enforce their order, and one day about the middle of April, 1845, a party of them went to Trumbull's house for that purpose. They arrived about noon, and found the

family, who had expected an attack, armed and barricaded in their house. Mr. Trumbull and his daughter Sarah came out to expostulate with the Slickers and entreat them to go away, declaring that they and their relatives were entirely innocent of the charges made against them. But their appeals were unavailing, and they were told that they must immediately leave the country.

The Slickers at once attacked the house, and John and Malachi Davis endeavored to enter together. The former was wounded on the head by a corn knife in the hands of one of the Trumbull girls, and the latter received two gunshot wounds from one of the boys, named Squire, from the effects of which he died next day. John Davis, though suffering severely from his wound, shot both Squire Trumbull and his brother James, shattering the thigh bone of the former with a rifle ball, from the effects of which he died several weeks later. James Trumbull was shot through the mouth and neck, and fell apparently dead, but finally recovered from his wounds, though he remained paralyzed the rest of his life. He died several years afterward, in Arkansas. Several Slickers were wounded, but not seriously, and they finally withdrew without having accomplished their purpose.

Among the Slickers engaged in this affair was Kinchen Robinson who was a great "blower," and who styled himself the "lamp-lighter of the twelve apostles." When the fight was over he retreated with considerable haste, and just as he sprang over the yard fence one of the Trumbull girls cut the tail of his coat off with a corn knife. His acquaintances enjoyed a good deal of fun at his expense after that adventure.

This unfortunate affair became noised over the entire country, and opposition at once began to manifest itself against the Slickers. Many who had previously been in full sympathy with them now denounced them without stint, and demanded that their organization should be broken up, as they had accomplished their object and were now going beyond the bounds of reason, and even becoming outlaws themselves.

A company of anti-Slickers was organized in St. Charles county, in the vicinity of Flint Hill, with the avowed determination of dispersing the Slickers of Lincoln county. They stationed a guard at Trumbull's house to prevent further bloodshed, and warned the Slickers not to cause any more trouble. Mr. James Shelton was elected captain of this company, and among his men were David McFarlane, Robert Sheley, Bob Woolfolk, Joseph Allen, Perry Custer, George

W. Wright, Sam Carter, Scott Evans, Sam Newland, Benjamin and Oliver Pitts, George M. Coats, Jeff Dyer, George McGregor, Archibald M. Wade, John T. Daniels, Elliot Lusby, Lewis and Peter Daniels, Dr. William Coleman, S. L. Barker, Thomas, Amos and Joseph Dyer, William A. Abington, John P. Allen, and many other leading men of that part of the county. They were all citizens of St. Charles county, while the Slickers were all citizens of Lincoln, and on that account considerable enmity arose between the people of the two counties. Both organizations were composed of good men, actuated by honest motives, but through misrepresentations and the excitement of the times they were brought into antagonism, and several fights and skirmishes ensued, in which a number were wounded, others were whipped and one or two lives were lost. But the excitement finally died away, and both companies were eventually disbanded.

About two years afterward Captain Shelton, while crossing Cuivre river in a skiff, was fired upon by some person concealed in the brush on the Lincoln county side, and his arm was broken. One Jacob Boone, who had been a Slicker during the late trouble, was accused of the crime, arrested, and taken to Troy for trial. When his trial came off he was acquitted, as there was no direct evidence against him, but the friends of Shelton, a few of whom had attended the trial, declared that he had escaped justice through the connivance and influence of his friends in Lincoln county, who had been his companions in the Slicker War; and an ugly discussion arose in regard to the matter during which the old Slicker and anti-Slicker difficulties were revived and much bitterness was manifested on both sides. That night as Shelton's friends were returning home, several of them were waylaid and fired upon, but fortunately none of them were hurt. The same evening about dusk, two young men, nephews of Mr. Levi Bailey, who had expressed anti-Slicker sentiments, were fired upon by parties in ambush just as they were entering the outer gate that led to their uncle's house, where they were going on a visit. One of their horses was shot through the jaw, and several buckshot passed through a shawl that one of the boys wore. These events again aroused the old excitement, which ran high for some time; and several years elapsed before the matter was forgotten and friendly feelings restored.

And such was the great Slicker War, which threatened for some time to array the citizens of two populous counties in deadly hostility against each other - to bathe their hearthstones in blood and lay waste their farms and homes. It teaches a practical lesson that should not be forgotten, viz.: that good men, with the best intentions, may be led into the commission of unjust, unlawful and cruel deeds when they take the law into their own hands and attempt to punish criminals and allay crime by summary proceedings.


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