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The Skull on Troublesome Creek

skullIn northeast Missouri, angling from north to southeast in Knox, Lewis and Marion counties, is a stream known as Troublesome Creek. In 1877, a farmer walking the banks of the creek east of the town of Newark found a human skull. Many years later, in the 1990s in fact, a reporter for a Hannibal newspaper saw the skull in a velvet-lined box, displayed in the shop of a Newark pharmacist. It was only then the skull was provided a Christian burial. The legend around the Troublesome Creek skull is that it belonged to Andrew Allsman, formerly a resident of Palmyra in Marion County. Allsman was taken prisoner by Confederates when Palmyra was captured in September, 1862; it is now accepted as fact that soldiers ordered to guard him killed him on Troublesome Creek.

When Allsman went missing, the federal commander in this area of Missouri issued an ultimatum calling for his safe return. When he was not returned, Union Colonel John McNeil ordered that ten men then in federal custody be shot to death. The execution of the Palmyra 10 was carried out on October 18, 1862, a grisly affair that brought condemnation from as far away as England and earned for McNeil the lasting sobriquet “Butcher of Palmyra.”

About the Author

Gabriela Molina is the Programs Coordinator for Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation. You can contact her at: gm@mocivilwar.org

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