In December I wrote about the old Kansas City Southern Railroad depot in Neosho, which was near where the Twin Rivers Foods plant is north of the square.

In December I wrote about the old Kansas City Southern Railroad depot in Neosho, which was near where the Twin Rivers Foods plant is north of the square.
An interesting side note to that story is an armed robbery that took place there in the early 1930s. I had read of the KCS depot robbery in local history books, but it was Bill Crowe who told me it was his father, William Crowe, who was the railroad agent robbed and shot that night. I knew that name from the books, and I also know Bill, but I never made the connection.
On the evening of Sept. 13, 1933, William Crowe, who was the night operator, was working at the depot when in walked a fellow by the name of T.J. Huffman. Crowe may have known Huffman because the latter lived and worked in Neosho for about three years before moving away a couple of years prior to that fateful night. He had been back in Neosho only a few weeks.
Huffman stuck the muzzle of a pistol against Crowe’s back and demanded money. He swiped about $13 and marched Crowe onto the north platform. Bill told me his dad thought Huffman may have intended to kill him.
According to Bill, Crowe turned around and punched Huffman, who shot him. Bill said it was three shots, the newspaper accounts from the time say two, but both agree that Crowe was shot in the throat and in the right arm.
Huffman ran off as a bleeding Crowe stumbled to the closest grocery, from where the police, and I presume an ambulance, were called.
Huffman was caught in Joplin 10 days later, charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon and hauled back to Neosho. His trial started less than a month later.
According to the Neosho Times, Huffman refused legal counsel before the trial. He said his attorney was involved in another trial in Oklahoma City and would be there to defend him.
The proceeding was postponed, but Huffman’s lawyer didn’t show, so the trial went on, with Huffman refusing other legal counsel. Here’s my advice, folks: Get a lawyer.
Huffman was sentenced to 55 years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. He was 32 years old. He had a wife and a 9-year-old daughter.
The newspaper said he also had a father in Kansas. Bill Crowe told me Huffman had a mother, as well, because in an act of forgiveness, William Crowe sent her money through the years while in prison. It may have been the wife, too, I suppose.
As to Huffman, I wrote to the Missouri State Archives about him. I found out he was paroled March 20, 1942, after serving less than nine years of his 55-year-sentence.
I don’t know what happened to him after that. I haven’t searched too deeply into it. I did find a deceased person whose name and birth year matches up buried in a neighboring state; however, I would not presume it was the same person for fear of slandering an innocent man.
William Crowe recovered from his wounds, though he carried the visible, and perhaps invisible, scars until his eventual death in 1990, almost 57 years later.

Wes Franklin writes a weekly column.