"Big, Mean, and Ornery!" The Life and Times of James Henry Bunch (1834-1929): In-laws, Outlaws, and Confederate Guerilla Fighters

Entrance of Jane Cemetery, Jane, Missouri--Photo taken May 1999


Introduction: The Eli Bunch Family

From the time when they were boys growing up in Maury Co., Tennessee, Nimrod Porter Bunch and his brother James Henry Bunch no doubt heard stories from their father about his experiences in Arkansas. Perhaps Eli Bunch regretted his decision to leave Arkansas and return to Maury County when he was a young man. Nimrod and James were Eli's only sons. According to the 1850 Maury County Census for District 20, Eli Bunch's family consisted of the following members:

Eli Bunch (age 55) b. North Carolina
Nancy (age 50) b. Virginia
Sarah J. (age 26) b. Tennessee
Nimrod P. (age 22) b. Tennessee
Effy (age 21) b. Tennessee
Harriet (age 19) b. Tennessee
James (age 17) b. Tennessee
Mary (age 13) b. Tennessee

Nancy Bullington Bunch died in 1852. It appears that in 1852 or in 1853, Nimrod and James began making plans to move west and probably left in early 1853. The rest of the family remained in Maury County.

On December 4, 1854, A.B. Hughes and Mary Bunch (the youngest sister of Nimrod and James) filed their marriage license in Maury County. The ceremony was finalized by S. H. Simmons, J.P. on December 7, 1854.
[2] The 1860 Census for District 9, Maury Co., Tennessee located the Hughes family in Columbia:

A B Hughes, (age 25) a cabinet maker, born Tennessee
Mary P. (age 22) born Tennessee
Nancy E. (age 4)
Mary J. (age 3)

Eli Bunch resided in Columbia, Maury Co., Tennessee with two of his daughters in 1860: 30 year-old Jane and 23-year-old Effie M. Eli was described as a miller on the 1860 census. Harriet was gone by 1860. I have not found any marriage record for her, so I presume she may have died.
[4] Eli also lived in District 9, so he probably lived near the A. B. Hughes family. By 1870, A.B. Hughes resided near the unincorporated town of Hampshire, District 20, Maury Co., Tennessee, where he is identified as a farmer. He appears on the census for that year as follows:

A B Hughes (age 36) farmer, born Tennessee
M. P. (age 32) born Tennessee
N. E. (age 14) born Tennessee
M. J. (age 13) born Tennessee
G. L. (age 11) born Tennessee
A. B. (age 9) born Tennessee
M. M. (age 6) born Tennessee
A. G. (age 4) born Tennessee
J. (age 2) born Tennessee

In 1870, Eli Bunch appeared in Mount Pleasant, Civil District 10, Maury Co., Tennessee, at age 74, still living with his two daughters, Sarah Jane and Effie M., and he was described as a farm laborer.
[6] He also indicated that he was born in Kentucky. As this is the first reference to Kentucky regarding Eli's birthplace, he probably couldn't remember. Eli Bunch died at the home of A. B. Hughes in Hampshire, Maury Co., Tennessee June 20, 1872.

The story does not end here concerning the brother-in-law and three sisters of Nimrod and James Bunch. Apparently, the family had all been making plans to move further west. Nimrod and James left by early 1853 to pave the way for the others, and then the Civil War intervened, putting the family plans on home. 1880 would find the A. B. Hughes family in Magazine Twp., Yell Co., Arkansas
[7], and Sarah J. and Effie M. (still single) in the J.S. Bunch household in White Rock Twp., McDonald Co., Missouri, where they are identified as aunts.[8] J. S. Bunch was a son of Nimrod Porter Bunch. Apparently, Sarah J. Bunch had married; she is listed as widowed. There is no indication of her married name on the census record. Effie never married. The J. S. Bunch family lived next door to the Nimrod Porter Bunch Family.

Sarcoxie Town Square, Sarcoxie, Newton Co., Missouri


The Journey to Sarcoxie

When Nimrod and James left Tennessee, they undoubtedly headed for Arkansas. They knew where their father's land was located, and they wanted to see what the area was like. By 1852 or 1853, Independence Co., Arkansas had grown significantly. There are no census figures for 1820 when Eli was there. The 1830 Census shows 2,031 people in the area. By 1850, that figure rose to 7,767.
[9] The Encyclopedia of Arkansas describes Independence County as follows:

Independence County, one of the "mother counties" of Arkansas, originally contained all or part of fifteen modern counties of Arkansas. The county's history is tied closely to its strategic location-it sits astride the White River where it flows from the Ozark upland into the Mississippi Valley; the river bisects the modern county from west to east, and the original Southwest Trail crossed it from northeast to southwest along the Ozark escarpment. Independence County was a dominant cultural force in Arkansas from its beginning through the nineteenth century.

No doubt, the Bunch brothers liked what they saw when they arrived in the area. But they wanted to check out another location, one which they had heard about either prior to leaving Tennessee or shortly after arriving in Arkansas. These stories came from an emigrant from Kentucky named Thacker Vivion, who "located at the spring, at the foot of the hill in Sarcoxie."
[11] Vivion reportedly was the first white man to settle in the area, and he eventually relocated to Texas. However, his stories about the Sarcoxie area traveled everywhere. Nimrod and James elected to travel to Sarcoxie before settling upon a permanent location. Shortly after arriving there, they decided to look no further. Nimrod Porter Bunch met Nancy Miller Prigmore, and they married September 24, 1853 in Jasper County, Missouri.[12]

Thomas Prigmore Grave, Dudman Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri; Public Member Scanned Photos, Ancestry.com

The Prigmores

Nancy Miller Prigmore [1835-1912) was the daughter of Thomas Prigmore (b. May 19, 1809, Grainger Co., Tennessee; d. December 28, 1866, Jane, McDonald Co., Missouri) and Rachel Jennings (b. June 19, 1813, Tennessee; d. November 6, 1867, Jasper Co., Missouri). The children of Thomas Prigmore and Rachel Jennings follow:

