the fascinating names of the American Civil War, and other Jesse James related items

I’ve just finished reading Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, by T. J. Stiles. A fascinating book, it describes the Missouri/Kansas border of the 1860s-1870s with the same level of horror as 1990s Kosova/Kosovo.

I know the area well. Catherine grew up in Liberty, and her mother still lives on Franklin Street, the site of the 1866 raid on the Clay County Savings Association by a gang including Arch Clement and the James brothers. The James family made their home in Kearney, the town which used to have my favourite diner, Clem’s Café.

After the civil war, veterans returned home with their weapons, and used them to settle old scores. Stiles makes the point that carrying handguns was rare before the war, so this is a possible root of the US’s gun crime problem.

But what struck me most was the amazing names that cropped up in the book: Adelbart Ames, Delos T. Bligh, Schuyler Colfax, Alvis Dagley, W. L. Earthman, Aber Gilstrap, Odon Guitar, Nimrod L. Long, Zerelda Mimms, Sidney G. Sandusky (who, coincidentally, built the house in Liberty that Catherine grew up in), Theodrick Snuffer, Flourney Yancey, and my favourite, Greenup Bird. You just don’t get names like that any more. These are solid names, they’ll see a lifetime through.


  1. General Odon Guitar had a son, grandson, and possibly a great grandson named for him also.

    On a Cooper County headstone, I also found “Hurt-Back.”

  2. Since I was just a baby I knew of the gunfight at the Snuffer farm in Roscoe.
    Theodrick is my Great great great grandfather. When I was born my father wanted to name me Theodrick but my mother protested so it’s Daniel
    Thanks for the comments…
    Daniel Snuffer

  3. My grandmother Nellie, who was born in 1891, left to my mother her Bible that had a fold-out page for listing the family tree. One of the names listed is Greenup Bird. I never heard any family lore that he was the same person who was a teller when Jesse James’ gang pulled off the first daytime bank robbery in US history in Liberty. Judging from the number of generations back from Nellie I think her Greenup is one generation younger than the one from Liberty. There is a Kentucky connection that both Greenups have so maybe there is some blood relation.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *