Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Left me in a sad and mornful condition"

Susan Leffel, widow of David Miller Leffel 

In this post, we will revisit and ponder the letter written by Susan Leffel on 11 Jun 1869 to Governor Edmund J. Davis.   Susan was the widow of  David Miller Leffel, who was killed in the Great Hanging.  In this letter, Susan asked the Governor of Texas for help against the continued harassment to her family and friends, who's loved ones were the victims of the Great Hanging at Gainesville in 1862.  See previous post about the letter. 

To our knowledge, Susan’s letter is the only surviving document written by a widow of a Hanging victim describing her feelings about the hanging and her experiences afterwards.  Susan's experiences and feelings are probably very similar to those of the other widows and family members of men who were killed in the Hangings at Gainesville.

Background info on Susan Leffel: David and Susan Leffel left Ohio where his family lived to move to the Texas frontier where most of her family lived. Susan Evaline West, daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee, was born 3 Jun 1817 in Kentucky.  Susan married David Miller Leffel on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio.  After Susan's mother died in Ohio, her father, Michael West, and several of her brothers moved to Texas before 1848. Michael West and his son, Michael, had obtained land grants as colonists in the Peters Colony in Grayson County.  An older brother, John West, was living in Red River County, Texas.  Father, Michael West, died in 1858 and left his land in Grayson County, Texas to his heirs, which included Susan Leffel.  Sometime right after the death of her father in 1858, 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 by her father.  After moving to Texas in 1858, Susan sells the land she inherited to her brother and then she buys another parcel of land in Grayson County that she later sells to N. H. Holt. Most married women at that time did not buy and sell land on their own.  Also, married women usually did not hold title to land if they had a husband living. Why isn't David's name also on the land that is purchased and then later sold? This suggests that Susan may have been independent, with a mind of her own.  The decision to move from the Northern State of Ohio to a slaveholding state would set in motion events that would eventually lead to David's violent death.

Susan's 1869 letter to Governor Edmund J. Davis of Texas, can be found in the Texas State Archives.  Our impression is that a shy, timid woman did not write that letter.  Susan seems to have been a very strong, outspoken and determined woman.  At the time Susan wrote the letter in 1869, she had been on her own as a widow for almost 7 years.  And, this was during the Civil War and the following reconstruction period.  All the while, Susan was being continually harassed by some of the same group that killed her husband.

Susan starts her letter by recalling the arrest and hanging of her husband, David Miller Leffel. She refers to the citizens court as a vigilante committee and states that many of the husbands were “taken off by those nocturnal visitors and destroyed by the hanging.” McCaslin states that the men were rounded up at daybreak on 1 October 1862, but Susan used the word "nocturnal" which indicates that it was still dark when at least some of the men were arrested.

In the letter, Susan describes her husband, David, as follows:  "kind as he was" and "great source of my comfort and living".  She was not only left in a “sad and mornful condition” after her husband was hanged, but since the end of the war Susan and others who had lost relatives in the hanging had been harassed and plagued by attacks. Members of their families had been arrested “without a sine of a rit or any showing of legal authority whatever.”
 And, when Susan was robbed of “my many jewelry” and household items, no one was arrested.  One has to wonder, just how a pioneer wife and mother came into possession of "many jewelry."  Was the jewelry a handed down keepsake from her mother?  Or, was the jewelry a gift(s) from her dear husband?  Where was the law?  Why did they not help a poor widow?

Just two weeks prior to writing the letter in Jun 1869, a dozen men came to Susan’s home to arrest her son on a charge of horse stealing "without a sine of a rit or any showing of legal authority whatever.” The rebel group fired a shower of 40 or 50 bullets as her son fled, but he was soon apprehended. One of the tormentors, Susan mentioned by name: James Anderson of Sherman. Then, the rebels came into her house and one of the party dragged Susan onto the floor from her sickbed and pistol-whipped her younger son. She sadly concluded, “I with maney others have lost hopes of protection from that party’s abuse by the beloved country and government that we loved so dearely. . . what to do, or where to go to hide from them I can not tell.”

Susan’s final plea for help can’t help but tug at the heartstrings:
“It is indeed hart rendring that my husband, as kind as he was, and great sorce of my comfort & living should be hanged and his helpless family, (with many others) are as barbrsly treated as tho we were even aliving with the Indians; simply for them to take vengance uppon us because we were and are in favor of our Fathers Country and Government.”

In June 1869, Susan was living in Pilot Point when she wrote the letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the continued harassment by southern rebels. She cannot be found in records after June 1869.  And, Susan's whereabouts are not known after that time.

Did Susan die shortly after writing the letter to the Governor?  She mentioned she was "lying sick in bed" when James Anderson jerked her out on the floor.  Did she die from the rough treatment of the men who harassed her?  Did her tormentors come back after she wrote the letter and kill her for speaking out against them?  Susan's death or burial place is not known.

One has to wonder why Susan stayed in Texas instead of returning to the North where her oldest son and several of her brothers lived?  Was she determined to "stick it out" in Texas"?  It appears that she had hoped for peace and protection during reconstruction.  In the last paragraph of the letter, Susan admits to finally losing "hope of protection from that partys abuse by the beloved Country and Government."

