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'.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Found this story in the comments on a newspaper blog about a Great Hanging article:

An elderly relative used to often repeat the story told by his grandfather of a brick thrown through the window with a note attached telling his mother of his father's hanging and where to find the body. He was a kid of maybe 10-12 and helped cut his father down from the tree, load his body into their wagon, and dug the hole to bury it. Neighbors were afraid to help them

Read more here: