The Officer Down Memorial Page at www.odmp.org is an interesting website devoted to a worthwhile purpose: commemorating law officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Like a lot of stuff that gets put on the Internet, however, some of the information on the website is inaccurate.

The Officer Down Memorial Page at www.odmp.org is an interesting website devoted to a worthwhile purpose: commemorating law officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Like a lot of stuff that gets put on the Internet, however, some of the information on the website is inaccurate.
Take the example of Sheriff Bertie Brixey of Webster County, Missouri. The Officer Down Memorial Page says Brixey was killed by his best friend in November of 1914 and that the killer was later lynched by a mob in Marshfield. Brixey was indeed killed in November of 1914, but the more sensational details are not true.
Here’s the real story.
A man hired a buggy and team at Marshfield on Saturday, November 21, 1914, and drove to Niangua, where both buggy and team disappeared after he hitched them to a rail. Returning to Marshfield, he reported the incident to Sheriff Brixey, and the lawman set out the next morning for Niangua to try to determine who had taken the rig.
The sheriff suspected Edgar Bartlett of having knowledge pertaining to the buggy and team, and he aggressively questioned the young man, even striking him about the face. Despite the rough treatment, Bartlett said he knew nothing about the disappearance of the rig. Brixey called Bartlett a liar but let him go.
Bartlett went to a judge’s home to try to get a warrant for Brixey’s arrest, but the judge wasn’t home. Accosting Bartlett again in the judge’s backyard, Brixey accused Bartlett of having a concealed weapon and demanded he hand it over. Bartlett denied having a gun. When the sheriff made a move toward Bartlett, the young man bolted through the judge’s house and ran to his own house nearby with Brixey in pursuit.
Inside his house, Bartlett armed himself with a shotgun and confronted the lawman as he approached the door with his revolver drawn. He ordered Brixey to halt, but the sheriff started to enter the home. Bartlett fired, and the sheriff fell dead.
    Later the same day, Bartlett was arrested by a deputy and taken by train back to Marshfield, where an angry crowd of Brixey’s friends had started to form. The train stopped at the depot, but fearing mob action, the deputy continued to Springfield and lodged his prisoner in the Greene County Jail for safekeeping.
    Bartlett was tried for murder in the Webster County in January of 1915. He pleaded not guilty by reason of self-defense. His lawyers sought to show that Brixey was the aggressor in his dealings with Bartlett and that he had been drinking on the day of his death. Several defense witnesses testified to these facts, and even state witnesses largely confirmed them upon cross-examination. In addition, one defense witness testified that Brixey had also tried to pick a fight with him on the same day he’d accosted Bartlett.
    The jury initially split eleven for acquittal and one for conviction before reaching a unanimous verdict in favor of acquittal.
    Not quite the sensational tale the Officer Down Memorial Page makes it out to be. The murder of a sheriff by his best friend and the subsequent lynching of the killer is a story I would like to have written. Alas, the truth doesn't make nearly as good a yarn.
                        *****
    Larry Wood is a freelance writer specializing in the history of Missouri and the Ozarks. You may contact him at larryewood@mail.com or like his author Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLarryWood/.