Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gainesville Hanging Marker

The marker for the "Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862" is located in the Georgia Bass Park on the east bank of Pecan Creek, between Main Street and California Street.  The marker was erected in 1964.  According to a local, at one time the Gainesville Hanging marker was located west of I-35, near Elm Creek and later moved to it's present location.

Close-up of the marker - marker text at bottom of this post.

Marker Text:Facing the threat of invasion from the north and fearing a Unionist uprising in their midst, the people of North Texas lived in constant dread during the Civil War. Word of a "Peace Party" of Union sympathizers, sworn to destroy their government, kill their leaders, and bring in Federal troops caused great alarm in Cooke and neighboring counties. Spies joined the "Peace Party" discovered its members and details of their plans. Under the leadership of Colonels James Bourland, Daniel Montague and others, citizens loyal to the Confederacy determined to destroy the order; and on the morning of October 1, 1862, there were widespread arrests "by authority of the people of Cook County." Fear of rescue by "Peace Party" members brought troops and militia to Gainesville, where the prisoners were assembled, and hastened action by the citizens committee. At a meeting of Cooke County citizens, with Colonel W.C. Young presiding, it was unanimously resolved to establish a Citizens Court and to have the Chairman choose a committee to select a jury. 68 men were brought speedily before the court. 39 of them were found guilty of conspiracy and insurrection, sentenced and immediately hanged. Three other prisoners who were members of military units were allowed trial by Court Martial at their request and were subsequently hanged by its order. Two others broke from their guard and were shot and killed. The Texas Legislature appropriated $4,500 for rations, forage used by State troops here during the unrest. (1964)

Not sure why the names of all the men who died in the hanging were not placed on the marker. It would seem that they deserve being remembered by name!

Found an article on the Gainesville Hanging marker by author James Loewen.
In his book, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, James Loewen gives an interesting take on the Gainesville Hanging historical marker.   Loewen considers the modest marker an "extended excuse" for what happened in October 1862.   He explains how years earlier in 1911, Gainesville put up a Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn that was "a counterfactual statement to cover over the awful crime that the Confederates carried out on these very grounds in October 1862."

Ceremony Commemorates Great Hanging

Last Saturday, the fourth annual Gainesville Hanging Commemoration was sponsored by the Cooke County Historical Commission.  The following newspaper article is from the GAINESVILLE DAILY REGISTER, Gainesville Texas. October 18, 2010

Ceremony Commemorates Great Hanging
By PAMELA ROBINSON, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register

Gainesville — History can lie buried, like a civilization covered over by centuries of dust and then layers of earth. But, it is still there, and can be brought back to life by someone researching the site or event.

The Gainesville history of The Great Hanging was unearthed by Leon Russell, who made it his business to shed light on an unsettling event that took place in our town.  Russell is credited for starting the yearly ceremony to commemorate the victims of The Great Hanging which took place in 1862.

Saturday morning, Russell was at the fourth commemoration in his wheel chair and one arm in a sling, at the Georgia Bass Park, the actual site of the hangings in 1862. He said his intent has always been to bring justice to a group of men whose lives were ended.

During the ceremony Ron Melugin, Chair of the Cooke County Historical Commission and fellow commission member Colleen Clark Carri, walked through the rows of crosses and read each name and rang a bell in remembrance of each person.

Russell then spoke to those at the gathering.  “Now that we’ve heard the names, who are these people?” Russell asked. “Well, for the most part, they were non-slave owners, with one or two exceptions, and for the most part they were out in the eastern part of the county and for the most part, they were grubbing their living out of a little garden spot and trying to perfect their claim under the Peters colony. Most of them would have been subject to the draft, the Confederate draft, and they really didn’t want to go fight the rich man’s war, the planter’s war. They left 42 widows and about 170 children.”

Russell joked that people might look at him and say, “well, what’s an old guy in that shape, what would be his interest in something like this, and I can tell you right quick, when I first learned of this I thought it was just such a horrible injustice. And this is a country that’s supposed to have been formed on the basis of justice. What happened to the idea that every man is considered innocent until proven guilty by a competent court by a jury of his peers?”  Russell became very emotional during his address and said, “The people that did it trashed that and I’m here to speak out against them. And if I don’t get to say anything more, I hope they’re watching,” he said as he looked around, “because I want to say, ‘you didn’t get us all yet,’” to the applause of the gathered audience.

