Artifact of the Week — October 6, 2022

Posted by on October 6, 2022

In the early evening of September 15, 1904, in front of the City Hotel, Independence County Sheriff Jeff D. Morgan was shot and killed by Robert Causby.

How did this tragedy occur?

Sheriff Morgan, age 31, was on Main Street to question Mr. Causby, age 21, who was a wanted fugitive. Mr. Causby had escaped Izard County’s jail three years previous by knocking a prison guard out cold, then surreptitiously wound his way to Iowa. Mr. Causby original charge was grand larceny and burglary After being absent from the state, Mr. Causby recently returned to Arkansas to visit family. When he arrived in Batesville, suspicious citizens notified Sheriff Morgan.

Mr. Causby was spotted in front of City Hotel. Sheriff Morgan asked his name, and Mr. Causby hit the ground running. As he ran, he pulled out a .38 caliber handgun, whipped around, and shot Sheriff Morgan.

An eyewitness quickly retrieved Sheriff Morgan’s handgun and, with a crowd of other concerned citizens, pursued Mr. Causby, who ran into a barn. Citizens surrounded the barn and threatened to burn it to the ground.

Upon his surrender, Mr. Causby was charged with Sheriff Morgan’s murder. Mr. Causby was to be transported via train to Newport, but a row in front of the local jail by concerned citizens led to a near lynching, so the plan was dismissed.

Mr. Causby attempted to starve himself nearly to death prior to his hanging, wishing to become so weak he would not physically be able to climb to the gallows. While in jail, he was under constant threat of lynching by the citizens of Batesville as well as from Sheriff Morgan’s hometown of Salado.

Pictured is the .38 caliber Bisley Model Colt single-action pistol Mr. Causby used in this tragedy.

.38 caliber Bisley Model Colt single-action pistol
.38 caliber Bisley Model Colt single-action pistol

Learn more about this fascinating tale and other exciting stories from Batesville’s past on Friday, October 14. The Old Independence Regional Museum is hosting “Mayhem on Main Street” as a walking tour to highlight 17 spectacular sites in 90 short minutes. Times of departure are 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm and will commence at Maxfield Park. Adult tickets are $20 and 12 and under tickets are $10. Come learn about Batesville’s spookier side!

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