REASONS AND PREPARATION FOR OFFICERS' VISIT TO THE YOUNG FARM
It was not to be that James David Young, upright Christian and honest man, would be able long to look every man in the eye. At that time of life when most men expect some surcease from toil, when the hope to be arrayed in a halo of respectability for their own flesh and blood, when they most desire praise from society and compassion from God, James David Young was to bow his head in shame because he had been a weak and forgiving father when he should have been a stern and willful parent.
Most of his eleven vigorous children were to answer his prayer through following the lonely and unenchanted paths of respectability after they returned to Missouri, but Paul and Jennings, and later addled pated Harry, were to become gun-toting wise guys and big-time sport above the law and disdainful of all those who try honestly to improve the white race that it may always survive upon the face of the earth They did not subscribe to the theory that there must be intelligent cooperation within any nation or race that would not perish upon the earth. They would not believe that the decency of the masses within nation or race of people determined its degree of security upon the earth. They would not admit that the criminals and lunatics of society bore down heavily upon the taxpayers even at the economic disadvantage of their own taxpaying father, for the maintenance of police and sheriff forces, jails and asylums, penitentiaries and houses of correction. The were gun-toting wise guys agreeable only to the fallacious philosophy that covetousness was right enough to appropriate any property they had the nerve and force to filch from others.
They were hardly settled again in the Ozarks before Paul and Jennings were at perverted doings in the shade of night. They became boot companions with loose women when they could, and that called for strong drink and occasional forays into melon and sweet corn patches. They attended all shooting matches where their prowess won them prizes and much acclaim which made them cocky and arrogant.
Soon after they had come back to south Missouri, an Ozarks sheriff received a telegram from Texas requesting information as to whether or not one of the Young boys possessed a car bearing a Texas license. The Ozarks sheriff had long known the Youngs and the Hagwoods and first he had a good notion to send a curt denial. Instead, though, he drove out to the Young home to inquire leisurely about buying some cattle for his own farm. He was perplexed when he saw a Texas car in their barn, but said nothing to the boys or Mrs. Young about the --. Father Young, whom the sheriff admired above most men, was afield with teams at work. He returned to town and wired that night for more particulars about the Texas property. In the morning he knew the sons of his good friend James David Young were possessed of an automobile they had no right to use.
When he returned to the Young home that forenoon, he saw the father at work some distance from the house, and he was glad he would not need to have an embarrassing talk with him, but the boys were gone and so was the car. Mrs. Young didn't know where they were or anything about the auto. The next day he went again and the boys were there, but the car was gone. From Mrs. Young and from the boys he learned there had been no Texas car at all upon their place, and if he thought so he was mistaken. Perhaps they felt, he had seen some other auto. The boys had friends who came to see them often in one kind of a car and another, but they couldn't remember who had been there recently or how they came, and the sheriff was glad he didn't find it because that would have humiliated their excellent sire. The sheriff was sorry to learn from neighbors, when he asked, that some of the boys did make occasional visits of several days away from home, but he answered to Texas that he guessed they had a bum tip on the sons of good citizen James David Young.
But one dark night these scoundrels, Paul and Jennings, pried their way into a small-town store south of Springfield, and were caught soon possessed with stolen merchandise. Since denial would have been preposterous under the circumstances, they confessed the theft to stand branded as thieves before the world. Posthaste they were sent "up the river," and "mugged" and numbered as inhabitants of the "big house" where they seemed indifferent about the shame and humiliation a tearful father felt in the presence of his friends and kin. The rest of the Young tribe shared the father's grief, but Mrs. Young held them blameless in the crime. She pleaded frame-up, double-cross and perverted justice, and upon those loose mortals of her own sex with whom her errant sons associated, she heaped calumny and contumely to no end. She became not the arbiter of right and wrong at home, but the defender of her sons' transgressions. Snarling, intemperate Harry, special favorite of his mother, stood with her always snorting hate, as she did, for the law, for such warped justice as was meted out to Paul and Jennings, and blasphemy for whomsoever thought they had no right to steal.