Russell himself is not a descendant of anyone involved in The Great Hanging but said, “The scale of justice has to be re-balanced somewhere, that’s our fundamental belief.”

L.D. Clark was the featured speaker at the commemoration and wrote the book, “A Bright Tragic Thing,” about the hanging.  Melugin introduced Clark as a noted author and specialist on the Great Hanging and a decedent of Nathaniel Miles Clark who was hanged. Clark is now as a resident of Gainesville. 
“You know why we are gathered here today? Because 148 years ago in 1862, there started what is called a ‘reign of terror’ in Gainesville because over a three-week period, 42 men were hanged and a couple were shot. This went on for three weeks and you can imagine what it was like in the whole county,” Clark started. “They had a so-called jury...You might as well say it was a mob to begin with.”

Clark said most of the people got the sham trial, but pointed out that his ancestor Nathaniel Miles Clark and 11 other men never even got the sham trial. “When everything is going into chaos, that’s when the rule of law is supposed to kick in,” Clark said.

Clark introduced two of Ephraim Chiles’ great-granddaughters, Barbara Parcell of North Richland Hills and Shirley Clough of Kansas. Clough addressed the audience and told them about the history they are working on, which led then to Gainesville for the first time for the commemoration. Chiles and his brother Henry Chiles were the first two men to be hanged.

The Commemoration of the Great Hanging started four years ago after Russell went before the Gainesville city council to start the ceremony.  “He felt it just needed to be done,” his daughter Gayle Russell said.  Russell grew up in Woodbine and when someone mentioned The Great Hanging to him, he had no idea what they were talking about.  “It started hanging on his heart,” Carri said, “and he contacted Ron Melugin and said ‘I want to do something about it and I’m running into roadblocks and I can’t get anybody to talk to me about this.’ Ron said, ‘well, I’ll talk about it. So one thing led to another...’”

Russell and his wife and his nurse also made the crosses, one for each victim, for the commemorations.

The commemoration is sponsored by the Cooke County Historical Commission.

A huge memorial stone commemorating the events is located in Georgia Bass Park. The park is located between California Street and Main Street and is east of Pecan Creek.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Arphax Dawson

Given name is spelled various ways: Arphaxton/Arphax/Arphaxad . It is a biblical name and reference to it can be found in the Book of Genesis 10:22. Arphaxad was the son of Shem and grandson of Noah.

Richard B. McCaslin's book "Tainted Breeze," gives this account of Arphax:
"Arphax R. Dawson immigrated to Texas from Illinois; he is listed in the 1860 Grayson County census (F.N. 642) as a farmer from Georgia, age fifty-five, with $3,297 in real and personal property. His wife, Jane, was from Tennessee; their five children had been born in Illinois, Missouri, and Texas. Their oldest daughter, Mary Ann, married Rama Dye on June 27, 1861."

Arphaxton. R. Dawson was born 1805 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. He was married about 1824 to Mary HORN near Sewanne, Franklin, Tennessee. They had twelve known children (listed below). Mary died in 1856 in Franklin County, Illinois. Arphax then married Jane Caroline Stalcup. They had three known children (listed below.) He and second wife, Jane, were living in Sherman, Grayson County in October 1862. Arphaxton R. DAWSON died 19 Oct 1862 "The Great Hanging" at Gainesville. He was 57 years old at the time of his death. Some online accounts state that his body was taken back to Grayson County for burial, but NO burial site is known.

During the proceedings of the ‘Citizens Court” Arphax gave testimony in the trial of his son-in-law, Ramey Dye.  Testimony: “Ramey Dye came to my house and told me that M. D. Harper had been arrested on the charge of being connected with our society; and that there would be a meeting held that night, (1 Oct 1862) near Lattimer’s and Richies’ steam mill, for the purpose of consulting how to rescue Harper. He wished me to attend and bring my gun, which I did. The meeting was attended by Ramey Dye, John M. Wiley, Isham Welch, Wm Boyles, Jon Ware, H. Gilman, Robt Duncan and others. He talked about the rescue of Harper. We came to the conclusion that the force at Gainesville was too strong for us to accomplish our purpose.”
Arphax Dawson was tried in a group trial (5 men) and found guilty of “giving the signs, grip, and password, and were active members of Capt Ramey Dye’s company.” They were found guilty and hanged.
George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862, ManuscripteEdited by Sam Acheson and Julie The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. LXVI, January, 1963, No. 3, pages 331-414

In the "Tainted Breeze," McCaslin states that "Arphax R. Dawson and James A. Ward, had tried to flee the state but found their way across the Red River blocked by unseasonably high water brought on by the deluge of October 1."

