Monday, January 16, 2017

Women in Civil War Texas

Women in Civil War Texas:
Diversity and Dissidence in the Trans-Mississippi
Editors: Deborah M Liles and Angela Boswell 

"Women in Civil War Texas" is a new book published in October 2016 by the University Of North Texas Press.  It is a collection of essays edited by Deborah M Liles and Angela Boswell.

The description inside the front cover reads: "Women in Civil War Texas is the first book dedicated to the unique experiences of Texas women during the Civil War.  It fills the literary void in Texas women's history during this time, connects Texas women's lives to southern 
women's history, and share the diversity of experiences of women in Texas during the Civil War."

Chapter 9 by Rebecca Sharpless is titled; "In Favor of Our Fathers' Country and Government" Unionist Women in North Texas.  Some of the wives/widows of the Gainesville Hanging victims are included in Chapter 9.
The book can be purchased on Amazon.

Related Posts: 
To see the list of the wives of the Gainesville Hanging Victims, click here.
See "Why This Blog?" post  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Great Hanging - A Documentary Film

The following information was posted on "Gainesville Texas - The Great Hanging" Facebook page. 

Great news! Director Johnathan Paul has announced the details for the screening of The Great Hanging, a documentary film produced by Datalus Pictures.
The Great Hanging - a documentary film by johnathan paul
May 21, 2016 -- Saturday
6pm-7pm - Backstage Cafe
Great Hanging Memorial Social Event with food/drinks for attendees who purchase a VIP pass ($20, payable at the Cafe). During the hour, folks will meet and greet with the Cast and Crew of the film. Proceeds will be donated to the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation. 
7pm-9pm - State Theater
We will screen the festival cut of the film, approx. 30 minutes long. Q&A will follow with author Professor and author Richard McCaslin and Professor Pat Ledbetter.
The Backstage Cafe is located next door to the State Theater.
204 E. California St. Gainesville,TX
Additional information regarding Mr. Paul's documentary can be found at these links.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Program for the "Great Hanging" Monument Dedication

Below is a copy of the program for the "Great Hanging" Monument Dedication.  Just in case, you lost yours or did not get one.

Forgotten No More

A year ago, I posted an article entitled "Gainesville's Forgotten People."  At the time, I wondered why a memorial had not been placed in Gainesville to remember the men who died in the Great Hanging of 1862.

What a difference a year makes!

Thanks to many good people in and around Gainesville, there is now a memorial for the men who died in the Hangings.  And, what a wonderful memorial it is!  Those of us who have an ancestor who died in the Great Hanging at Gainesville feel deeply indebted to all who helped to make this a reality.

Below are photos of the unveiling of the monuments that were placed in the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park on October 18, 2014.

Unveiling of the Monuments


Note: There are still men who died in the hangings that we know very little about.  Each family of a Gainesville Hanging victim has a story that needs to be told and shared.  If you have a "Great Hanging" ancestor, or you are just interested in history, please help by sharing stories and research about the victims of the Great Hanging and their families.  There are many ways to share: write a book, start your own blog, post your family information on, leave a message on genealogy message boards, start a website, donate your stories to a historical society/library in Gainesville, post the information on this blog, and/or all of the above.  

Gainesville's "Great Hanging" Monument Dedication

The dedication of the Gainesville "Great Hanging" monument took place on Saturday, October 18, 2014, a beautiful fall day in Texas.  And, it was a memorable day for those of us who were able to attend.  
We started the event with an excellent luncheon at the Lions Field House of the North Central Texas College in Gainesville.  The luncheon was provided by the Texas State Historical Association and the Lone Star Chair in Texas History.   I was able to meet and visit with many people who previously I had only had the chance to correspond with.

 After the luncheon, we attended a theatrical reading called "October Mourning" at the Center for Performing Arts on the NCTC campus.  “October Mourning” was a 45 minute theatrical reading of the events of that terrible October in 1862, by local actors portraying historical characters connected to the events of the hanging. We were able to hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there.  The program helped all of us better understand the feelings, emotions, and fears of the time from both perspectives. 
Following the reading,  Dr. Richard B. McCaslin answered questions from the audience about the Great Hanging.

After the program, everyone met at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park for the monument dedication.  The monuments were covered when we arrived.  Most took the time to check out the names on the pavers that were placed between the monuments.

Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Richard "Rick" McCaslin.  Gainesville Mayor, Jim Goldsworthy, gave the welcome address and then we heard from guest speakers. 
Welcome by Gainesville Mayor Goldsworthy
There was a reading of the names and bell ringing for each man who died in October 1862 during the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  
Reading the names

Listening to the Dedication of the Monument

Monday, September 22, 2014

Upcoming Media Coverage for the October 18th Dedication

The following information about upcoming media coverage for the Great Hanging Monument Dedication was posted on "The Great Hanging - October 1862 Civil War" Facebook page.

Upcoming media coverage for the October 18th Dedication!
Dr. Rick McCaslin, author of Tainted Breeze, will be guest expert for these interviews. Tune in and spread the word.....
September 30 - KGAF Radio - 1580 AM
Live interview: 7:45am
October 8 - KTEN Television 
Live interview: 11:00am
October 5th or 12th - Dallas Morning News
Family interviews and in-depth article, photos

Make plans to be in Gainesville, Texas on October 18th!
Keep updated by checking the Facebook page or the Great Hanging 1862 website.

Great Hanging Monument Dedication Updated Info

The following is the official press release from the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation: 


The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation announced today that a series of events will be held on October 18, 2014 to commemorate the historic event known as the “The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.”

The Great Hanging is a Texas Civil War era event of major historical significance.  Due to its dramatic and controversial nature, little has been done to memorialize those who lost their lives.

Although this event occurred 152 years ago, scholars and lay persons still have difficulty in agreeing on the appropriate interpretation of the incident.  Some contend that the action of the civilian and military authorities that led to the hanging of forty men and the shooting deaths of two men attempting to escape, was justified. Others argue that the tragic incident was nothing more than vigilante mob violence. 

On December 3, 2013 the Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the placement of two large granite stones at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park in Gainesville, Texas to memorialize those who died.  The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation was then formed.

Funding for the purchase of two etched granite monuments, solar powered lighting and the memorial walkway was made possible through private donations.

The public is invited to the formal dedication which will begin with a luncheon on Saturday, October 18, 2014  (11:30 am - 1:00 pm) at the North Central Texas College Lions Field House, Gainesville, Texas. The luncheon will be followed by a program “October Mourning” at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts, also located on the college campus.  The Monument dedication ceremony will begin at 3:00 pm at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park at 729 East Main Street near downtown Gainesville. 

Anyone having knowledge of descendants of the Great Hanging is encouraged to contact the Foundation at (817) 999-9551. 

Those planning to attend the luncheon need to RSVP by September 30, 2014  by calling (817) 946-4491 or send email to

Dedication Schedule
October 18, 2014
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lions Field House, Cooke County Campus
North Central Texas College
1525 West California St.
Gainesville, TX 76240
Luncheon provided by the Texas State Historical Association and the Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by September 30 (817) 946-4491 or email

I 35 to Exit 497,  turn West on California St. (FM 51) 0.7 mi to Bonner St. (CR 304), Turn North 0.2 mi to the Field House on Left

Program “October Mourning”
1:00 - 2:30 pm -Free Admission- At the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts on NCTC campus, southwest of the Lions Field House
“October Mourning” is a 45 minute theatrical reading that brings life to the events of that terrible October in 1862, by local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there.  This reading will be followed by a 45 minute Q & A session with Dr. Richard B. McCaslin, author of “Tainted Breeze”.

Monument Dedication
3:00 pm
Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park
729 East Main St., Gainesville, Texas (parallel street to California St.)
East of Cooke County Court House
Master of Ceremonies - Dr. Richard B. McCaslin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Great Hanging Monument Dedication

The Board of Directors and Volunteers of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation have announced details for the monument dedication in recognition of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.
The monument dedication will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014.  Below is the schedule for the planned activities.  Visit the Great Hanging 1862 Memorial website for any updates.

11:30am – 1:00pm Luncheon

North Central Texas College Field House
1525 W. California Lane, Gainesville TX
Luncheon sponsored - University of North Texas;
Texas State Historical Association and Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by Sept. 30 – 817.946.4491 or email:

1:00pm – 2:30pm “October Mourning”

North Central Texas College - Center for Performing Arts (on Campus, near Field House) Theatrical reading that brings to life the events of that terrible October of 1862 with local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there. (No charge)

3:00pm Dedication Ceremony

Georgia Davis Bass Civil War Historical Park
729 E. Main St, Gainesville TX

Master of Ceremony – Dr. Richard McCaslin
Guest speakers – to be announced soon

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Great Hanging at Gainesville by Dr. Richard McCaslin

On October 24, 2013, Dr. Richard McCaslin gave an informative presentation about the 'Great Hanging at Gaineville' at the Allen Public Library.  It was published on YouTube November 8, 2013. 