Susan was definitely patriotic and loved her country -- the United States of America!  She mentioned being a loyal (lawiel) citizen and being loyal during the war.  She called the United State of America, her "beloved Country and Government" that she "loved so dearly."

Susan's letter to Governor Edmund Davis
Transcription can be found here.

Susan Leffel Letter 1

Susan Leffel Letter 2

Susan Leffel Letter 3

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trial for Foster's Murder

E. Junius Foster, Esq. was founder and owner of the Sherman Patriot newspaper until his death in 1863.   Foster published editorials in his newspaper that condemned the Hangings in Gainesville.  He died at the hands of James D Young and two others, in revenge for a statement Foster published applauding the death of Young's father, Col. Young.
In 1865, an indictment was found against James Young, Charles Cox and Newton Chance for the murder of E. Junius Foster. In 1872, Young was indicted and went through the form of a trial and was acquitted. In 1873, Cox was tried, and on the evidence of Young was also acquitted. Chance had taken off to Indian Territory and could not be found until he came back to the area in 1885. He was arrested and placed on trial twenty-three years after the murder of Foster.

The following newspaper articles tell the story of the trial of Newton Chance for the murder of E. Junius Foster.
Date of publication: September 24, 1885, Location of newspaper: District of Columbia, Paper: Critic-Record

Newspaper article in the Dallas Morning News about the twenty-three year old trial for the murder of E. Junius Foster. 
Publication Date: December 02, 1885, Paper: Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas

James Young voluntarily testified that he alone did the shooting, and thus exonerated the defendant, Newton Chance.  Years earlier in the Cox trial, Young testified that he and Cox were sitting upon their horses in the road a hundred yards from where the shooting took place and heard the shooting that killed Foster, but did not know who did the shooting. (Kansas City Star, 4 Dec 1885)

Publication Date: December 10, 1885, Newspaper: New York Times

Newton Chance Aquitted
Publication Date: December 04, 1885, Paper: Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas

E. Junius Foster - Editor of the Sherman Patriot

E. Junius Foster, Esq. was founder and owner of the Sherman Patriot newspaper until his death in 1863.  Foster died at the hands of James D Young, in revenge for an editorial Foster published applauding the death of Young's father and condemning the Confederacy.

Foster was born about 1812 in North Carolina.  Not much can be found concerning Foster's personal life.  No record has been found of his parents or siblings and it does not appear that he ever married.

In the 1850 Federal Census, Foster is listed as a single man living in Avoyelles, Louisiana.  "Editor" is listed as his occupation.  Avoyelles county is on the Mississippi River.

Source Citation: Year: 1850 United States Federal Census; Census Place:  , Avoyelles, Louisiana; Roll: M432_229; Page: 116A

By 1853, Foster had moved to Texas.  On the 29th of March 1853, the Nacogaches Chronicle newspaper reported, "The Star State Patriot, published at Marshall [Texas], has changed hands, J. Marshall, Esq. retires, and is succeeded by S. H. Parsons, and E. Junius Foster."  At the time, the Patriot was one the only Whig newspapers in Texas.

Foster bought out his partner, Parsons, and in 1856, he acquired a newspaper in Paris, Lamar County, Texas, which was called the "Frontier Patriot."

Texas State Gazette Newspaper, 15 Mar 1856
Foster then moved his press to Sherman and founded the Sherman Patriot in 1858.  He remained a Whig and Unionist in his political views and opposed secession.

Texas State Gazette, 3 Jul 1858
Foster is again listed as a single man in the Grayson County, Texas 1860 Federal Census.  His occupation is Editor.
Source Citation: Year: 1860 United States Federal Census; Census Place: , Grayson, Texas; Roll: M653_1295; Page: 148; Family History Library Film: 805295.  Note: The census taker mistakenly listed Foster as a female.

Starting in 1861, there was increased vigilantism against those who would not support secession, conscription and the Confederacy.  McCaslin states that "During May, 1861, to silence Unionist editor Foster, vandals ruined his press."   After the hangings in Gainesville, Foster published editorials that condemned the hangings of the Unionists and claimed that the murder of Col. William C. Young by Union men was one of the best things that could have happened.  In an act of revenge, Young's son, James, shot and killed Foster.  Young had two other men with him at the time of the murder.

The Handbook of Texas Online, describes the events leading to Foster's death.
"In the first years of the Civil War, Foster's loyalty to the Union cause resulted in an increasingly "radical" reputation for the Sherman Patriot. Using the Patriot as a platform for his views, Foster's paper was derided as "submissionist" for the proposal to demarcate a new state in North Texas for supporters of the Union. In 1862, after an editorial in which he praised the murder of Col. William C. Young by Union men, Foster was confronted by the victim's son, Jim Young, and two other men. When he refused to recant his criticism of Colonel Young and the Confederacy in general, Foster was shot and killed. Although Jim Young confessed twenty-two years later, none of the assassins were jailed."
Randolph Lewis, "SHERMAN PATRIOT," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed April 15, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

See the post about the trial for Foster's murder.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another News Article about the Heroic Escape of the DeLemeron family.