Rama Dye, the son-in-law of Arphax Dawson, was also tried by the 'Citizens Court', found guilty of treason and hanged.  His wife, Mary Ann Dawson Dye, lost both her husband and father during those dreadful October days when so many men were hanged.

Arphax had three sons who fought in Confederate units.  According to a descendant, Ephriam A. Dawson was serving in a Confederate Texas Cavalry unit on the very day that his father was hanged by the confederates in Gainesville .

Arphax can be found in the following census records:
Census: 1840 in Franklin County, IL
Census: 1850 in Franklin County, IL
Census: 1860 Grayson County, Texas

Jane Dawson, was married once before. Her first husband is believed to be William Bland. In the 1860 census, 2 boys named James BLAND (b. abt 1850 TN) and John R. J. BLAND (b. abt 1853 TN) are living in the Dawson household. Jane C. and Arphaxton married in late 1856 or early 1857 (no marriage record found) as they had their first child Arfax DAWSON in 1857 in Missouri on their way down to Texas from Illinois.

Arphaxton and Mary HORN had the following children:
1. Allen DAWSON b. 1825 d. 1877 m. 1848 Mary C. VAUGHN; buried in Dawson Cemetery, Franklin Co., IL Descendants known.
2. Minerva DAWSON b. 1826 Alabama; m. 1850 William J. FLETCHER in Franklin Co., IL; descendants known (she names one of her sons Arfax)
3. Susan DAWSON b. abt 1827 m. HARRISON Descendants unknown
4. Rebecca Jane DAWSON b. abt 1828 AL; m. 1850 George LEFLER in Franklin Co., IL; descendants known
5. William DAWSON b. abt 1829 m. Melinda HAMON Franklin Co., IL; some descendants known
6. Juda "Judith" DAWSON b. abt 1834 White Co., IL m. 1853 Henry FLETCHER Franklin Co., IL; descendants known.
7. Samuel J. DAWSON b. abt 1838 AL; m. 1859 Mary Jane SKAGGS Cooke Co., TX; descendants not known
8. Ephraim A. DAWSON b. 1840 Franklin Co., IL; d. 1926 Cooke Co., TX; buried Mt. Zion Cemetery, Cooke Co., TX; m. 1861 (1) Sarah Jane WARD 1861 (2) Lucinda PARSONS 1868; descendants known
9. Mary Ann DAWSON b. abt 1843 Franklin Co., IL; m. 1861 (1) Rama DYE in Cooke Co., TX (he was also hanged in The Great Hanging Oct 1862) and (2) William T. HORTON ; descendants unknown
10. Nancy Catherine DAWSON b. abt 1845 Franklin Co., IL; m. 1861 A. DICKERSON in Grayson Co., TX; unknown descendants
11. George W. DAWSON b. abt 1846 Franklin Co., IL; m. (1) Cordelia REEVES (2) Sarah HUFFACRE in 1867 Cooke Co., TX; descendants unknown
12. Canzada DAWSON b. abt 1849 Franklin Co., IL; m. William KING in TX; nothing more known

Arphax R. DAWSON and his second wife Jane had the following children:
1. Arfax DAWSON b. 1857 Missouri; m. 1882 Mary Elizabeth FUTRELL in Dallas, Dallas, TX. She died in 1883 and nothing more in known of Anfaxton.
2. America Jane DAWSON b. 1859 Sherman, Grayson, TX;
d. 1939 Willis, Marshall, OK, buried in Marlow, Stephens, TX
m. Dennis Morgan MURPHY 1874 in Dallas Co., TX; descendants known.
3. Parthena T. DAWSON b. 27 Jun 1861 Sherman, Grayson, TX; d. 1916 Dallas, Dallas, TX; buried Laurel Oaks Cemetery, Old Bennett Cemetery section, Mesquite TX. She married (1) James WILLS 1877 Dallas Co., TX; ended in divorce; she had one child, Mary, with him; nothing known of her. (2) Samuel Wayne FUTRELL in 1882 Dallas, Dallas, TX; Descendants known.

