Society of the Old West

From early westward expansion through the early 20th Century.


There was absolutely nothing good about Alf Bolin. During the Civil War in Taney and Ozark Counties in southern Missouri, he was the cruelest man alive. He robbed and killed without mercy, anybody that got near him or stood in his way. Old timers said he was the meanest, ugliest looking man south of the north pole. He lived by no law other than his own, and he died at the wrong end of cold steel after terrorizing the local hill folk and any luckless traveler he happened upon. But a legend of stolen silver still hidden somewhere within the boundaries of Branson Creek, and the ghost who guards it, is tantalizing. Rather like the thief himself, it's a legend that will not be ignored. As shadowy in life as he remains in death, Alf Bolin was a terror of hill country settlers and travelers alike, stealing and rampaging and murdering with impunity along the old Springfield-Harrison road. Very little is known of Bolin and his sister, who may have been orphans scrounging a life out of the hard country near Spokane, Missouri.

When the war of northern aggression drew most of the local men off to war, Bolin stayed behind and harassed women, children, and old men for sport, extorting money, food, and horses from them at will. Bolin and his gang are said to have killed as many as 14 people in their hunting grounds that ranged from Forsyth, Missouri to northern Arkansas, land that is today home of Branson Creek's peaceful developments, and it is in dubious thanks to Alf Bolin and his murderous gang that the stony outcroppings there came to be called Murder Rocks. Two of Bolin's victims, Union soldiers returning from furlough, were ambushed, murdered, and are said to be buried there.

While Bolin relieved many a traveler of his money and best saddle horse, the most intriguing part of his ghostly tale is perhaps buried somewhere in the hills at Murder Rock itself. It seems that the Rebels were smuggling silver bullion from the North through these sparsely populated hills and on into the Arkansas Delta where it could then be sent to the Seat of the Confederacy to finance the terrible war. Alf Bolin and his gang, estimated to be as many as 20 of them, bushwhacked the convoy and made off with a large sum.
Though Union soldiers were sent to capture the outlaw, Bolin and his band were hard riders and good woodsmen and the bandit eluded every attempt to capture him. Finally, the soldiers devised a plan to trap him instead. Held captive by the Union was a Southern soldier by the name of Foster who was from Bolin’s area. His wife, living near the Arkansas-Missouri state line about three miles south of Murder Rocks, was approached by the Union soldiers. If she would help to capture the outlaw, the Union soldiers would release her husband. Though a dangerous plan for Mrs. Foster, she agreed.

A union soldier by the name of Thomas, pretending to be a sick Confederate soldier, stayed at the Foster home for several days. As was Bolin’s practice when he was in the area, he often took his meals at the Foster home. Finally, Bolin came to the house alone for his dinner and Thomas upstairs, made a noise. When Bolin what it was, Mrs. Foster explained that he was a poor Southern soldier making his way back home. Bolin demanded that the man come down from the attic, threatening to kill him. Appearing weak and hardly able to move about, Thomas joined the pair at the dinner table. Still suspicious, Bolin laid his pistol on the table as he ate his meal. However, as time passed the outlaw apparently calmed down and when he turned his back to Thomas, the union soldier struck Bolin with a fire poker, or a colter, depending on the storyteller. Though his death was not immediate, Thomas continued to hit him until he was dead. It was February 1, 1863. Bolin was 21 years old. When Bolin’s body was brought to Forsyth, Missouri, his head was cut off and taken to Ozark where it was placed on a pole. The entire area rejoiced at the death of Alf Bolin. Bolin's body was taken to the courthouse in Ozark, Missouri, where his head was chopped off to be put on display, the only way the terrorized hill folk would ever believe he was finally dead. Bolin's headless body lies buried in an unmarked grave on the banks of Swan Creek, northeast of Forsyth. The look taken from the Confederates? Some say the Bolin gang carried it off, but there is reason to believe that at least part of it, Bolin's share is still concealed in the hollows at Murder Rock.

Additional information as told by one of Alf Bolin's outlaw gang is that Alf buried gold and silver from his many robberies close by a cave in the Fox Creek Hills area. It is not in the cave; the cave is just a landmark for Bolin to find his loot. This is quite possible, since most of his bushwhacking took place on Pine Mountain, which is commonly referred to as "Murder Rocks" because this is where Bolin and his gang would hide and wait until travelers came by for the gang to rob and murder there. Pine Mountain is just south of Kirbyville, Missouri, and only 10 miles south of Forsyth, Missouri.

The cave is supposed to be about two miles southwest of Old Mincy Store and Mill. The exact location of this cave is said to be in the vicinity of Section 20, Township 22, Range 20 in Taney County, Missouri.

There also appeared this story, concerning the treasure. Some years ago a stranger came to a farm home on Highway JJ South of Kirbyville in Taney County, Missouri. The stranger asked the farmer to board him for a few days. It was agreed and the stranger promised to be "no bother" to anyone. He was a very quiet turned person and gave no reason for wanting to live with the family for a spell. The farmer and his wife surmised that the old fellow might be looking for land or prospecting for lead or zinc in the hills. Each morning the stranger left the house, carrying a lunch the farm wife had fixed for him. He carried no gun or tools on these trips in the hills. Late in the afternoon he would return, tired and worn from climbing the pine covered hills. After two weeks of exploring in the pinery country the old man paid his board and keep and departed, still a mystery. He gave no name or any information of any kind, just bade them good-bye and was gone.

For several summers he returned and lived with this family. Always the same secretive hikes over the hills with never a word as to his quest. One evening, very late, he returned from one of these day-long hikes. After supper he told them he was leaving on the morrow and would not return again. "I am getting too old to make these long hikes, so I will have to give up." He then took a well-worn little map from his shirt pocket. "I have been searching for All Bolin’s buried treasure," he said. He then related that one of Alf Bolin’s gang had told the story that Bolin had buried the gold, silver and other valuables taken in his many robberies, and that the hidden treasure was somewhere in those Fox Creek Hills. The old man was looking for a cave in the Fox Creek country. The treasure was supposed to be near this cave. The cave he was looking for is farther east than he had searched. The cave is located in the vicinity of Section 20, Township 22, Range 20 in Taney County, Missouri. Most any native hill man could have guided the old man to the cave. It is about two miles Southwest of the Old Mincy Store and Mill site which is at the end of Highway J.

It is highly probable that Bolin’s loot is buried in those hills. The activities of the Bolin gang centered around the "Murder Rocks" on Pine Mountain south of Kirbyville, Missouri. The "Murder Rocks", also known as the "Alf Bolin Rocks", are located on Highway JJ about 10 miles south of Forsyth, Missouri, the county seat of Taney County, Missouri. This is a rugged section of the Ozark Mountains in southwest Missouri. The present highway up the mountain is about 60 feet east of the old road. The old road passed within a few feet of these great limestone rocks. The location is near the south line of Section 25, in Township 22, Range 21, Taney County, Missouri.

 

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