In this YouTube video, "Dr. Richard McCaslin presents an account of a horrifying yet oft-forgotten episode in North Texas history at the Allen Public Library. History is replete with tales of tragic events that should not have happened. Pretending these never existed only increases the chances of re-occurrence; so learning about them will hopefully deter the repeat of another dismal or shameful event. What has come to be known as "The Great Hanging at Gainesville" proves this point. Unlike most of Texas, counties along the Red River, including Collin, voted against secession just prior to the Civil War. Acrimony between pro-Union and pro-Confederate forces in the state was rampant; Texan against Texan hostilities were more venomous than Northerner against Southerner."

Dr. Richard McCaslin is the author of the book pictured above, "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862."  McCaslin's book, published in 1994, is the definitive source for information concerning the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  He gives a "fair and balanced" narrative of the Great Hanging that took place at Gainesville, Texas in October, 1862.

Link for the above YouTube video:  (

Gainesville Great Hanging Website Launched

On February 21, 2014, the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation announced the launch of their new website dedicated to the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.  Click on image below to go to the website.

The Great Hanging 1862
The mission of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation as explained on the website is:
"The Great hanging Memorial Foundation is a 501 c3 (non-profit) organization  and was created to honor those who lost their lives, as well as preserve Civil War history and educate Americans about these events."

The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation is seeking donations from individuals, private foundations, and corporations. Your financial support for the Memorial would be greatly appreciated and would help to make the proposed Memorial a reality.  

You can also support the construction of the Great Hanging Memorial by purchasing a custom engraved Granite Paver. Your paver with its personal message will be placed in the walkway for visitors to see.  To purchase a granite paving stone engraved in memory or in honor of someone, click here.  Purchasing a paver in memory of your Great Hanging ancestor would be a wonderful way to honor those who died in the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  Hopefully everyone who died during the hangings will have a paver in their memory.

Please consider making a donation or purchasing a paver so that this Memorial can become a reality!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reapers of the Whirlwind by L D Clark

This YouTube video clip is of 91 year old L D Clark presenting an introduction to his screenplay called "Reapers of the Whirlwind."   This screenplay is based on Clark's historical novel, "A Bright Tragic Thing."  The novel was about the Great Hanging which took place in Gainesville, Texas during the Civil War.  L D Clarke is the great-grandson of Nathaniel Miles Clark, one of the men hanged in the Great Hanging.

Gainesville Council Approves Monument

Those of us who have personal ties to the victims of "The Great Hanging" just got an early CHRISTMAS present!!  There will finally be a monument for the men who died during of The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.  Yesterday, December 2nd, the following was reported on KXII News, Sherman, Texas.

Gainesville, Texas to get "Great Hanging" monument

Click here for news clip or click on image below.

Gainesville council approves construction of "The Great Hanging" monuments

GAINESVILLE, TX -- The Gainesville city council approved the placement of two monuments that some in the community say are long overdue.
In October 1862, nearly 150 men suspected of supporting the Union were arrested for treason against the Confederacy.
42 of them were hanged in Gainesville, just days later.
Now,151 years later, the city and community is making sure this historical event is not forgotten.
91-year-old L.D. Clark has waited decades to hear these words...
"The motion passes unanimously," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy announced to the council.
Tuesday night, the council approved construction of two 5 foot tall monuments to be built where The Great Hanging took place.
"Well, it makes me feel somewhat justified," Clark said.
Clark's great great grandfather, Nathaniel Clark, was one of the men accused of treason, and hanged on the land right off California Street in Gainesville.
Clark and other members of the Great Hanging Monument committee say this project is long overdue.
"As you grow up in this area, you hear about it. So, I felt like it was a story that was long overdue to be told to the general public," Nancy Brannon said.
Nancy Brannon says the current monument, which was erected in the 60s, is nearly unreadable. And Steve Gordon says the information on it is now outdated.
"That's the information available up to 1964. There's been a lot of research done since then," Gordon said.
Gordon and several other Gainesville residents, some whom have since passed away, have worked tirelessly to collect the facts of the historical event.
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said their efforts helped push this motion through.
"Our concern at council is that we're historically correct. Beyond that, we would like us to remember history as it unfolded and learn from history," Goldsworthy said.
The monuments will tell the known facts, and list the 42 names of the men who died.
The group says this outcome is a victory for them, but specifically for Mr. Clark.
"There's been a great change of heart in Gainesville concerning this monument, and it's going to be a great, adequate one to fit the situation," Clark said.
Clark has written both a novel and screenplay on The Great Hanging. He says he hopes one day that screen play will be bought and shown in theaters across the country,
The group has spent their own money, and collected donations to pay for the monument.
If you'd like to help contact Steve Gordon at 940-372-8835.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gainesville's Forgotten People

Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas

Gainesville's Forgotten People
The Families of the Great Hanging Victims

One has to wonder why a memorial has not been placed in Gainesville to remember the men who died in the Great Hanging of 1862.  In what some call "one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War" at least 40 men suspected of Union sympathies were hanged in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.  For the last 150 years, Gainesville has tried to hide from the Hanging and sweep it under the rug.

It has been five years since this blog was started.  Since that time, quite a few families of the Great Hanging victims have been found through research and with descendants sharing their family stories.  But, the reality is that wives, children, parents, and siblings for many men are still unknownIt's as if history has forgotten them.  Each man who died in the hangings had parents, most probably had siblings, and the majority had wives and children.  Why has it been so hard to find them?

The main goal (mission statement) of the blog is:
Each family of a Gainesville Hanging victim has a story that needs to be told and shared.  Our goal is to remember all the men who died in the 'Great Hanging' and find their families – spouse, children, parents, siblings.

If you have a "Great Hanging" ancestor, or you are just interested in history, please help by sharing stories and research about the victims of the Great Hanging and their families.  There are many ways to share: write a book, start your own blog, post your family information on, leave a message on genealogy message boards, start a website, donate your stories to a historical society/library in Gainesville, post the information on this blog, and/or all of the above.

An update to this post titled, "Forgotten No More" can be found Here

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gainesville's Past Still Stirs Passions

The following article written by Steve Campbell was posted Sunday, 7 Oct 2012, in the Star-Telegram. 

Note in the article that the Mayor Pro Tem Ray Nichols of Gainesville goes on record calling the Great Hanging, "That other thing?" and stating, "I don't think that's important to anybody."  Nichols' comment was insensitive, rude, arrogant, and unbecoming of a public official.  He owes an apology to those of us with an ancestor who died in the hanging!

After 150 years, a dark chapter of Gainesville's past still stirs passions

Read more here:

Read more here:


GAINESVILLE -- Rand McNally recently named this North Texas town America's Most Patriotic City, but that red, white and blue slogan has collided with a grisly episode from 150 years ago: the Great Hanging of 1862, when vigilantes hanged 40 Union sympathizers and shot two more who tried to escape.
The Civil War incident that pitted neighbors against neighbors in a paroxysm of suspicion and retaliation remains a touchy subject here, particularly for families whose ancestors were strung up from an elm tree not far from the courthouse.

They say the city of 16,000 has always tried to duck the dark episode that at the time sparked outrage in the North and drew applause across the South.
"People damn well try to whitewash it," said 89-year-old L.D. Clark, a retired English professor whose great-grandfather Nathaniel M. Clark was hanged on Oct. 13, 1862, leaving behind a wife and seven children, including a son in the Rebel army.

Mayor Jim Goldsworthy says Gainesville isn't "running away from the horrible event."
The city would rather "hang our moniker on being the most patriotic town in America and drive our tourism that way."

The latest contretemps flared when a local museum planning an Oct. 12-13 event to mark the 150th anniversary put up a billboard in late August off Interstate 35 promoting it as "October's Reign of Terror, Commemorating the Great Hanging of 1862."
It quickly came down when Cooke County Heritage Society directors bailed on the event after Mayor Pro Tem Ray Nichols voiced his disapproval with the "sensational" marketing to the director of the Morton Museum, which the society manages.

"We received some information that intimidated the executive board, and we decided to cancel," said Steve Gordon, a retired engineer and former president of the society who organized the event. "We got scared because the city gives the museum money. I'm very bitter about it. Gainesville has been hiding from the Great Hanging since it happened."

Nichols, a retired banker, said he wasn't acting in his official capacity but as a private individual and contributor to the museum who felt the billboard "put the city in a bad light."
He also didn't appreciate that the event was scheduled on the weekend of the city's Depot Days, an annual celebration of the area's railroad history.

