Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David Miller Leffel

A big Thanks to a Leffel descendant for this updated biography on the David Miller Leffel family.

David Miller Leffel is considered a true American Patriot by his descendants. David was one of forty Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a “Citizens Court” in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville. At his mockery of a trial by the Citizens Court in Gainesville, David said he swore support of the "old Constitution and Union." He was hanged for disloyalty and treason to the Confederate cause.

David M. Leffel's story begins in Virginia, where he was born on 20 Jan 1816, the third child of Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel. As a three year old toddler, David moved from Virginia to Clark County, Ohio with his family. He spent his growing up years in Clark County near many of his relatives on both the Leffel and Miller sides of the family.

The Leffel family of Clark County was prominent and prosperous. A cousin of David’s, James Leffel, was inventor of the double turbine water wheel and started the James Leffel Company in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. David’s ancestry goes back to his great-grandfather, Baltzer Leffel, who was an immigrant from Germany in 1750. During the Revolution, Baltzar was a Patriot and declared his allegiance to United States.  He is listed in the DAR Patriot Index for the American Revolution, and so any descendants of David Miller Leffel qualify for membership into the DAR.

David married his sweetheart, Susan Evaline West, on May 3rd, 1837 in Clark County, Ohio. They moved to nearby Champaign County, where David was a carpenter. All eight of their children were born in Ohio. One daughter, Eliza Jane, died as an infant and was buried in Champaign County in 1843.

Susan's parents were Michael West and Susannah McKee. After Susan's mother died in Ohio, her father, Michael West, and her brothers moved to Texas around 1848. They obtained land grants as colonists of the Peters Colony. Michael West died in 1858 leaving his land in Grayson, Texas to his heirs, which included daughter, Susan Leffel.

Sometime in 1858 soon after the death of her father, Susan and David packed up their young family and moved from Ohio to Grayson County, Texas to claim Susan's inheritance of land left to her from her father. Their decision to move from a free state to a slaveholding state would set in motion events that would lead to the violent death of David.
It is hard to know exactly where David and Susan lived when they reached Grayson County, Texas.  It appears that they did not live on the land that Susan inherited from her father.  In February of 1860, Susan buys 80 acres from her brother John and then that same day sells her inherited land to her brother John. In July of 1860 she sells the land she bought from her brother, John, to N.H. Holt (a future nephew-in-law). David and Susan cannot be found in the 1860 census and it is not known which county in Texas they were living in after she sold her land in Grayson County. David is listed as a poll tax only in the 1861 Grayson County Tax list.  David was a carpenter by trade not a farmer.  Perhaps they rented a place in town.  Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, lived in neighboring Cooke County, Texas. Perhaps, David and Susan moved to Cooke County to be close to her sister sometime in the later part of 1861 or early part of 1862.
Why didn't they show up in the 1860 census? And, where were they living in 1860 - in Grayson county or Cooke county? Did the census taker miss them, or what?

In 1861, Texas withdrew from the Union and allied itself with the Southern States. All state officers had to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. When Governor Sam Houston refused, he was removed from office. There was much unrest and political tension, especially in North Texas. As the Civil War continued, it ripped apart families and communities as well as the nation. Cooke County, Texas was one such community.

In October 1862, forty-two Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a 'Citizens Court' in Gainesville, Cooke County and hanged. David Miller Leffel was one of the men captured and brought before the 'Citizens Court' or 'mob' as his family called it. David was then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville.

Leading up to this tragedy, David's brother-in-law, William Boyles, encouraged him to attend a meeting of the 'Peace Party' at the home of Rama Dye. At the meeting, the rescue of prisoners held by the Citizens Court was discussed. Fifteen men who attended the meeting Dye's home that night were later executed, David being one of them. The Citizens Court consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the 12 jurors during Gainesville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. So the slaveholders alone could condemn a person to death! In 1860 Cooke County population was 4,000, of which 66 were slaveowners which owned 300-400 slaves. These men exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Diamond account refers to David Miller Leffel with only initials for a given name -- D. M. Leffel. Clark refers to David as "Oald man Leffel." At his trial by the vigilante Citizen's Court, David says, "I was sworn by Wm Boyles, who gave me the signs, grip and password. I was sworn to support the old Constitution and Union." David Leffel was connected with the Ramey Dye meeting for the rescue of the prisoners. He was found guilty of disloyalty and hung. David's hanging took place on Sunday, October 19, 1862. It is not known what happened to his body after the hanging.

