Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oady Bates, son of Thomas J. and Flora Bates

Oady Bates was the third son of Thomas Jefferson and Flora Snow Bates. He was born in Sebastian County, Arkansas, on 27 Sep 1901. He is on the far left in the picture above, with brothers Bon, on the right, and Monte. This picture was taken after the family had moved, by train, from Arkansas to Oregon. Oady was about 4 years old in the picture.

After his father died in 1911, Oady eventually ended up living with his half-brother, James Ragan Bates, in Riddle, Douglas County, Oregon. James was the son of Thomas J. and Susan Pearson Bates. James ran a farm near Riddle. Oady worked on the farm with him. This is a picture of Oady on a horse, with Ralph, Byron and Emery.

Tragedy struck when Oady was 18 years old. The details from this incident can be found in the Douglas County Court Records. Ethel Mae Kinkade sent me the transcript of the inquest, along with an article from the May 11, 1920, Roseburg Review. I have added a bit from a letter that Monte sent to my father, James W. Bates, much later.

Oady entered into an trade agreement with Arthur Thompson. Oady owned a horse, which he traded to Mr. Thompson for a Holstein cow. Mr. Thompson reported that he was assured the horse was in good condition. However, after the trade, he was disappointing with the horse. Failing to reach an agreement to return the horse for the cow, he took the horse back and tied it in the field. The following is an excerpt from the newspaper describing testimony given in the inquest.

Roseburg Review, May 25, 1920.


Arthur Thompson Puts Up Pleas for Self Defense For Killing Odie Bates.


Both the Prosecution and Defense Examine Witnesses in Case Which is Being Heard Before a Large Crowd in Local Court.

With the courtroom crowded, the trial of Arthur James Thompson of Riddle, accused of the murder of Odie Bates, also of that place, progressed rapidly today. The jury completed late yesterday and after brief opening statements the prosecution opened its testimony.

The story as brought out on the witness stand briefly is that Thompson and Bates negotiated a trade, a horse being exchanged by the latter for the former's cow. Both men were employed on the same section gang and agreed upon the trade while at work. The horse was represented, it was said as a good animal and one which would be of value to Mr. Thompson on his small farm. After the trade was completed Thompson found the horse to be in poor condition and decided to return it. Witnesses testified that Thompson endeavored to obtain a return of the cow but failing to do this went to the Bates home and took the cow out of the pasture, leaving the horse in its place. As he was leading the cow away, Odie Bates rushed from the house, climbed the fence and endeavored to stop him from taking the cow away. They engaged in an altercation in which Bates is said to have attacked Thompson. The latter pulled out a knife and stabbed his opponent under the heart with fatal results. Bates was not killed immediately but walked back to where his uncle, Jim Bates, was standing and died while on his way to the house.

Thompson went on to his home and did not know that he had killed Bates until he was placed under arrest. He was indicted by the grand jury on a charge of second degree murder ...

... Mr. and Mrs. Jim Bates and Mrs. Tom Sims were witnesses of the fight and all testified that Bates struck first. Mrs. Sims saying that Thompson was knocked down once. An intervening rose bush hid the battlers from the sight at the time the stabbing took place and no details of this were given.

During the trial, Thompson took the stand. He said he agreed to trade the cow for the horse if it was not balky. The prosecutor asked him how he came to know the horse was balky. Thompson reported that "she stopped going up a little hill with with me. Uhlam told me that he had seen her balk and Mrs. Nichols said she would do to drive but not to pull a load.

The following is Thompson's testimony.

Question - Did you have any words before this stabbing took place?
Thompson - I talked to him and he would not do anything down here.
Q - How came you to resort to force?
T - He saw me on the road and came the other way and headed me off. I told him to go back and tried to keep him off of me with my knife. He knocked my hat off and when he when he started to hit me again I made a pass at his arm and he was closer than I thought he was.
Q - Did he hit you first?
T - Yes, He knocked my hat off.
Q - Did it hurt you?
T - It blinded me- made me a little blind.
Q - You had your knife open?
T - When he cursed me I opened my knife.
Q - Was that before or after you opened your knife?
T - He cursed me before and after both.
Q - Did you know there was a legal way of getting the cow?
T - I did not know whether there was or not.

Mrs. Sims testified that she was about 50 yards from Thompson when the altercation took place. There was a fence and a rosebush between them. She testified that Oady jumped the fence and said "this is my cow." The next thing she heard was Oady say, "I'm stuck." Mrs. Sims ran to him and she asked what kind of knife it was. Oady said it was a pocket knife. She reported that Thompson left leading the cow. Oady died 15 minutes later.

The rest of the story comes from a letter from Monte, Oady's brother, sent to my father.

Bleeding badly, Oady stumbled home. Monte screamed for help when he saw him coming. Jim's wife, Victoria Parrish Bates, ran to his aid. Oady fell into his arms and died moments later.

The Roseburg News-Review, on May 27, 1920, reported the following:

"Arthur James Thompson was last night acquitted of the charge of murder, and his plea of self-defense sustained by the jury, which deliberated only a few moments."

This was another moment of tragedy for the family. James was the only one left of TJ's first family. TJ had died, and Flora suffered greatly from Oady's death.

Thanks, again, to Ethel Mae for providing copies of the newspaper articles and the inquest.


  1. Oh.My.Goodness! That's awful!

  2. Wow Bill! I just love reading all this history. That is so sad how he died. Made me stop and think that sometimes things aren't worth arguing over. I will be back to see what else you post! You do such a good job!

  3. You have really been busy. I loved reading all these articles. I need to check here more often.

    I guess what I learned from Oady's death is that we should be honest in all our dealings with our fellow men. When we know we have wronged someone we should make it right. Oady should have willingly returned to cow. When you are in the wrong don't strike out against the person wronged. It may cost you your life like it did Oady's. That was a sad lesson for him to learn. Had he been honest he would probably have enjoyed a long, productive life.