jesse yancey


submitted by Sherry Yancey Babb

This is the story of the double murder of Jesse Benton and Zula Kathryn Pankey) YANCEY, (the grandparents of Sherry Yancey Babb) as it appeared in the newspaper.  The CEDAR COUNTY REPUBLICAN, Stockton, Missouri, Thursday, July 19, 1923.

Double Killing
Bob Brown Kills Jess Yancey and Wife Sunday Noon
Returning Home from Berry Picking.
Shoots at Close Range With Double Barrel Shot Gun
Mother Pleads For Baby - Brown Surrenders
Funeral Monday Afternoon.


The worst tragedy in the history of Cedar County occurred at noon Sunday on the Herring Ford east of the Bob Brown home a mile and a half east of Stockton.  R. A. Brown, known all over the eastern part of the county shot and instantly killed Jesse B. Yancey and so mortally wounded Mrs. Yancey she died at 4:45 Monday morning.

There seems to have been some trouble between the families over some gossip.  Mrs. Brown who has been in such poor health that at times friends had considered her mentally deranged and it is said that during one of her ranting or raving spells had accused her husband of being intimate with Mrs. Yancey.  This story leaked from the Brown family circle and Yancey heard it and talked to Brown about it.  Brown told him that it was only wild talk of Mrs. Brown's during one of her bad spells and Yancey said he was sorry he had ever given the matter a thought.  It is reported that other gossip had been circulated which stirred up the Brown family.

On Sunday morning the Yanceys, the father and mother and four children, passed the Brown home in a wagon on their way to the Killingsworth home to pick blackberries.  Mrs. Brown stopped them and told them she had heard they had said she was crazy.  Mr. Yancey started his team with the assertion that the matter had been settled and he would not talk any more about it, and went on his way.  Just as they were driving away Bob Brown came around the corner of the new house shaking his fists and talking and it is said ordered the Yanceys not to pass his house again.

The Yanceys picked their berries, got some apples and started home about noon.  In the mean time Bob Brown had sent to the home of Mrs. Martha Brown and borrowed a double barrel shot gun.

When the Yanceys passed the Brown home Bob was seen skulking on the hillside below the house with the shot gun in his hand.

Adren Yancey, 14 years old, tells that her father told her and her sister Juanita to get out of the wagon and go to the home of Moody Davis which is just across the road from the Brown home.  The girls say they did not hear anything that was said by their parents or Brown.

They told Mr. Davis and Bron Greer, son-in-law of Mr. Davis that Bob Brown had a gun and look like there would be trouble down the road.  Davis and Greer ran to the road just in time to see Brown fire the two shots and Yancey jump or fall from the wagon and the team run away.

Greer ran to tell the neighbors and to get help.  He met George Graves and Len Harvey and Harvey went immediately to the scene.  Greer saw W. P. Gordon's family coming to town in their car and he came with them and sent the doctor out.

The team ran down the rocky hill and on to the road in the bottom and stopped about a half a mile from where the shooting took place.

The little five year old son and the two year old baby who were in the wagon and remained in it until it stopped.  The boy said his mother talked to "old Queen" and tried to stop the team from running.  When the team did stop the little boy said he told his mother he would take "Bee", the baby and go to Mr. Davis' home but his mother did not answer.  The little fellow did take his sister through the briars and brush in the fields to the Davis home and both were scratched and wet as Bee had fallen in the little branch.

After the shooting Brown returned to his home and told his family that he was going into the yard and kill himself.  One of his children begged him to go away and not do it there as it would kill her mother.  He walked down the road and in a few minutes a shot was heard.  George Montgomery and wife who were on their way to the old W. R. Brown home heard the shots and the team running away, and several minutes later heard the third shot and a few minutes later met Bob Brown in the road and he said to them, "There is one dead up there and I am going to kill myself".  It was discovered when the body of Yancey was being prepared for burial that he had been shot twice, once in the left breast and once in the right hip and it is supposed that Brown had fired the third shot into Yancey as he lay there in the ditch writhing in death agony.