William Jefferson Leffel, oldest son of David and Susan, returned to Ohio at the outbreak of the Civil War and continued to live in Ohio throughout his life. But, back in Texas, several family members of David's family were listed on the Grayson County, Texas Confederate Indigent Families list. The Texas State legislature made this list after they passed a resolution in December 1863 and pledged support and maintenance of families, widows, and dependents of soldiers currently serving in Confederate forces, or of soldiers killed or disabled in service. A. M. Leffel and Sarah and William S. Counts are on the list. This means that David's son, Anthony M. Leffel and son-in-law, William S. Counts (husband of Sarah), were fighting for the Confederate forces.  Anthony is not found in any of the Confederate regiment lists, but there is a W. S. Counts who served in Company A, 14th Regiment, Texas Cavalry (Johnson's Mounted Volunteers).  The 14th Cavalry Regiment was organized during the winter of 1861-1862 and mustered into Confederate service in March 1862.  Son-in-law, William S. Counts, cannot be found in records after the War so he may have died during the war or shortly afterwards from illness or wounds.

David Miller Leffel was a kind and gentle man who loved his family. His death left his wife and children without his support and protection. The only information David's family back in Ohio knew concerning his death was that David had been killed in Texas by a 'Confederate mob' on account of his Union sentiments. David's brother, Joel Leffel, was serving in the Union Army and died in the Army Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky in 1863.  So that means that David's father, Anthony Leffel, lost two sons during the Civil War.

Susan lost her dearest friend and companion, when her husband was killed in the Hanging. She referred to David as being 'kind' and a 'great source of my comfort'.  In 1869, Susan is living in Pilot Point when she writes a letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the continued harassment by southern rebels. Susan's whereabouts are not known after that time.
Did Susan die shortly after writing the letter to the Governor? Was she killed by the men harassing her?

Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, also lost her husband during this period. Some say William Boyles was shot while escaping, then died later of the wounds while he was hiding out in the timbers. Another sister’s husband, John Haning, was away fighting in the Confederate Army.
It appears that when David was hanged, he had several family members, who lived in Texas, serving for the Confederate Army:  his son-in-law, William S. Counts;  his brother-in-law, John Haning; and possibly his son, Anthony Leffel.

David's story did not end with his death in the Great Hangings.  David left behind 7 children and would eventually have 45 grandchildren, whose numerous descendants live from coast to coast.  David Miller Leffel lives on in the lives and memories of his descendants.

Where are David and Susan buried? That question has yet to be answered and haunts all who are descendants. A Miller family history book, The Genealogy of the Descendants of Frederick and Mary Elizabetyh Peery Miller, published in 1913, states that both David and Susan were buried in Texas, BUT the actual burial sites for David and Susan are unknown.

The questions below still need to be answered:
Was David buried in the mass burials along with the other victims of the hanging??
Or was he buried by his family in an unknown grave??
When and where did Susan die?
Was she able to be buried next to her beloved David?
Or, is she, too, buried in some unknown grave?