Here is another newspaper article about the heroic escape of the DeLemeron family from the Confederates around Gainesville.  This article was printed in the San Francisco Bulletin on 30 Sep 1863 and was entitled "Letter from St. Louis," with a subtitle of "Refugees from Texas and Arkansas."  It varies from the previously posted newspaper article, in that this article gives the given name for Joel DeLemeron's wife, which is Sarah Frances, and the full name of the man who helped her, Edward York. 
As stated in a previous post, Joel Francis DeLemeron was tried for treason against the Confederate Government a month after the Hangings. His "crime of treason" involved helping a few of the wives whose husbands were involved with the peace party (Ware and Boyles.)  He was sentenced to life in prison.

Read both articles to get the full story.

BlogNote: With a name like DeLemeron, it not surprising that there are many different spellings: DeLamirande, DeLemeron, DeLimerind, DelaMirand.  We have decided to go with the spelling in Diamond's Account of the Hangings and the McCaslin Book, which is DeLemeron.

Morris Men Revisited

New information has been found on the Morris Men -- a partial list of victims from an 1880 newspaper article.  In a previous post, the Galveston Weekly Newspaper article (6 May 1880) containing information about the Great Hanging, lists four men by the name of Morris -- "William, John, Wesley and Work Morris."  Note: The "Work" Morris is most likely a transcription error and should be "Wash" Morris. 
This new list may help figure out the names of the Morris Men who were hanged.
Refer to the previous post about the Morris Men,  Who's Who The Morris Men.
Morris Men comparison chart

Online familytree databases for John W. Morris (married to Lucretia in 1860 Cooke County census) show him as one of the men who was hanged.  His father is listed as Isaiah Morris.  In 1850, the Isaiah Morris family is in Lawrence County, Tennessee -- The same county where Wesley & Wash Morris can be found living in 1850.  Is this a coincidence or a connection?

We welcome any further information, insights or corrections concerning any of the Morris Men. 
Any information, however small, might help with the research for these men.  We want to make sure we have the right men who were hanged, along with their parents, sibings, wives and children.  Thanks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Galveston Daily News 1880

Galveston Daily News
Publication date: 1 May 1880

The Galveston News ran an article on 1 May 1880 about an Execution by Hanging of a man named Noftsinger.  The Noftsinger hanging took place in Gainesville on 30 Apr 1880 and the scaffold was "within view of the celebrated 'hangsman tree' of Cooke County.  A portion of the article then goes on to discuss the earlier hangings that took place on the 'hangsman tree' in Gainesville during October 1862.

This 1880 news article is interesting because it includes a partial list of names for the victims of the Great Hanging and it was supposedly the first time these names had appeared in print.  The article called the Citizens Court the "court of inquisition"  and the weeks in which the Citizens Court was holding it's trials, the "fifteen days of terrorism in 1862."

Transcription of above news article.

Galveston Daily News (newspaper), 1 May 1880

Special Telegrams to the Galveston News --- The Execution at Gainesville, April 30
[The first part of the article is about a legal hanging in Gainesville that took place on April 30, 1880. Then the article reflected upon the Great Hangings of 1862.]

erected in the northeastern suburbs of the town [Gainesville], is within view of the celebrated “hangsmen tree” of Cook County. Upon the low, outstretching limbs of this monarch of the woodland, forty men were gibbeted during the fifteen days of terrorism in 1862. The circumstance has often been alluded to in political harangues and commented upon by the press, but thus far the names of the parties executed, and those of the members of the court of inquisition, have never appeared in print. The object of the secret organization, whose members were gibbeted, is more a subject of surmise than of fact. The secessionists at the time, held that the organization was a league to butcher the confederate command at Wichita, kill all pronounced secessionists, burn and destroy their property, and order out of the country all known southern sympathizers. The anti-secessionists, on the other hand, contended that it was a peace party favorable to an alliance with the disaffected reservation Indians, with the object of cooperating with the union army, in the event of federal success in Arkansas, in restoring order in that portion of the state, then the frontier of Texas.
Be that as it may, the knife and the rifle of the assassin were rampant. On the first of October, 1862, several hundred persons assembled at Gainesville, in response to a circulated notice, alleging that a treasonable plot had been discovered. A meeting was held in the Methodist Church, and the following members of the court of inquisition appointed to investigate the matter, which court held its sessions in the Masonic lodge-room: Samuel Doss, Thomas Barrett, Wiley Jones, Benjamin Scandland, Thos. Wright, Daniel Montague, J. P. Long, J. E. Hughes, Reason Jones, W. S. Simpson, John N. Hamil, and James Jones. Some one hundred alleged traitors were arrested and brought before the tribunal for trial, during its sixteen days sessions, forty of whom were adjudged guilty and hanged upon the tree in question.
The names of the parties gibbeted were: Dr. Childs; William, John, Wesley and Work Morris, John Crisp, Dr. Eli Thomas, Frosty, George and William Anderson, E. C. Scott, B. Dossen, Thomas Floyd, Ramsey Dye, James Powers, and the following, whose given names are not remembered Chiles, Fields, Locke, Hampton, Wiley, McNice, Worrel, Birch, Goss, Jones, Esmon, and thirteen others, whose names are not recollected. On the 2nd of the month two were hanged, on the 4th two, on the 7th one, on the 8th one, on the 10th one, on the 12th three and on the 13th eleven. On the 12th the inquisition adjourned, subject to call between that date and the 15th. Col. Young, one of the most popular men in north Texas, was assassinated, together with several other confederate officers. The inquisition reassembled and passed sentence on nineteen members of the league, all of whom were hanged on the 17th. There were three degrees in the league. Those who had only taken the first degree were invariably acquitted, and those who had subscribed to the second and third oath, taken by those degree members, invariably executed. The NEWS reporter has been unable to learn the character of the several oaths."