Arphaxton R. DAWSON's second wife, Jane C. remarried Creed Taylor WALTHALL, a minister and farmer, on 26 Jan 1864 in Grayson County, Texas. They had the following children: Thomas WALTHALL b. abt. 1864 and Milton WALTHALL b. abt 1866 - nothing more in known about them.
Jane C. Dawson Walthall d. 1902 Dallas, Dallas, TX; buried in the Laurel Oaks Cemetery (Bennett section) in Mesquite, TX

What Were Their Occupations?

What were their occupations?

In October 1862, 42 men were tried for their Union Sympathies and convicted by a Confederate ‘Citizens Court’ in Gainesville, Texas. 40 men were hanged and several were shot while trying to escape. 

According to McCaslin, “Many of the victims were not of the lower echelons or fringes of society, but instead could claim to be middle-class.”

The following is a list of ‘Great Hanging’ men and their known occupations. Since most came to Texas to become landowners and farm, the majority of the men were obviously farmers, but it’s surprising to see other occupations represented as well.  Many of the men had trades or held county offices.  Known talents, such as being a musician, are also noted.

Any corrections or additions to this list of the men and/or their occupations are welcome! 

1. C. F. (E. F., Frosty) Anderson - ?
2. George W. Anderson - ?
3. Richard J. Anderson - ?
4. William B. Anderson - farmer
5. Thomas O. Baker - farmer
6. Bennet C. Barnes - farmer
7. Barnibus Burch - farmer
8. Samuel Carmichael - carpenter
9. Ephraim Chiles - farmer
10. Henry Chiles - physician
11. Nathaniel M. Clark - farmer
12. Henry Cockrum- -farmer, miller
13. John Mansil Crisp - blacksmith
14. Arphaxton R. Dawson - farmer
15. Rama Dye – farmer, justice of the peace, minister, road overseer
16. Hudson John Esman – farmer, musician
17. Henry S. Field - shoemaker
18. Thomas B. Floyd (shot) - farmer
19. James T. Foster (shot) - physician
20. Curd Goss - farmer
21. Edward D. Hampton - farmer
22. M. D. Harper - carpenter
23. William W. Johnson - farmer, Clarke called him Dr. Johnson
24. C. A. Jones - ?
25. David Miller Leffel - carpenter
26. Leander W. P. Jacob Lock - farmer
27. Abraham McNeese – farmer
28. Richard N. Martin - farmer
29. John M. Miller – carpenter, teacher, musician
30. John A. Morris - farmer
31. Wash Morris - farmer  OR John W. Morris - farmer
32. M. Wesley Morris - farmer
33. William W. Morris - farmer
34. James A. Powers – “sawer”
35. William R. Rhodes - farmer
36. Alexander D. Scott - farmer
37. Eli M. Scott - farmer, road overseer
38. Gilbert Smith - farmer
39. William B. Taylor - farmer
40. Eli Sigler Thomas - physician
41. James A. Ward - farmer
42. William Wilson Wornell - farmer
43. William Boyles (later shot and possibly died from wounds) - farmer
44. Hiram Kilborn (shot) - road overseer, school trustee, poll supervisor, Baptist preacher
Other men that were killed during that time:
Hanged by James Young:
   William A. McCool - ?
   John M. Cottrell -?
   A.N. Johnson - ?
E. Junius Foster, shot by Young, newspaper editor of the Sherman Patriot, shot as he was closing up newspaper office.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Left Without a Father

According to our latest list (Feb 2012), there were at least 185 children left without a father after the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  If we had a complete list of all the families for the men who were executed during the Hangings, the total children left without a father in the home would be much higher.  Several children, whose mother had died previously, were left orphans by the Hanging.  Read the sad story about the Miller girls in a previous post.

While some of the children of older men who died, were already adults by the time of the Hanging, most of the children were younger and still needed a father in their lives.  There were also numerous infants and some unborn babies.  Think of all those poor widowed mothers who had to care for their families all by themselves without the support of a father and husband.

During our research, as we find more information about the men who died that dreadful October so many years ago, we will undoubtedly find more children who had to live without the benefit of a father in their home. 

The lives of all of these children were definitely changed due to the violent death of their father during those dark days of October 1862.  Not only had they lost their father tragically, but many families faced continued harassment.  Susan Leffel's 1869 letter to the governor states that she and her family had been robbed, threatened and abused since the Hangings.  Dr. Henry Chiles oldest daughter, Elizabeth, had to become a domestic servant to help support her family.  M. D. Harper's wife, Eliza, became a wash woman to help support her young family and most of the family remained very poor, with some of the chldren even being buried in a county poor farm.  These are just a few examples of life for the children after they lost their father in the 'Great Hanging'.