Caroline Prigmore (1830 - 1876)
Sydney M Prigmore (1832 - 1871)

Margaret C Prigmore (1832 - )

John Logan Prigmore (1833 - 1931)

Nancy Prigmore (1834 - 1912)

Joseph Martin Prigmore (1836 - 1903)

Joseph Monroe Prigmore (1837 - 1883)

Mary E Prigmore (1841 - )

Mahala Prigmore (1845 - 1867)

Thomas B Prigmore (1849 - 1877)[13]



Daniel Prigmore Photo, Public Member Scanned Photos, Ancestry.com

Thomas Prigmore's parents were Daniel Prigmore (b. December 15, 1779, Bedford, Pennsylvania; d. February 1, 1859, Jasper Co., Missouri) and Nancy Smith (b. February 27, 1785; d. bef. 1826-probably Tennessee. His second wife was Agnes A. Dyer Jennings, b. 1785; d 1859, whom Daniel married in 1826).[14]

"Daniel did not marry "a" widow Jennings, he married "the" Widow Jennings; that is, she was an aristocratic southern lady. In those days people moved in big, covered wagons. The Widow was driven behind the covered wagon in a "carryall: - an open sort of light buggy with a top to it and heavy silk fringe hanging all the way around from this flat top. How they ever drove this sort of a buggy over the roads of the days is more than I can figure out, but I guess they "just had to." The widow Jennings refused to ride in a jolty, covered wagon." [15]

The children of Nimrod Porter Bunch and Nancy Prigmore appear on the 1860 Census for Sarcoxie Twp., Jasper Co., Missouri as follows:

Thomas J. Bunch (age 6)
Daniel E. Bunch (age 4)
Joseph S. Bunch (age 2)
Samuel H. Bunch (age 1)

The 1870 Census for Sarcoxie Twp., Newton Co., Missouri shows:

Nimrod Bunch (age 41) b. Tennessee
Nancy (age 35) b. Missouri
Daniel E. (age 14) b. Missouri
Joseph S. (age 13) b. Missouri
Samuel H. (age 11) b. Missouri
Elnina (age 8) b. Missouri
Leander (age 4) b. Missouri

A number of Prigmores appear on the same census page. They were Nancy's brothers.


Old photo of the Freedom Baptist Church, Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri; The Jasper Co., Missouri Historical Society


The Spences

The Bunch brothers no doubt attended the Freedom Baptist Church at Moss Springs when they first arrived in the area. And it wasn't long before James Henry Bunch noticed Milly Catherine Spence, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Inman Spence. Since he stood six feet eight inches tall, she would have spotted him immediately! James Henry Bunch and Milly Catherine Spence were married July 26, 1855.

Samuel Perry Spence was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1800 to Elisha Spence (1776-1835) and Susannah Spencer (d. 1810) and he died in Jasper Co., Missouri in July 1859. Elizabeth Inman was born in Perry Co., Tennessee to Samuel Inman (1767-1830) and Rebecca Graham (b. 1767) in 1809 and died July 16, 1872 in Marrs Twp., Washington Co., Arkansas in 1872. The children of Samuel Spence and Elizabeth Inman follow:

Elisha Lazarus Spence (1825 - 1902)

William David Spence (1827 - 1907)

Rebecca Jane Spence (1835 - 1859)

Milly Catherine Spence (1838 - 1895)

Newton Jasper Spence (1841 - 1882)

Sarah Elizabeth Spence (1843 - 1912)

Lewis Wesley Spence (1844-1890) [19]


James Henry Bunch and Milly Catherine Spence's children were:

Elvira Elizabeth Bunch (1856 - )

Nancy E. Bunch (1860 - )

N.R. Bunch (1864 - )

Sarah K. Bunch (1867 - )

William H. Bunch (1867 - ) [20}

In 1857 [21] and again in 1859, [22] Nimrod Bunch purchased 204.18 acres of land total: 164.18 in the 1857 transaction and 40 additional acres in the 1859 transaction. I have not found a land transaction in Jasper County for James Bunch, however. Nimrod appears to have settled down while James followed a different drummer.

Brice Martin Grave, Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri. Public Member Scanned Photos, Ancestry.com


The Civil War in Jasper County: Who Killed Brice Martin?

War was eminent. A national Civil War was on the horizon, although it really started six years before the actual firing on Fort Sumter. The Border War between Kansas and Missouri erupted between 1854 and 1855. While most of the conflict occurred further north, Jasper Countians engaged largely in talk, with the majority of families divided.

The eve of the Civil War found many Jasper County patriarchs already deceased: Samuel and Daniel Spence (both in 1859); John Jones (1843) (the father of John Bass Jones); Lewis Jones (1849), husband of Samuel and Daniel Spence's sister, Milly Catherine Spence Jones; Daniel Prigmore (1859) , among others. Samuel Spence's family was divided. There were only two Bunch brothers. Nimrod Porter Bunch, his Prigmore in-laws, Samuel Spence's two older sons, the Martin and Bryant families favored the North. James Henry Bunch and his younger Spence in-laws and others, supported the South.
The Battle of Carthage, often overlooked by major historians, was fought July 5, 1861, with a victory for the Confederacy. This was followed by Wilson's Creek August 10, 1861-another Confederate victory. Pea Ridge in Arkansas was a Union victory, placing the State of Missouri under Union control. The Missouri State Guard came to an end with Sterling Price's entrance into the main Confederate Army. The guard disintegrated into Partisan Ranger and Guerilla Units. The following is a listing of those units in Missouri:


Coleman's Missouri Battalion Partisan Rangers
(Coleman's Missouri Regiment Cavalry)(NA)