The above newspaper article can be found on THE PORTAL TO TEXAS HISTORY website:
The Galveston Daily News(Galveston, TX), Vol. 39, No. 34, Ed. 1 Saturday, May 1, 1880, page 1

Monday, April 11, 2011

The John Mansil Crisp Letter

The following is an exerpt of a letter written in 1921 by John Mansil Crisp, the son of John Crisp, who was hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  Transcribed copies of this letter can be easily found online on message boards and in familytree databases, but a digitized copy of the actual letter has not been found. 

Exerpt of a letter to George M. Crisp from his father John Mansil Crisp.

Roswell, New Mexico October 20, 1921
Dear Son, Daughter and Grandson,
You asked to know about the Crisp relation. They are a numerous relationship but about all who spell their names, as we do, can be traced back to one kinship. - But I have not kept up with their genealogy as well as I should.
My father, John M. Crisp was born June 23, 1824 - in Kentucky. He had one brother, Samuel Crisp, a famous Christian Preacher. He died on the Colorado River about the year 1896, very old, somewhere in the 90's--Uncle Sam had four sons, one named Green, one Bill, Jim & Bob, two girls, Eliza and Nancy. They mostly live or did on the Colorado River in Texas. Bob and Green are said to be very wealthy. I visited them in the year 1883 Lohn Co., Texas.
My grandfather's name was William L. Crisp. He was born in KY. About the year 1790 - lived to be 94 years old. Died in Cook Co., Tex. He taught 52 terms of school during his life. He had brothers; (1) Chas. F. Crisp of Georgia, Speaker of the House of Congress for many years. (2) James T. Crisp went to Oregon and served as Gov. for many years. (3) John T. Crisp of Kansas City, Senator of Mo. for a number of years. (4) Reding Crisp, came to Tex. with Grandfather Crisp. He and his two sons, Reding and Carroll settled near Sulfur Springs in Hopkins Co. Tex. and became great landowners and stockmen. Reding had great ranches of cattle and Carroll turned his attention more to raising horses and had several big ranches in western Texas.
It was Reding Crisp boy Bob that visited us here last week. He is living at Allen Reed, Donley Co., Tex. He has a big ranch joining Ed Johnson's in West Texas. Bob has a brother "Reding" who lives at Clinton, Okla. Also a sister. Carroll married a cousin of your mothers named Minnie Brooks. She is still living at Sulpher Springs, Tex. They have quite a number of children in Tex. and Okla.
My grandmother on Fathers side was Elisabeth Matthews. She was born in KY and died in Cook Co., age 98 yrs. - I just can remember of seeing her - I forget her father's Christian name. She had a brother Mansil Matthews. He was a Doctor, Lawyer, and Preacher. I was named Mansil for him--He helped to draft the Constitution of Texas, and was elected several times to Congress (all the relations will remember Uncle Mansil Matthews.) His daughter was Bill Weaver's mother. His only child was Claud Weaver of Oklahoma City. Bill Weaver was a great lawyer, poet, politician and drunkard. He died of Delirium Tremens at Austin while serving as State Senator. I cast my first vote for Bill Weaver.
Bill Weaver had a brother Joe, and some more. They own and control the Town of Alvarado, Texas. I was there in the year 1890 and when they found out who I was, they liked to have hugged me to death. They had parties nearly every night. I stayed there and nearly everything I met was a cousin or such--They gave me a high old time.
Uncle Joe Matthews, another bro. of my Grandmother lives in Somerville Co., Tex. and served as County Judge for more than 20 years in Steal County. He has a son John Matthews who runs a big Dept. store in Glenrose. They are very wealthy--The Milams there are also cousins. They own about ten thousand acres on the Pulaski River and have more artesian wells than you ever saw.
The Matthews and Milams own and run Glenrose like the Weavers and Matthews do Alvarado.
..........a further history of our people;......
It is about the sad history of my Father and his Death at Gainsville Tex. 1863- He was a Blacksmith by trade. A devoted member of the Christian Church and a Deacon for many years and he wielded a big influence in his county. In the year 1860, the whole country became arrested as you know from history, over the question of secession. My Father was opposed to secession and before the election stumped the country against it. He had great influence and a big following but failed to carry the county. As you know secession carried, but in his zeal for the Union he made many enemies.
After secession carried the officers of the state were deposed and lawlessness went wild. All over the state and men were shot down and mobbed on every side and property confiscated or stolen on every side without any recourse at law; in fact they had no law---that led to organizations in different sections of the state for the Protection of the lives and Properties of its Members. My Father belonged to one of such organization in which there were about 100 members, most of which were settlers of Cooke Co. and his close neighbors. Nearly all of which had voted against secession and were still opposed to fighting against the Union.
Along Red River on both sides were a bunch of mixed breeds and lawless whites that pretended to be strictly Secish, but refused to join any army, claiming to be "home guard". Over this organization they had as Captain one Hugh Boland, a half breed-. He lived on the north side of the river in the I.T. On the south side of the river lived a renegade from Miss. named Nute Chance . . . They had a considerate organization. This bunch became the terror of the country. A bunch of them would ride up to a man's house, take his horses, cattle and what else they wanted and drove them across Red River to Bolands-- If the man objected they would shoot him down.
More than a dozen thus lost their lives. This organization, as it was called was the cause of the other bunch organizating - of which my father belonged. Boland and his bunch soon made a raid in our settlement, gathered a big bunch of stock and killed 2 men. One of which was our local preacher.... They started off with their property and my father and about 73 others of the community overtook them and had a scrap with them, capturing the bunch and took them to Gainesville for trial. Meanwhile, some of their bunch went to the confederate camp which was about 25 miles away and brought their whole forces, claiming that the citizens bunch was the bunch that had voted against secession. And was therefore fighting against the Southern Confederacy. They, therefore, held what they called a court martial trial and condemned the whole bunch--and without ceremony or time executed the whole bunch of more than 60 men. Thus wiping out a whole community and church. They then proceeded to confiscate their property, even tearing down their houses and taking them away.
Thus it occurred that my mother, sister (Mary) and myself was forced to loose all our property and go to my Grandfather in Montague Co. without protection or property.
After the confederacy was whipped the government arrested about 60 of the mob and tried them for murder----but they all proved alibis and failed of conviction. But I will say that several of their leaders have bit the dust since.
Please write soon, to your father.
J. M. Crisp