When it was found that Yancey was dead Mr. Harvey went to the wagon and found Mrs. Yancey lying in it.  She asked him who he was and he told her.  She told him she had heard someone walking around the wagon and had tried to act like she was dead so he would not shoot her again.  She thought Bob Brown had looked in the wagon at her.

Mr. Harvey, Art Jones, Arch Belk, W. H. Yeakley and others made her as comfortable as possible until Drs. Brown and Emerson prepared her to be moved to her home, where those doctors and Dr. Steward did all that could be done for her.

The body of Jesse Yancey was taken to his mother's home where it was prepared for burial.

Mrs. Yancey was conscious much of the time until death relieved her of her sufferings.  She begged all who could hear her to tell the people she was innocent of all the things which had been charged against her by Mrs. Brown.  She told that when Brown came on the road in front of them he told them he was going to kill them.  She pleaded for him not to hurt the children, and her husband begged him not to shoot.

The husband received the first shot in his left breast and wife the second in the right shoulder at the top of the right lung.  A portion of the last shot hit one of the horses in the top of the head.

A number of men and boys made a search for Bob Brown for a while that afternoon.  The sheriff was not at home.  On Monday morning the sheriff and several citizens visited the J. S. Brown home near Alder school house and learned that Bob had been there Sunday afternoon and had gone to the home of his brothers Jim and George who persuaded him to leave the shotgun and from there he went to John S. Brown Jr's home and remained for the night and had left about two hours before the officers and citizens arrived there and had gone toward Sexton.



On Monday morning two car loads of men left Stockton to make a search thru the east part of the county for Bob Brown.  It was clear at that time he had not killed himself.  Sheriff Church, J. L. Fleeman, and Bailey Carter were in one car and H. C. Hembree, W. H. Yeakley, I. J. Garrison, and R. M Cotten.

It was learned by these men that James and George Brown had persuaded Bob to leave the shotgun with them.  He went to the home of his brother John S. Brown, Jr. in Jefferson township and remained there until about 7:30 Monday morning.  The posse was about two hours behind him at that place.  He went toward Sexton and the men spent several hours searching for him but knew it would be easy for him to evade arrest in that section.

On Tuesday morning Lewis Lyle and John Little brothers-in-law cam to town and offered to help the sheriff locate him.  They and Sheriff Church and I. J. Garrison left town for Jefferson township and met Lee Phillips who informed them Brown could be found ready to come in if there was no danger from a mob.  Being assured there was little if any danger from that source the officers went to the home of James C. Brown and arrested Bob.  He was brought to the jail at 11 o'clock and by two o'clock the sheriff and T. F. Mead were on their way to Nevada with him.  He will be kept in the jail there.

Brown denied shooting Jesse Yancey the second time.  Further than that he had nothing to say and cried much of the time.  Relatives of Brown have retained Attorney O. O. Brown to look after the defense.  The date for preliminary has not been set.

There was much talk of the possibility of mob violence but much to the credit of the good citizens of Stockton all talk of that kind was discouraged and a plea made for the court to issue the punishment.  It is a most deplorable thing but county should not suffer further disgrace by mob violence.

Bob Brown's family consists of his wife and nine children, he has always been a peaceable hard working citizen.



The body of Mrs. Yancey was moved to the Mrs. Mary Yancey home where on Monday afternoon funeral services for the husband and wife were conducted by Elder L. L. Tucker after which the remains were laid at rest in the City cemetery.  Jess Yancey was 46 years old.  He had spent most of his life here in Cedar county and was considered an honest and hardworking citizen.  He had been married prior to his marriage to the wife who died with him and one son was born of this first marriage.

Mrs. Zula Pankey Yancey was a daughter of Mrs. Mary Pankey Seybert, and  a granddaughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Killingsworth.  She was 35 years old.  She had been born and reared in this community and attended Stockton school until her marriage.  She was the mother of six children, two of who died in infancy.  She leaves to mourn the loss of a mothers love and care three daughters and one son, Adren 14, Juanita 10, Larry 6 and her baby Ruby age 2 years.



 jesse b yancey