Rosamond and Overturf Murders


In the fall of 1986, Sherri and I went to Grandma and Grandpa Nichols house to visit. Sherri had a family tree project for school that she needed to do. She was in first grade, so really it was a project for the parents to do.

In getting the information on the grandparents from Grandma Nichols, (Ina Rosamond) when we got to Noniamus Nathaniel Rosamond she told me he was murdered. Then started telling me the story. I grabbed some more paper to write it down exactly as she told it. When I started getting confused with all the Grandpa's and Grandma's I stopped her to ask questions. This is the story she told...

Yates Standridge, he was a wildcat whiskey maker, had a still out in the woods. The law had caught him 2 to 3 times. Late in the evening, there were no cars at that time, the law was on horseback, the county seat jail was 27 miles and they couldn't make it back before dark. They stayed with a family their name was Hamm (George Hamm). The law asks if they could stay all night in Lurton.

Sometime during the night, Yates got up and climbed out the window, went home in his nightclothes. The next morning he sent his wife Divinah to get his clothes and told her if she didn't bring them back he would kill her. She knew that he would because he was a mean man. Divinah went to the Rosamond Home, she asks for a place to stay. They told her she could stay at their house. When his wife didn't come back with his clothes the next morning he sent an old lady (Old Lady Savage) to see where his wife was. Old Lady Savage went to Mr. Hamm's house and went all through the house looking for Yates' wife. When she couldn't find her there she stopped at Grandpa and Grandma Rosamond's house and ask if Yates' wife Divinah was there. Old Lady Savage asks her to come out and talk to her. Old lady Savage asks Divinah to home with her but she wouldn't.

Old Lady Savage went back and told Yates that Grandpa and Grandma Rosamond had his wife handcuffed and chained to the floor.

The next morning was New Years Morning 1908. Yates came to Grandpa and Grandma Rosamond's and hid behind the smokehouse until the kids went to school. Grandpa and Grandma Rosamond had bought the house from Grandma Overturf, she hadn't moved out yet, was still staying with them. Mom didn't go to school that morning. She was staying with her Grandma. Mom went to the spring for a bucket of water. Yates followed her to the spring and ask her who all was at the house. He then told her not to follow him back or he would kill her. There was a rail fence that ran from the spring to the back of the house. When Yates got out of her sight she climbed over the fence and went to the house.

Grandpa Rosamond had owned and ran a sawmill in Lurton. That morning he was sick and didn't go to work. Yates hollowerd Hello, Grandpa thinking it was someone to see about some lumber opened the door and stepped one foot outside. Yates shot him through the leg it cut the main artery. Mom went in the back door at the same time Grandpa Rosamond was shot. He turned and shut the door and said, "He's killed me" and fell to the floor and bled to death.

The women folks were trying to see who it was. Yates could see them through some cracks in the door. When he started shooting, Divinah took her baby and hid behind a bed. He shot one shot and killed Grandma Overturf, then he shot two more shots and hit Grandma Rosamond at the elbow leaving just a little piece of skin on both sides holding her arm on. He tried busting down the door, but couldn't, he wanted in but they wouldn't let him in. So he tried to set fire to the back of the house, but it wouldn't burn. Then he tried to set fire to the roof, it was covered with shingles that were real dry and they wouldn't burn. So he went back and tried busting down the door again, he did bust down the door and went in. Grandpa was lying there with his eyes open, they hadn't had time to close them yet. Yates drawled up his gun to shot him again. Grandma Rosamond grabbed the gun. He jerked her up and down on her knees out into the yard. He told someone if she would of held on a minute longer she would of taken it away from him. So he left, the law caught up with him and he was sent to prison for possibly 20 years.

I ask Grandma why were the Rosamond's and Grandma Overturf living together? Figuring out that Flora was only 12 years old at that time, I did not think her and Fred were married yet...Martha Overturf had sold the house to the Rosamonds, she had not found a place to live yet. Flora was staying with her Grandma until her Grandma found a new house.