Lawther's Missouri Regiment Partisan Rangers (NA)
(see also 10th Missouri Cavalry)

Quantrill's Missouri Company (guerrilla command)

Capt. Woodson's Missouri Company, Cavalry (NA)

1st NE Missouri Cavalry

2nd NE Missouri Cavalry

10th Missouri Cavalry

Wood's Missouri Cavalry

Tracy's Missouri Cavalry

1st Missouri Battalion Partisan

Snider's Missouri Cavalry

Marmaduke's Missouri Company, (The
Macon Rangers)

McDonald's Missouri Company, (Ralls
County Rangers)

Schnable's Missouri Cavalry (NA)

Pool's Missouri Partisan Rangers

Colonel Adair's Missouri Partisan Rangers

Colonel Holt's Missouri Partisan Rangers

Colonel Jackson's Missouri Partisan Rangers

Col. Jeffers' Partisan Rangers

Capt. Johnson's Missouri Partisan Ranger Company

Major Livingston's Missouri Scouts

Lt. Col. Maddox' Missouri Partisan Rangers.

According to the Biographical Record of Jasper County:

Thomas R. Livingston, formerly a merchant and lead miner and smelter at a place near Minersville, called French Point, on Center Creek, organized and led a company of men who carried on a guerilla warfare throughout this region and are charged with much of the incendiarism and destruction of life and property occurring in this county.

It would be unfair to blame the Confederate Partisan Rangers or Guerilla Units for all the chaos in Jasper County, as the Biographical Record of Jasper County notes:

Among the first acts of violence committed in the county after war had commenced was the robbery and murder of George W. Broome, which occurred in the summer of 1861. Mr. Broome was a native of Georgia and had resided in Jasper county a number of years, a young man, unmarried and living on his farm in Georgia City. He was quite wealthy, owning several thousand acres of land, and was engaged in stock raising and farming. He also owned a number of slaves, besides a large amount of other personal property, and was understood to have a considerable sum of money. A body of men, supposed to have been mainly from across the state line of Kansas, came to Broome's house in the daytime and murdered him, burned his house, seized and carried away his money and much personal property. This was the first assassination and robbery occurring after the breaking out of war, and roused a strong feeling for revenge among Broome's friends, who charged some of Broome's neighbors with complicity in the outrage. Some of Broome's friends, citizens of Jasper County, soon after this one night took out John Ireland, who lived near Broome, and after giving him a form of trial on the charge of participation in the murder of Broome, hung him. Some prominent citizens of Jasper County were afterward charged with a part in the hanging of Ireland. These events were only a prelude to the conditions with prevailed afterward.

The Biographical Record continues:

Quantrell's [sic] band, which raided the city of Lawrence, Kansas, operated in Jasper County, and also another force, charged with burning the courthouse, at Carthage in October 1863, and other similar acts, was Anderson's company of Confederates. These various local organizations operated independently of any of the main armies, and were controlled by none of the restraints of military discipline which applied to the armies of either side.

The town of Carthage was almost completely destroyed during the Civil War along with farm houses and farm improvements. According to the Biographical Record:

--At the close of the war, all that remained of Carthage was less than a dozen dwellings of the poorer sort, all else, including courthouse, jail, academy, business houses and dwelling houses, were destroyed, and the town was a heap of rubbish, exposing to view open cellars, standing chimneys, and occasionally part of the brick walls of what had been some of the more pretentious buildings. Before the war closed, nearly all the inhabitants of the central and western part of the county who lived to tell the tale of their privations and sufferings had been compelled to leave the county and seek safety elsewhere.

James Henry Bunch became captain of a Confederate Home Guard unit in Jasper County. His unit may have been part of Major Livingston's Missouri Scouts, since Livingston's unit operated in the area, although no single partisan ranger or guerilla unit was confined to any particular region. James Henry Bunch did not serve with Poole, Anderson or Quantrill, although an Oliver Bunch (sometimes spelled Burch] did serve under Quantrill. Oliver Bunch or Burch "owned the Roscoe House where Pinkerton agents battled with the Youngers".

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Ward L. Schrantz wrote a series of articles for The Carthage Press about life in Jasper County during the Civil War based on interviews of participants and observers who were living in the county during that terrible time. The following article appeared in The Carthage Press October 16, 1950 headlined: "Carthage Hopes Fall and Fears Rise as 1861 Comes to an End"

Jake Copple's Adventures

Mr. and Mrs. Jake Copple and family lived 11 miles southeast of Carthage. Kelly Copple, 11 years old in 1861, in her later life when Mrs. Sam Warden wrote some of her war recollections for members of her family. These were published in The Press October 27, 1949.

"Father had to keep hidden most of the time," she said.

"He was 60 years of age at the time and too old to enlist and he had a horse which I remember was named "Old Doc" and the speed of his horse saved him several times when he was chased by bushwhackers.

"While father was in hiding, mother, my sisters Zarilda, Margaret, Lizzie, Rebecca, and I stayed alone and had many scares. The bushwhackers would come into the house, take whatever was wanted and curse and swear.

"The day that father and my brother-in-law left the bushwhackers came to try to kill him but he got out of sight in the brush. Father came home only twice in nine months and one of those times two bushwhackers chased him across the big prairie just beyond Carthage but "Old Doc" outran them. The other time he slipped in from Fidelity on foot and walked right into three bushwhackers. They started after him but as one had left his gun on the saddle in front of the house he made his escape. Finally, the men gave up. They killed Brice Martin that day but failed to get the three that they wanted.

"These three rebels had started out that morning to kill Joel Grubbs, Alfred Bryant and father. They went for Bryant and he was sick but his wife and daughters hovered over him and would not let him go.

Threats at Bryant Home

Mr. [John A. (Alfred) ] Bryant's daughter, Lucy, in a Press interview, Sept. 7, 1922, then Mrs. Lucy Blakely, told of her father's escape but only mentioned two men coming to the house.