These were cruel times to the Youngs. Loretta, Mary Ellen and Jarrett felt the blow severely, and they knew it was troubling their dear father deeply that he had sired two low criminals. James David Young was not one to be consoled for something that was wrong and whosoever endeavored to ameliorate his pangs cut him deep into the heart. He wanted peace and quiet, far removed from the machinations of selfish humans, and he must have prayed for deliverance from the ties that bound him home, for he was made sick and sicker, and then he died a broken-hearted, beaten man. Armed guards from the "stir" brought Paul and Jennings back in shackles that they might look upon the remains of their first killing-their father-but luck this late was attending him, they were too slow by several hours and he was lowered into Mother Earth without their shallow smirks. He lies buried today in a weed-grown, lonely cemetery near where lie spent his boyhood days. (Near his grave is a gaping hole that was dug recently by their kin for Jennings and Harry Young. Their bodies were supposed to have been deposited there, but officials ruled otherwise. Luck again, though terribly late, attended James David Young, upright Christian man.)
Time brings all things both good and bad, and it brought freedom eventually to Paul and Jennings. They returned to old haunts from the "pen" to regale their rough-neck associates, and sneaking Harry with high-lights in the careers of many big-time crooks and "con' met in "stir." If they had been crude before, it made little difference, they would be polished and experts now in devious ways to circumvent the law. Harry drank in their plans and boasted much of what he could do to "Cops" and "Laws".
Paul, Jennings and Harry formed the Young Triumvirate to steal in Missouri, and sell in Texas and Oklahoma, to steal in Texas and other parts and sell in Missouri. They didn't tarry long on the threshold of major crime career. They plunged right into the business of stealing anything, anywhere, they could that would sell at a profit to them, and they did exceedingly well. If Mrs. Young knew of their doings, she never exposed them nor is it recorded that any of her children ever raised a voice in public protest.
In due time a store robbery in Texas was traced to the Young brothers, and the merchant himself came to Springfield to go on the search of the Young premises. On this particular one many such trips, the officers found five new trunks laden with shirts and other high-grade wearing apparel. The tags were gone, the trunks were not loot from the Texas store, and although the merchant knew for a certainty the clothes were from his stock, he saw little chance to convict and returned home as dispossessed as he came. Springfield officers learned shortly thereafter that Harry and Jennings were guilty of the Texas job, but it was too late then to retrieve the evidence. In a short time someone robbed an express agency of a considerable shipment of electric sweepers. Too late again to prove the case they knew that Paul had been the perpetrator.
Robberies of small-town stores and thefts of cars in Missouri, became as frequent as they did in Oklahoma and Texas. It was hard to catch up with that sort of business then for the Young Triumvirate were shrewd enough generally to dispose of their stuff in other small towns hundreds of miles from where they obtained it. Success at looting little stores gave them courage to try bigger game. They began a series of freight car thefts that extended over a period of many months. The railway officials checked seals in the yards and watched for suspicious characters continuously to no avail. The boys were deft at their nefarious trade. They hopped freights in motion and slyly climbed down ropes to the door of a car some tipster had picked to contain valuable merchandise. At prearranged spots they dumped the loot and loaded it in waiting cars or trucks.
Quite accidentally one day a railway detective saw Harry and Jennings meet a man he had seen frequently walk through the Springfield freight terminal and yards. This was a clue and they sought out popular Jeff Harris, Greene county sheriff, with a request to search the Young farm home. At that very moment, Mrs. Young was in the jail visiting her son Paul who had been picked up on suspicion for another job. The sheriff sent a force ahead to watch the Young home, but went himself into the jail where he told Mrs. Young he planned to search her premises that very afternoon, but with chivalry he told her she could go along. This she wanted to do but she knew there was no stolen property of any kind, anywhere upon the farm. She had other things just then to do in town and would the sheriff meet her in half an hour at the bank. Yes, he would, but at the appointed hour she was not to be found near the bank. When he reached the farm he learned she had burned the road in a mad dash to get home ahead.
Store robberies and car thefts abated some as Paul and Harry worked their game without the aid of dare-devil Jennings. They were suspicioned for many things, particularly for one of the largest thefts of brass ever known in railroad circles, but proof enough to convict was ever lacking. On a dark and stormy night when the welkin rang with thunder claps, Harry and perhaps Paul and some other crooks broke into a safe in a little Ozarks town and shortly afterward still another in a larger hamlet. A sorehead tipped their "mit" and Harry did a "stretch" in the "brig".
He came back in due time and so did Jennings, and together the three were at it again pilfering and robbing and hi-jacking and shooting, not in Missouri altogether, but in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and other states. As before they were suspicioned for plenty of crimes but evidence sufficient to send them up was not forthcoming.
The youngest son of James David and Willie Florence Young was hunted in big cities and little towns throughout the whole United States and in Canada and Mexico. Now and then officials would hear of him and often they read of crimes they thought were his but no one ever traced him to his lair. He was hunted for a year and then for months in every place without result.
