At the beginning of the Civil War in April, 1861, the only town of any size in this area was High Blue, in the far northwest corner. The area was sparsely populated. Belton and Raymore did not exist as towns until after the war when the railroad came to the area in 1872. Roads in Cass County were extremely dangerous for travelers ever after the war ended.
One documented event happened in the area on May 4, 1865. The following comes from the book, Caught Between Three Fires, by Tom Rafiner.
William Bronaugh and family had just returned to their farm outside of Pleasant Hill after the war. The family stayed in Clay County after leaving due to Order No. 11. Upon returning, their found their home one of the few left standing, but all barns, outbuildings and fences were destroyed. He decided to take freight to Santa Fe, New Mexico as a way to recoup the losses. William, his twelve year old son Robert, and a hired man loaded four wagons, fed the oxen and put the harnesses in order.
While Robert slept the night before they left, his father and mother sewed money in the lining of his coat, unbeknownst to him. It was unsafe to carry money as outlaws patrolled the roads. William sent Robert and the hired hand on ahead with other teamsters to start west.
Unarmed, William set out for Westport Landing. The road was dusty as he rode west within a mile of Gregg’s Store. Three horsemen, heavily armed, approached and demanded money. He handed over a dollar, all he carried. The men demanded his trip money and hit William five times. They tied his body onto his horse and sent it back home.
His body soon fell off and lay in the dusty plains of northern Cass County as rain fell. Later that day, travelers found men and horse. His son Robert waited eagerly for his father in Westport.
The Kansas City Daily Journal of Commerce, May 7, 1865, reported “William Bernaw was killed day before yesterday six miles from Hickman Mills, on the Harrisonville road, by three bushwhackers. He was shot three times in the head, once in the neck and once through the breast.”