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FRENCH MILLS CEMETERY

Submitted by Michael Miller

Twnp. 32N, R5E, Sect. 15-Where E Highway turns away from river. On the old Dewey Firebaugh farm.
* Asterisk Notes An Unmarked Grave
** See notes on The Murder Of Simon Durand

NAME BIRTH DATES DEATH DATES NOTES
Durand, Simon 30 Jan. 1830 @The Parish Of Abilly,France 3 Dec 1917 Simon Durand :  1)Sarah Lovelady LaPlant  2) Claudine Chagny 24 Sep. 1902
Firebaugh, Phronia 6 Nov 1894 17 Oct 1938 D/O John T. Shoemaker & Laura King, Alma Phronia Shoemaker wed Dewey Firebaugh
Firebaugh, Roger Lee 28 Jun 1921 Dec 1978 S/O Dewey & Phronia (Shoemaker)
Frans, Clarence (Bud) 11 Aug. 1910 30 Oct 1983
Graham, Anna Lucille 24 Feb. 1928 27 Oct. 1967 D/O Noah Reed & Ertie West Anna Reed married Ralph Graham 15 July 1944
Graham, Anna L. 5 Nov. 1898 25 June 1941 D/O Saml. M. King & Mary (Young) Anna King married W.S. Graham 28 June 1918
* King, Levi Andrew April 1842 1903 S/O Saml. A. & Mary Ann (Fears)
* King, Rebecca Anne Aug. 1845 ca. June 1900 to Jan. 1903 D/O Geo. W. Young  & Sarah McClard    Rebecca Young wed Levi A. King 19 June 1863
McClelland, Robin D. 27 Jun 1963 25 Nov. 1982 D/O Carol Graham McClelland
McDowell, Anna Gladys 15 Jun. 1902 12 Jan. 1988 D/O John Francis & Sidney (Hamblen)   MD: Cecil McDowell  3 Aug. 1925
McDowell, Lee Otis 21 Jan. 1935 22 Feb. 1939 S/O Cecil & Anna G. (Francis)
McDowell, Cecil O. Rev. 13 Feb. 1906 25 Jun. 1969 S/O Jas. Wm. McDowell & Mary Emeline Young   H/O Anna Gladys Francis
Minor, Nancy W. 13 Dec. 1886 7 April 1920 D/O John T. Shoemaker Laura King   MD: Solomon Marshall Miner 8 Jan. 1905
Poor, Ed 7 May 1878 23 Oct. 1933 S/O Wm. Thomas Poor
Poor, Katherine 24 Oct. 1884 13 May 1915 D/O John Thomas Shoemaker & Laura King    Katherine Shoemaker wed Ed Poor 4 Sep. 1904
Shoemaker, John Thomas 11 Oct 1850 31 Dec. 1928 S/O John A. Shoemaker & Nancy Win Bragg
Shoemaker, Laura 16 Oct. 1855 2 Sep. 1910 D/O James Wash. King & Laurena(Williams)   Laura King wed John Thos. Shoemaker 11 Jan. 1872
Shoemaker, William 30 Dec. 1891 7 April 1918 S/O John T. & Laura (King)

 

NOTE: 5 field stones showing unmarked graves in cemetery. There is a military stone in the cemetery for Levi A. King, however this is not the same Levi A. King. The service & troop noted on the headstone are for a Levi King who served out of Springfield, MO. & whose wife’s name was NOT Rebecca, I have listed this as an UNMARKED grave.

Ed Poor was sent to prison for the murder of Grover Cleveland King, son of James Washington King & Teresa Sweazy. The case itself was chronicled in the Democrat News, & King’s widow was not indicted or sent to prison, as she claimed she had no involvement in the murder or its planning, or had any prior knowledge of a murder. She later remarried, regained her reputation, & died under tragic circumstances. Simon Durand, was born in the parish of Abilly, France, & came to America with his partner Jean LaCondemine (known as “French Jake” or “French Jack”) they settled in French Mills, & began a milling operation, as well a operating, several farms, legal stills, & hauling, etc. to make money. Simon amassed quite a fortune in his time, & at the time of his death was worth over $60,000.00, which is quite a bit of money, bonds, in Mexico, Canada, Australia, plus cash worth, that was known to no one but the old man. He was small in stature according to descriptions of those who did know & remember him, of which several I was able to interview, standing about 5 feet 6 inches, dirty matted grey hair & beard, & layered clothing, unkempt, tight, sharp as a fox about money, & was possessed of prodigious strength, my great grandfather, Eli Minor, could recall him, picking up a 50 gallon barrel of whiskey, drinking from a bung hole in the barrel & never spilling a drop. 

Simon became the common law husband of Sarah Lovelady LaPlant, widow of John Joseph LaPlant & mother of John M. LaPlant, she bore Durand a son, whom they named Candide. Later after Sarah’s death, Candide was adopted by Simon & made his legal heir & natural son, & was also murdered.

John LaPlant was also like a son to Simon, & he grew to manhood & married Mary Lucinda King, daughter of Rev. Saml M. King Sr. & Polly Stephens. Sometime during the mid to late 1910’s Simon & John fell apart due to Mary demanding that Simon pay a long standing bill he owed them, way over 1000.00, Simon refused, & John & he parted which he was to regret. It put him in the hands of individuals who meant him no good, they slowly began their plans of poisoning the old man, locking him up away from everyone & steal his money. His cash on hand was his biggest asset. Most of it was never entered into his estate, as his captors stole it, the one reason they were never indicted for murder was the fact that one of the conspirators was the sheriff of Madison County. 

Simon died on 3 Dec. 1917, without an autopsy being preformed or a death certificate being filed, he was laid to rest in the French Mills Cemetery. The probate court judge suspected something & ordered his executors to turn over a box of bonds, etc. that had not been accounted for. They were also ordered to purchase a monument to mark his grave, a rather large one, costing at the time about $500.00

Many the tale has been told of Simon’s lost gold, the money that was never found. I knew one person who actually saw his gold & the horns of plenty he kept them in & it was my great grandmother, Birdie LaPlant Minor, who often repeated this remark he said to her “Birdie, when I die they will never find, HALF of my gold.”

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