Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cooke County Books and Articles

Just found a great website with a list of books and articles on Cooke County, Texas.  Many of the articles contain information about the Great Hanging.  An index to the site can be found the Cooke County message board.   
The post states that "The follow-up posts will contain links to articles/books I've scanned and put online for everyone to read/print."

You can also get to the list of books and articles by going directly to the Ware's of Woodbine website:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who's Who? The Morris Men

According to some accounts of the Great Hanging, there were four Morris Men who lost their lives in the hanging. Most accounts give only initials for the given names, such as W. W. Morris, M. W. Morris, John W. Morris, I. W. Morris, John A. Morris, etc.  It can be a little tricky trying to figure out just who is who.

McCaslin in his book "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862," lists four men who were hanged with the surname of Morris.
Diamond’s account of the Great Hanging only identifies three men with the surname of Morris that were brought to trial before the Citizen's Court.
James Lemuel Clark has three Morris men on his list of men who were hanged.

In preparing the previous post about Thomas Floyd, we found a small clue about a few of the Morris Men. Supposedly, Clora Carter Floyd (wife of Thomas Floyd) had a sister(s) who married a Morris. They migrated from Tennessee to Texas with a stop-over in Arkansas along the way. And then, they lived next to each other in the 1860 Cooke County Census.  The husband to Clora Carter Floyd's sister supposedly died in the Hanging, also.

So, first we will list and compare information about the Morris Men found in the different accounts.

Diamond’s list of 3 Morris Men who were tried by the Citizens Court:
W. W. Morris – Seventh man tried by the Citizens Court - individual trial
John A. Morris – Tried together with Edward Hampton
M. W. Morris – Group trial with Goss, Anderson, Miller and Dawson.

McCaslin's list of 4 Morris Men, along with his notes on each man:
William W. Morris – (1860 Cooke County Census) age 50, born Georgia, farmer. Wife, Nancy, age 35, born Alabama. Will written 28 Feb 1861 and probated 27 Oct 1862. Wife, Nancy, is only heir mentioned. No known children. Trial, hanged on October 8th. In his trial, W. W. Morris states he was initiated into the Peace Party with (Thomas) Floyd.
BlogNote: Probably the W. W. Morris referred to in Diamond’s account
John A. Morris – (1860 Montague County Census) age forty, born Arkansas, wife, Marguerite 39 b. Indiana, oldest three children born Arkansas and youngest born Texas. John Morris paid taxes in Cooke County in 1861 & 1862. Tried by Citizen’s court in a double trial along with Ed Hampton, hanged on October 19th.
M. W. Morris – paid a poll tax in 1861 & 1862, Cooke County. McCaslin states that M. W. Morris is a brother to William Morris.
Tried in a group trial, along with Goss, Anderson, Miller and Dawson. Hanged on October 19th.
John W. Morris -- (1860 Cooke County Census) age thirty, born Tennessee. Wife, Lucretia, and their two sons (ages 11 & 9) born in Tennessee.
BlogNote: There was NO mention in Diamond's account of a trial for John W. Morris. Was he the witness named I. W. Morris in the trial of Ramey Dye, stating that he had been at the meeting for the rescue of Harper?  Witness Gilbert Smith mentions John W. Morris as being present at the Dye meeting.

Clark’s list of 3 Morris Men, along with our BlogNotes:
Clark said there were two Morris brothers - Wesley & Wash - that were hanged:
Wesley Morris – landholder – probably the Wesley Morris listed in 1860 Cooke County census, wife: Ann 33 b. TN, daughters: Martha Ann & Clora. He lived next to Thomas Floyd and Washington Morris in the 1860 census.
Wash Morris – landholder – probably the Washington Morris listed in 1860 Cooke County census, wife Josephine 22 b. TN, twins Wm R. & Sarah 3 yrs old.
Clark also listed:
 J. Morris - ? This is probably the John A. Morris in Diamond’s account, but it could be either one of the two John Morris men listed by McCaslin.
BlogNote: Some may argue that Clark's list included men that were not hanged and did not include some that were.  The Clark family and the Morris brothers were listed on the same page of the 1860 census, making them close neighbors.  Clark would have known close neighbors who were also hanged along with his father. 

