A shootout on the night of September 16, 1922, in Enon (Boone County), a sprawling, unincorporated area located east of Omaha (Boone County), left four people dead. The event known as the Enon Massacre sparked a running feud for generations to come. Although some have suggested that the Enon Massacre was the result of two groups of bootleggers in Boone County fighting over territory, most believe that the murders stemmed more from a long-running feud between various families in the area.
The events that led to this gun battle started when twenty-nine-year-old Ebenezer (Eb) Badley (referred to in some newspaper accounts as “Ed Dadley”) rode to a dance near his home in Enon with his best friend, twenty-two-year-old Henry Blevins, and Henry’s fiancée, sixteen-year-old Rosetta (Ettie) Creekmore. Eb Badley had the reputation of being a dangerous man, attributed by some to the deaths of his two children and his wife and then the horrors he experienced in the trenches of France during World War I.
In 1917, upon returning from the war, Eb Badley began courting sixteen-year-old Georgia Huffman, whose parents did not approve of the relationship. In the spring of 1920, Huffman became pregnant, and her father threatened to kill Badley, so he stayed away. Georgia and Eb continued to write to each other and see each other on occasion. When their son was born, Georgia named him Utah Carroll Huffman, and in the summer of 1922, Badley visited Georgia and their baby at the Huffman farm. As Eb approached the homestead, Georgia ran out and used her body to shield Eb from her father’s shotgun so Eb could see his son without getting killed.
During the summer of 1922, Badley was also seeing seventeen-year-old Julia Scott. The Scotts were a large, poor family, mostly men, with the reputation for being mean, running moonshine and, in general, staying on the wrong side of the law. In July 1922, approximately two months before the Enon Massacre, Julia Scott told Badley and her family that she was pregnant. Julia, in a 1984 interview, admitted that she was never pregnant but used pregnancy as an excuse to force Badley to marry her, and Badley knew that the Scott brothers would kill him if he did not marry Julia.
Bad blood already existed between Eb Badley and Frank “Boss” Scott, Julia’s oldest brother. Boss Scott and his brother Sam had been accused of burning down the barn of Frank Badley, Eb’s brother. And Boss was shot in the leg during the winter of 1921, possibly in retaliation for the barn burning. While it was generally believed that Henry Blevins shot him, he was never charged and it was never proven.
By September 1922, Eb decided to marry Georgia and leave Boone County with her and Utah, making a new life somewhere else. But the Scott brothers were looking for any excuse to kill Eb, believing that he had brought shame to their sister. On Friday, September 21, 1922, Eb went to the Cricket Canning Factory where Georgia was working and asked her to run away with him. Eb told Georgia to meet him at the Cricket Train Depot on Sunday, September 23, and they would catch the train to Crane, Missouri, while her parents were at church, and be married there. On Saturday, September 22, Eb went to Omaha, the local trade center, to get money from the bank to leave town with Georgia. Boss Scott was in town and discovered what Eb Badley was doing.
That evening Badley met Blevins and Creekmore as they headed to Calvin Roberts’s home, in Enon, for a wedding and a dance, and they talked Badley into going along. When he arrived at the dance, he immediately latched on to Julia Scott for the evening, planning on taking her home one last time before leaving town with Georgia the next morning. The Daily Times of Harrison (Boone County) noted, “There had been a liberal supply of liquor at the wedding,” even though this was during the time of Prohibition. David, James, and Boss Scott were not willing for their sister to be humiliated again by Badley. Boss encouraged his two younger brothers to do something about the situation. James and David walked up to Eb and Julia with their guns raised, and James said, “You may leave with her, but you’ll never get home with her.” Blevins heard the commotion and shot out the lights, sending the room into darkness. In the confusion, the Scott brothers dove through a window followed by several shots from Badley’s pistol.
The fight broke up the dance, and everyone headed home. Eb Badley, Julia Scott, Henry Blevins, and Ettie Creekmore left together, walking down the road toward Badley’s house, which was about a mile away. They were leading their horses rather than riding them so they could open and shut gates. About a quarter of a mile from the dance, James and David Scott were waiting in ambush.
Badley and Blevins were shot multiple times and died immediately. Ettie Creekmore was shot in the head and died eight days later. Julia Scott escaped unharmed.
The next morning, Julia, David, and James were found in their family home. Nineteen-year-old David had a bullet hole in his stomach and lay dying in bed. He confessed to all the killings, saying he acted alone and accidentally shot himself as he holstered his shoulder pistol. He died a few days later. Julia said nothing that day.
Boss Scott fled Enon and headed for California, eventually dying in a barroom shootout in Kansas City ten years later. First-degree murder charges were filed against David and James Scott, but David had died before he could be taken into custody. This left only Julia and fifteen-year-old James Scott to tell the story of what occurred that night.
James Scott was given a preliminary trial in which Julia Scott testified that “it was not my brothers” who ambushed the group. She also testified that she did not know who did ambush them because she “took to the woods…and about ten minutes elapsed before she returned to the scene.” James Scott claimed, “I’m as innocent as a new-born babe!” Scott was released on a $7,500 bond and returned to court in January 1927 when the judge came to Boone County; however, all charges against Scott were dropped due to lack of evidence. He was never tried for the murders.
The feuding and mistrust between the Badleys, Creekmores, and Blevinses on one side and the Scotts on the other were to be passed on for several generations. In the days that followed the shootings, vengeance was sworn against James Scott by the Badleys and Creekmores. Two years later, James and Julia Scott attended another dance at Enon. As the two rode home on the same horse, an unknown assassin shot Julia in the leg in an attempt to kill James. Several weeks later, James would survive a final murder attempt. He lived the rest of his life as an outcast in the Enon community.
Although Julia Scott eventually consented to an interview in 1984, sixty-two years had passed since the massacre, and faded memories and growing legends contributed to making her testimony questionable.
Events like the Enon Massacre were not uncommon in rural counties of Arkansas during the era of Prohibition, and, like with many violent actions of the time, there was no real resolution. One lasting legacy from the Enon Massacre was a prohibition on dancing that was passed by Enon residents, who blamed liquor and dancing for the events of September 16, 1922.
For additional information:
“2 Killed and 2 near Death in Shooting.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), September 18, 1922, p. 1.
“Brothers Are Charged with Two Murders.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), September 19, 1922, p. 1.
“Circuit Court Starts Monday.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), January 3, 1923, p. 1.
“Four Deaths in Omaha Affray.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), September 26, 1922, p. 1.
“Murder Trial Is Held Today.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), September 24, 1922, p. 1.
“Wounded Girl Believed Better.” Daily Times (Harrison, Arkansas), September 20, 1922, p. 1.
LeMasters’ Antique News Service
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