Old Drum Statue

The Story of Old Drum

"A man's best friend is his dog."

On October 28, 1869, Charles Burden found his favorite dog, Old Drum, shot dead. Burden learned that his neighbor and brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby, had killed Drum because he had been harassing his livestock. Burden, with the help of lawyer George Graham Vest, decided to sue Hornsby in court over the loss of his beloved hound.

Burden's initial court attempt failed; however, after he retained George Graham Vest, Vest persuaded the jury in an appeal, which came to be known as a Eulogy to Old Drum, to find in Burden's favor. In the eulogy Vest played on the heartstrings of the jury to appreciate and remember the love, helpfulness, and companionship that a loyal dog provides. The eulogy is best known for Vest's appeal to the jury to remember that "A man's best friend is his dog."

Vest's Eulogy, which was delivered on September 23, 1870, in the Historic Johnson County courthouse on Main and not the current active courthouse on Holden, was not captured in the court documents. The Journal-Democrat reprinted the eulogy in the November 25, 1910 issue:

"Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son and daughter that he has reared with loving care may become ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him when he may need it most. Man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees and do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend a man may have in this world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is the dog."

"Gentlemen of the Jury: A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince."

"When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast into the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws and his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfullness, faithful and true even to death."

In 1958 the citizens of Johnson County erected the Old Drum Statue to serve as a reminder of the 1869 court case.



300 N. Holden Warrensburg, MO 64093 ~ Public Access