Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nathaniel Miles Clark

Nathaniel Miles Clark

Probably more is known about Nathaniel Miles Clark (and his family) than any other man who was hanged.  There are several reasons for this; first, Clark’s son, James Lemuel Clark, kept letters, interviewed others and wrote down his memories and recollections of “the greatest tragedy of his lifetime,” and, secondly, the Clark family stayed in Cooke County, Texas keeping the memory of their ancestor alive with frequent reunions over the years.  L. D. Clark, grandson of James Lemuel Clark, took the memoirs and papers of his grandfather, edited them and added an introduction for a book called “Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark and the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas in October 1862.”  Anyone serious about learning more about the Great Hanging needs to read Clark's book.

Description from back cover of book:
  "Not all Texas agreed with the decision to secede from the Union in 1860, and while most did abide by the decision, many remained outspoken against the laws of the Confederacy.  Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark is the story of one Texas family who suffered more at the hands of their neighbors than any warring enemy.
The memoirs of James Lemuel Clark describe his involvement in a series of events leading up to the hanging of forty men in Gainesville, Texas.  Eighteen at the outbreak of the Civil War, Clark was the son of one of the men hanged for their Union sympathies in October 1862.  Clark's memoirs also tell of his experiences with the Texas militia in Indian campaigns and with the Condederate Army.  Civil War Recollections gives an overview of the events that shaped the lives of war survivors and influenced the reconstruction of Texas."

Nathaniel Miles Clark was born 26 Jun 1818 in Christian, Kentucky, the son of Lemuel Marion Clark and Anna Henderson.  He married Mahuldah Lutisha Hicklin 7 Jul 1841 in Missouri. In 1850, Nathanial and his family are found living in Cedar County, Missouri.  By that time, the couple had four young children: James, Cordelia, Martha, and William. Just after 1850, the Clark family moved from Missouri to Cooke County, Texas. They are found in the 1860 Census for Cooke County.  Four more children had been added to their  family by 1860: John Boone, Mary, Joseph, and N. M. Douglas. 
Many of Clark’s neighbors in 1860, also lost their lives during the time of the Great Hanging: Thomas Floyd, Wesley Morris, Washington Morris, Eli Scott, Hiram Kilborn.
1860 Census Cooke County, Texas

Nathaniel lost his life along with so many others in the Great Hanging at Gainesville in October, 1862.  His family buried him in the Clark Family Cemetery outside of Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.  His headstone inscription reads: "Nathaniel Miles Clark June 26, 1816 (should be 1818) Murdered by a Mob October 13, 1862 His last words to his companion Prepare yourself to live and die. I hope to meet in a better world God bless you all"

After Texas seceded from the Union in 1862, Nathaniel's oldest child and son, James Lemuel, was drafted into the Confederate Army.  Ironically, James Lemuel was serving in the Confederate Army at the time his father was lynched. After hearing of the death of his father, James deserted the Confederate Army and returned to Texas for several months to take care of his widowed mother and younger siblings. Upon getting them settled somewhat, he later ventured north to Missouri to join the Union Army, therefore serving on both sides during the Civil War. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Commemoration of Great Hanging

The following info about a commemoration for 2011 was posted on The Great Hanging Group facebook page:

Saturday, October 15, 2011 - Georgia Bass Park, Gainesville, TX  ....think the time will be 5pm.


NCTC to commenorate Great Hanging
By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register

Gainesville — Gainesville’s infamous “Great Hanging” of 1862 has long been a subject of commemoration.

And Cooke County organizations have collaborated yet again to spotlight this dark chapter in local history with a ceremony and historical lecture.

A press release said the fifth annual “Bell Ringing in Remembrance of the Great Hanging” is set for 5 p.m. Oct. 15, near the main flagpoles of Gainesville’s North Central Texas College campus. Representatives of the college honors program, plus the Heritage Society of the Morton Museum and the Cooke County Historical Commission, have organized the ceremony.