Gone to Texas

Gone to Texas, often abbreviated G.T.T. or GTT, was a phrase used by Americans immigrating to Texas in the mid-1800's. They moved to Texas for many reasons; often to escape debt, to start over again, begin for the first time, to get land or maybe looking for adventure as well as for new fortunes. Obtaining "land" seems to be the driving force for most of those who came to Texas. "Gone to Texas" or "G.T.T." was often written on the doors of abandoned houses or posted as a sign on fences.

Most of the men who died in the Hangings came to Texas hoping for a better life for themselves and their families. Instead, they met a premature death at the end of a rope and their family was left alone on the Texas frontier.  Most were hardworking, honorable men with hopes and dreams for bettering their family's future.

Descendants of men who died in the 'Great Hanging of Gainesville', may qualify for a Texas Heritage Certificate.  Several certificates are given by the Texas State Genealogical Society:
Texas First Families Certificate   Prove direct or collateral descent from an ancestor who settled in Texas before February 19, 1846.
Gone to Texas Pioneer Certificate   Prove direct descent from a person who was in Texas prior to 1886.   Descendants of all the men who died during the Hangings should qualify for this certificate.
West Texas Pioneer Certificate   Prove direct descent from a person who was in West Texas (as defined by list of 133 Counties attached) prior to 1901.

Perhaps the Cooke County Historical Commission should consider a certificate program for descendants of all those who lost their lives in the Great Hanging.   A program such as this would be nice to have in place by the sesquicentennial of the Gainesville Hanging in October 2012.

The Peters Colony of Texas
On the 4th of February 1841, the Republic of Texas adopted a land colonization law called "An Act Granting Land to Emigrants" that dealt with two important issues: the granting of land and the settling of immigrants. This law was proposed by group of 20 petitioners who declared their interest in colonizing unoccupied portions in north Texas. Circulars were printed for distribution and posted in public places advertising the rich lands of the Red River and Trinity Colony in Texas. One advertisement stated that the Peters Colony was “peculiarly adapted to the successful growth of cotton and tobacco,” and, “Indian corn, rye, barley, oats, sweet and Irish potatoes, peas, beans, melons, figs, garden vegetables and all the fruits.” Circulars further claimed that “the country abounds in wild game, such as buffalo, deer wild turkies, prairie hens, quails, and grey squirrels, and the forest with wild honey.” With advertisements such as this, it is easy to see why so many families decided to emigrate to Texas.
Every family settling in Texas during this period was to receive 640 acres of land and each single man 320 acres, provided they lived on and work the land for three years. By the 1850’s, the Peters Land Company was reorganized under the name of the Texas Emigration and Land Company, which offered 320 acres to married men and 160 to single men, plus a "free cabin, seed, and musket balls.”

Below is a list of men who died in the Great Hangings that were colonists in the Peters Colony or had ties to the Peters Colony.  Please let us know of any additions to this list - there should probably be more men represented on this list.
Henry Cockrum – issued a certificate by Cooke County for 640 acres, later disallowed
Rama Dye – issued a certificate and patented 640 acres in Cooke County - Fannin 3rd Class #1201
David Miller Leffel moved to Texas in 1858 when his wife inherited land from her father, Michael West, who was issued a certificate for 640 acres in Grayson County. Fannin 3rd Class #904
William Boyles – issued a land certificate and later patented in Grayson County – Fannin 3rd Class #1569

To conduct a Land Grant Search at the Texas General Land Office, go to:

Leave a comment for additions to the Peters Colony list of men who died in the Hanging.

Gainesville Hanging Cemetery

Gainesville Hanging Cemetery Now on Findagrave

FindaGrave.com now has a virtual cemetery for the men who died in the Great Hangings. The descendants have long been denied from being able to visit a grave site or memorial with names for their ancestors who died in the Hangings.

As noted in a previous post, after the men were hanged, their bodies were thrown into an empty warehouse building on the west side of the town square. A few of the families were able to claim the body of their loved one, but most of the grieving, frightened widows could not find able bodied men to help them (anyone caught helping the widowed families were themselves arrested.) Most of executed men were left for the court officials to bury. Some were buried in hurriedly made coffins, but when the scrap lumber from the torn-down house was used up, the rest of the men were wrapped in old blankets and buried in shallow graves along the banks of Pecan Creek. It has been said that rains washed away the dirt covering some of the graves and that wild pigs dug up some graves.