So, who exactly are the Morris Men who died in the hangings? Were there 3 or 4? Which ones were brothers? Who were their families?

On page 227 of the 1860 Federal Census for Cooke County, the following men are listed next to each other:
Household 89 - Thomas Floyd family (Thomas Floyd hanged)
Household 90 - Wesley Morris family (According to J.M. Clark, Wesley Morris hanged)
Household 91 - Robert Morris family
Household 92 - Washington Morris family (According to J.M. Clark, Wash Morris hanged)
Household 93 - Madison Lynch family
Household 94 – N. M. Clark family (Nathaniel Miles Clark hanged)
Household 95 – Alex Powers (Father of James Alexander Powers, who was hanged)

According to the above mentioned “small clue” we found in the Lewis County, Tennessee History Book: Thomas Floyd married Clora Carter and she had sister(s) who married a Morris and lived next to them in Cooke County, Texas.  Note, we were only able to find one sister that married a Morris.

Research into the marriage records for Lewis County, Tennessee, shows a Michael W. Morris who married Ann Carter on 10 July 1850. The marriage was performed by K. Carter (Kinchen Carter) who was the father of Clora and Ann Carter.   Floyd and Clora Morris named their first son, Kinchen, after her father.  Wesley and Ann Morris had 2 known daughters, one of them named Clora, after Ann's sister.

The household 90 from the above 1860 census page shows the Wesley Morris family. Wesley’s wife is Ann, age 33 born in Tennessee. It appears that the Wesley Morris on Clark’s list is the Wesley Morris in the 1860 census.  His full name is Michael Wesley Morris and he is the M. W. Morris listed in Diamond’s account.  

In 1860, Wesley was living next door to his brother-in-law, Thomas Floyd. Wesley Morris and Thomas Floyd married sisters, Clora and Ann Carter of Lewis County, Tennessee. Thomas and Wesley were also living next to at least one more Morris brother, Washington Morris, and perhaps another, Robert Morris.

WHO'S A BROTHER TO WHO?  McCaslin states that the M. W. Morris on his list was a brother to William W. Morris. McCaslin's William W. Morris was 50 years old born in Georgia. It seems more likely that Wesley was the brother to Wash Morris (Clark's account) than to William W. Morris (McCaslin's account.)  Clark was a close neighbor to the Morris brothers, as shown in the above 1860 census for Cooke County and would have had personal knowledge of the relationship between Wesley Morris and Wash Morris.  According to the 1860 census, Wesley was 32 years old born in Tennessee. He was living next to Washington Morris, age 21 born Tennessee in the 1860 census. 

In the 1850 Census for Lawrence County, Tennessee, the following Morris family can be found with both a Wesley and Wash. Lawrence County borders Lewis County, where the Carter family lived.

1850 Lawrence Co., Tennessee, Page 371 line 1-11, Dwell 180/Family 180
Morris, Shadrick, 44, M, Farmer, Value of Real Estate $1500, NC
Morris, Sarah A. 44 , F, SC
Morris, Wesley, 19, M, TN
Morris, Sam'l C., 18, M, TN
Morris, Mary, 16, F, TN
Morris, Wash P., 11, M, TN
Morris, Shadrick F., 7, M, TN
Morris, George M., 6, M, TN (Moved to Texas by 1860)
Morris, Sarah J., 3, F, TN (Moved to Texas by 1860)
Morris, Felix G., 22, M, Farmer, TN (Moved to Texas by 1860)
Morris, William M., 2, TN (son of Felix & Henrietta Pollack Morris)

The above family from the 1850 census is most likely the family belonging to Wesley and Wash Morris in 1860 Cooke County, Texas and referred to by James Lemuel Clark. 
Wesley Morris is most likely the M. W. Morris but was Wash Morris one of the McCaslin/Diamond men?
Several Morris Men had a "W" initial.  But, in the above 1850 census, Wash's middle initial is “P” and we know from further research his son was called Washington P(erry) Morris, so, his name was most likely Washington "P" Morris.  That does not fit any of the men on the Diamond or McCaslin list.  But, how careful was Diamond in transcribing the original court records?  Could Diamond have gotten the initials wrong? Diamond's account lists only 3 trials for Morris men.  McCaslin added John W. Morris (he was mentioned during court testimony and I. W. Morris was a witness.)  A recently found newspaper account from 1880, lists Wesley and Work Morris.  Work is probably a transcription error for Wash.