Scheduled guest speaker is historian Dr. Richard McCaslin, chair of the University of North Texas History Department. He’ll offer a lecture about the hanging at 5:30 p.m. in the Little Theater of NCTC’s 100 Building.

All events are free and open to the public.

The release said McCaslin is a speaker and historian who specializes in the histories of Texas, the Civil War and the Wild West. Among other books and articles, he authored The Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, which won prizes from the Texas State Historical Association and the American Association for State and Local History.

More notably, the historian is a Pulitzer Prize nominee for his book Lee in the Shadow of Washington, which won the Laney Prize and the Statten Award. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Contemporary Authors, and was elected a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association.

The release quoted NCTC history professor Pat Ledbetter, who said the “Great Hanging” began on Oct. 1, 1862, after the Texas Militia arrested more than 200 suspected Unionists. Vigilantes in Gainesville executed 42 of these men, following convictions on charges of conspiracy to commit treason and fomenting an insurrection.

Gainesville historian Leon Russell had originally spearheaded events to commemorate the hanging. In a Register story about the 2010 ceremony, he discussed the case with visitors.

“Who are these people?” he said about the hanged. “Well, for the most part, they were non-slave owners, with one or two exceptions, and for the most part they were out in the eastern part of the county — and, for the most part, they were grubbing their living out of a little garden spot.

“Most of them would have been subject to the draft, the Confederate draft, and they really didn’t want to go fight the rich man’s war, the planter’s war,” he added. “They left 42 widows and about 170 children.”

Ledbetter said few of the hanged men had actually plotted to insurrect against the Confederacy; many of them were apparently innocent of the charges. But this mattered little to their captors, whose allies also conducted lynchings in nearby counties.

Among this turmoil, Gainesville’s “Great Hanging” reportedly claimed the most lives. Ledbetter added that the hanging shows how the course of the Civil War took shape based on the concerns of 19th Century Southerners.

During the 2010 ceremony, Russell insisted that in life, the “scale of justice” demands balance, even if that balance doesn’t occur until many years later, and in the form of public regret.

“When I first learned of this I thought it was just such a horrible injustice,” Russell said. “And this is a country that’s supposed to have been formed on the basis of justice. What happened to the idea that every man is considered innocent until proven guilty by a competent court by a jury of his peers?

“The people that did it trashed that, and I’m here to speak out against them.”

The Texas State Historical Commission is scheduled to republish a pair of eyewitness accounts of the hanging. Ledbetter said this is because the upcoming commemoration will occur on the eve of its sesquicentennial, which is in 2012.

“Public and academic interest should be strong,” the release quoted her.

150th Commemoration of The Great Hanging - 2012

Mark your calendars for next year's big event!!
The following was posted on The Great Hanging Group facebook page:

The Morton Museum and Cooke County Heritage Society, in conjunction with several local organizations, will sponsor the 150th Commemoration of The Great Hanging - October 12-13, 2012 in Gainesville, Texas.
Over the course of two days, educational events and a roster of historians will address both the Northern and Southern perspective as it pertained to North Texas during the Civil War. A memorial service will be held on October 13th.
More details to follow soon.

Facebook has a Group for the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. If you are a 'Great Hanging of Gainesville' descendant or have an interest in Texas History, you might want to join this group on facebook. Joining this group should keep you updated on all the news concerning the Great Hanging.

The name of the group is: Gainesville Texas - The Great Hanging - October 1862 Civil War
The category of the group is: Common Interest - History
The group description is:
Certainly one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War occurred in Gainesville, Texas in Oct. 1862, when 40 men, suspected of Union sympathies, were hanged.
Searching for descendants of the 42 victims who were hanged in Gainesville, Texas in 1862. An anniversary celebration in October 2012 will mark 150 years since this tragedy - the most mass hangings in the United States.
Photo of Nathaniel Miles Clark, lynched in the Great Hanging in Gainesville, TX on October 13, 1862.