"One day in January," she said, "there rode up to the home of my father, John A. Bryant, two men from down on Shoal creek. One was Joe Thompson and the other was Tom Rae. Rae was wearing a Union solder's overcoat and carried a rifle while Thompson was dressed in ordinary civilian garb and was armed with a double-barrelled shotgun.

My father had been sick in bed and was sitting up in a chair that day for the first time. Our visitors wanted him to go outdoors with them but he refused, stating that he was not able. They talked for quite a while, urging on my father the advantages of declaring himself for the south and tried on various pretexts to get him to come outside. Finally Thompson rose in a rage.

"Well, if you will not go outside I will kill you anyway right here," he said with an oath, cocking his shotgun and aiming it at my father's breast.

"We children set up a scream and my mother sprang in front of my father. I remember yet exactly how the caps on Thompson's gun looked as he stood there with the weapon leveled. It was Rae who saved us.

"Come out of here, Joe," he said, "or you will scare these children to death." And Thompson sullenly lowered his gun and complied.

Murder of Brice Martin

"From our house they went a quarter of a mile south to the home of Brice Martin, mother's brother, and called him out to the fence. They talked awhile and Mrs. Martin, coming to the door, saw her husband turn away and start back to the house. As he did so, one of the men fired with the double-barrelled shotgun, the charge of buckshot striking my uncle in the back and killing him instantly. My aunt always said that the man in the blue overcoat fired the shot but my mother and father had known Tom Rae all their lives and could never believe that he would so murder Brice Martin with whom he was well acquainted.

"My aunt ran down to our house to tell what had happened…Eliza Parnell spread the word of the murder and my mother went up and watched by the body which lay until 9 o'clock in the yard where it had fallen. We had many good neighbors, some of them northern sympathy, most of them southern but not a man on either side dared to go after the body until 9 o'clock for fear of being murdered. Then two southern sympathizers, George Hammer and John Rafedy, and a Union man, James Landers, slipped up to the Martin's home under cover of darkness, picked up the body and brought it to our house where it was left that night.

Southern Home Guard Aids

"There was something of a panic among the people of the neighborhood following the killing, especially those known to favor the cause of the north. My father did not dare stay home that night and he and Marsh Parnell went over to the home of Mrs. Sally Keith over close to the Carthage road, and laid there concealed in the attic all night. The Parnells were almost all southern people, but Marsh was known as a Union man and his life was in as much danger as anyone's despite his southern kindred.

"Everyone in the neighborhood was at first afraid to have anything to do with the Martin funeral, but finally James Bunch, captain of a southern home guard company, said he would have the grave dug and would furnish protection to those coming to the burial. He and his men dug the grave in the cemetery of the old Freedom Baptist church near Moss Springs and a man in Fidelity made a coffin. My uncle was buried the next day, there being a considerable number of women present, a few men, including my father and Marsh Parnell, and a number of Captain Bunch's home guard company.

"Immediately after the funeral the Union men took to the timber and prepared to leave the country that night. There were in the party besides my father and Marsh Parnell, Dr. D. F. Moss, Riley Moss, William Spencer and several others, perhaps as many as a dozen all told. They made their way safely to Kansas and we stayed alone until two months later when they came back with a detachment of Union soldiers and took us to Fort Scott."

John A. Bryant (Alfred Bryant) was the brother of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence, wife of Lazarus Spence. The John Bryants fled to Fort Scott, Kansas and never returned to Jasper Co., Missouri. They spent the rest of their lives in Kansas. John Bryant's wife was Nancy Martin, who was the sister of Brice Martin, the man who was murdered. The Prigmores and Martins had intermarried. And, of course, Nimrod Porter Bunch's wife was a Prigmore.

The newspaper account did not identify the man from Fidelity who made the coffin, but I have an idea it was Nimrod Bunch. Brother Jim and his men dig the grave in Moss Springs, and had a man in Fidelity make the coffin. Given the Bunch ancestry of carpenters and cabinet makers, Nimrod would have been an excellent candidate for the job. That may have been the reason why the Nimrod Bunch family left the area during the remainder of the war. They went to Johnson Co., Missouri (near Warrensburg), where their child, Leander, was born and where a number of Prigmores were living. They did not return to Jasper County until after the war had ended.

Brice Martin was only 17 years of age when he was killed.


George Thomas Ray Grave Photo, 100F Cemetery, Newton Co., Missouri. Public Scanned Photos, Ancestry.com


One discovery generally leads to another question. In this case, the question had a double segment: who were Tom Rae and Joe Thompson and what happened to them?

George Thomas Ray was born in Kentucky in 1833 to John Ray (1805-1860) and Sarah A. Spears (1805-1892). The Rays lived in Neosho, Newton Co., Missouri. Tom's wife's name was Emeline (b. 1833). Their children were:

Jennette Ray 1852 -

Laurette Ray 1855 -

Frances Ray 1857 -

Etta Ray 1862 -

George T Ray 1863 - [30]

On March 14, 1862, a little over two months after the Brice Martin murder and according to the inscription on his tombstone, Tom Ray was murdered on the Neosho courthouse square. He was 29 years of age when he was killed. [Perhaps he was going to turn in someone for the murder of Brice Martin??!!]

Joseph T. Thompson was born in 1821 in Kentucky, and was in Neosho Twp., Newton Co., Missouri by 1850, where he appears on the census record for that year. His wife Margaret, who was 22, was born in Tennessee. In 1850, the Thompsons had two children: Thomas (age 3), b. Missouri and Sarah (age 5 months), b. Missouri.
[31] The 1860 Census for Neosho Twp., Newton Co., Missouri shows the following:

Joseph Thompson (age 39); b. Kentucky
Margaret D., (age 32); b. Tennessee
Thomas E. (age 13); b. Missouri
Sarah (age 10); b. Missouri
Virginia (age 7); b. Missouri
Amanda (age 5); b. Missouri
Texas (age 3); b. Missouri
Thomas Franks (age 101); b. South Carolina.