Arewine Yates Standridge died August 8, 1940 in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, killed in ambush by George Ellis. On January 1, 1908 Yates shot through a door and killed N N Rosamond and also Martha T. Overturf, wife of F M Overturf (parents of Rachel Overturf Taylor in Newton Co. Arkansas). He was in Jackson County Arkansas prison on the 1910 census for this killing. Searching for the facts, I did find a lot of mistakes. In almost every story that I have found on the Rosamond - Overturf murders, it states that Martha T. Overturf was Flora's Mother. Flora's mother was M. Viola Slape; Flora's father was Eli Overturf. I have found their marriage in Newton County, Arkansas. They are both buried in the Sexton Cemetery in Tarlton, Eli is right next to Viola, but the stone is crumbled. Uncle Roy and Uncle Alvin Rosamond both told me that M. Viola had died in a fire. Eli remarried Annabell Cox (name of Flora's Step mother provided by Virl Rosamond). Flora was 2 years old when her mother died. Uncle Alvin said that his mother did not get along with her step mother that is why she was staying with Grandma Overturf. I researched further and found Martha T. Overturf and found her maiden name was Blessing. I also found her husband Francis M. Overturf, they were married in Franklin County, Il., Francis M. and Martha T. are buried in the Sexton Cemetery, F M Overturf's grave must be unmarked, it is not listed but Uncle Virl told me he is also buried there. I found 2 children born in Franklin County Il., and a birth date for Rachel listed in the story above. I was not able to find a birth date for Eli.

Trying to prove that Rosalie Augusta Bennett was married prior to N N Rosamond. I was completely unable to find any facts on Rosalie beyond her father's name E. T. Bennett (provided by Jimmy Dale Rosamond.) Rose Cotner supplied me with a marriage date and location for N N Rosamond and Rosalie Bennett. It was a family story that Rosalie worked as a maid in a hotel in Chicago at the time of the Great Chicago fire 1871. I was able to verify the marriage of Rosalie A. Bennett and Nonimus N. Rosamond in the Chicago, Illinois marriage records 1850 to 1900. Rose told me that Rosalie was born in Indiana. The amount of Bennetts is Indiana is tremendous. I was not able to find a link. It is really hard when you don't have any actual names. (E. T. Bennett)

Dixon being the surname in question...Divinah's father was Rev. John Dixon. Yates Standridge was born in 1881; Rosalie had her 2nd child in 1881 with N N Rosamond. N N Rosamond and Rosalie had been married 3 years prior to his birth. By the time Yates was old enough to marry, they had all of their children. With these facts and searching several states for marriages for Rosalie Bennett. I was only able to locate the one marriage. This part of the story was just that, a story.

Court records on Yates Strandridge:

In 1906, Yates was indited for assault with intent to kill John Halley. Two witnesses were Marion Savage and W G Ketcherside. There were other witnesses. I do not have all the names. Filed the state of Arkansas, circuit court 10th July, 1906.

Between 1906 and 1908, there were other assault charges and gambling charges for Yates Standridge. I have also been told a story of how Yates was setting in the front yard of his father's house shooting at his father. When someone ask what he was doing he said he was going kill him. As for the Rosamond son shooting General Standridge, I have also been told it was Yates that shot General Standridge in his field. If it was one of the Rosamond boys that shot at Yates, I have not been able to confirm that. Uncle Frank went to Oklahoma to work in the oil fields, Uncle Ed and family soon followed him. Uncle Jim died in 1915, in a train wreck while working for the railroad. Grandpa Fred and Uncle Sam stayed in Newton County all of their lives. I don't know of any of them that left the country.

Three indictments were filed July 1908 term of the Circuit Court, Newton County, Arkansas. Murder 1st degree with malice, forethought, premeditation and deliberation of N N Rosamond - Murder 1st degree with malice, forethought, premeditation and deliberation of Martha T. Overturf - Assault with intent to kill of Rosalie Rosamond. Witnesses in all three were Flora Overturf, Elizabeth Stacey, Mrs. N N Rosamond, Dr. George Yates, Dr. T T Fowley and Dr. J. E. Blackwood...

note from Colleen Haynes Rongey:
Witness W. Ketcherside was my Grandma Woodard’s brother, Will Ketcherside. Dr. James Blackwood's grandsons, Leon and Harold Blackwood lived around Harrison, AR...they may have heard the story in the early days. I heard Uncle Will talk about the Rosamond murder when I was a child but do not remember details...

Thanks goes to Ina Rosamond's grandaughter Cindy Fluri for the above...

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