Elijah Breeding

Elijah Breeding

From the Ozark County Times 14 March, 1902.

Elijah Breeding killed while engaged in an altercation of some kind at 
the home of George Tate, seven miles southwest of town.  Lige 
Breeding was killed last Friday afternoon.  George Tate admits that he 
fired the shot that tore Breedings head into fragments and produced 
instant death.  Tate immediately came to town and surrendered himself 
to the authorities.  The witnesses to the affair were Wash Webster and 
Jesse Lantz, who’s version of the case materially that told by Tate 
about as follows:

Breeding owed Lantz for some tobacco and began unable to agree on the 
amount had gone to Tate to see if he remembered the amount and enable 
them to make a settlement.  All were in good spirits and proceeded to 
enhance their good humor by partaking of a jug of whiskey which Tate 
had in the house.  Shortly after arrival of Breeding and Lantz, Wash 
Webster, Breeding’s father-in-law rode up.  It seems that Breeding and 
Wash were on the outs and soon engaged in an altercation in which it 
is alleged that Breeding knocked Webster down and tried to out him 
with a knife.  Lantz and Tate attempted to stop the fight.  Lantz had 
hold of Breedings arm trying to prevent him using the knife.  Tate 
seized an double barreled shotgun loaded with turkey shot and fired 
the contents at the side of Breedings head.  The entire top of 
Breeding’s skull was torn away which with blood and brains were 
scattered over the room.  Tate threw the gun on the bed and announced 
he was going to Gainsville to surrender.  Lantz and Webster closed the 
house and left.  At this place comes one of the most complicated 
feature of the case.  Breeding was a man of means and on the day of 
his death was out buying cattle.  His wife says he left home in the 
morning with about $200.  He had spent a few dollars and when the body 
was searched the wallet which had contained the money was found 
protruding from the pocket empty.  Lantz says he had extracted the 
wallet a few minutes before the shot was fired and it contained 
bills.  It is impossible at the present writing to entirely unravel 
the mystery.  

Breeding was about 35 or 40 years of age and leaves a family.  Tate is 
about 55 or 60 and had just recently married.

Lige and Margaret Breeding

About 1901 Lige and Margaret planned to move to Oklahoma but in 
October of that year Delphia, their second child, was born leaving 
Margaret ill with milkleg.  Sine the move to Oklahoma had to be 
postponed, Lige continued buying and selling calves.  In March of 1902 
Lige was told of calves for sale by Ike Lantz who lived about three 
miles away.  The morning that Lige left to see about Ike Lantz’s 
calves was the last time Margaret ever saw Lige alive.  He said “Good 
bye,” as he walked out the door.  Supposedly Wash Webster and Lige 
Breeding got into an argument at Ike Lantz’s house.  When Lige had Was 
down with a knife to his throat, George Tate shot Lige with a double 
barreled shotgun in the back of the head.  This story was never 
believed by Lige’s family.

The family always felt there was a conspiracy.  The day of the 
shooting Margaret saw Lige take one of a pair of  44 cal. Pistols from 
where they hung on the headboard of the bed and place the holstered 
gun under his jacket.  This was standard practice in those days when a 
person was going to carry money and Lige did have money to buy 
calves.  Thus if Lige really wanted to kill Wash Webster, there was no 
reason to pull a knife when a pistol was handier.  Another point 
concerned the shotgun.  Why was it loaded and leaning against the wall 
when normally guns were empty and put away when not in use?  And the 
third point concerned the money that Lige carried, money that was 
never found.  It was thought, by Lige’s family, that the money was 
given to silence Ike Lantz, the man who was duped into being the host 
for the event.

Margaret overcame her illness in the weeks ahead.  But relationships 
with her father were severed permanently.

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