Joseph had a huge farm with slaves. He was definitely pro-southern and as indicated in the newspaper interviews, was involved in bushwhacker activities. He survived the war and fled to Arkansas, where he appears on the 1870 Census for Spadra Twp., Johnson Co., Arkansas as follows:

Joseph T. Thompson (age 49); b. Kentucky
Jane D. Thompson (age 35); b. North Carolina
Texas (age 13); b. Missouri
Ellen Griffith (age 10); b. Arkansas.

It appears that by the time 1870 arrived, Joe Thompson had lost most of his family: his wife and all but one child--Texas. [That name helped me complete the puzzle.] It is true that the older children were possibly on their own: Thomas would have been 23; Sarah would have been 20 and probably married. A Thomas E. Thompson (age 23-b. Missouri) appears on the 1870 Census for Marion Twp., Jasper Co., Missouri as a farm hand. I have an idea he may be the oldest son. It is possible that Joe's wife and two younger daughters died, or else his wife divorced him and took the two daughters with her. At any rate, Joe fled to Arkansas with his son, married a widow named Jane who had a little girl named Ellen. I could find nothing further about this man after 1870, nor could I find anything more about his son, Texas. They either died or "disappeared," and they may have relocated to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma.) I find it interesting that while in Missouri, Joe Thompson lived near Neosho, where Tom Ray was killed!

Frontier Village, Grayson Co., Texas


Off to Texas!

Since the North won the Civil War, Jasper Co., Missouri was not a safe haven for Southern partisan rangers, guerillas, or bushwhackers. They took flight immediately. James Henry Bunch was among those rebels fleeing the county. He took his wife, his children, his mother-in-law (Elizabeth Inman Spence) and her youngest daughter and son, Sarah Elizabeth and Lewis Wesley. The Bunches fled to Grayson Co., Texas, which had become a haven for outlaws. The Texas State Historical Association notes:

The attitude of the county in 1860-61 toward the issue of secession was not consistent countywide. Although the 1861 election resulted in a vote of 901 to 463 to remain in the Union, Whitesboro in western Grayson County was also the scene of one of the earliest secessionist rallies in Texas. Fear of alleged Union sympathizers in five north central counties, including Grayson, resulted in the deaths of forty men in the Great Hanging at Gainesville in 1862. During the Civil War Grayson County men served the Confederate cause in various parts of the South, but the Eleventh Texas Cavalry, composed of many area recruits, was commissioned to capture the federal forts in Indian Territory north of the Red River. No armed conflict was involved in these captures. The frequent visits of William Clarke Quantrill's guerillas during the war years afforded county residents some anxious moments, but the area suffered neither invasion nor severe deprivation as a result of the war. The political instability and economic depression that characterized much of Texas in the Reconstruction era plagued Grayson County as well. The passing of cattle herds through the crossing at Preston Bend and a steadily developing river trade, however, provided much-needed income to the area .

Concerning the history of Sherman, Texas in Grayson County, The Absolute Astronomy website states:

The City of Sherman was named after General Sidney Sherman (July 23, 1805 - August 1, 1873), a hero of the Texas Revolution. The community was designated as the county seat by the act of the Texas legislature which created Grayson Countyon March 17, 1846. In 1847, a post office began operation. Sherman was originally located at the center of the county, but in 1848 it was moved about three miles (5 km) east to its current location. By 1850, Sherman had become an incorporated town under Texas law. It had also become a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route through Texas. By 1852, Sherman had a population of 300. It consisted of a public square with a log court house, and several businesses, a district clerk's office, and a church along the east side of the square.

During the 1850s and 1860s, Sherman continued to develop and it participated in the regional politics. The first flour mill was built in 1861. In 1862 the publisher of Sherman's anti-secessionist Whig newspaper, the Patriot, was murdered. During and after the Civil War, north Texas outlaw bands led by Jesse Jamesand William Quantrill were seen in Sherman. Years later, James spent at least part of his honeymoon in Sherman, where he was photographed on horseback. [35]

I can only imagine my third great-grandmother's thoughts while jostling along the road in a wagon. Elizabeth Inman Spence's husband Samuel was dead, having died in July 1859. Her oldest son Lazarus and his wife Adeline had fled to Fort Scott, Kansas and were still there. Her second oldest son William David and his wife Minerva Caroline Hood were somewhere in Kansas. Her oldest daughter Rebecca (who married George Triplett in 1858) had died in 1859. Her daughter Milly Catherine was married to a Confederate guerilla fighter, James Henry Bunch, and now Elizabeth was fleeing with the Bunches to Texas. Her son Newton Jasper was in a federal prison at Fort Delaware, having been captured as a Confederate soldier on the battlefield. He was sent to Alton Prison first and was later transferred to Fort Delaware with a group of "troublemakers" and "ringleaders". And her two youngest children, Sarah Elizabeth and Lewis Wesley, were bouncing along in the wagon with her on a bumpy trail heading for Texas.

The Bunches settled among old friends and acquaintances after arriving in Grayson County. No doubt, they traveled with some of the men who served under Capt. Bunch during the war. John Shirley, father of Belle Starr, had settled in Texas earlier and was living in Dallas.
[36] His son, John Allison "Bud" Shirley (brother of Belle)-who rode with Quantrill-had been killed in 1864 in Sarcoxie. [37] Other outlaw bands frequented the area. While regarded in the press as common thieves and murderers, they regarded themselves and "soldiers for the cause." Elizabeth Spence no doubt felt somewhat apprehensive with the likes of Frank and Jesse James or Cole Younger standing on her doorstep. Before Carthage burned, Jesse and Frank James and the Youngers frequented John Shirley's establishment on the town square. I have every idea that James Henry Bunch not only knew these men, but was probably one of their friends!

