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Unice Russell’s Cow

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Unice Russell’s Cow

As an eighth-generation Missourian (not including countless generations of Missouri Sioux) there are many family stories from numerous Missouri counties. One in particular reaches back into the Civil War, when Barry County was among the most dangerous areas of the United States.

Forebears of mine fought for both Confederacy and Union, and it was almost routine for one’s farm to be raided by marching troops from either side. My great-great-great-grandfather, Milo Butler Russell, had seen his son march away – unwillingly – with Confederate troops. He made the decision to hide.

In this part of the Missouri Ozarks, there are many caves. For most of the Civil War, Milo lived in a cave near his property. His wife, Unice Haddock Russell, needed a way to haul food and supplies to him while he lived in isolation.

They were both afraid that a horse’s or mule’s hoof prints would be easily trackable by scouts who roamed the area looking for Northern or Southern sympathizers, whichever the case may be, to bring them summarily to justice. There was an abundance of cattle grazing the hillsides, and Milo and Unice reasoned that no one would consider tracking a cow.

So Unice broke a calf to ride…and once a week, loaded supplies, mounted the animal and met her husband.

Milo and Unice Russell’s homestead, which is now part of Roaring River State Park, is marked by a large monument to them, their children and grandchildren. – Paul Jackson

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