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The current sheriff of Laclede County, David Milsap, has recently announced that a former sheriff of Laclede County, Robert Boone Harris, will be honored for sacrificing his life in service of the Laclede County community. Sheriff Milsap’s press release on the topic reads:
The name of a Laclede County Sheriff will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., 158-years after his line of duty death. The wall honors members of law enforcement killed in the line of duty.
Robert Boone Harris, was killed in the line of duty on May 17, 1865 by Confederate loyalist, after the Civil War had ended. Harris had been appointed Sheriff in Laclede County in 1865. According to historical documents, nearly 46 confederate riders invaded Laclede County on May 17, 1865. The group swept through Laclede, Dallas, Camden, Hickory and Benton Counties. They killed a total of 13-people before they disbanded.
Harris, along with an army officer stationed in Laclede County, were captured and then hung by the loyalist. Three other riders with Harris were killed. Those three had their throats cut by the group. They captured Harris 10-miles northwest of Lebanon.
“I was contacted by John Dugan, with the Missouri State Archives, and he told me the story. He had run across the documentation and found out Harris was not listed on the state memorial wall or the national wall,” Laclede County Sheriff David Millsap said. “We have a list of all Sheriff’s whom have served Laclede County and his name wasn’t on the list. Harris had been appointed to the office and shortly after assuming the position of Sheriff he was killed.”
After learning of the information and reviewing the documentation, provided by Dugan, the Sheriff made application to have Harris’ name added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington. The Sheriff has also made application to have Harris’ name added to the wall in Jefferson City.
On February 6, 2023 the Sheriff was notified Harris will have his name placed on the wall on May 13, 2023, at a ceremony in the nation’s capital. “We haven’t heard from the state about his name being added to the wall in Jefferson City,” the Sheriff said.
“Even though his death occurred 158-years ago we wanted to honor his service to Laclede County. He died protecting citizens of this community, and that should be honored, though it has taken 158-years for this to come full circle,” Millsap said.
Harris was from Chase County, Kansas and moved to Laclede County prior to the Civil War. He joined the Union Army. He was wounded and had his arm removed as a result of a gunshot. He was discharged from the army and then was appointed Sheriff.
“We don’t know of any relatives, other than we have a lead that he may have relatives in Oklahoma,” Sheriff Millsap said. There is a plan to have some type of recognition honoring Harris on the wall of the new 911-Communications Building. That building is slated to open in mid-2024.
This story has gotten attention in Southwest Missouri, and there was even a segment about Sheriff Harris on the Springfield news. I was able to find a few articles from 1865 that discuss the events of that fateful day in May.
In the 1860 census, George H. Stith* is enumerated as living in Laclede County, Osage Township, with the post office being at Oakland. I plan to do more investigating on the location of the G. H. Stith home. Mr. Stith was named Postmaster at Oakland in January of 1867.
Interestingly, the governor of Missouri appointed a new sheriff, a man named Foster McAdoo, after the murder of Sheriff Harris, and that sheriff was ousted by the Supreme Court of Missouri for failing to properly take an oath in the 15 day period before the election.Sheriff McAdoo 16 Nov 1865, Thu The Howard Union (Glasgow, Missouri) Newspapers.com
*G. H. Stith’s 2nd great grandson, George Noel Stith, who was born at Oakland, would give his life for his country in Belgium in 1944.