The Legend of the Kingdom of Callaway

Updated on July 20, 2019
KT Dunn profile image

KT Dunn is a lifelong resident of the Midwest who enjoys researching unusual events in American history.

A Kingdom in Missouri

Many details of the 1861 incident that led to Callaway County’s implied declaration of independence from federal and state government are unclear today. During the 1920s, author Ovid Bell had interviewed some of the remaining participants in order to develop a greater understanding of what happened and where. Portions of those eyewitness accounts are included in his booklet, “The Story of the Kingdom of Callaway,”1 first published in 1952 and reprinted in 1995 by the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society.

Photo: "The Kingdom at War," display in the museum of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society.
Photo: "The Kingdom at War," display in the museum of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society. | Source

Newspaper reports of the day, as well as letters to the editors, provided additional information and perhaps added a bit of fuel to the controversy. Those papers included the Louisiana Journal (from the town of Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River in Pike County, Missouri), the Fulton Evening News (from Fulton, Missouri, the county seat of Callaway County), the Missouri Statesman, of Columbia, and the St. Louis Evening News, among others.

Background

In the Civil War of 1861-1865, Missouri was a border state. The loyalties of its population were divided between the Union (North) and the Confederacy (South).

Callaway County, of which the town of Fulton was the county seat, leaned heavily toward southern sympathies due in part to its dependence on slave labor for the local agricultural industry. Further dividing the citizens was a movement favoring secession of the state of Missouri from the Union. Some who sided with the southern cause regarding slavery did not favor secession.

The executive branch of Missouri's state government had been operating under provisional status since July 1861. In an emergency state convention the Democratic governor, Claiborne Jackson, was unseated by Union sympathizers amidst charges of treason. He had been elected as an anti-secessionist, but apparently was actually working with the Confederacy on a plan for secession. Union militia troops involved in the incident described here were organized under the provisional Republican governor, Hamilton R. Gamble.

Key Figures

Jefferson Jones was an attorney who had served a term in the Missouri House of Representatives and was a well-known secessionist leader. He lived on a farm near the Callaway County town of Auxvasse.
Jefferson Jones was an attorney who had served a term in the Missouri House of Representatives and was a well-known secessionist leader. He lived on a farm near the Callaway County town of Auxvasse. | Source
John B. Henderson was an attorney in Louisiana, Pike County, who was commissioned a brigadier general in 1861, in charge of Union forces in northeastern Missouri. He later served in the US Senate.
John B. Henderson was an attorney in Louisiana, Pike County, who was commissioned a brigadier general in 1861, in charge of Union forces in northeastern Missouri. He later served in the US Senate. | Source

Timeline

Mid-October 1861

By some unknown mode, word was received in Callaway County that it was about to be invaded by Union forces from nearby Pike County. Colonel Jefferson Jones responded to this threat by assembling at least 300 men (those who were not already serving in the Confederate army) to set up camp at Brown’s Spring, along Auxvasse Creek, and train as a militia group to fend off the invaders. According to Ovid Bell, this location was about three miles northwest of what was the village of McCredie at the time of his writing. McCredie was located near the present-day village of Kingdom City at I-70 and US 54.

By October 22, the Union militia troops led by Colonel T.J.C. Fagg, under the command of General John B. Henderson, had arrived near Wellsville, in neighboring Montgomery County to the east. This location would have been approximately 30 miles from the Jones camp at Brown's Spring in Callaway County. The movement of Colonel Fagg’s forces from Pike County to Wellsville may have stirred rumors of a plan to invade Callaway. According to a master's thesis by Andrew Saeger2, they may actually have been stationed there to guard the North Missouri railroad line.

Callaway and surrounding counties pertinent to the incident are identified
Callaway and surrounding counties pertinent to the incident are identified | Source

October 24

Pike County's Louisiana Journal reported that Colonel Fagg's regiment, which included two cavalry companies, was stationed near Wellsville. The paper added that the company was in search of a "Secesh" camp in that area.

October 25

According to the Fulton Evening News, the buildup of Jones' "Rebel" force continued. Along with additional volunteers from Callaway, a number of cavalrymen joined them from the adjacent counties of Boone to the west, and Audrain to the north. Meanwhile, some of the men returned home, or left temporarily and returned bringing others.

It should be noted that although Jefferson Jones was referred to as Colonel Jones, he had never been associated with any official military organization.

From Brown’s spring, Jones moved his fluctuating forces a few miles northward to Dyer’s Mill for more training, then to Stringfield’s Store, closer to the northeast corner of Callaway, and thus closer to Wellsville in northwest Montgomery. At this point, scouts were sent from each camp in order to size up the other. As well as a few personal arms, the Jones arsenal included at least one log painted black to resemble a cannon when positioned between wagon wheels in the underbrush.