Washington Morris married Josephine Hawbuckle 20 Oct 1859 in Cooke County, Texas.  In the 1860 census, there are 2 three year old children listed.  Since Washington and Josephine were married less than a year when the census was taken, the children listed on the census could be children from a previous marriage for Josephine.  If that is the case, then Hawbuckle is probably not her maiden name but a previous married name.  Josephine and Wash Morris had one son, named Washington Perry Morris, who was born in November 1862.  If Washington Morris was one of the men who died in the hanging, then that means his wife, Josephine, gave birth to a baby boy a month after the hanging.   In 1867, Josephine remarried a man by the name of William Alpin, so we know she was free (widowed) to marry by 1867.

It's very unforunate that the only surviving records of the court (Diamond's account) listed some of the men by initials only!  Research is much more difficult when only initials are known for the given name, especially if the surname is common in the locality of research. 


Any help, suggestions, additions or corrections to any of the Morris Men would be appreciated. We have not been able to find information posted by descendants on any of the online family trees on,, etc.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thomas B. Floyd

The following short biography was sent by a Floyd descendant:

Thomas B. Floyd was born about 1831 in Tennessee (1860 Cooke County, Texas Census show his age as 29). Thomas married Cloe Carter (born 14 Feb 1835 in Maury Co., Tennessee, died 29 Jan 1900 Cooke Co., Texas). Cloe is interred in New Hope Cemetery, Burns City, Cooke County, Texas. They married 4 May 1851 in Maury County, Tennessee.

They had a son, named Kinchen Floyd born about 1852 in Tennessee. He was 8 years old in the 1860 Census. No record of him has been found since the Great Hangings.

They had a daughter, named Martha Jane Floyd born 20 April 1858 in Cooke Co., Texas, died 1906 in Cooke Co., Texas and interred in the New Hope Cemetery. Martha married Wilber Fisk Riley 25 October 1872 in Cooke Co., Texas. They had seven children.

Cloe Carter Floyd had another child: Thomas Hammond Floyd born 31 Dec 1863 and died 18 May 1937. He married Sarah Katherine Parsons in Cooke County, TX. They are interred in New Hope Cemetery, Burns City, Texas. Thomas Hammond's death certificate shows T. H. Floyd as his father.

Cloe Carter Floyd married Alison W. Roark. They had two daughters, Cordelia (born 1870, died 1915) and Charity (born 1872, died 1937). Both married men by the last name of Howard. They are interred in the New Hope Cemetery, Burns City, Texas.

The family account says that THOMAS B. FLOYD was shot in the back at an ambush on Elm Creek. The family does not know where he was buried. All records have been searched to no avail. a Historian for Cooke County said that if the bodies were not claimed after the Hanging, they were buried in a mass grave on Elm Creek.

Marriage Record, Lewis County Marriage Records Book 1
Thomas B. Floyd Married Cloey Carter 4 May 1851
by S. D. Edmiston, J.P. in  Lewis County, Tennessee.

