David Franklin Stark was born in Highland County, Ohio in 1851. His father moved the family to a farm near Lexington, Illinois in 1857. A long economic depression began in 1873 with a banking collapse and thousands of men became unemployed, lost farms, and generally became indigent. David left home looking for work and ended up in Nashville, Tennessee where, out of desperation, he joins the army in March 1875.
However, family history has him as a cowboy on the Great Western Cattle Trail for some of that time. To get him from 1875 to 1887, the author has created people, conversations, letters, and places to move him from Nashville to Ozark County. All persons and events that cannot be documented are referenced in the end notes. Additional facts may come to light that suggest a different scenario than the one purposed by the author.
He deserted on August 14,1875 from Nashville, Tennessee. He was never captured nor court martialed. He is never again to appear in official records as David Franklin Stark. In 1887, David Franklin Stark appears in Ozark County Records as Thomas Benton Kelly when he marries Missouri Jane Sheppard Smith. It is not known what he did between 1875 and 1887.