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The Story of Soldier Jones at the Adair County Fairgrounds

An all time favorite story: The time Soldier Jones shot the city judge in his buttock
at the Haig Bros. Circus at the AdairCo. Fairgrounds

This story was posted on CM on 2008-05-30 07:45:06-EW

A Story Told by Ol' Joe Barbee

Joe L. Barbee says that a higher number of characters is what sets this county above all other places on earth.
One of the characters who put Adair County on that high plateau waswas known as "Soldier" Jones.

Coming of age, Joe says, Soldier Jones was his hero, though his idol wasn't promoted as such in Barbee circles. Quite the opposite. In fact, all his family members used to warn him, after his own youthfulescapades, Joe says., "You'd better watch it," They'd tell him. "You keep on, you're going to turn out just like Soldier Jones. Straighten up," they'd warn. Or he, Joe, might amount to nothing.

But he got to noticing that the fellow his family always talked aboutat get togethers was Soldier Jones. It didn't seem like such a bad thing to turn out that way, and he spent at least a little time thinking in that direction.

When the shooting happened, the circus was in town

As titled above, and to get back on track, this story is about thetime when Soldier Jones shot Judge Philetus Dunbar in the ass at the Adair County Fairgrounds.

Haig Brothers Circus was in town, Ol' Joe says, and Soldier and some fellows sneaked into the fairgrounds and hid under the bleachers,planning to spread out later through the crowd and see the show for free.

Soldier and his friends were passing the time telling stories,drinking a little whisky, and playing with an Owl Head pistol. While Soldier had the gun, it accidentally went off, grazing Judge Dunbar, who was seated above in the bleachers, on his buttock.

The police arrested all the boys and took them to jail, where they spent the night.

The next morning, Ol' Joe says, they were all hauled into the courtroom to appear before the Judge, the same one who been wounded the night before.

They were all hung over, some nearly having the "DDT's." They were dishevelled, all in all a pretty scroungy looking lot after sleeping in their street clothes on a jail bunk all night..

The judge tried to maintain dignity, even though the wound to the buttocks made his sitting skittish.

One by one he looked at the miscreants and told them each how sorry they were, what a great chance they had all had in life, how they had disgraced their prominent families. He asked them each what they had to say for themselves.

They all stood there ashamed before the bar of justice, with Soldier feeling lowest. When his turn came and the Judge got to Soldier, he said, "Now, Mr. Jones, what do you have to say for yourself?"

Great tears were streaming down a contrite Soldier Jones face when he answered. "Judge, it seems like anymore you can't have any fun at all around here without somebody getting shot in the ass."

John Steinbeck wrote some pretty good stories. You just have to wonder, though, how good he might have been if he'd lived in Adair County, and known fellows like Soldier Jones. And you wonder too, how many Pulitzer prizes and Academy Awards Ol' Joe would have won if he'd turned into a writer, instead of turning out the way he has. -EW

This story was posted on 2012-07-08 07:38:43
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