Saturday, April 12, 2008
Today we show a picture of a real Old Timer. The photo was taken in about 1920. As this old man milks the cow, he takes a moment to give his cat a little treat . . . a sip of milk, fresh from the old factory. So many times we see old pictures like this, and really don't know anything about the person pictured. Today, we have a little more information.
The old country gentleman is Allen Palmer (Sometimes he went by the name Allen Parmer, or Allan Parmer). He was born on May 6 in the year 1848 in Liberty, Missouri. As a child, he became an excellent horseback rider, and good with a gun. He was always one to seek out adventure, even as a child. When he was 12 years old he joined up with William Clarke Quantrill and the Bushwhacker group known as Quantrill's Raiders. They caused quite a lot of commotion in the War Between the States, as they were not regular military, but were raiders. They would hit the enemy hard with lightning fast raids, and then evaporate into the countryside. They would ambush Union patrols, disrupt supply lines and sometimes attack towns on both sides of the Kansas-Missouri border. They were innovators in the art of guerrilla warfare using techniques such as coordinated attacks, and having carefully planned escape routes. They would have horses staged along their escape route, so they could travel great distances in a short amount of time. The Union Army did not take kindly to all this, and ordered that any members of this band that were captured were to be shot. They would not be afforded the normal courtesies extended to enemy soldiers.
Even though a youth, and likely the youngest member of this notorious band, he was respected by all the others as a fierce fighter and hard rider.
During his raiding days he met another Missouri boy named Jesse. At one point during the war he and Jesse stopped off at Jesse's house in Missouri, and Allen met Jesse's sister Susie. Well, she was like something he had never seen before, and he was quite impressed. He got on back to the war and the raiding, but he never forgot Susie.
After the war, career opportunities for the former members of the Quantrill Raiders were somewhat limited. I guess it was one of those things that did not look so good on a resume. In a job interview, that question about your former employment would no doubt lead to one of those awkward moments. So Allen hooked up with his old buddy Jesse, and Jesse's brother Frank, who also rode with Quantrill. As legitimate business was hard for them, they went to outlawing. They hooked up with the Youngers, and formed the James-Younger gang. Yep, that boy, Jesse, he met during the war was the notorious Jesse James.
In the midst of all this, Allen never forgot about Susie, the sister of Jesse James. In 1869 he looked her up again, and they were married.
After his outlawing, Allen and Susie ended up settling in West Texas. A number of the other Quantill Raiders ended up settling down in West Texas as well. I guess folks there could better appreciate their exploits than in some other parts of the country. Allen was never one to do anything halfway, and he and Susie had 9 children together.
Allen was never ashamed of his past. To the day he died, he wore a picture of William Clark Quantrill inside his coat, and he was always eager to share the stories of his life with friends and relatives. He died in 1927 in Wichita Falls at the home of a friend; the son of another of Quantrill's Raiders. At his funeral, one of the six surviving member of the Quantrill band served as a Pal Bearer.
I guess the lesson is that if you ever happen up on an old timer feeding a little milk to his cat you might ought to walk softly and show proper respect, cause you never know for sure where he has been, or what he has seen. The old Quantrill Raiders are all gone, but today, some of those old timers driving slow and getting in your way just might have stormed the beaches of Normandy, or stood firm on the hills of Okinawa, giving you the freedoms you enjoy today. So, instead of giving them one of those un-neighborly gestures for slowing you down, you might ought to just tip your hat real friendly like, give them a polite wave, and pass them when you can.