The Bunches and Elizabeth Spence were in Texas for approximate a year when Sarah Elizabeth Spence, Elizabeth's daughter, met the man she would marry.


Wilbarger Historical Marker for Josiah Pugh Wilbarger, Wilbarger Co., Texas


John Hull and Sarah Elizabeth Spence

The John Hull family arrived in Grayson Co., Texas before the Civil War. John Hull, Sr. was born in Pennsylvania in 1798 and had died in Grayson County November 3, 1858. His wife, Sara St. Clair, was born in Tennessee. The Hulls had three sons: Isaac Hull (b. 1839), William H. Hull (b. 1842), and John Hull (b. 1844). John Hull, Jr. would become Sarah Elizabeth Spence's husband.

John Hull was born February 23, 1844 in Macopen, Illinois, the youngest of the three sons. He was twenty-two when he married Sarah Spence in 1866. (She was born January 1, 1843 in Jasper Co., Missouri). The Hulls had the following children:

Johnnie Hull

Lizzie Hull

Mable Hull

Mary Hull

Sophia Hull (1870 - 1948)

Millicent Catherine Hull (1872 - 1953) m. a Stalcup

Belle Hull (1877 - )

Connie Hull (1884 -) [38]

While the Bunches, Elizabeth Spence and Lewis Wesley left for Arkansas in 1868-1869, the Hulls remained in Texas, settling in Vernon in Wilbarger County. The day Elizabeth said goodbye to her daughter was the last time she would see her. John Hull died in Vernon October 28, 1908. Sarah would outlive her siblings. She died July 3, 1912 in Vernon, Wilbarger, Texas.


Scene from Prairie Grove Battlefield, Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Prairie Grove is just south of Marrs Hill Tp., Washington Co., Arkansas where the James Henry Bunch Family settled.



On to Arkansas

"Maybe Arkansas wasn't such a bad idea!" Jim Bunch may have muttered as they jostled along toward Washington County. "Dad wanted to settle there once. Too bad he didn't do that!"

Elizabeth was probably lost in her thoughts. She knew she would never see Sarah again. She retraced her memories with Sarah and with Rebecca, whom she had lost in 1859. There were some infants she lost in Tennessee, but her thoughts now focused on the two daughters: Sarah-the youngest-and Rebecca-the oldest-Samuel's daughter.

Rebecca Jane Spence was born in 1835 in Perry Co., Tennessee, the oldest surviving daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Spence. On August 29, 1858, Rebecca married George W. Triplett in Jasper Co., Missouri. George W. Triplett was born in 1827 in Bourbon Co., Kentucky to John H. Triplett (1804-1882) and Mary Butler Bradley (1807-1875). [39] The Tripletts relocated to Jasper Co., Missouri, where they appear on the 1850 Census records:

John Triplett (age 45) b. Virginia
George W. (age 23) b. Kentucky
Eliza (age 16) b. Missouri
Layton (age 18) b. Missouri
Thomas (age 13) b. Missouri
William (age 10) b. Missouri
Eveline (age 6) b. Missouri

Rebecca only lived a year after her marriage to George and died in 1859. Though from the South, this family of Tripletts supported the North during the Civil War. George joined the Union Army, fought at the First Battle of Lexington, Missouri, where he was captured and then released in a prisoner exchange. His parents went to Douglas Co., Kansas with the Spencer family when Union supporters fled from Jasper County in 1861. They would return after the war. John H. Triplett died in 1882, and he is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery.


John H. Triplett Grave Photo, Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri, taken May 2002


George Triplett would remarry in 1870, and his second wife has been identified as Flora P. Triplett. His children would have been by his second wife:

Alta Bridges

Anna Hickman

Elmer Allan Triplett -(1925--)

Elsie Triplett

Flora P Triplett [41]

George W. Triplett died September 22, 1909. His death notice from The Carthage Press follows:

September 23, 1909

Parshley: George Triplett, who lived to be a good old age in this community, but recently moved to Prosperity, died at the place Sunday of lung trouble. Leaves a wife and four children to mourn his loss. Buried in Fidelity graveyard.[42]

George W. Triplett Grave Photo, Fidelity Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri, taken May 1999


The Bunches settled in Marrs Hill Twp, Washington Co., Arkansas, where they appear on the 1870 Census as follows:

J. H. Bunch (age 36), b. Tennessee, a farmer
M.C. Bunch (age 32) b. Missouri
E. E. Bunch (age 14) b. Missouri
N. E. Bunch (age 10) b. Missouri
N. R. Bunch (age 6) b. Missouri
W. H. Bunch (age 3) b. Texas
E. Spence (age 62) b. Tennessee

Elizabeth Inman Spence died July 16, 1872. The Jasper County Spences didn't publicize her death. Milly Bunch telegraphed her brother, William David Spence either July 16 or July 17, according to a notice in The Carthage Banner. Elizabeth's body was taken back to Jasper County for burial beside her husband in the Moss Springs Cemetery. William David Spence met the train (per another notice in The Banner). The notice didn't identify who got off the train or anything about it, but the paper suggested "a flurry of activity in the area." In all likelihood, no one wanted to advertise the fact that James Henry Bunch was back in Jasper County, albeit briefly. The Bunches returned to Jasper County with Lewis Wesley Spence. After the funeral and burial, the Bunches and Lewis Spence boarded the train and returned to their home in Arkansas. The Civil War was just too recent to bring up the James Bunch name in Jasper County. It is also quite possible that Newton Jasper Spence was present for the funeral. He was released from Fort Delaware prison after the war ended. Instead of returning to Jasper County, he settled in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). He still had a number of enemies in Jasper County. Prior to his enlistment in the Confederate Army at the age of 21, he did a lot of property damage to union property owners in Jasper County and terrorized them otherwise. A number of them claimed they would kill him on sight if they ever saw him again. And no doubt, Sarah Elizabeth and John Hull traveled by train from Texas. Lazarus, Adeline, William David and Minerva Caroline were no doubt there. So with her family all together again for one last time, Elizabeth Inman Spence was laid quietly to rest in Moss Springs Cemetery in Jasper Co., Missouri.

