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

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