Near Butler in Bates County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Toothman Farm
Home to a Notorious Rebel Family
After the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, pro-slavery Missourians and free-state Kansans fought over whether Kansas should enter the Union as a slave or free state. The fighting was so intense that the conflict was called "Bleeding Kansas."
In 1861, when the Civil War began, most Bates County, Mo. residents supported the Confederacy. Because Bates County bordered Kansas, guerrilla warfare from both states was rampant.
Federal authorities considered the Toothman family, who came to Missouri from Virginia, Southern sympathizers. John Toothman, the 23-year-old son of Enoch and Christina Toothman, rode with Bill Turman, a local bushwhacker. These guerrillas often sought refuge on Hog Island, an area formed by the Marais-des-Cygnes River. John Toothman joined in the ambush of a Union foraging party on May 15, 1862, in which three Federal soldiers were killed. He was later arrested and confined at Fort Lincoln, Kan.
"There is a strip of land between the Marais-des-Cygnes, and a long connecting slough, known as "The Island." This has long been infested with more or less bushwhackers, who have carried all their plunder off to it for safekeeping. Lately, they have been increasing in strength and boldness, until they had become the terror of all good citizens for miles around."
Lawrence [Kan.] Republican,
In October 1862, the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry received orders to march into Bates County and break up the rebel encampments on Hog Island. The Kansas troops took over the Toothman home, about two and a half miles north of Hog Island. They made camp around the house, used the fence rails for fortifications and dubbed it "Fort Africa."
Women of the Toothman household were present when the soldiers arrived and were questioned about the presence of guerrillas in the area. The adult males, probably rebel sympathizers if not outright guerrillas, made themselves scarce during the occupation of their farm.
"We camped within Toothman's yard, throwing up a rail barricade and raising a flag. We named the place, "Fort Africa."
Lt. R. Hinton
Clues to the Past
Even though there appears to be nothing left of the Toothman farmstead or Fort Africa, clues to the past remain beneath the ground. By using a combination of research with historical records and archaeological investigation techniques, archaeologists are piecing together bits of the past to reveal the history of the Toothman property.
An 1859 land survey shows no structures on the Toothman property but a house was on the property by 1862 when the First Kansas camped here. None of the accounts from the time of the Battle of Island Mound describe the house
An 1875 plat map shows a Methodist Episcopal Church on the property and no other structures. The church was built sometime around 1870 and was probably gone from the property by the 1930s. Archaeologists have uncovered the church site in their investigations.
There are still many questions about the Battle of Island Mound, the Tootman farm and Fort Africa. Artifacts and other evidence provide clues that help to tell the story about what really happened at this site.
Erected 2012 by Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Location. 38° 14.171′ N, 94° 26.424′ W. Marker is near Butler, Missouri, in Bates County. Marker is on Marth Road (County Road 1002) near Cooper Road (Road 5001), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is on the grounds of Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Butler MO 64730, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the Battle of Island Mound Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regimental History (about 400 feet away); The Battle of Island Mound: A Demonstration to the Nation (about 400 feet away); The Battle of Island Mound (about 400 feet away); Prairie Fire and the Battle of Island Mound (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bates County, Missouri in 1862 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Replica of the Statue of Liberty (approx. 5.6 miles away); Butler History Murals (approx. 6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Butler.
Also see . . .
1. The Battle of Island Mound. (Submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. First Kansas Colored Infantry. (Submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site. (Submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. The Civil War in Missouri. (Submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • African Americans • Patriots & Patriotism • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 704 times since then and 3 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week October 28, 2012. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 27, 2012, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.