All that being said, except for the descendants of about 5 of the men who died the Hangings, the rest of the descendants have NO known grave to visit. What a shame the state or county has never placed a memorial marker with all the names of the men who perished in the Hangings.

Now, a virtual cemetery has been created on FindaGrave. If you have an ancestor who died in the Great Hanging, visit the Great Hanging Burial Site on findagrave.com and leave a note & (virtual) flower for your ancestor. If you want, you can also leave a picture, story, obituary or add family links. Also, you can have the memorial of your ancestor transferred to you by just contacting the person who created the memorial.

Go to FindaGrave Website:  http://www.findagrave.com/  -- Then perform a search for your Great Hanging ancestor in Cooke County, Texas.

Gainesville Hanging Group on Facebook

Facebook has a Group for the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas.  If you are a 'Great Hanging of Gainesville' descendant or have an interest in Texas History, you might want to join this group on facebook.  Joining this group should keep you updated on all the news concerning the Great Hanging.

The name of the group is:  Gainesville Texas - The Great Hanging - October 1862 Civil War
The category of the group is:  Common Interest - History
The group description is: 
Certainly one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War occurred in Gainesville, Texas in Oct. 1862, when 40 men, suspected of Union sympathies, were hanged.
Searching for descendants of the 42 victims who were hanged in Gainesville, Texas in 1862. An anniversary celebration in October 2012 will mark 150 years since this tragedy - the most mass hangings in the United States.
Photo of Nathaniel Miles Clark, lynched in the Great Hanging in Gainesville, TX on October 13, 1862.
Group's Goal:  Searching for descendants of the 42 victims who were hanged in Gainesville, Texas in 1862. An anniversary celebration in October 2012 will mark 150 years since this tragedy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

John M. Miller Biography

The following biography was written by S. M. Wollard, a descendant of John M. Miller. Please see the previous posts, Orphan Daughters of John Miller and Will the real John Miller please come forward
Thanks to S. Wollard, the real John M. Miller and his family has finally come forward!

John M. Miller (1821-1862)

John M. Miller was born near Campbellsville, Green County, Kentucky in the autumn of 1821. He was the son of William Lindsay and Nancy (Puryear) Miller, both natives of Kentucky who had married in 1818. John was raised in a family of two sisters and five brothers: Elizabeth, Louisa, Francis M., Thomas, Jesse, Edwin and William E. The Millers moved from Green County to Adair and Taylor Counties in Kentucky before migrating to Missouri. After a brief stay in Howard County, they eventually settled in Carroll County around 1848.

John, like his father was a carpenter by trade and in 1850 was found living with both his family and in the household of another carpenter by the name of Malcoger R. Flora. John, as his younger brother Francis, was also a school teacher. Descendants of John claim that he was musician and taught music lessons. Even though some records indicate that John was illiterate, he was apparently well educated and gifted musically.

John married Martha Jane Sandusky on January 18, 1852 in Carroll County, Missouri. Martha’s family lived next door to the Millers and her father James was a wagon maker. James and Margaret (Campbell) Sandusky had arrived in Carroll County in the 1830s migrating from Kentucky; Martha being born there in 1832. The Sanduskys were partially responsible for bringing a minister and building the first Christian Church in Carroll County.

John and Martha Miller had three daughters: Nancy L., Mary Elizabeth, and Luella A. All were born three miles northwest of Bogard, Missouri in an area called Bogard Mound.

In October of 1852, John and his father William purchased 40 acres of land in Carroll County. It is not certain when, but apparent that John had staked a claim in a land venture in Texas. He, along with several others during this time, registered land in Grayson, Collin, Montague, and Cooke Counties in an area known as the Cross Timbers. This group of emigrants was of mid- and deep-southern heritage, but predominantly northern unionists. The Peters Colony, as it was called, was settled in 160 and 320-acre parcels at a time prior to and during the Civil War.

On August 24, 1857, Martha Miller died unexpectedly by choking on food. She was 35 years old and was buried in Carroll County. Whether planned, it is not known, but John and his daughters moved from Missouri to Cooke County, Texas shortly after Martha died. By 1860, the widower and his daughters were living near Gainesville. He had built a cabin on 320 acres and his daughters kept house. He owned $2160.00 in personal and real property.