October 26

Jefferson Jones sent two riders into the Union camp at Wellsville, carrying a letter addressed to Brigadier General Henderson. In the letter, Jones offered to disband his troops in exchange for an agreement that Henderson “refrain from invading, molesting, or occupying Callaway County.” Jones also stated that he had no connection to the Missouri State Guard or to the Confederate Army, and that his purpose was simply to protect his county from invasion.

Colonel Fagg was not there at the time, and two of his officers held the messengers overnight pending the arrival of General Henderson at the camp the next day. Henderson sent a reply back to Jones, and Jones then responded the following day. It is here that the historical record becomes particularly unclear.

Basically, both sides claimed that the other had agreed to a set of proposed terms rather than face the consequences, and then decamped. However, legend has it that Henderson dealt with Jones as if he were representing a sovereign nation. Further complicating matters is the fact that after Union troops ransacked Jones’ farm a couple of months later, Jones stated that he was then unable to find any written record of the accord reached between the two “except one letter”.

While Jefferson Jones was possibly the first to designate Callaway County a "kingdom," many accounts credit John Sampson, a secessionist who later became a state representative from the county. According to Ovid Bell's book, during an 1862 legislative committee loyalty determination, Sampson was said to have declared, "I am from the Kingdom of Callaway, six feet, four and one-half inches tall, and all South, by God!"

October 27

Riders from the Jones camp delivered his reply to Henderson in the early morning. After they returned, it was announced to the troops that a compromise had been reached. Henderson’s men would be returning to Pike County, and Jones’ men were free to go home. According to Ovid Bell, the agreement included assurance that Callaway would not be invaded by federal forces at any time in the future, and it was at this point that the county theoretically became a kingdom.

October 29

Federal troops led by Brigadier General Chester Harding arrived in Fulton in response to a rumor that Rebel forces led by Jones were planning to blow up railroad bridges. There they were told of the treaty, and since Harding saw no impending threat and was not prepared to leave occupying troops in the area, he later stated that he decided to honor the agreement and withdrew from the county.

Various accounts state that a treaty was signed which set Callaway apart from the state and pronounced it a kingdom; however, the reality may be somewhat less dramatic. According to the Saeger thesis, the agreement reached between Jones and Henderson was a non-aggression pact only, possibly based on the fact that Jones represented no government entity. Thus, confusion reigned when Henderson’s men occupied Fulton shortly afterward.

November 1861

Troops under the command of General Henderson, augmented by additional militiamen from other nearby counties, arrived in Fulton from Wellsville in the first few days of November. They set up an occupation headquarters in Fulton and remained in the county for at least the rest of the month, failing to acknowledge the treaty described by Jefferson Jones. According to the Bell account, Jones and his men continued to adhere to the terms of the compromise.

There is apparently no surviving record of the details of the agreement. According to the Saeger thesis, the only mention of it in official war records is a report filed by General Harding stating that he learned of the treaty from citizens when he arrived in Fulton on October 29.

Aftermath

Jefferson Jones was subsequently arrested, tried by a military court, and imprisoned at least twice, along with members of his family. He stated that his farm was pillaged during this time. Following the war, he was again elected to the state House of Representatives in 1875. He died in 1879.

***

In 1862, John B. Henderson was appointed to serve out the US Senate term of Trusten Polk, who maintained secessionist sympathies. Henderson remained in the Senate for seven years. Following that, he practiced law in St. Louis and later retired to Washington. He died in 1913.

Legacy and Flag

The Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society was founded in 1960 and maintains a thriving museum and research center in Fulton, Missouri.

The official flag of Callaway County was commissioned in the 1960s. To this day, it befits a proper kingdom and reflects the county's storied history.

Special thanks to:

Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society

513 Court Street

Fulton, MO 65251

Resources

1. Bell, Ovid. The Story of the Kingdom of Callaway. Fulton, MO: Published by the Author. 1952. Reprinted by permission: Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society. 1995.

2. Saeger, A.M. The Kingdom of Callaway: Callaway County, Missouri During the Civil War. 2013. Northwest Missouri State University, master’s thesis. https://www.nwmissouri.edu/library/theses/2013/SaegerAndrew.pdf.

3. Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society.


Questions & Answers

    © 2019 KT Dunn

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 months ago from UK

        That's the great thing about writing. I have picked up new information about Prague, as I have researched and written recent articles.

      • KT Dunn profile imageAUTHOR

        KT Dunn 

        6 months ago from United States

        Thank you, Liz! I try to condense all the information I can find into a readable summary, and the process is educational for me as well.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 months ago from UK

        This is a well-researched and interesting historical hub.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)