Though most feuds in the Old
West seemed to be centered on land and water rights, the
Tutt-Everett War, also referred to as the King-Everett War and the Marion County
War was born of politics. Starting with political ambition, the feud raged from
1844-1850, with increasing violent confrontations and in the end, taking the
lives of some 14 people.
legislature created Marion County in 1836, and virtually from the beginning the
Tutts, who were associated with the Whig Party, and the Everetts, part of the
Democratic Party, were at odds. The two sides repeatedly clashed as they
competed for electoral offices and control of the county.
When the county was formed,
the Everetts were already living in the county and controlling the vast majority
of the law and authority in the area. The family, originally from Kentucky, was
composed of a family of tall and powerful men, including John, Cimmeron "Sim,"
Jesse, and Bart.
In the meantime, the Tutts, who
lived in Searcy County and controlled most of the area politics, were not
necessarily pleased when portions of the county were given over to provide for
the "new” Marion County.
The Tutts, originally from
Tennessee, settled in the community of St. Joe. Headed by father, R.B. Tutt,
who had three sons, Ben, Hansford "Hamp," and David Casey, the family were known
as gamblers, horse racers, and having a fondness for drinking and fighting. Hamp
owned a grocery store and saloon, the only public house in the county, which was
a popular spot for the whiskey drinkers of the region.
Also living in the area were
the King family, comprised of brothers "Old Billy,” James, Hosea, and Solomon.
Though the brothers never got caught up in the feud, Billy’s and Hosea’s sons
did, including Billy’s offspring, Jack, Loomis, and Dick; Hosea’s sons, Bill and
Tom, who was one of those feisty dogs among men. James had no children. Whig
promoters, the Kings quickly aligned themselves with the Tutts. Voter preference
had little to do with the ideas of either party, but more about what a person
could get away with if "their man” was in office. As a result, elections quickly
At the time, there were
approximately 300 voters in the county, and in no time, most every resident had
aligned itself with one side or the other, in contests that led to increasingly
violent confrontations. In the midst of rising
tensions, a public debate was held in the town of Yellville in June, 1844, which
soon erupted into a violent brawl among the spectators. It was this event that
started what became known as the Tutt-Everett War. Not using guns in this
particular fight, the participants used their fists, rocks, and anything else
they could get their hands on. Only after one of the Tutt followers, a man named
Alfred Burnes, struck "Sim” Everett in the head with a hoe and thinking he
killed him, did the melee settle down. As Sim lay prone, Burnes made a quick
retreat. Though there was plenty of bloodshed during the frenzy, Sim was not
killed and there were no serious injuries. However, afterwards, both sides began
to always walk around armed, and a series of lawsuits began that would last for
Periodically, gunplay and alcohol-fueled fist fights became the
norm, further increasing the ill will of the county. The feud came to a head
on October 9, 1848 when a shootout erupted before a town meeting in
Yellville. When the smoke cleared, several men were dead, including Sim
Everett. Two days later, the Everetts and their supporters ambushed the
Kings, killing "Old Billy, and his son, Lumus. Young Billy King and another
man, who went by the nickname of "Cherokee Bob,” were seriously wounded but
were still able to escape.
By the following summer,
things were getting so out of control that the current sheriff, Jesse
Mooney, who was not affiliated with either one of the feuding factions,
planned on "laying down the law.”
On July 4, 1849, he and
Constable Adams deputized several men, making plans to "clean up the county.”
In the meantime,
the Tutt faction was gathering in the saloon, and the Everetts and their
supporters were taking cover behind a building across the street. Before
Mooney even got a chance to finish with the newly "deputized” citizens, a
gunfight erupted that lasted the entire afternoon. Even after all the
ammunition was exhausted, the two factions continued to fight, using sticks,
bricks, rocks, knives, and anything else that could do harm.