At this time, the Civil War had begun and tensions in northern Texas were on the rise. Even though Cooke and neighboring counties were chiefly “non-slave” holding counties, slave-holding secessionists controlled public affairs. These men were long-standing residents who owned large tracts of land and viewed Texas as a republic; and were skeptical with the addition of numerous colonists moving into the area. News about the war seemed to spread through these northern counties before newspapers managed to put it in print. Suspicions grew and in September of 1862, it was confirmed that there was a secret organization in the midst known as the “Peace Party.” This institution was made up primarily of “Unionists”, who at a moment’s notice, were prepared to aid the north in defeating southern sentiment, gaining access to ammunition and land.

In the early morning hours of October 1, 1862, several groups of secessionist men rounded up suspected unionists and brought them into Gainesville where they were held by guards. One after another, they were tried and some found guilty of insurrection and treason. After deliberation, approximately 40 of these men were hanged over a three week period. A lot of these men were simply farmers who had joined the Peace Party to have an association that would offer protection for their families.

Unfortunately, John Miller was a unionist and was one of the last to hang on October 19, 1862. It is likely that he was buried in a shallow grave near the Pecan Creek in Gainesville, Texas. According to Nancy (Miller) Brand’s obituary, she and her younger sister escaped on that rainy October morning through the timber and took refuge at a neighbor’s home. Before John was tried and hanged, he had asked a man named William Mitchell to look after his estate and see that Nancy and Mary Elizabeth were sent back to Missouri to be with family.

Instead, Mr. Mitchell sold off John’s land in parcels and kept the money. He worked the orphaned Miller girls very hard and did not allow them to attend school. This went on for years and then according to court records, a Judge John E. Wheeler stripped Mitchell of guardianship, deeming his actions illegal. Mitchell was ordered by the court to pay the new guardian, a Mr. John H. Harrison, the sum of $160.00 as a settlement. Mr. Harrison alerted the Miller family in Missouri of the circumstances relating to John’s death and the ordeal that his daughters had suffered . John’s younger brother Thomas, in a covered wagon presumably built by James Sandusky, went to Texas and took the girls back to Missouri. By 1870, all three Miller girls were living with their Sandusky grandparents.

Nancy Miller eventually became a school teacher and in 1878 married Daniel Brand, a native of Pennsylvania. They had two children: Harry and Bernadotte. Daniel was a painter, newspaper man and clerk after serving in the Civil War. He died in 1905 and Nancy in April of 1941. She was 88 years old.

Although the author is close, the remainder of Mary Elizabeth Miller’s life is uncertain at this time.

Luella A. Miller married Theodore Barnett in January of 1874. Theodore was born near Petersburg, Boone County, Kentucky in 1846. They raised six daughters: Lenora, Mary, Susie, Nanny, Stella, and Gertrude. Theodore died in October of 1899. Luella lived alone or with a roommate for years before moving to Bavaria, Kansas to stay with a daughter. As many older people do, Luella fell and broke her hip, dying shortly afterward of pneumonia at the age of 89. She was brought back to Carroll County on a train in 1944 and buried with her husband in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Bogard, Missouri.

Reference: The majority of this biographical sketch was taken from Profiles in Ancestry, 2006, by S. M. Wollard.
1. Some believe that the youngest daughter, Luella, was still in Texas at the time of John’s death and may have passed away prior to the mid-1860s. She was listed in the 1860 Cooke County, Texas census; however, I believe she was sent back to Missouri because of the possibility of Indian attacks and the wild frontier.

2. It was thought by some that John had remarried in September of 1860 to a woman named Mary Eubanks. There were two John Millers in Cooke County, Texas at this time. The other man, John B. Miller most probably married Miss Eubanks; however, he too died in the early 1860s. She then remarried a man by the name of James Hooper in 1863.

1870 Census showing the Miller daughters living with their maternal grandparents, James and Margaret Campbell, in Carroll County, Missouri.

Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Wakenda, Carroll, Missouri; Roll M593_766; Page: 398B; Family History Library Film: 552265

Obituary for Nannie (Nancy) L. Brand, daughter of John M. Miller, that tells of her story during the Gainesville Hanging tragedy.

The death certificate for Nannie L. Brand, daughter of John M. Miller can be found at http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/deathcertificates/

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