Here is a story that was written back in the 1850’s about one of our ancestors, Canada McCollough II. The area they lived in there in Iowa started being plagued with horse thefts, and finally a group of men got together and became what they called the Regulators. They were determined to rid the area of the horse thieves. One problem was, that sometimes all it took was someone’s word that you were a horse thief and the regulators would go after you without any evidence. Some men who claimed they were innocent were actually killed.
This comes from the book “Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa”.
Progressive Men of Iowa
LYNCHING OF GLEASON AND SOPER.
Canada McCollough, a near neighbor of Alonzo Page, the first victim of the regulators, was a substantial farmer and one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Cedar county. Mr. McCollough was confident that Page was entirely innocent of the accusations which cost him his life. He was outspoken in his denunciation of that cruel murder, and tried to have the guilty parties punished. The regulators waited upon him and warned him that he must keep quiet or leave the country.
McCollough was a fearless old pioneer, skilled in the use of the rifle, and a man who would defend his rights and speak his mind on all occasions. He lived in a good log house, owned a large farm and could neither be driven nor intimidated. He quietly set about preparing for defense. He had two good rifles and borrowed another of a neighbor and made portholes on the side of his house the outside door was on; and continued to express his opinion of the murderers of his neighbor. One day he saw approaching his house from the east, a large band of horsemen, all armed. He recognized among them several well-known regulators. His rifles were loaded and he stepped to the front door with one in his hand as the band halted in the road near by. He recognized the leader, a man living near Big Rock, who rode forward near the gate. McCollough ordered him to halt, and demanded to know what his gang wanted. The leader informed him that they had come to notify him that he could not be allowed to denounce them any longer, and that he must leave the country or take the consequences. McCollough told them calmly that he should defend his home to the last, that he had a right to express his opinions and should do so. That he was a law-abiding citizen, guilty of no crime, and that they knew it. He continued, “you know Mr. G. that I am a good shot; I have three good rifles here and plenty of ammunition. My family can load them as fast as I can shoot. You may be able to kill me as you did Lon Page, but I shall kill some of you first, and I shall not surrender.” Suddenly stepping back in the house, he raised his rifle, took deadly aim at the leader and said, “I will give you one minute to get out of my yard and if you attempt to raise your gun you are a dead man! You know I never miss my mark.” The leader knew the man who had the drop on him, and saw he meant what he said. He hesitated a moment, turned and rode back to his men. McCollough hastily stepped back, closed and barricaded the door and then his rifle was seen pointing from a porthole at the crowd. They consulted a while and then attempted to get him to promise that he would keep still in the future. But he stood firm for his rights as an American citizen and would make no concessions. His fearlessness convinced them that he had friends in the house who would stand by him, as they saw the muzzles of several rifles pointed from the portholes. The band now began to realize that they had determined men to deal with who could not be intimidated. They knew also that there was a large number of law abiding citizens whom they had sought to intimidate who had recently been consulting together for mutual defense and protection, and that if they got into a conflict with them it was very likely that Governor Grimes would order out the militia and arrest and severely punish them for their past transgressions. So they finally told Mr. McCollough that they would leave him now and give him time to consider the matter, and if they heard of any more denunciation from him that he must leave the country. They then rode away and never disturbed him again.