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John C Kirby
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Birth: 1843
Tennessee, USA
Death: May 18, 1864
Douglas County
Missouri, USA

Co D Webster County Regiment Home Guards, Mustered in 12 Jun 1861 Taney Co.; mustered out 1 Nov 1861.

I've embellished and added information found online posted in several genealogies and queries. I'm not a military researcher, and I don't claim to have done a thorough research on the individual's service, below, but here's what I've found:

The Ozarks, during the Civil War were basically a "no man's land" where neither side could really rule. Originally, Governer Claireborn Jackson appointed General McBride to put down the Union supporters in Douglas, however, a large number defied the governor and formed the Home Guards to protect the Union Supporters, especially in Douglas and Ozark county, which Douglas was formed from in 1857.

Most of the state was Union by 1862, however, families were uprooted from their homes, towns and farms were burned, and some men were forced to go to war for causes they didn't believe in. It was a time of scarcity in the countryside as bands of soldiers, guerrillas and horse thieves roamed the hills stealing whatever they could from farmers. Many people left the area, and many towns were deserted.

Stephen S. Potter served in the Civil War from May 22, 1865 to July 22, 1865, enrolled in Douglas County into Captain Ford's Company. He had several sons that served for the Union as well:

Hyram H. Potter - served in Company D, Webster
William Riley Potter - married to Serrilda King (the King family is mentioned below) served in the 46th Regiment, infantry.
Josiah C. Potter - Company D, Webster Home Guards
David Winegar Potter - Company B, Webster Home Guards
James Alexander - I believe is listed as Alexander, in the Webster Home Guard.
Charles Potter - although I haven't completely verified, there are several listings of Charles Potter, serving out of Missouri.

Several of Stephen's son in law's also served:

William Jefferson Sisney - married to Elizabeth Temperance Potter in 1859. Served in the Missouri 4th.
Eli B Sisney - married to Mary Potter around 1860, served in the 6th, Adams, Burlands and Cocke's infantry.
John Kirby - husband of Susannah Potter, married around 1850, served in Company D, Webster Home Guards.
Mark Ritter - husband of Rebecca Jane Potter, married about 1860. Served in the Webster County Home Guards.

During the war, men were allowed to go home every so often to get supplies and visit their families. While home on one of these visits, on the 18th of May, 1864, John Kirby, Mark Ritter & Hyram Potter were captured by a Confederate Regiment. They were called before a "drum-head court martial court," so called because a drum was used as a desk and the drumstick as gavel.

The Confederate's decision was that these young men were Union spies, and they were sentenced to be shot. The three men thought this was just a scare tactic and considered it a prank. They were marched to a spot just west of where the lumber yard stands today in Ava, Missouri.

Three Confederate men were chose as the executioners. After the soldiers dismounted, they took their pistols and faced the prisoners - the Captain gave orders to fire. John Kirby and Mark Ritter were both killed by a gunshot through their heart. Hyram Potter, however, knocked aside the pistol of the soldier facing him and ran for the underbrush.

With the Confederates hotly pursuing him, he made his escape, but there were several shots through his clothing.

He made it to the home of Captain Jake Huffman and told the story. Captain Huffman went to the home of his bugler and had him sound "Boots & Saddles." The call was relayed by conch shells and by blowing through gun barrels. Within 30 minutes a Union Regiment gathered at the execution site. On the first engagement 14 Confederates were killed. The battle became a running fight and one by one the Confederates were killed. During this time the wives and mothers buried their own dead in graves they dug themselves. The women hammered together rude coffins for their loved ones. hirleychang65&id=I5725

John Kirby, born in about 1843 in Tennessee, was the son of John Kirby and his first wife, name unknown. John was around the age of seven when his father remarried to Susan A, the widow of William Conard on the 24th of April, 1850, in Roane County, Tennessee.

The younger John and his wife, Susannah Potter, would have been about 17 when they were married in Douglass County, Missouri. At the time of his death, John was 21. The young couple had two children, Stephen, no doubt named after Susannah's father, Stephen Sydney Potter, was age four and Sarah was age two.

John is buried in Ritter's cemetery in Ava, Missouri, and his listing on Findagrave is:

Mark Ritter, born about 1817 in North Carolina, was the son of Jesse Ritter and Sara Richardson. He married Rebecca Jane Potter, who was probably his second wife and possibly his third, in about 1860. They had one child together, Mary Jane Ritter, who was around a year old in 1864. Mark had several other children, ranging in age from 20 to seven when he died.

Mark Ritter's listing on Findagrave is:

John Kirby and Mark Ritter are buried side by side.
There is also another version of the story, but isn't much information, and I haven‘t verified all of the details. I do know that Mark Ritter was killed on the 18th of May, 1864, from his headstone. I know that John Kirby "Curby" and Mark are both buried in the Ritter Cemetery. If the other two Ritters from the story below are buried there, Tim Ritter, who posted the information about Mark Ritter, seemed to have had no record of them. There is no listing on Findagrave for any Ritter males with a death date of 1863 in Douglas county, although there is a possibility that grave hasn't been "read" or no marker survives.

That tends to make me give more credence to the first story - and I so like the first story better with it's vivid detail...

Regardless, as Tim Ritter stated: "There are two versions of the story of his death, each very different. Nontheless, he died while protecting his neighbors during a turbulent and deadly time."

Columbia "Lum" KING MANKIN was the grand-daughter of John C King and daughter of Irvin KING. Lum wrote a book for her family, "Dear Descendants," a copy of which is at the Ava, Douglas County Missouri library. This book was written circa 1956, as Lum Mankin died in 1958.An excerpt mentions a bushwhacking incident in which John C King and others were killed. This occurred in Ava (Douglas) Missouri on June 21, 1863. "Grandpa [John C King], both of his brothers, two RITTERS and a KEATON were all killed, all relatives. Also a man named KIRBY."
Family links: 
  Susannah Potter Kirby Smothers (1843 - 1884)
Ritter Cemetery
Douglas County
Missouri, USA
Plot: Row 6
Maintained by: lostroots
Originally Created by: Pat Thomas
Record added: Jul 19, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 73579484
John C Kirby
Added by: Mark and Kay
John C Kirby
Added by: Mark and Kay
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