Born: February 14, 1837 Died: July 13, 1901
Burial: Paces Chapel Cemetery Place: Benton County, Arkansas
Pace Chapel Cemetery lies just south of the Pea Ridge battlefield and Visitor's Center in Benton County, Arkansas. Inside this small cemetery comes yet another educational chapter of history tied to Quantrill, strongly linked to Jesse James and in a class all by itself!
And it lies under a flat stone that simply reads "Dr. Snuffer."
Dr. Owen M. Snuffer's young life is etched within the pages of the famous Younger family and one of the most well known, talked about and legendary gun fights in the entire state of Missouri. Yes, Benton County, Arkansas...you are now a part of the Gad's Hill train robbery fallout known as the Roscoe Gun Battle between Jim and John Younger and the Pinkertons. With a small serving of the border wars.
Owen's father, Theodrick Snuffer lived in St. Clair County, Missouri and was a very close and good friend to Charles Lee Younger, grandfather of the Younger brothers (Cole, Bob, Jim, John). Theodrick played a very key role in persuading Charles into moving from Jackson County, Missouri to St Clair County, Missouri and would later be called upon by Charles to be a witness for his final will and testament. Throughout time, the Snuffers and Youngers would strike a very long and bonding family friendship that would last through generations of different family members as not only did Owen know the Younger brothers and their parents, but also knew their uncles, T.J. and Frank.
Owen joined the Confederates in July of 1862 and was signed up by Col. Jeremiah Vard Cockrell. As a member of Cockrell's regiment, he fought side by side with Cole Younger at the battle of Lone Jack, Missouri and was believed to somewhat have worked with Quantrill's guerrillas.
After the Younger siblings lost their parents (their father, Henry in 1862 and Bursheba in 1870), Owen's family became kind of a surrogate family to Bob and John Younger. It was absolutely normal for them, and even Cole and Jim, to stop by, join them for dinner, stay overnight in the attic and generally enjoy each other's company. In fact, the four Younger boys spent Christmas with the Snuffers in 1873. Not too long after that, Jesse James paid the Snuffers a visit. Roscoe, Monegaw Springs and St. Clair County in general became a place for the boys to get away and feel comfortable in the presence of well trusted and close friends.
But on March 17, 1874, things got very hot and it ended with three dead including John Younger. On January 31, 1874, several members of the James-Younger gang robbed the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern railroad left St. Louis, Missouri and headed south. Approximately one hundred miles from St. Louis, the train rolled into Gad's Hill, a sleepy community that was barely a blip on the map. Five masked men boarded the train and relieved most of the passengers of their money, jewelry and other valuables.
It was almost immediate that the James' and Youngers, particularly Cole, Bob, Jim and John, were implicated in the crime and the hunt would soon be on! The desperados crossed through Missouri and parted at St. Clair County. The Youngers would stay with friends here and there as they knew that staying with any family was too risky. At some point, one of those friends they stayed with after Gad's Hill was Owen himself! Three Pinkerton agents had tracked Jim and John to St. Clair County and came up with a cover for their identity so that they could approach the Theodrick Snuffer farm. Theodrick, Jim and John were all inside sitting down to dinner when they heard hoofbeats outside the cabin door. John told Theodrick that he'd better see who that was while he and Jim hid in the attic. Theodrick was met by two men. One of them dismounted his horse and inquired about a Widow Sims that was selling cattle. Snuffer pointed the men to the Sims direction and watched the strangers ride in a different direction than they were given. Meanwhile, Jim and John had noticed a third man outside. The brothers agreed the strangers were way too well dressed to be roaming cattle buyers!
The two brothers took off in pursuit of the men and caught up to them about twenty five minutes after leaving the Snuffer farm. Face to face, things got tense in a hurry. When Jim and John felt like they knew exactly who the men really were, a fierce gun battle ensued. Two of the Pinkertons and John Younger would die from the fight.
The next morning, Theodrick and a neighbor named "Speed" McDonald buried John Younger on the Snuffer farm where the body could be guarded. On March 19, Speed and Theodrick unearthed John and loaded him onto a wagon where Speed dug a grave at the Yeater Cemetery that would be John's final resting place. There, it would be closely guarded by friends.
Owen would later write for news publications including the Osceola (Mo.) Democrat and the Kansas City Star. He would recount his Civil War days including his participation in the battle at Lone Jack in the article. "The Battle of Lone Jack" and "The Sacking and Burning of Osceola by Jim Lane." He also assisted acclaimed writer, Augustus C. Appler when he wrote what was once called "the only true life written of the Younger Brothers" called "The Younger Brothers, Their Life & Character."
In 1864, he married Mrs. Susan Tunstall, the widow of fallen Confederate Captain E. B. Tunstall who fell at the battle of ElkHorn Tavern (That's the battle of Pea Ridge to others).
Owen and/or his father appears in the following books about the Youngers and Jesse James:
"The Outlaw Youngers" by Marley Brant
"Desperate Men: The James Gang & The Wild Bunch" by James Horan
"Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West" by James Reasoner
"Historical Atlas of the Outlaw West" by Richard M. Patterson
"Behind Enemy Lines: Civil War Spies, Raiders & Guerrillas" by Wilmer Jones
"Train and Bank Robbers of the West" by Augustus C. Appler
"A Dynasty of Western Outlaws" by Paul Wellman
"Ozarks Gunfights and Other Notorious Incidents" by Larry Wood
"Ride The Razor's Edge: The Younger Brothers Story" by Carl Breihan
"Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters" by Bill O' Neal
"The Rise and Fall of Jesse James" by Robertus Love
"Jesse James and the First Missouri Train Robbery" by Ronald Beights
"Frank & Jesse James: The Story Behind the Legend" by Ted Yeatman
"Jesse James Was His Name" by William Settle
"Riding Vengeance with the James Gang" by Donald Gilmore
"The Younger Brothers: Their Life & Character" by Augustus C. Appler (with assistance from Owen Snuffer)
The Snuffer farm is long gone and only the stories are left to revive it's existence. However, there is a marker on Highway E, just southwest of Osceola, Missouri that commemorates the Roscoe fight.
Owen's small gravestone serves as a reminder to history that even the simplest and unknown person can hold remarkable and valuable information for future generations!
Here is a blog with a write up and the events and two pictures (front and back) of the historical stone at the battle site: https://sundowntrailblog.com/tag/roscoe/