Lewis Wesley Spence, the youngest member of the Samuel Spence family, was born December 10, 1844 to Samuel Perry and Elizabeth Inman Spence in Jasper Co., Missouri. On March 31, 1875, he married Amanda Elizabeth "Mandy" Taylor in Washington Co., Arkansas. She was born October 10, 1855 to Aaron Smith Taylor (1822-1908) and Sarah Ann Mayberry (1822-1894) in Washington Co., Arkansas, and she died January 27, 1921 in Prairie Grove, Washington Co., Arkansas. Their children were:

A. M. Spence (1876 -

S Lewis Spence (1878 - [44]

Lewis Wesley Spence died in Prairie Grove, Washington Co., Arkansas May 16, 1890. On January 5, 1895, his widow married Jarvis Lavender Barker (1853-1925). They had one child: Frances Jewel Fannie Barker (1899-1969) [45]

James Henry Bunch-Milly Catherine Spence Bunch Grave Photo--Jane Cemetery, McDonald Co., Missouri. Taken May 1999



The James Bunch family continued to reside in Marrs Hill Twp, Washington Co., Arkansas through 1880. By 1880 The A. B. Hughes family had settled in Yell Co., Arkansas, so James was briefly reunited with his sister, Mary. 1880 also brought the Nimrod Porter Bunch family to White Rock Twp., McDonald Co., Missouri. Sarah J. Bunch and Effie Bunch, sisters of Nimrod and James, moved in with one of their nephews there. Sometime between 1880 and 1890, the James Bunch family moved to White Rock Twp., McDonald Co., Missouri, where they would spend the rest of their days.

My grandfather, William Franklin Spence (1884-1973), son of Salathiel Monroe Spence (1854-1921) and Josephine Virginia Kessler (1865-1925) remembered James Henry Bunch from childhood while living with his family in Missouri. He described a duplexed house with his grandparents, William David Spence (1827-1907) and Minerva Caroline Hood (1824-1901) living on one side and his family [the Salathiel Monroe Spences] living on the other. Referring to Jim Bunch as "big, mean and ornery," Grandpa said, "My aunt was a tiny little thing! They lived back in the sticks where he kept a still! And he was a Confederate guerilla fighter who stood 6 feet eight inches tall! He had a long beard that hung clear down to his waist!" Apparently, the Bunches went to Jasper County from time to time to visit the William David Spences. While Milly conversed with her brother, her nephew, and their wives, Jim Bunch amused himself by teasing my Grandpa! This would have happened in the late 1880s because by 1890, Grandpa's family moved to Muleshoe, Texas for a year or so, and from there they went to Coffeyville, Kansas, where they witnessed the demise of the Dalton Gang on October 5, 1892. [Grandpa talked about that event for years!]

Nimrod Porter Bunch died April 10, 1888, and is buried in the Jane Cemetery, McDonald Co., Missouri.
[46] Nancy M. (Prigmore) Bunch died January 17, 1912. [47] Millie C. (Spence) Bunch died August 21, 1896. [48]

After his wife's death, James Bunch lived with his daughter, Nancy, and her husband Martin Marrs. The 1900 McDonald County, Missouri Census for White Rock Twp. Shows:

Martin Marrs (age 44)
Nancy (age 51)
Henry (age 17)
Samuel G. (age 15)
George W. (age 11)
Slie Grene?? (age 7)
Edna (age 4)
James Bunch (age 66)-Father-in-law.

In 1910, he was still in the Martin Marrs household at age 76. The last census record with his name is the 1920 McDonald Co., Missouri Census for White Rock Township:

Martin L. Marrs (age 64)
Nancy E. Marrs (age 61)
Edna E. Marrs (age 24)
James H. Bunch (86)-Father-in-Law
Joel Brown (77)-Boarder
Arlena Brown (69)-Boarder

The record for Jane Cemetery lists a number of Bunches who are buried there:

Martin 1891-1959
Ethel 1896-
Ethel 1898-
Price 1888-1960 son of Henry
C. E. 1895-1918 son of Lee & Mary Co. M 321 Inf
Thomas Lee Nov 16, 1907-Mar 30, 1952 Mo 520 USNR WWI
Lee P 1865-1952
Mary W. 1872-1962
D.E. Aug 29, 1855-Mar 6, 1878
Samuel H. 1853-1912
N. Porter Aug 13, 1828-Apr 10, 1888
Nancy M. (Prigmore) Oct 8, 1834-Jan 17, 1912, wife of N.P.
James H. Jan 15, 1834-June 18, 1929 C.S.A
Millie C (Spence) Jan 22, 1837-Aug 21, 1896
Florence B. (Coffee) 1870-1923

James Henry Bunch lived to the ripe old age of 95 and died June 18, 1929. His tombstone in the Jane Cemetery bears the C.S.A. emblem.[52] He was proud of his southern heritage and of his service to the Confederacy, albeit irregular. I remember corresponding with a Bunch family member some years ago, who had this to say about James Henry Bunch: "He always wore white suits and looked like Col. Sanders! He also liked to tease the little kids!" With the exception of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence, who died in 1933 at the age of 98, the proud old guerilla fighter, James Henry Bunch, outlived all the children of Samuel and Elizabeth Inman Spence as well as their spouses!


