The following article was written by J.R. Kester, pioneer Phelps County resident. He describes events which took place during the Civil War. It was published in the Rolla Daily Herald, August 26, 1955.

Published in the Rolla Daily Herald, August 26, 1955


The following article was written by J.R. Kester, pioneer Phelps County resident. He describes events which took place during the Civil War.

“In 1863, my father, Joseph Kester, on his way to Rolla, was ambushed and shot fatally. I was five years old. I rode behind Mother to see him. He was lying on a pallet in terrible agony.”

“Brother Shelby was serving under Gen. Price. He got a twenty day furlough, and came home after dark. Next morning Sister Sallie and I took his breakfast to him. He was lying in a cave asleep. I thought he was dead and began to cry. He jumped up and caught me.”

“He went to see his girl friend, Miss Wilson, who was 18 years old. She took his last breakfast to him. When she had left him, she heard shooting. Some of his friends brought him home and said, ‘We will have revenge’.”

“Two years later Mother married Louis Wright. He had five sons, four of them in the Rebel Army: Davidson, Lewis, Tarton, Beeba. They were captured in the first battle and taken to Alton, Ill.”

“General Lee surrendered. The boys came home dirty. Mother gave Davidson Brother Shelby’s vest he was wearing when killed. He taught school nearby. Two others went to farming. All was fine.”

“Later on about 30 blue coats drove the cattle in and butchered a beef, killed chickens and fed their horses corn. To have an excuse to get the men away, they found a new saddle and said it belonged to their captain. Mr. Wright told them he had bought that saddle at Love’s store in Rolla for his son, Beeba. Capt. Babcock said, ‘We will take you along.’ Mother said, ‘Why take Beeba? You are going to kill my men, I am going to follow’.’’

“Capt. Babcock said, ‘If you do, I’ll blow your brains out.’  Mother told Ki (black man) to catch her mare. She caught up with them. Two soldiers held her back until they were over the hill and out of sight. They began to shoot.”

“Mother found five dead men. She went to Mr. Grayson to have him take them to Rolla for clothes and caskets.”

“I went with Mother to the burial. They dug a long grave for caskets. No funeral services were held.”

“Her health was ruined. She lingered along for two years. I was 12 years old. Standing beside her bed I saw her looking toward the door, smiling and she laughed out.”

“Grandmother Newport said ‘What do you see Mary?’ In her imagination she saw angels beckoning her to come.”

“June 17,1948, I am ninety years old and it is as vivid in my mind as though it was yesterday.”