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Elisha Ellis

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Muhlenberg Co, KY, USA
Death: Died in Texas, Missouri, United States
Place of Burial: Rockville Cemetery, Bates, Missouri, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John W Ellis Jr and Elizabeth 'Betsy' Bruce Ellis
Husband of Louisa 'Caroline' Wilson Ellis
Father of Leah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Carroll (Ellis); Jasper Newton Ellis; Laura E. Pruett Ellis; Livonia Kissie Ellis Ray; Mary Ellis and 3 others
Brother of Ephraim Ellis and Hardin Ellis
Half brother of Hester Ann Elizabeth Ellis; Francis Marion Ellis; Sarah J. Ellis; William Ayers Ellis; Jefferson D. Ellis and 4 others

Managed by: J. Anita Ray
Last Updated:

About Elisha Ellis

One record shows him as the son of John W Ellis and Elizabeth Brackett.

This document concerning Elisha is a newspaper account following his death in 1879 in Texas Co Missouri. Like many in the West, Ellis had died by the gun.

The first coroner's jury inquiring into the case rendered the verdict that the "deceased met his death from the hands of Jack McMahan." This jury, reported the newspaper, "was summoned on the night of the tragedy, that they merely viewed the body by lamp light and without as much closer examination of the wound or its nature..." A second coroner's jury changed the verdict.

The facts of the case came out this way. Elisha Ellis had three children--a married daughter, Mrs Wiley Carroll who lived a half-mile from the Ellis home; a 19 year old son, Newton, still at home and a 15 year old daughter Livonia Kissie, also still at home. It was events surrounding Kissie and McMahan that brought on Elisha's death.

Ellis lived on the farm of HH Brown and McMahan was a plow hand for Brown. The break between Ellis and McMahan had occurred when Elisha discovered that McMahan was guilty of "ruining his daughter" Kissie. The situation covered three separate incidences. The first rape had occurred on a Sunday as a group was returning from church. McMahan and Kissie had become separated from the other travelers. McMahan drew his revolver and forced Kissie to ride into the bushes beside the road, saying he would kill her if she did not agree to his demands or if she cried out. After raping her McMahan said he would kill her if she ever told what had happened.

Afterward, on a Saturday, McMahan told Kissie to met him in the barn. Again he used threats. The last incident occurred on a Thursday when he told her to meet him in the orchard behind the house at dark. It was this day that Elisha was to die.

When Kissie came back into the house, her mother became suspicious. When she (Kissie) returned she was flushed and her clothing was covered with dust. When her mother demanded an explanation of her condition she burst into tears and admitted that McMahan had forced her to have criminal intercourse with him. The mother was overwhelmed with grief and shame and determined to tell her husband as soon as he came in for supper.

Mrs Ellis told her husband...The old gentleman fell into a frenzy of rage and swore that he would kill McMahan. He went to a drawer and took out his pistol which he shoved in the leg of his boot and then seized an old Springfield rifle and started out, when Mrs Ellis caught hold of him and begged him to do nothing rash but he would listen to nothing and rushed out of the door just as his son Newton, who had been out feeding the horses, came in. He joined his mother in trying to persuade his father not to shoot McMahan.

After more persuasion Newton finally got his father to agree to wait until Wiley Carroll, Elisha's son-in-law, could be summoned. Newton then went to the stable, bridled a horse and "was in the act of jumping on," when, in her own words, when he heard the report of a gun and ran to the spot where his father laid. He uttered a scream which brought his mother out. She went to lift his head up when in her own words "it seemed as though it would fall to pieces"

Newton rushed to his brother-in-law's, returning with his sister's husband in about half an hour. That night a jury was called and a murder charge against McMahan brought. However as the body was being placed into a coffin AA Wood of Rockville saw from the nature of the wound that it was made by a side shot. The attention of Dr Davidson was called to the matter, when a close examination was made and the fact revealed that the fatal shot entered his mouth and came out the back of his head. His tongue was nearly torn loose and was terribly lacerated, his front teeth were broken off, his mouth filled with burnt powder and the paper wadding of his gun actually found in his mouth. His lips though were not injured in the least. If any other evidence was lacking the finding of wad was conclusive. The dead man's head was a silent witness as to the truth of this theory, for it was indented from the inside and torn from the rear side. The position in which the body laid, that of the gun with which he was killed, all went to prove Elisha shot himself.

The conclusion came to by members of the community was stated this way; "The deceased was a very passionate man and it had been only a short time since he had a difficulty with a neighbor.. Hot words passed, and Elisha evidently intended to use his gun when he made the discovery that it was not loaded and he was forced to beat a retreat. It is thought that after he had been persuaded by his son to go to the house and his frenzy had somewhat expended itself, he happened to think of his difficulty sometime before, when the idea struck him that he might be carrying an empty gun again, and in order to see if such was the case, he placed the butt on the ground and while he pushed the hammer back with his foot and went to blow into the muzzle, his foot slipped and the load was discharged into his mouth.

Thus ended the life of Elisha Ellis. He had survived the bloody border warfare that raged in Missouri and Kansas just prior to the Civil War; he had survived the war and its guerilla bands. Even the days of the bandit gangs through that area had been survived. But carelessness had not.

One note of irony still remained in the case. "Wood, one of the Odd Fellows detailed to prepare the remains for burial, attempted to demonstrate it (the theory of death) by placing the musket as Ellis had done, but on the ground muzzle in his mouth--when it slipped and a sharp click sounded. Fortunately the old musket was not loaded this time or Wood too would have been killed.

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Elisha Ellis's Timeline

1833
April 27, 1833
Muhlenberg Co, KY, USA
1855
August 3, 1855
Age 22
Kentucky, United States
1860
June 20, 1860
Age 27
MO, USA
1863
October 27, 1863
Age 30
Miller, MO, USA
1869
October 30, 1869
Age 36
MO, USA
1879
May 22, 1879
Age 46
Texas, Missouri, United States
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