Sunday, April 10, 2011

John Crisp Family

John Crisp was born on 23 Jun 1824 in Booneville, Owsley, Kentucky. John’s parents were William W. Crisp (1783-1857) and Elizabeth Matthews (1789-1868). John was hanged in "The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862" on 19 Oct 1862 at the age of 38. See previous post about his trial by the Citizens Court.

In 1850, John was living with his parents in Hopkins County, Texas. They were next door to John’s older brother, Samuel Crisp.
1850 Federal Census, Hopkins County, Texas

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: District 8, Hopkins, Texas; Roll: M432_911; Page: 139B

John Crisp and Harriet Pittman were married on 8 Jan 1852 in Hopkins County, Texas. Harriet probably died sometime after the birth of the baby, because John married again in 1857. John and Harriet had one known child, a son: William L. Crisp was born about 1854 in Texas. William was with his father and step-mother in the 1860 census in Cooke County, Texas. No records have been found for him after 1860.

John Crisp and Alcey Hawkins Stephens were married on 4 May 1857 in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas. Alcey was born on 18 Jul 1839 in Hannibal, Marion, Missouri. Alcey is the daughter of Charles Washington Hawkins and Mary Packwood. Alcey Hawkins first marriage was to Charley Stephens in June 1855 Cooke County, Texas. He either died or left, because in May 1857, Alcey was free to marry again. After the hanging, Alcey took her young family to Montague County and raised her children that county until she moved to Oklahoma after 1900. Alcey died on 11 May 1919 at the age of 79 in Moore, Cleveland, Oklahoma.
Name variations for Alcey found on census records, marriage records, and familytrees: Alcey, Alice, Ailey, Ailia, Alsey, Ailsey, Ailcey, Alixy, Alicey.

John and Alcey Crisp had the following children:
  1. Mary Elizabeth Crisp was born on 9 Feb 1858 in Texas. She died on 3 Jul 1933 at the age of 75. Mary never married.
  2. John Mansil Crisp was born on 10 Nov 1859 in Gainesville, Cooke, Texas. He died on 27 Jan 1941 at the age of 81 in Yukon, Canadian, Oklahoma. He was buried on 29 Jan 1941 in Rose Hills Burial Park, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. John married Martha Alice Wilson (1872-1937) on 12 Jun 1892 in Montague County, Texas. Their children were: George, Leonora, Claud, Ethel, Albert and Walter.
  3. Minna Anne Crisp was born on 5 May 1862 in Cooke County, Texas. She died a month later on 7 Jun 1862.
1860 Federal Census, Cooke County, Texas

Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: , Cooke, Texas; Roll: M653_1291; Page: 247; Family History Library Film: 805291

John’s relationship to other men who died in the Hangings:
  1. John’s niece, Elizabeth Martha Crisp, the daughter of his brother Samuel Crisp, married Hudson John Essman who was hanged by the Citizens Court.
  2. Through his mother’s side of the family, the Matthews and Box families, John was connected to the David Miller Leffel family.
We welcome any corrections or additions on the John Crisp family.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Trial of John M. Crisp

John Crisp was hoping for understanding, mercy and forgiveness from the jury of the Citizens Court as he begged for his life.  Instead, he was given a rope around his neck.

