Freaky Friday’s ~  Once Upon A Murder

Freaky-Fridays-logo1-optimisedIn the early morning hours of Sunday, July 13, 1930, 21-year-old Virgil Bullard and his 3 brother-in-laws began a trip into town. Lexington Missouri was about 4 miles southwest of the farm they lived on. Traveling down the dirt road they soon passed by one of their neighbors’ farm and the owner, Irvan Menaugh came out to the road and stopped them. A few days earlier Virgil had borrowed a team of mules with a threshing outfit from Irvan. Along with the mules he also borrowed some new collars for a span of mules. He had returned them all the day before. Standing by the large wagon, Irvan began to accuse Virgil of swapping the new collars and harnesses with some old ones. Virgil stated that he had left the new collars in the wagon when he returned them all. “No, you didn’t,” Manaugh said. “There were two old collars in place of them, and besides you called my wife a b—- and I am going to kill you!” Irvan then pulled out his gun and fired one shot from the .38 caliber revolver. The bullet struck Virgil, penetrating the skull above his right eye. The 3 other men in the wagon, Mitchell Lee Willard aged 32, Leonard Hughes aged 17 and Douglas Hughes (my Dad) aged 15 tried to get Virgil into town to the Doctors as quickly as possible The Doctor tried to save him but he died a short time later.

It took the police 7 hours of hunting the Menaugh farm and the surrounding area to locate Irvan. They found him hiding in some bushes on his property. He was immediately arrested and was held on the charge of first-degree murder.

According to family stories, Charley Hughes, the father of 20-year-old Nellie Hughes Bullard, went down to the courthouse in Lexington with his shotgun and tried to get into the jail to kill Irvan. He was very distraught as Virgil had not only left behind a young wife but she was also pregnant. Because Charley was a well known and respected Horse and mule breeder and Horse Trainer in Lafayette County he was not arrested for his actions. Irvan Menaugh was found not guilty and was released.

This was a horrific event in our family history. All of my dad’s family disliked the Menaughs because of this. Not quite the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, but the feud still rages on today.

About 10 years ago I met a cousin named Cathy from my mothers’ side. I was put in Lexington MO Signtouch with her about a month before my husband and I made a trip to Missouri. She was almost as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. Because of the very strained relation I always had with my mother, I had spent the first 11 years of my Genealogy journey only researching my dad’s side of the family. When we met, Cathy gave me a packet of the research she had on the McGowan side of the family. We had such a full schedule while in Missouri and a 36-hour drive back to Arizona, I didn’t have time to look at the information until after I got home.

Virgil DCImagine my surprise when I was entering all the information I had received into my Smith/McGowan tree and when I got to my cousins’ immediate family I came across the name Menaugh! Cathy’s mom had married the son of Irvan Menaugh after the death of her husband. Cathy had never heard this story so I emailed her the newspaper article. We both agreed that the fact that her step-grandfather had murdered my aunt’s husband was indeed quite FREAKY!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


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