 David Miller Family Info
David Miller Leffel was born on 20 Jan 1816 in , Botetourt, Virginia. Son of Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel. He died on 19 Oct 1862 in Gainesville, Cooke, Texas as a victim of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. It is NOT known what happened to his body after the hanging.
David married Susan Evaline West daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. Susan was born on 3 Jun 1817 in Mason County, Kentucky.
Susan died sometime after 1869 in Texas. It is NOT known when or where she died or was buried.
David and Susan were the parents of 8 children and 45 grandchildren:
1. William Jefferson Leffel was born on 31 Jul 1838 in Donnelsville, Clark, Ohio. He died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. He was buried in Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. William married Mary Buckles daughter of David B. Buckles and Elizabeth Covalt on 31 Oct 1861 in Miami, Ohio. Mary was born on 22 Feb 1836 in Miami County, Ohio. She died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She was buried in Union Cemetery, Columbus, Franklin, Oklahoma.  They were the parents of 10 children.
2. Sarah Ann Leffel was born about 1840 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. She died before 1882.
Sarah married (1) William S. Counts on 4 Jun 1860 in , Grayson, Texas. William was born about 1837 in Missouri. He died about 1863 in Texas. Sarah may have married (2) John C. Morgan on 14 Jun 1868 in Grayson County, Texas.  She was the mother of 3 children.
3. Eliza Jane Leffel was born on 24 Jan 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She died on 16 Dec 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She was buried in Hill Cemetery, Champaign, Ohio.
4. Anthony Musgrove Leffel was born in Jan 1846 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 17 Mar 1909 in Hood, Texas. He was buried in Granbury, Hood, Texas.  Anthony married Mendora Lee Batchelor (called Minnie or Nudora) daughter of Hilliard Austin Batchelor and Ripsy Ann Earhart on 13 Feb 1884 in Tarrant County, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Mendora was born in Mar 1870 in Texas. She died on 27 Jul 1955. She was buried in Fort Scott, Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri.  They were the parents of 8 children.
5. James Perry Leffel was born on 21 Sep 1848 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 28 Sep 1940 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried on 29 Sep 1940 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma.
James married (1) Malinda Jane Martin daughter of Charles Neely Martin and Euphamia Isabell Martin on 5 May 1869 in , Dallas, Texas. Malinda was born in 1843 in Illinois. She died in Apr 1870 in Lancaster, Dallas, Texas.
James married (2) Euphamia Isabell Martin daughter of William Harvey Martin and Susan Abigail Whitaker on 3 Jan 1871 in , Ellis, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Euphamia was born on 30 Jul 1820 in Matoon, Coles, Illinois. She died on 10 May 1916 in Glen Rose, Somervell, Texas.  James married (3) Laura Ann Neely daughter of James Martin Neely Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Burleson about 1887 in Texas. Laura was born on 3 Jul 1859 in , Denton, Texas. She died on 7 Oct 1931 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 8 Oct 1931 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.  James Perry Leffel was the father of 6 children.
6. Charles Edgar Leffel was born on 16 Apr 1851 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 4 Jun 1919 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried in Jun 1919 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.
Charles married (1) Sarah Ann Burkham on 5 May 1869 in , Cooke, Texas. Sarah was born about 1852 in Texas. She died in Jun 1870 in Ellis County, Texas. 
Charles married (2) Caldona Jane Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 18 Nov 1875 in , Dallas, Texas. Caldona was born on 18 Mar 1858 in , Bradley, Arkansas. She died on 12 Feb 1926 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 13 Feb 1926 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.

Charles was the father of 10 children.
7. John Wesley Leffel was born on 4 Aug 1855 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 21 Feb 1925 in , Jack, Texas. He was buried on 22 Feb 1925 in Cottonwood Cemetery, Hood, Texas.

John married (1) Sarah Eleanor McCoy daughter of James McCoy and Sarah Cloud on 13 Jun 1873 in , Cooke, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Sarah was born in May 1855 in Tarrant County, Texas. She died on 21 May 1942 in Clarksville, Red River, Texas.
John married (2) Mary Elizabeth Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 29 Oct 1884 in , Hood, Texas. This marriage for John ended in divorce also. Mary was born on 7 Sep 1844 in , Tippah, Mississippi. She died on 28 Feb 1922 in Jack County, Texas. She was buried in Cottonwood Cemetery, Jack, Texas.

John was the father of 2 daughters and reared two stepsons as if they were his own.
8. George Leffel was born in Aug 1857 in Ohio. He died on 31 Jul 1919 in , Jack, Texas.

George married (1) Mary Runnels on 11 Oct 1877 in Hood, Cooke, Texas.  George married (2) Florida W. Tucker on 16 Jun 1898 in Graham, Young, Texas. Florida was born in May 1870 in Texas.  George was the father of 6 children.


Anonymous said...

This is a truly sad and amazing story--and equally amazing because you have accomplished your goal: I am family!! David Miller Leffel is my ancestor. Thank you for this valuable information about my family.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanx for posting this info on the Leffel family. This is my family. I feel so bad that David had to die at the hands of a confederate mob. His wife's letter was a real tear jerker. Texas seemed to be a lawless place to live during the Civil War.