"Gainesville was voted most patriotic city in America this year, and we are very excited about it and our Medal of Honor Host City program. I think those are important. That other thing? I don't think that's important to anybody," he said.
Don't tell that to Colleen Carri, Clark's niece and a heritage society board member who decided to keep the commemoration alive by pairing it with the annual Clark family reunion Oct. 13.

Carri expects 220 attendees, including descendants of six other hanging victims, at the event called Remembering Our Past, Embracing Our Future.
With cities across the country commemorating Civil War anniversaries, she said, Gainesville is missing out.

"I don't get their mentality except they are afraid it's going to tarnish this most patriotic thing. They didn't know how to spin it; they didn't know what to do with it."
But this might be one where spin couldn't win.

"Having a celebration of a time when they hanged people being loyal to the United States would not go well with the most patriotic town label," said University of North Texas professor Richard B. McCaslin, one of the event's speakers and the author of Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.

The Rebel line

There's another skirmish line on this old battlefront, and it is cloaked in gray. Some North Texans with the Sons of Confederate Veterans believe the Unionists were traitors, and they've produced a movie to tell the "complete history" based on two controversial accounts by men involved in the hangings.
David Moore of Weatherford has two ancestors who were ringleaders of the Unionists -- Henry Childs, a doctor, and his brother, Ephraim, who were the first to be hanged.
"If I was living back then and I knew what those brothers did, I would have hung them, too. It was treason," said Moore, the director of Black October 1862, which will be screened Oct. 13 at the Masonic Lodge in Gainesville.
"Were there innocent people hung? Yes. We're saying there is more to it than what has been presented in the literature out there," Moore said.

Most people only know the victims' stories, said Joe White of Gainesville, the First Lieutenant Commander of the Lee-Bourland Camp 1848 of the SCV. (Col. James Bourland, a "good fighter and good hater," led the troops that rounded up the Unionists.)
"It was the Confederate States of America. They were under military law," White said. "If you have people feeding information to the enemy, what are they?"

Monumental divide

The lingering schism between Gainesville's link to the Confederacy and the mass hanging is "strikingly illustrated" by two monuments, McCaslin said.
On the front lawn of the Cooke County Courthouse, a monolith topped with a Rebel soldier stands watch over the square.

Part of the 1911 monument's flowery inscription reads "no nation rose so white and fair none fell so pure of crime," which makes Clark grimace.
"So pure of crime?" growls Clark, who 30 minutes before had read an inscription on his great-grandfather's grave at the Clark Cemetery that said he was "Murdered by a Mob."
A few blocks away, the town's lone marker for the Great Hanging stands forlornly among piles of construction debris from a flood control project.

"What's fascinating is that this account on this marker is the only evidence of the Great Hanging in Cooke County. There's not a marker with any of the victims' names on it," Carri said.
Goldsworthy says the site will be restored when the construction is done.

The marker was once located across I-35 "as far away as you could get from the town center," said McCaslin, who added that now-deceased former Mayor Margaret Hayes pushed for a Great Hanging park and got the monument moved.
"She saw it as a tourism possibility. People like that sort of ghoulish stuff," he said. "Some places have turned their dark days into big tourist attractions, like the Salem witch trials in New England. They've managed to flip it over. Maybe we're not far enough away yet."

"A pressure cooker"

In 1862, Cooke County was a remote outpost of the Confederacy. Only 10 percent of the households had slaves, and it had voted 2-to-1 against secession while Texas as a whole was 3-to-1 in favor of it.
Located just south of the Red River, Gainesville was a frontier town beset by threats. Just north was Indian Territory. Deserters and outlaws roamed the border lands. To the west, Comanche Indians ruled.

"These people were living in a pressure cooker," McCaslin said.
When the war started in 1861, many Union supporters volunteered for frontier guard units in hope of avoiding fighting in the East. But the Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 changed everything, McCaslin said.

A loose affiliation of men formed a secretive Union League with a primary aim of avoiding the draft, he said.
But rumors were soon rampant that the group had grown to 1,700 and had John Brown-style plans to storm militia arsenals in Gainesville and Sherman and then aid an invasion.

Bourland's troops arrested more than 150 men on Oct. 1, and Confederate Col. William C. Young formed a citizen's court of 12 jurors of mostly slaveholders. Seven Unionist leaders were hanged, and then a mob lynched 14 more, McCaslin said.
The rest of the suspects were to be released, but "the real killing started" the next week after unknown assailants murdered Young and another man, he said.
Nineteen more men were then convicted and hanged. Over the course of the day, two prisoners at a time were hanged from the back of a wagon.

But Gainesville wasn't alone in its fear and retaliation. In Decatur, five Unionist suspects were hanged, and a prisoner was shot in Denton. Earlier, in August, 19 Unionist German settlers fleeing from the Hill Country to Mexico had been killed in the Battle of Nueces, and nine prisoners were executed.

Neighbors torn apart

McCaslin has never found evidence of communication between people in North Texas and Union authorities.
"I think it was just talk. That infuriates some people; they want me to tell them these were horrible traitors that deserved to be killed. But traitors to what? They were actually loyal to the country they had been raised in all their lives."

What remains most fascinating for McCaslin is how quickly neighbors turned on one another.
"But it is not the first time and it's not the last time. We see it today. Under pressure people can do very unreasonable things.

"When you bring something like this to light, smelling to high heaven, it undermines the idea of a united South. To me, it makes it a more human story because we always divide. It's what we do; it's what we are. It's the nature of a democracy. Sometimes we handle it well, and sometimes we don't handle it well at all.
"That upsets people; they don't want to hear that Great-Great-Grandpa made a mistake."

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981
Read more here:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Events Commemorate Great Hanging

This newspaper article is from the Gainesville Daily Register.

Gainesville Daily Register

October 2, 2012

Events commemorate Great Hanging

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer 
Gainesville Daily Register
Gainesville — Cooke County historians have planned special commentorative events this month  to mark the 150th anniversary of Gainesville’s Great Hanging, which was Monday.

Observances began with Saturday’s presentation of “October Morning,” a play reading in which local participants re-enacted key elements of the October 1862 incident through narration.

Another key tribute is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 13, at Gainesville Civic Center. Organized by descendants of the hanged Nathaniel Clark, the event is called “Remembering Our Past, Embracing Our Future” and will feature speakers, a catered luncheon and a Color Guard ceremony.

Saturday’s show, presented by Morton Museum of Cooke County, was written by Dr. Pat Ledbetter and selected from existing historical documents.

Morton Museum President Steve Gordon said such presentations are important to maintain annually in Gainesville, since the Great Hanging is the area’s single notable Civil War-era incident.

“Because there are no transcripts, nobody knows exactly what happened,” Gordon said Monday. “The jurors? They all went to their graves keeping their mouths shut. Fifteen jurors went to the grave and wouldn’t talk. I don’t know if their consciences bothered them, or what. But there’s good people and bad people in this mess.”

The hanging occurred after the Texas Militia arrested more than 200 suspected Unionists in late 1862. On Oct. 1, vigilantes in Gainesville executed 42 of these men, following convictions on charges of conspiracy to commit treason against the Confederacy and fomenting an insurrection. Research suggests few of the hanged men had actually plotted to insurrect against the Confederacy; many of them were apparently innocent of the charges. But this mattered little to their captors, whose allies also conducted lynchings in nearby counties.

Stories of the Great Hanging inched through the following decades in a low key, since little documentation could be found.

Extensive details didn’t proliferate locally until the late 1980s, when University of Texas scholar Richard McCaslin created a 625-page book intended as a dissertation.

And Gordon added that during the past decade, commemorations of the Great Hanging have been an annual fixture but have been difficult to mount.

In late August, organizers were forced to cancel an elaborate two-day event set for October, due to lack of support.

The Civic Center ceremony on Oct. 13 is intended as a substitute, but Gordon said civic interest in the Great Hanging is apparently waning.

“I’ve been pushing this for years, but I’ve been getting my head beaten in about it,” he said Monday.

“The town does not want to know about it. The connotation of hanging sounds terrible. ... Gainesville wants to gloss it over. But it’s a Civil War-era event and we just can’t overlook that.”

The museum president added that Gainesville has received national notoriety for more positive reasons, such as the “Most Patriotic City” award received in July, and these are to the city’s credit.

But historians continue to feel that the legacy of the Great Hanging, however troublesome, is fascinating local history that merits attention from new audiences.

“We need something to get people off the highway,” he said. “Gainesville should take advantage of that event.”

For more information about the ceremony on Oct. 13, you may e-mail or call (817) 999-9551. Registration for participants of the event is open through Friday.