The State vs. John M. Crisp – Disloyalty & Treason

Eli Thomas sworn.
[Witness] John M. Crisp swore me into a secret organization having for its object the reconstruction of the old Constitution and Union. He gave me the sign, grip, and password.

Crisp, himself, when brought before at before the Court, admitted that he had been initiated into the organization. Pending his trial, he addressed the Court the following letter:

Fully believing this to be the last time that I will be permitted to communicate with the Honorable tribunal by which I am to be tried, I adopt this method to do so; and for this reason: Having never before been brought before a Court, and my natural disposition and constitutional powers being so framed, the presence of that august body has the effect to scatter my mind. And while in your presence I cannot collect my thoughts, I will now make in writing these further statements in behalf of my injured Country:
Some time in the month of August, 1862 Dr Thomas and Parson Baker, came to my shop; and being there a short time, went out and seated themselves some distance from me. They returned and requested me to initiate him (Thomas), I understanding him to mean, to enter as a member into the Secret institution to reinstate the old Constitution, I refused, pointing to Baker, [and] told him to get Baker to do it. Thomas laughed, and said no; but for me to do it. I told him I was awkward but would do the best I could. Not having a regular form of oath, I framed one, in like manner, as I have stated before your Honors heretofore; giving him the signs, grip, and password. Parson Baker and myself, about one week before the above stated time, were initiated by Dr McCarty. McCarty told Baker he could initiate also.
A few days after this I was informed that each member had the right to initiate his neighbor. I have initiated six persons, in all, towit: Sam'l Crisp, H. J. Essman, Eli Hinkle, I. M. Baily, Mansell Baily, and Dr Eli Thomas. I suppose Essman and Hinkle are not yet arrested. Dr Thomas informed me that he had initiated an old man, by the name of Parson Howard.
I desire to explain one other thing, which I named to one of your honorable body just as I left the jury room. James Harryman came to my house the day before I was arrested and informed me that they had held a secret meeting, and said that Capt. Garrison, or Lock, had been to a Mr Love's in the Chicasaw [sic] Nation and had initiated him; and that he had plenty of powder that the order could have whenever they wanted it. And now, I acknowledge my wrong and implore you that while examining the testimony I have given, if I have, or seemed to quibble, I pray you to remember the situation of my mind, and deal with me in mercy.
John M. Crisp

After being condemned, he again addressed the Court as follows:
Gainesville, Oct. 18th 1862
To the Honorable Court now in session, at Gainesville:
Whereas, through the mercies of Almighty God, and the Court, my life has been prolonged to the present time, I greatly desire the patience of the Court, yet a little longer.
I hope the Court will condescend to hear my imperfect petition and offered obligations to my injured country. I do not expect to influence you; but implore you, for mercy - that my life may be spared.
First, if in your wisdom and mercy you see fit to spare my life, and I ever again show any signs of not being true to our Southern Confederacy, then I will not plead for mercy any more; but will submit my life, to pay the forfeit.
Secondly, I desire to be placed under the watch-care of some of our truest and best Southern men, that they may from time to time examine my conduct; and if they find any thing wrong, report me forthwith.
Thirdly, I am willing and anxious at any time to do any thing in my power to sustain the independence of our Country. And forthly, if we can have any correct of the future by the past, I would refer your honorable body to Capt. Roff, Harry Howeth, W. B. Magill, Joseph Martin, Wm. West, and Charles Hibert, and let them say what my actions have been heretofore in giving aid to the volunteers. I now submit by begging your forgiveness for the wrongs which I may have done; and I promise you that if my life is spared, I will never commit wrong again.
John M. Crisp

He was hung in accordance with the sentence of the Court and, no doubt from the record before us, died a much better man than he had lived."

George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862, Manuscript Edited by Sam Acheson and Julie Ann Hudson O’Connell, The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. LXVI, January, 1963, No. 3, pages 394-396.

Barnabus Burch

Barnabus Burch
From the Martin-Neely Family History by Louise Neely:
"Barnibus Burch was an old man in his seventies and almost 'bed ridden with rhymatiz', what we now call arthritis. He was one of the two or three men who were hauled to Gainesville in a wagon because he could not mount a horse.
The Burch family lived just north of what is now Burns City.
At the mock trial, Barnibus Burch made the statement: 'one night recently I had a dream, I thought this was a needless war. I thought the North over ran the South. This disheartened me. Truly, old men shall see visions and young men dream dreams." (from Acts 2 verse 17) He was found guilty and hanged. All of the men who were hanged had signed the Montgomery Act.
After Barnibus Burch was hanged, his body, with all of the others who were hanged, was thrown in a warehouse, on the square, that was owned by James Bourland. The next day Burch's wife and daughter, Elizabeth Ann (Burch) Neely went to Gainesville and brought his body back to his farm. The two women dug the deepest grave they could and buried him in a fence row, near Wade Lake. It is now the Marvin Cason place…
The irony of all this is that the son-in-law of Barnibus Burch, James Neely, Jr. was away fighting for the Confederacy when the hangings occurred. James Martin Neely, Jr. was in Morgan’s Battalion and saw action in Arkansas and Louisiana. His Confederate Pension was number 26367 from Cooke Co., Texas."
Neely, Louise Y., Neely-Martin Descendants Privately published in Dallas, Texas; 1982, Chapter 3, page 55-56.

The trial of Barnabus Burch from page 84 of George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862:
Trial of Barnabas Birch
“On being arraigned he confessed his guilt, giving the signs, grip and password. He was a participant in the Ramey Dye meeting. While his trial was pending he addressed the court as follows:
One night recently I had a remarkable dream, which runs this way: I thought that the North had overrun and surrounded the South which disheartened me. I could see no way for the South to escape. This dream, with what I heard (of the organization,) determined my course. I further dreamed that the Federals took me prisoner, and an officer gave me some liquor and I drank it; and it proved to be the best liquor I ever drank in my life.
Truly, 'the old men shall see visions, and the young men shall dream dreams.'
Birch was found guilty and hung.”
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.

McCaslin on Barnabus Burch:
“Barnibus Burch moved to Hood County, Texas, from Missouri about 1850, then to Cooke County by 1860. He was approximately seventy years of age, and crippled with arthritis, when he paid twelve cents in taxes on his personal property in 1862. His name is penciled in above that of “Thomas Burch” on the 1862 tax roll for Cooke County found in UNT.”
McCaslin, Richard B., Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862, Louisiana State University Press, 1994, page 196.

1830 Morgan County, Illinois
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 5 thru 9: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 30 thru 39: 2
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5: 1
Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons - Under 20: 4
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 7

In 1850, the Barnabus Burch family is found living in Hickory County, Missouri.

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: District 37, Hickory, Missouri; Roll: M432_401; Page: 61B

By the 1860 Census the Barnabus Burch family was living in Hill County, Texas.  They were living in the same household has N. A. and Sarah McPhaul.  Sarah may be an older daughter of Barnabus.

Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Division, Hill, Texas; Roll: M653_1297; Page: 97; Family History Library Film: 805297

The Barnabus Burch Family
Note: Barnabus Burch and family can be found in quite a few message boards and online databases such as and It seems that most of the information in these databases have just been copy and pasted from each other -- none seem to have sources. We have not found well documented information for the Barnabus Burch family. Below is a sample of what can easily be found online. We would welcome a well researched family history for Barnabus Burch.

Barnabus Burch was the son of James Phillip Burch and Sarah Gillespie (or Whaley). Barnabus was born about 1798 in Surry, North Carolina and died 19 Oct 1862 at Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.
Barnabus had at least two wives, but he may have had three.
He married (1) M. May about 1822.
Children of Barnabus Burch and M. May are:
1.George Milton Burch, born 1823; died 26 Oct 1889 in Camden County, MO, marr Mary Elizabeth Green (1833-?)
2.Tillman Barnabus Burch, born 19 Feb 1824; died 07 Apr 1893, marr Susan Slaven (1836-1918) 1 Jun 1854 McLennan County, TX
3. Capt. William "Bill" Burch, born 28 Aug 1825 in Monroe Co.,Indiana; died 11 Oct 1893 in Maysville, Garvin Co., Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, Marr Teletha Cox
4. Sarah Cordelia Burch, born about 1829 in Illinois. Married to N. A. PcPhaul? Did he die while serving in the Civil War?
5. Cynthia Burch, born Jul 1834, died Apr 1924, marr Henry Matlock (1843-1896) 20 Dec 1860 Cooke County, TX.  Husband Henry was serving in the Confederate army when the confederate hanged her father.

Barnabus married (2) Mary McConnell (some add Jackson as a surname?) 18 Apr 1839 in Scott County, Illinois.
Children of Barnabus Burch and Mary McConnell are:
1.David Austin Burch born 1840 Missouri.  Married Lucinda Hutchinson.  Deid 3 Aug 1909 Jasper County, Missouri
2. Elizabeth Ann Burch born 16 Apr 1842 in Neosha, MO; marr James Martin Neely 8 Mar 1861 in Cooke County, TX. While James served for the Confederacy, Elizabeth took her little family to Missouri to be close to her brothers.
3.Catherine Burch born 1845 Missouri
4. Rosetta Burch born 1847 Missouri
5.Lunetta Burch born 19 May 1847 in Missouri.  Died 24 Jan 1911 Newton County, Missouri.  Married Americus Murray 24 Oct 1880 Newton County, MO.
6.Elizetta (Alzetta) Burch born 1851 Missouri married possibly John S. Martin 13 May 1878 Newton County, Missouri.
7.Lucinda Burch, born Apr 1852 Missouri, married possibly Aaron Miles 1874 in Indiana.
8. Angeline Burch, born 1854 Missouri; married Henry M. Land 08 Aug 1880 in Jasper, Missouri. Angeline lived with sister, Elizabeth Neely in 1870 census and brother, David A. Burch in 1880 census.

It seems as if most of the Burch family left Texas and traveled back to Missouri sometime after their father died in the Hanging and before 1870.  As stated in the above Neely-Martin history, Elizabeth Ann Burch Neely left Texas and took her little family to Missouri to live with her older half-brothers.  Elizabeth's younger sisters most likely traveled with her.   Elizabeth Neely can be found in the 1870 Dallas County, Missouri census with her husband,children and youngest sister, Angeline Burch.    Rosetta Burch can be found in 1870 in Dallas County, Missouri, living with the West Family.  Alzetta Burch can be found in 1870 Hickory County, MO, living with J. A. Romans family.  In the 1870 census of Dallas County, Missouri, there is a 20 year old Lunthe Burch, which could be Lunetta or Lucinda.  She is living next door to her brother, Milton Burch, with his mother-in-law, Margaret Green.  So, it seems as if the younger children of Barnabus Burch were scattered, living with whoever would take them in.  It is not known what happened to their mother, Mary.  No records have been found for her.

Any additional information on this family would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862

"George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862," edited by Sam Acheson and Julie Ann Hudson O'Connell, can be accessed here on the The Portal to Texas History website.  This account was published by the Texas State Historical Association in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963, H. Bailey Carroll, editor, Journal/Magazine/Newsletter, 1963; digital images, ( : accessed April 08, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association, Denton, Texas.

George Diamond's brother, James Diamond, was one of the key players in trying to rid Cooke county of anyone with Union sentiments. George Diamond was asked to use the records of the court to prepare an "official account" of the court proceedings, with the purpose of "preserving them and so disposing of them that the history of its (Citizen's Court) transactions might be perpetuated and justice done to those who participated (Jurors & accusers) in its deliberations."  Diamond's compilation of "memoranda" was to be offered to the public as a just vindication of the conduct of those whose judgements were under national criticism. So, basically, Diamond's job was to make the court look good.

In his conclusion, Diamond states, "The proceedings of the Citizens Court are characterized with as much wisdom, justice and moderation as may anywhere be found in the history of criminal procedure."  Was he biased or what???  Naturally, the members of the court examined Diamond's account and gave their unanimous and unqualified approval.  Diamond apparently completed the manuscript before the end of 1876, but it was not published during his lifetime.  In 1963, Diamond's account was transcribed and edited by Sam Acheson and Julie Ann Hudson O'Connell, and then published by the Texas State Historical Association. 

On page 27 of CIVIL WAR RECOLLECTIONS OF JAMES LEMUEL CLARK, L. D. Clark gives his opinion of Diamond's Account:
"Diamond had been a newspaper-man before the war and in 1862 held a commission in the Confederate army.  When he went to Gainesville not long after the affair to visit a brother who had helped round up the Unionists, he was entrusted with the court records with the understanding that he would write a thoroughgoing vindication of the hanging.  Not until the mid-1870's did he undertake to fulfill his promise, and what he produced was left unfinished and unpublished at the time of his death.  He arranged some of the testimony from papers in his possession, thought we have no way of knowing whether he transcribed it verbatim.  He introduced a background of sorts and a narrative of events interspersed with commentary, all of it written in a determination to give a noble cast to the outrage, even to the extent of arguing that the action must have been right since it was undertaken by the "best men" in the county...  To make matters worse, while no one can say whether he himself destroyed the records, at best he seems to have taken no care to preserve them, though he did see to the preservation of his own manuscript."

It seems that Diamond's Account published by the Texas State Historical Association was transcribed and edited from Diamond's manuscript, which he in turn had edited and condensed from the actual court proceedings.  Anytime a record is transcribed, even if it is transcribed word for word, there is room for error.  But, as Clark states above, we have no way of knowing "whether he transcribed it verbatim." 

Diamond concluded with the following explanation concerning his edited version.
"We have now written what we designed to write concerning the proceedings of the "Citizens Court."  The Jury as well as all others who were connected with the scenes of that day desired that all the evidence in each case should be published.  It is to be regretted that it has not been done.
But it is the opinion of all that a complete transcript from the record of the Court would have been unnecessary to vindicate the course pursued, and would also have made a volume to too large a size for the general public notice." (Diamond's Account, page 405)

Diamond was not kidding when he stated it was "to be regretted" that all the evidence in each case should NOT be published.  All who are now interested or who will ever be interested in the history of the Hangings, REGRET Diamond's decision to edit and leave to history only his condensed version of the Court!!  And, one has to wonder just how much Diamond edited, changed, or left out from the original "Citizens Court" records?

It is not known what happened to the actual records of the Citizens Court.  We are very much aware of the historical value and significance of Diamond’s account of the Hanging, especially since his account is the only "official" record remaining.  But, it is really, really unfortunate that the complete and original "Citizens Court" records are lost to us.  Were the originals destroyed when Diamond was finished using them or are they still lying around in some dusty attic?

A short biography of George Washington Diamond can be found on the Handbook of Texas Online.