1860 Census US Federal Census, Cooke County, Texas, page 227

The following biography was found in a Lewis County, Tennessee History Book:
Lewis County, Tennessee: Est 1843, Lewis Historical Society, Turner Publishing Co., Kentucky, 1995, pg 89
Family history has been my interest for many years and my connection with Lewis County was in its earliest creation.  The Carter and Johnson families came to Maury county from North Carolina before 1820.
My great-great-grandfather, Kinchen Carter, was married to Kessiah Johnston on Feb 6, 1822, by Charles Harrington. (MauryCounty Marriage Record 1807-1837 by Priest and Alexander 1962).
Kinchen Carter was elected a magistrate of District 8 after Lewis County was formed in 1843. (Goodspeed’s History of Lewis County, p. 803)  According to Lewis County’s Minute and Quarterly Court Records, he served as commissioner and juror until 1852.  His brother, Gideon,also served in county government.
At least 11 children were born to Kinchen and Kessiah Carter, including my great-Grandmother, Clora Carter.  She supposedly was of half-Cherokee blood.  She married Thomas B. Floyd on May 4, 1851.  (Lewis County Marriage Records Book 1)  A son, Kinchen Floyd,was born before they migrated with other members of the family to Texas.  Two of Clora’s sisters married Morris’ and were neighbors in the 1860 Cooke County, Texas census.
Two other children were born to the Floyds.  A daughter, Martha Jane, married Wilber Riley and a posthumous son, Thomas Hammon Floyd, who married Sarah Parsons.  Descendants still live in the Cooke County area.
Thomas B. Floyd, a Unionist, was shot and killed while trying to escape and W.W. Morris was hung for “Disloyalty and Treason” after Texas joined the Confederacy. (Great Hanging at Gainesville 1862 by G. W. Diamond, p.89)
Clora Carter Floyd later married my great-grandfather, Allison W. Roark, and had two daughters.  Charity and Cordelia married two Howard brothers, who originally came from Lincoln County, TN.
Cordelia and George Wesley Howard had seven children while moving to Oklahoma and New Mexico.  My father, George Wesley Jr., married Lois Amanda Teeters in Wichita, KS and later moved to Colorado and King County,Washington.  This is where I grew up and stayed after my own marriage.

The Kinchen Carter family lost two son-in-laws during the hanging in Gainesville: Thomas Floyd (shot) and M. Wesley Morris (hanged).

The following family history information for the Kinchen Carter family is from Jackson County (Arkansas) Historical Society “Stream of History,” Vol. IV, No. 3, page 8, published July 1966.

Kinchen Carter, died in Jackson County about 1855, married Kezziab (Cazar) Johnston, who was born about 1805 in Tennessee, died March 31, 1868, in Jackson Co., Ark. (She was probably a sister of James Johnston, father of Andrew Aridy" Johnston.) They had fourteen children, two of whom died in infancy. The others were:
1. John. Carter: living 1868 in Lawrence County, Tennessee; married and had issue with Jessie Carter, Emma Carter.
2. Fannie Carter: living 1868 in Lawrence County, Tennessee; married William Floyd and had issue: Caroline, Mandy.
3. Anne Carter: living 1868 in Cook Co., Texas; married Wesley Morris, who had died before 1870.
4. Chloe Carter: living 1868 in Cook Co., Texas; married Thomas Floyd, who had died before 1870.
5. Vicey Carter: died before 1870; married Mac Carroll, who had died before 1870; issue – William James Carroll, living 1868 in Lawrence Co., Tennessee.
6. William Carter: died before 1870; married and had. William James “Mack” Carter living 868 in Lawrence Co, Tenn.
7.Gideon G, Carter: died before 1870; married and had James Carter, residence unknown in 1868.
8. Martha Carter: born about 1846 in. Tenn.; married James C. Grubbs (born 1837) and had Mary, James, John, Cora, and Lizzie.
9. Sarah Carter: born 1848Tenn.; living 1868 Jackson Co., Ark.; married Dec. 1, 1865, Joseph Sutherland, born about 1844, died about i884; had issue: Bud Sutherland and four others.
10. Charles Dufield Carter: born Jan. 1839 in Tenn.; died about 1866; married Sept. 9, i88, N. Arenia Turner, born Sept.1842 in Ark., living i868 in Jackson Co., Ark.; issue-Kansas Carter, born 1859, and Andrew Carter.
11. Jane Carter: born 1842 Tenn.; died before 1870; living 1868 in Jackson Co., Ark.; married M. L. Garland, who died before 187O issue--Elizabeth.
12. Jarrett Record “Cord” Carter, also called “Jack” Carter in younger days: born Jan. 26, 1840, Tenn., died Jan. 11, 1912; married 1863 Mrs. Melissa (Benson) Jones; married Mary Jane Sutherland, born May 7, 1850, died July ), 1911. Issue by Mary Jane Sutherland--Betty (born Mar. 12, 1873, married John Pennington, who was born Aug. 12, 1868), Sarah (born Oct. 2, 1874), Jarrett R. Jr. (born Jan. 17, 1877, married Lula ford, daughter of Bill ford, and had Ben, Tom, Linzy), Mabel (born Sept. 5, 1883, married first a Ford, then Charles Evins), Rosenell (born Oct. 17, 88, married Artie Evins), arid Maud (married Adolph Huey).