Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Handbook on Texas Online -- Great Hanging Articles

The Handbook of Texas Online has an article on the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.
Following is a link to the article:

Also the following related articles can be found on The Handbook of Texas Online:
Thomas C. Barrett

Another online article about the Great Hanging

This article is from W.T. Block on
Texas Escapes Online Magazine; "Cannonball's Tales" by W.T. Block, Jr., December 1, 2006 column

Some Books & Articles about the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas

Suggested books & articles to learn more about the Great Hanging at Gainesville:
1. Richard B. McCaslin, "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862"
(Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1994).
(Shown above)
This book is a MUST READ!  McCaslin's book, Tainted Breeze, is the definitive source for information concerning the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  He gives a "fair and balanced" narrative of the Great Hanging.

2. James Lemuel Clark, "Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark, Including Previously Unpublished Material On The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas In October, 1862" (Republic of Texas Press, Wordware Publishing, Plano, Texas, 1997), Edited and with an introduction by L. D. Clark, grandson of James Lemuel Clark.

3. George W. Diamond, "Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862" SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 66, no. 3, January, 1963, p. 331-414, edited by Sam Acheson and Julie Ann Hudson O'Connell.
George Diamond's brother, James Diamond, was one of the key players in trying to rid Cooke county of anyone with Union sentiments. Diamond was asked to use the records of the court to prepare an "official account" of the court proceedings, with the purpose of "preserving them and so disposing of them that the history of its (Citizen's Court) transactions might be perpetuated and justice done to those who participated (Jurors & accusers) in its deliberations. Diamond's compilation of "memoranda" was to be offered to the public as a just vindicaton of the conduct of those whose judgements were under national criticism. So, basically, Diamond's job was to make the court look good.  In his conclusion, Diamond states, "The proceedings of the Citizens Court are characterized with as much wisdom, justice and moderation as may anywhere be found in the history of criminal procedure."   Naturally, the members of the court examined Diamond's account and gave their unanimous and unqualified approval. He apparently completed the manuscript before the end of 1876, but it was not published until 1963 by the Texas State Historical Association. It is not known what happened to the actual records of the Citizens Court. 
How much, if any, did Diamond edit, change, or leave out from the original "citizens court" records?  Were the originals destroyed on purpose or are they still laying around in some dusty attic?
Diamond's account of the hanging can be found online at:
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963, H. Bailey Carroll, editor, Journal/Magazine/Newsletter, 1963; digital images, ( : accessed March 25, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association, Denton, Texas.

4. Thomas Barrett, "The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, October, A.D. 1862," Gainesville, Texas: January, 1885; Old West Magazine, pages 49-66, Summer 1981, Note: Original pamphlet was written in 1885. Its author, Thomas Barrett, was on the Cooke County jury that found 42 men guilty of conspiracy against the Confederacy in the Fall of 1862. According to the Handbook on Texas, Barrent "deprecated the role of emotion in the jury's decisions and argued that his being on the jury had saved large numbers of lives." Note: Barrett did NOT mention names of the victims.

5. Pete A. Y. Gunter, "The Great Gainesville Hanging, October, 1862, Rebel Colonel Bourland's 'Witch Hunt' in North Texas" Blue and Gray (magazine) April-May 1986.

6. C. N. Jones, "Early Days In Cooke County (1848-1873)" 976.4533 H2j, FHL US/CAN Book

List of Men who died during the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862

The Great Hanging at Gainesville

Arresting the men
The following is a list of those who died during the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  We are trying to find information concerning the immediate families of these men.  To find a list of the victims of the hanging and their spouses, go to the "Weeping Wives" post.
Any corrections or additions to this list are welcome!
At least 42 men were tried and convicted by a Confederate Citizens Court.
At least 40 men were hanged, several more were shot while trying to escape.
1. C. F. Anderson > E. F. Anderson > Edward Frost Anderson
2. George W. Anderson
3. Richard J. Anderson
4. William B. Anderson
5. Thomas O. Baker
6. Bennet C. Barnes
7. Barnibus Burch
8. Samuel Carmichael
9. Ephraim Chiles
10. Henry Chiles
11. Nathaniel M. Clark
12. Henry Cockrum
13. John Mansil Crisp
14. Arphaxton R. Dawson
15. Rama Dye
16. Hudson John Esman
17. Henry S. Field
18. Thomas B. Floyd (shot)
19. James T. Foster (shot)
20. Curd Goss
21. Edward D. Hampton
22. M. D. Harper > Manadier D. Harper
23. William W. Johnson
24. C. A. Jones
25. David Miller Leffel
26. J. W. P. Lock
27. Abraham McNeese
28. Richard N. Martin
29. John M. Miller
30. John A. Morris
31. John W. Morris > This may be Wash Morris, brother of Wesley Morris
32. M. W. Morris > Michael Wesley Morris
33. William W. Morris
34. James A. Powers
35. William R. Rhodes
36. Alexander D. Scott
37. Eli M. Scott
38 Gilbert Smith (?)
39. William B. Taylor
40. Eli Sigler Thomas
41. James A. Ward
42. William Wilson Wornell
43. William Boyles (not arrested but  shot and later died from wounds)
44. Hiram Kilborn (shot) not claimed as one of the Citizen Court victims
Other victims that were killed or sentenced during that time:
James Young hanged the following:
   William A. McCool
   John M. Cottrell
   A.N. Johnson
E. Junius Foster, editor of the Sherman Patriot, was shot as he was closing up his newspaper office.
Joel Francis DeLamirande was tried and sentenced to life in prison for helping the wives of the victims.

John Wiley is on Clark's list as one of the men who was hanged.  He is also mentioned in the 1880 newspaper article as one of the men hanged.  His descendants claim he was hanged, but McCaslin does not include him in his list of men hanged and his list is basically the same as Diamond's account.

The illustration above is from the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 20 Feb 1864. Several smaller illustrations comprised a double-page centerfold, about 22X16 in size and entitled "Rebel Barbarities in Texas."  The illustration can be found at Fold3.

Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862

Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862
In October of 1862 in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, 40 men suspected of Union sympathies were hanged by an extra-legal "Citizens Court," of which the majority were slaveholders. Two other men were shot trying to escape. North Texas (which included Cooke and neighboring counties) was the center of opposition to secession from the Union. The opposition was fueled when the Confederate Conscription Act of April, 1862 was enacted with an exemption from the draft for the largest slaveholders. Those who were in opposition formed a Peace Party, whose primary goals were "to provide for the families of those at war, to protect members from Confederate authority, and to restore the Union." (McCaslin, pg.91)

The Confederate Citizens Court was not an established legal authority and consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the twelve jurors during Gainesville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. The slaveholder jurors alone could condemn a person to death! The wealthy slaveholders exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Two of the largest slaveholders in Cooke County were Colonel James Bourland and Colonel William C. Young.
Men were also killed in neighboring Grayson, Wise, and Denton counties.
Most of the men killed during this time, were accused of treason or insurrection, but very few had actually conspired against the Confederacy, and many were innocent of the charges for which they were tried.

The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862 has been called the largest mass lynching in American history by some historians.

To see a list of the men who were killed in the hangings, click here.

The illustration above is from the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 20 Feb 1864. Several smaller illustrations comprised a double-page centerfold, about 22X16 in size and entitled "Rebel Barbarities in Texas."  The illustration can be found at Fold3.