Wednesday, February 29, 2012


An obituary for Dicy Chiles, wife of Dr. Henry Chiles, gives reference to her husband and the Gainesville hanging.

This obituary was found in the Bedford Times Republican, Bedford, Taylor County, Iowa, and published on 2 Jun 1905.


A Bloody Tragedy of the Early Sixties – Men Die for Principles
Taylor County Residents Whose Father Died for the Union -- Hung by Guerrillas

Dicy A. Chiles died at the home of her daughter in Marysville, MO., May 12 and was buried at Conway, Sunday, May 14.

Mrs. Chiles husband was Dr. H. Chiles, who at the time of their marriage was a young physician and their home was in Eastern Tennessee. Eight children were born to them and their home was happy and blissful. They then moved to Texas. The war broke out and sectional feeling ran high. It was neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother and men lost all semblance of humanity and became blood thirsty brutes. Dr. Chiles was a Union man and for this crime was torn from wife and children and hung. Four of these little children are now well known residents of Taylor county and Mr. Taylor, a man who had a hair breath escape from the same gang of human blood hounds, now lives in Bedford. The incidents of this tragedy as given by the Marysville Republican will be of particular interest to all who know any of these people and some at least of them are known to nearly all our readers.

Dicy A. Kennedy was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Kennedy and was born in Washington county, East Tennessee, Nov 2, 1825. At the age of five years she moved with her parents to Hancock County, Indiana where she grew to womanhood. Here, in 1845, she was married to Dr. H. Chiles, a young physician of Warrington in the same county. He was a native of Virginia who had come to the west to start in life.

Dr. Chiles was of a roving disposition, and within a few years moved to Iowa, and then back to East Tennessee. Here he was joined by two brothers from Virginia, Ephraim and Almus Chiles, and the three brothers with their families moved to Texas in 1860, settling near Gainesville, in Cook County.

The rebellion coming on soon these Tennessee Virginians being strong Union men soon found themselves looked upon with suspicion. As there were a number of Union men in Cook county, they began to devise means for self protection. Among other things, they organized a Union League in which Dr. Chiles being somewhat of a leader was a master spirit. Traitors crept into this organization and in the fall of 1862 they betrayed the names of the Union men to the rebellious mob and they were hunted like criminals rather than human beings. Dr. Chiles and his brother, Ephraim, were among the first captured and they were hung on a tree in Gainesville on Oct. 4, 1862, for no other crime that being Union men. The reign of terror lasted about two weeks, during which 44 men died for their country, nearly all of them leaving destitute families. Almus Chiles was never heard of thereafter, being probably killed in the forest. Among those hung were Wm Scott, Wm Norris, an un-married man, and a Mr. Fields, Charles Taylor, still living in Bedford, Iowa, escaped the researches of the blood thirsty mob, and got away to the north.

Mrs. Dicy Chiles and her family of eight children, the youngest a babe of only a few weeks old, fled the scene of massacre as quickly as possible and settled near Paris, in Lamar county, Texas, where they stayed until 1865 when they moved to Yates City, Knox county, Illinois, where they remained until 1882, when they moved to Taylor County, Iowa. There Mrs. Chiles made her home until a few years ago, when she came to live with her daughter, Mrs. Longley, as who home she died as above stated.


Comments on the above obituary:
1. Henry's brother, Ephraim, is known to researchers, but the reference to another brother by the name of Almus Chiles is interesting.  Was he involved with the Union League?  What happened to him?
2.Who is the Charles Taylor, who escaped from Gainesville and lived in Bedford? 
3. After the hangings, Dicy quickly moved her young family to Lamar County, where she felt they would be safer than staying in Cooke County.  Just how dangerous was Cooke County for the widows of the men who were hanged?
4. Dicy felt her husband was involved in the Union League for SELF PROTECTION.  She felt her husband's only crime was that of being a Union man.
5.  The obituary states: "...their home was happy and blissful. They then moved to Texas."  Interesting thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Moving to Texas was not the problem, but staying in Confederate Texas was the issue.