Thursday, August 26, 2010

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.


Cindy said...

I descend from Arphaxton R. Dawson - thanks for this site! Also, how can I get a high resolution copy of the map above? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great site! I would also like a better copy of the map. Thank you.