James Stilley, son of Stephen Stilley (b. 1790) was, according to family tradition, killed by Ben Batts with a hoe in about Oct. 1863. James was living in Williamson Co., IL. Supposedly after his death (how many years, I am not sure, maybe as much as 15 years later) two of James' sons, John W. Stilley and Stephen S. Stilley, went looking for Ben. He was located in the Timpson, Shelby Co., TX area, but had died or died soon after tracking him down. John stayed in Shelby Co., but Stephen eventually settled in Coffeyville, Montgomery Co., KS. John and Stephen had a brother Moses Stilley who stayed in Williamson Co.
I have not found any articles or obituaries on the murder. If you find any, I am interested in obtaining copies.
This story about Ben Batts has been related to me, directly and indirectly, by several descendants of John W. Stilley. However, several of his descendants have related other stories of how or why John settled in Shelby Co., TX which do not involve the murder by Ben Batts.
An article regarding the murder of Ben Batts can be found here in Ancestry.com in the "History of crimes from IL."
This is the excerpt:
History of Gallatin, History of Gallatin,
Noted Crimes and Criminals
In 1862, Reuben Stocks, a soldier of the 78th IL Inf, while at his home on Eight Mile Prairie, was called to his door one night, and there shot and killed by unknown parties who have never been discovered. The same year, when the 100 and 28th IL Inf was at Crab Orchard Bridge in Jackson Co, Terry Crain and John Burbridge quarreled, and the former struck the latter on the head with a stone from the effects of which he died. In Aug 1876, Crain was tried and sentenced to 15 year in the penitentiary, but was released after serving 2 years. Also in the year 1862, William Stacey stabbed and killed Henderson Tippy while they were bathing in the Crab Orchard near Marion. They were boys, and Stacey was tried and acquitted. In Dec of that year (1862), an unknown party shot and kiled James Baker in Bainbridge Prec. It was thought this was done because Baker was reveaing the whereabouts of deserters from the army. In 1863, James Emerson was killed by an unknown party, in the woods near Blairsville, while hunting his horses. A gang of bad men known as the "Akin Gang" and supposed to have been composed of George Akin and his son John, Allena nd Charley Gilde and others, infected the north part of the county in 1863, when and where several murders were committed, and many citizens robbed. Dr Bandy was taken out and whipped unmercifully, and George Cox was attacked in his house and fired on several times. This band soon got so large that it became unwieldy, and they got to stealing horses. Several of them were arrested, tried and bailed, and left the county. James Chenoweth, was arrested and put under bail, and then left, forfeiting his bond, and moved to Nashville where he died. The same tear, Daniel Robertson was killed in Lake Prec, by some unknown parties in the disguise of soldiers, at the instance, it is believed, of this man Chenoweth. The same year James Stilley was killed with a hoe, in the hands of Ben Batts, in the field of the latter, where Stilly went and engaged him in a quarrel. Batts ran away. Also the same year, William Moulton was killed by unknown parties. Several persons were arrested and tried for this offence, but there being no evidence against them, they were acquitted.