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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory

Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois
December, 1960

Page B-26

The Slaying of Patrick Ross

An incident occurred at the Wilbanks Stand during the Civil War that caused considerable alarm and discussion in that community.  It was a tragedy that was long remembered in that part of Jefferson County.

A family by the name of Kenner (some say "Kinner" but for simplicity we shall spell in "kenner" because no one now really is sure), who were natives of the state of Tennessee, had moved to a location in Moore's Prairie Township to get away from the war zone.  Some reports are to the effect that they located on a farm a short distance south of the store that Quincy Wilbanks was operating, but it has not been found on official records where the farm was located.  Others have reported (these reports were given from memory and not from written records of any kind) that the home of the Kenner family was one or two miles north of the Jefferson-Franklin county line.  It is not known whether the family was living on a rented farm or whether they owned the place.  One report is given that Mr. and Mrs. Kenner and their youngest son, Gale, are the ones that came from the southern state, and that two older boys of the family were serving in the Confederate Army.

The opinions of those that have been interviewed on this matter are to the effect that the member of the Kenner family who had moved to Illinois were not showing partiality toward either the Northern or the Southern cause.  As they were from a Confederate state, some people considered them as being in sympathy with the Confederacy.  It has been reported that they were for the most part noncommittal on the subject.  

Patrick Ross, whose home was within a "stone's throw" from the Wilbanks Stand, was a member of K Company, Forty-Ninth Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.  It was during the month of April, 1864, that Ross was home on furlough from the Union Army.  Several people who have given a version of the incident have all agreed that Ross lost his life at the Wilbanks Stand at the hands of Gale Kenner.  We have received various reports as to what happened.

One report is to the effect that Ross and Kenner had been feuding for some time about the Northern and Southern causes, and instead of settling their differences, each discussion naturally increased their bitterness.  After having several arguments at different times, they met at the store on the afternoon of April 8, 1864, and the result of this argument was fatal to Patrick Ross.

This report states it happed as follows: Ross and several of his comrades of the Forty-Ninth Illinois Infantry were on furlough at this time, and several of the veterans who were comrades of Patrick Ross were visiting him at the time of the tragedy.  Ross had gone to the Wilbanks Stand for some reason and Gale Kenner had planned to go to the store to some corn meal for the family, but decided to wait until late in the afternoon for fear that Ross might be there and another feud would follow.  Kenner arrived at the store a short time before dark, only to find that Ross was still at the store.  Shortly after Kenner reached the store, the feud started again.  Ross is reported to have informed him, "We don't allow any Rebels around here, and we are going to run you Rebels out of the country."  One sarcastic word led to another, then Ross knocked Kenner's cap off his head.

At this point, Kenner said, "Quit, Pat, or you will get hurt!"  The arguing continued for a few moments, then Kenner took a pistol from his pocket and shot Ross.  One report is that the shooting happened in the store and that Ross fell over a store counter.  Another report is that the shooting took place outside the building and that Kenner fired three shots, but when the body was examined only one bullet hole could be found in the body.

Shortly after the slaying, a young boy by the name of Barbee (given name not available) was asked to mount a horse and go to the Ross home and notify the buddies of Ross that "Pat" had been killed in a "shooting scrape."  As soon as the visitors at the Ross home learned of the tragedy, they left for the store with plans to catch the assailant and lynch him.

Kenner sensed that he might be the victim of lynching, and left the scene.  He went directly to his home and told his mother of the slaying and informed her that he must leave the country at once.  He said he wanted something to eat, and his mother quickly prepared a sandwich for him to eat while on his flight.  He had climbed over the fence close by the house and was ready to make his departure when his mother called, "Aren't you going to give me a kiss?"  He replied, "Yes, I will," came back to kiss her good-bye, and immediately after this started through the woods to some destination unknown.

One report is that he went to the home of a family by the name of Wheller who lived about a mile from the Kenner home and stayed there during the night.  Some of Wheller boys who were near Kenner's age were believed to have assisted Kenner in getting away from the community.  The Wheller family never admitted that they had any knowledge of his escape.

A group of men, including the comrades of Ross, quickly formed a posse and mounted some horses and rode to the Kenner home with plans to "swing him to a tree."  After the posse of men reached the Kenner home, they made a very thorough search around the house and barn; but after convincing themselves that he had escaped, they returned to the Wilbanks store and did not inflict any harm on Kenner's parents.

We have never received any report that any charge was filed with authorities for the arrest of Gale Kenner.

Another report is that when Kenner left the scene of the accident he went directly to his home and told his mother about the slaying and said that he was leaving at once for Tennessee.  He said that if he could get across the Ohio River he would be safe.  This same source reported that a man was coming north through the woods near the Franklin-Jefferson county line and saw a man walking, but did not know who it was.  The man that he saw going south soon disappeared into the woods.  Some believed that the man who headed south was Kenner making his escape.  After the War closed, the kenner family is said to have moved back to Tennessee, but they never knew whether or not Gale made contact with his parents again.

Another report that this Bureau received concerning the escape of Gale Kenner was that he went to North Dakota, and some years later some one that had known him earlier in life met Kenner and had an extended visit with him.  Another report stated that he was seen some years later in the state of Texas.

A deed record that is on file in the Recorder's Office in Jefferson County shows that a man by the name of Kenner purchased a farm from a Mr. Bryan in Moore's Prairie Township on November 21, 1865.  This transaction occurred several months after the War had closed.  If the Kenner family lived south of the Wilbanks Stand at the time of the slaying, the indications are that they lived on a rented farm.

Another report has it that some of the men of the Sixtieth Illinois Infantry were home on furlough and were at the store the day that the slaying happened.  We have learned from official sources that the Sixtieth Infantry Regiment were being furloughed at the time, and some of the personnel of the Sixtieth Regiment lived in the vicinity of the Wilbanks Stand.  It is the sincere opinion of this Bureau that some of the members of the Sixtieth Regiment probably were at the store at the time of the slaying.

As the reports of the slaying of Patrick Ross and the escape of Gale Kenner vary considerably, we would not attempt to say which is accurate.  Therefore, we will let the reader decide for himself.

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