|The Fifth Funeral by Terryl W. Elliott|
While its cast is filled with many famous and infamous figures, William Warnott's story is really one that reflects both the tragedy and triumph of an American life.
His story is unique primarily due to the whims of coincidence and longevity....Otherwise, it could be the story of an ancestor belonging to any one of us!"
Growing up in Eastern Jackson County, Missouri, in the 1960's, stories about the Civil War, Order No. 11, Frank and Jesse James, William Quantrell, and others, were the norm. The war had been fought, and ended, only a hundred years previous, and just about every family we knew had a relative, an event, or a story of some kind, that related back to it all in one way or another. The stories were always exciting and, more likely than not, captured the imagination of whoever happened to be listening at the time. Thus, my love of local history and lore was born.
As a child, the stories of Frank and Jesse James were so prevalent and real, that 'the boys' as they were often referred to, felt more like family than the bushwhackers, thieves, and killers that they were made out to be. (In the circles I grew up in, they weren't viewed that way at all!) And everybody had an opinion as to whether it was really, in fact, even Jesse James that Bob Ford killed that day in ol' St. Joe. What about J. Frank Dalton? Wasn't it possible that, in reality, he really was Jesse James? Maybe Bob Ford didn't kill him after all. So many questions. So many opinions as to what could have been, and as to who was who and what was what. Like all the others, as I grew up and studied things out on my own, I had my own thoughts and formed my own opinions. But, it was this book that I'm about to tell you about that totally changed my thoughts and opinions forever.
The Fifth Funeral - A Suspicious Tale Of Bushwhackers, Outlaws And Longevity by Terryl W. Elliott is the story of William Warnott and his connections to Jesse James. Mr. Elliot (the author) first met William Warnott on October 28, 1995, when they both attended the fourth and, hopefully, final funeral and reburial of Jesse Woodson James in Kearney, Missouri. Jesse had been dug up (again) by some folks who were trying to prove, once and for all, using DNA and other modern forensic techniques, that he really was who he was supposed to be, and put all the rumors, myths, and legends to rest.
At the time of this first meeting I don't think Mr. Elliot realized what an adventure he was about to embark upon, but, as the story unfolds, it becomes quite clear that, in Mr. Warnott, Mr. Elliot, did indeed, discover a treasure trove of historical information that, quite frankly, blew this reader's socks off!
The Fifth Funeral is only 97 pages long, but oh! What a tale it tells! After their initial meeting at Jesse James' funeral in Kearney, Mr. Elliot made arrangements to visit with Mr. Warnott and his family near Holden, Missouri a few weeks later. At that meeting Mr. Elliot met with, and interviewed, Mr. Warnott, who claimed to be 119 years old at the time. The story that William Warnott tells, and Mr. Elliot unfurls in the pages of The Fifth Funeral, is both amazing and spellbinding. When it's over, it is completely up to the reader to believe Mr. Warnott's story or not, but, I, personally, believe every single word of it, and, for me, it takes all those thoughts and questions about Jesse that I've struggled with in my own heart and mind since childhood, and lays them to rest once and for all.
About The Author -
"Terryl W. Elliot is a writer, poet, and historian whose work has appeared in various local and regional publications. This is his first book. He lives in Independence, Missouri with his wife, Sharon, and their dog and cat."
A Personal Note -
I found this book through my daughter, Amanda. She works at Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site, which is right next door to the James Farm at Kearney. Amanda met Mr. Elliot when he visited Watkins Mill a while back, and, if I remember correctly, gave her a copy of The Fifth Funeral. Amanda read the book in an afternoon, aloud, to me, over Skype. It was so good that I ordered a copy of it from the Jackson County Historical Society to share with my husband and my dad. My husband devoured the book upon arrival, and my dad and I plan to spend an afternoon in which to read it through together soon. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Civil War, Missouri, Jesse James, or outlaw history.
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