Around Thanksgiving time last year (1931) it was learned definetly that Harry, Paul and Jennings were together again at car thieving. Springfield officers were on the lockout for all three of the Youngs. Federal warrants were out in many districts for them on violations of the Dyer Act, and there were state warrants, too, for many offenses besides the charge of murder against Harry. Sheriff Hendrix let it be known in the Young neighborhood he was tired of seeking Harry, and that in all probability he had fled to Mexico anyway. It was generally agreed among the sheriff's forces and the Springfield police they would bide their time about flushing the Young farm house. It wouldn't do to let Mrs. Young know in advance of any visit they were likely to make soon, that officials had a hunch the boys would be home now and then for short calls. Federal and State officers in Oklahoma and Texas had traced stolen cars to Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa and Illinois, and they had evidence the Youngs were concerned. And then there were an equal number of stolen cars taken from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois into Oklahoma and Texas for disposal there. Such doings were laid to the Young Triumvirate, and sooner or later officials knew some of them would stop off at the home place for chats with their mother. Some few days after Thanksgiving it was learned that Jennings was actually at home. He left, probably on his way to Illinois with a stolen car and returned shortly probably on his way back to Texas with a stolen Illinois car, and then on another trip through the Ozarks he actually came into Springfield. Around Christmas it was pretty reliably indicated that Harry had made a hurried call at the Young home, and then in just a day or two his sister, Lorena (Mrs. Conley) was seen in town in a Texas car with the youngest sister, Vinita. Inquiry in Texas indicated the car was "hot" but they were not sure, and then in another day or so they were seen again in still a different Texas car which also seemed "hot" upon telegraphic inquiry. And the next day the girls tried to sell a stolen sedan but got cold feet when some change had to be made in the title and said they would return next day. They didn't come back the next day, it was January 1st, at the appointed time and place to close the deal, and that worried the Springfield police. They felt certain now that Jennings and perhaps Harry and Paul were visiting at the Young home seven miles south and west of Springfield, and they wanted to raid the place without first picking up the girls to determine for sure whether or not any of the boys were there.
When Chief of Police Ed Waddle learned the Sheriff was out of town on another raid he forbade his police to make any attempt alone to capture the desperadoes. "They live in the Sheriff's territory," he explained, "and he would resent such lack of cooperation. Wait till he gets back and we'll go tonight."
That night when Marcell Hendrix reached town with prisoners from a liquor raid it was too late and too dark so he suggested they wait till a later time. Shortly after noon of the next day (January 2nd) Lorena and Vinita came back to town to complete the car deal they had starred two days before. Detective Lee Jones and Virgil Johnson scooped them up and rushed to police headquarters to have them grilled. The girls wouldn't talk, but Chief of Detectives Tony Oliver gleaned enough to believe a couple of the boys were actually at the farm then waiting for the girls' return.
Directly the Sheriff returned with his regular Deputy Wiley Mashburn and his Special Deputy Ollie Crosswhite. Detective Sid Meadows and Virgil Johnson climbed in with them.
As Detective Chief Oliver hurried out the door he was stopped by an insurance agent from whom he had agreed the week before to take $2,000.00 life insurance policy, to be paid for on that particular (Saturday) afternoon. "Are you ready to pay down on that policy. Tony You told me to come by today," the agent inquired.
"Yes, I'm ready," Oliver replied. "But we're going out in the country just now to get a couple of slick dudes, and I haven't time to bother with it, but we'll be back in a few minutes, so you wait right here and then we can fix it up."
Chief Oliver stepped into a police sedan and Patrol Driver Charlie Houser and Detective Ben Bilyeu, who were available and standing nearby, were ordered by him to climb in too. "Let's go Sheriff," Tony yelled back to the auto behind, but before he slipped the car in gear he added, "What do you say, Marcell, let's stop at the northeast corner of the farm and talk it over." Hendrix nodded assent and they were off at 3:30 sharp in the afternoon on Saturday, January 2nd, 1932.
A few seconds later detectives Frank Pike and Owen Brown strolled into headquarters from a case to learn the others had gone to Youngs, "What are they trying to do," Pike asked the Chief, "put on a private raid?"
"Who?" Chief Waddle wanted to know.
"Why, Tony and the Sheriff. Why didn't they let us go?" Pike replied.
"You can still go if you haven't anything else to do," he scowled, and Detectives Frank Pike and Owen Brown ran for their car. A civilian, R. G. Wegman, climbed in also to make a total of eleven men who were scheduled in a few minutes to act brave parts in a drama that became known soon as America's worst peace officer massacre.
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