The Death of Billie Demint

Oct 17, 2012

It seems like Almost Yesterday that workers for the Rural Electrical Association were digging a hole to place a light pole for the extension of electricity into northern Dunklin County. Close to Highway WW, the workmen reported hitting a human skeleton. Inquiries were made and local residents concluded that the remains must be those of Billie Demint, a young victim of the Civil War.

Stories and legends in Dunklin County identify young Billie as the son of a farmer and grist mill owner who lived on Crowley’s Ridge, approximately three miles northeast of present day Malden, Missouri.

Young Billie’s father had apparently offended a member of one of the guerilla bands that terrorized the countryside in the midst of the Civil War. When Mr. Demint heard that the marauders were back in the area he moved his family south for safety.

In their haste to move, the family could not locate all of their livestock, and Billie was sent back to the area to see if he could locate their animals, especially a favorite milk cow.

On his second day in the area, Billie was discovered by the guerillas who demanded to know the location of his father. Billie, described as small, frail, and with only one eye, stood tall and refused to provide any information.

The very next day, in November of 1863, residents of the area found Billie’s body hanging from the limb of a plum tree on Beechwell Hill. A simple grave was dug and Billie was buried beneath the hanging tree, without casket or ceremony.

A small fence was erected, but the tree died, the fence fell down, and the site was lost to nature. The discovery by the R.E.A. workers in the spring of 1940 gave new life to this heroic, but sad story from our past.