My Grandfather Spence had this old post card on his desk for years It is a photo of Frank James at the James Farm Gate, Kearney, Missouri



When he was a young man and before marrying my grandmother, William Franklin Spence read that Frank James, brother of Jesse James, had moved onto the James Farm in Kearney, Missouri and was conducting tours of the premises at the price of 50 cents each. This was in 1911, after the death of Frank James' mother. [Jesse James had been killed in 1882]. My grandfather took a train to Kearney and went out to the James Farm, where he was greeted by his guide at the gate and was given a grand tour of the property. Grandpa was quite impressed. Years later in the 1940s, he returned for another tour. One of the members of the James family was giving tours at that time but while Grandpa was there, he purchased a post card with a photo of Frank James on the farm--his original tour guide. He kept that photo on his desk for years. I asked him about it once and he told me it was a photo of Frank James and described the tour he was given.

Knowing my grandfather, I have an idea that during that visit, he brought up Jim Bunch's name. And I also have an idea that Frank James knew James Bunch (which is why he gave Grandpa such a grand tour.) James Bunch was no doubt among the many who gave aid and support to the James-Younger gang as they traveled about the countryside. In James Bunch's case, that would have been as a Home Guard Captain in Jasper County during the Civil War, and as a resident in Texas and Arkansas thereafter.

In May 1999 Howard and I took a trip to McDonald County, Missouri. We visited the town of Jane and found the cemetery where the Bunch family graves are located. It is a shady, peaceful place where beautiful birds fly about and sing from the trees overhead. I was especially pleased to find the grave of James H. and Milly C. Spence since I had heard about them so many years before from my grandfather. That trip brought closure to my search. What I have presented here is the rest of the story.



[1] 1850 Census, Eli Bunch, District No. 20, Maury Co., Tennessee. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[2] Maury County, Tennessee Marriage License Records, Nov-Dec 1854. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[3] 1860 Census, A. B. Hughes, District No. 9, Maury Co., Tennessee. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[4] 1860 Census, Eli Bunch, District No. 9, Maury Co., Tennessee. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[5] 1870 Census, A. B. Hughes, Hampshire, Maury Co., Tennessee. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[6] 1870 Census, Eli Bunch, Mount Pleasant, Civil District 10, Maury Co., Tennessee. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[7] 1880 Census, A B Hughes, Magazine Twp., Yell Co., Arkansas. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[8] 1880 Census, N. P. Bunch, White Rock Twp., McDonald Co., Missouri, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[9] Independence County: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture; Available online at http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?search=1&entryID=776
[10]Independence County: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture; Available online at http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?search=1&entryID=776
[11] History of Jasper County. P. 154. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[12] Jasper County Marriage Records, 1805-2002. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[13] Simpson Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[14] Under the Pcolamus Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com

[15] "Memories on Grandson Joseph D. Prigmore", Public Member Stories, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com.
[16] 1860 Census, Jasper Co., Missouri, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[17] 1870 Census, Jasper Co., Missouri, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[18] Jasper County Marriage Records, 1805-2002. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[19] Spence Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[20] Spence Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[21] Nimrod P. Bunch Land Purchase, 1857, Jasper Co., Missouri; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[22] Nimrod P. Bunch Land Purchase, 1859, Jasper Co., Missouri; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[23] Confederate Irregular Warfare, 1861-1865: Partisan Rangers Units and Guerilla Commands. Available online at http://hem3.passagen.se/csa01/
[24] Biographical Record of Jasper County, p. 19, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[25] Biographical Record of Jasper County, p. 19, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[26] Biographical Record of Jasper County, pp. 19-20, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[27] Biographical Record of Jasper County, p. 20, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[28] Roster of Quantrill's, Anderson's, and Todd's Guerillas and other Missouri Jewels website, by William Pennington, compiled in 1998; Available online at http://penningtons.tripod.com/roster.htm
[29] "Carthage Hopes Fall and Fears Rise as 1861 Comes to an End" by Ward L. Schrantz, Carthage Press, March 16. 1950. Available on Microfilm, Jasper County Public Library, Carthage, Missouri.
[30] Cook/Bybee Ancestors; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[31] 1850 Census, Joseph Thompson, Neosho Twp., Newton Co., Missouri; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[32] 1860 Census, Joseph Thompson, Neosho Twp., Newton Co., Missouri; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[33] 1870 Census, Joseph T. Thompson, Spadra Twp., Johnson Co., Arkansas; Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[34] Grayson County: Texas State Historical Association - A Digital Gateway to Texas History. Available online at http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcg09
[35] Sherman, Texas: Absolute Astronomy Website. Available online at http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Sherman,_Texas
[36] Becket Shirley Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[37] Becket Shirley Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[38] Stalcup Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[39] Kirkpatrick Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[40] 1850 Census, Jasper County, Missouri, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[41] William H. Triplett Family, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[42] George Triplett Death Notice, The Carthage Press, September 23, 1909. Available on Microfilm, The Jasper County, Missouri Public Library, Carthage, Missouri
[43] 1870 Census, Marrs Hill Twp., Washington Co., Arkansas. Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[44] Hambleton-Bell-Taylor Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[45] Hambleton-Bell-Taylor Family Tree, Available at Ancestry.com: http://www.ancestry.com
[46] Jane Cemetery Record, p. 75. Sheet provided by local mortuary in Jane, Missouri, ca. 1999.
[47]Jane Cemetery Record, p. 75. Sheet provided by local mortuary in Jane Missouri, ca. 1999.
[48] Jane Cemetery Record, p. 75. Sheet provided by local mortuary in Jane Missouri, ca. 1999.
[49] 1900 Census, McDonald Co., Missouri, White Rock Twp., Available at Ancestry.com; http://www.ancestry.com
[50] 1920 Census, McDonald Co., Missouri, White Rock Twp., Available at Ancestry.com; http://www.ancestry.com
[51] Jane Cemetery Record, p. 75. Sheet provided by local mortuary in Jane Missouri, ca. 1999.
[52] Jane Cemetery Record, p. 75. Sheet provided by local mortuary in Jane Missouri, ca. 1999

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