War on the Harrisonville Square 1972 Part 4
I have always been fascinated, in a sort of macabre way, with this story. The reader comments and interest in the story tell me that many others share that interest as well. As I was doing the research on the story, I felt like every thread I pulled led to more threads. There were two very difficult challenges I encountered while writing this series; 1) balancing my best guess as to the truth when most of the existing information basically took a side, and 2) trying to figure out what to include and what to leave out since each installment needed to be around 1,000 words at the most. My limited experience with this blog so far is that anything over 800 words or so is “too long” and people won’t read it.
It has been very interesting to see the comments on the posts from people who were there or knew some of the key players on that fateful day in April 1972. If you have not been keeping up with the comments, I urge you to go out and read through them as many readers have provided personal stories and color that I could never provide. I have reached out and conducted phone interviews with a couple of people who have posted comments about their experiences. Again, the challenge is what to include in these blog posts and what I have to leave out.
I want to relate a story that my wife Jill and I experienced while during the writing of this series. On Saturday, April 16th, we were in Harrisonville, where I was presenting a program to the Mary Sibley Chapter of the DAR at the library. I had told Jill that after the meeting I wanted to go east to the Chilhowie area to find Charlie Simpson’s grave so I could take a picture to include in the series. I had found the location and thought that I could find it if we went out and looked. The actual cemetery where he is buried is out in the middle of nowhere, several miles down gravel roads. The kind of place where the only way you end up there if is you meant to end up there.
After first going to the wrong cemetery, we figured out my error and then arrived at the correct cemetery. The cemetery is small, maybe one hundred graves or so, and located in between several farms on a long stretch of gravel road. As I walked into the cemetery, I noticed a lone woman sitting in front of a grave. She turned and looked at us, probably wondering what anyone else was doing in this lonely spot and asked if she could help us find a grave. I responded with the gravesite I was looking for and she pointed to the grave where she had been sitting. After some more discussion, we discovered that she was the daughter of Charlie Simpson.
There is no mention in any documentation that Charlie Simpson had a daughter. After speaking with her for quite a while, we found out from this kind woman that she was adopted at birth and only found out about her biological father when she did a DNA test. The chances of us meeting this woman, in this place, at this time, have to be millions to one. There is more to this story that I hope to tell later with her permission. As we drove away, down another gravel road, Jill and I looked at each other both said, “that was a sign from above.”
With that “sign” in mind, I have decided to begin to gather information and personal accounts to see if I can put together enough stories to write a book about this tragedy and the events before and after that led to and proceeded that day in April 1972. My vision is that the book would tell the story, not only with words but with pictures and maps just like my other books. I have already spoken to a few people and hope to speak with several others who have valuable information to share about that day. I am also searching to see if I can find some of the other key individuals who might have been present in one capacity or another. I believe that there is so much more to tell about this piece of Harrisonville history that is not really captured in the accounts that exist today. The facts of the shooting are not really in doubt; however, I think there is a great deal of color that can be filled in around the edges of the events before and after that will interest the reader.
So, I’m charging ahead with this idea, and to succeed I need help. If you have a personal memory or feel like you can provide anything that might be useful in this research: personal accounts, pictures, or people that I might want to reach out to, please let me know. I will not print any story or name of anyone I speak to without their permission. I may also be reaching out to some of you who provided comments on the blog posts. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org please reach out to me at that address if you have something that you think might be pertinent to the story. I may not get back to you immediately, because it’s going to take some time just to organize myself as to how to approach this work, but I will get back to you at some point.
Assuming I do find enough information to justify a book, it will take months of research, writing, and publishing to turn this into a finished product. I’m tentatively targeting the end of this year or early next year for the book to be released if I decide to proceed with the project. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to follow my page for upcoming local history posts, as well as updates to this project. I’m also always looking for new ideas for the posts. In addition to Facebook, you can view all my posts on this website. As always, your support is greatly appreciated.