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Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project

Four-County Justice

NOTE: This is one of the stories I grew up hearing it told over and over again. The adults wouldn't tell us kids exactly who was part of the posse but it was hinted that my Great-Great-Grandfather Michael FOLAND was among them. By the time Wilma (RAMSEY) FOLAND wrote her book "FOLAND Family Record" in the late 1950's/early 1960's, this legend had become engrained with the FOLAND family, that she included it in her book.

In November of 1856, Silas RUDE, who lived in the northwestern corner of Decatur County, shot and killed his neighbor, Ed McMANIGAL. When shot, Ed was on the RUDE property and driving his livestock, which had strayed, back to his farm. Outraged, a posse representing men from Decatur, Ringgold, Union, and Clarke counties was formed with the sole purpose of hunting down Silas RUDE. Two men and a thirteen-year-old- boy, James FULLERTON, stood guard at the RUDE home should he return for his saddle horse, a fine animal. The other posse members combed the countryside.

Meanwhile, Silas RUDE had concealed himself in the hayloft of Farmer LAMB of Union County. Upon revealing himself and begging LAMB for food, the farmer duly alerted the posse. RUDE was captured in Union County and bound up with ropes.

Without a court system to address the issue and unsure exactly where to incarcerate the prisoner, the posse escorted RUDE to a cornerstone which marked the location where all four counties touched. The posse was instructed to load seven guns and stack them behind a clump of bushes. Then seven volunteers from the posse claimed one of the guns. They positioned themselves in a circle around RUDE who stood by the cornerstone. Taking care that they wouldn't shoot another posse member, the men waited for the signal. Then they fired upon RUDE. When it was all over, no one knew from which county RUDE had been shot or by whom.

The men slung RUDE'S body across a horse and some of the men from the posse took it to his cabin. No one ever really knew - or would admit that they knew - who the posse members were. It was shrouded in as much secrecy over the years as it was when it happened.

Mrs. B. M. LESAN included this chapter of early southern Iowa history in her 1937 book, Early History of Ringgold County: 1844 - 1937, page 63. In Mrs. LESAN'S version, a 15-year-old neighbor boy, Sam CARLTON, was dispatched to raise the alarm after Silas RUDE fled from the scene of the crime. James R. FULLERTON, the 13-year-old boy who helped stand guard over RUDE wanted to attend the execution but his father forbade it. Sam CARLTON, on the other hand, was allowed to attend the execution since he was 15.

Sam CARLTON died at the aged of 95 years in 1937, Osceola, Iowa. His brother was Bob CARLTON, one of Kellerton's first merchants.

James R. FULLERTON was close to the age of 90 years when he died in 1933, Mount Ayr, Iowa.

Mr. LAMB was the grandfather of Walter and Ed LAMB who lived for years in Mount Ayr.

Contribution by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2009; updated June of 2010

To contribute to "Tales from the Front Porch: Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project"
contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold - Front Porch" in the subject line. Thank you.

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