Friday, February 10, 2012


Often the question is asked, “Why do a Blog about a Civil War Hanging?”
Additional questions and comments include: "Who cares about that?, How depressing!, Your not like one of those guys who dress up like Civil War Soldiers, are you?, What does that have to do with anything today?"

The Blog Welcome, on the right side of the blog, explains the goal or mission statement of the blog:
     Our goal is to remember all the men who died in the 'Great Hanging'
     and find their families – spouse, children, parents, siblings.

But, the real question that should be asked, is not “Why the blog?” but, “What prompted you to start the blog in the first place?”

That's easy.  While reading the book by Thomas Barrett, “The Great Hanging,” the following passage on page eighteen seemed to jump out of the book demanding attention and action.

“There was an order passed that women should not be permitted to be present at the hanging. The women were not noisy, but the signs of deep despair was manifested by the heaving breast, the falling tears, the heavy groans as though the heart was breaking, and all the vitals of life were giving way. I believe all these men were heads of families. The sun set that night on fourteen widowed families, and thirteen families of orphans, for if I recollect right, all these men had children but one.
Language is totally incompetent to express the deep sorrow of that night. Wailing, moaning, weeping and lamentation existed in these families on that dark and fatal night. Tears fell like the rain drop, as tears fall from my eyes at even this distant day, while penning these lines. When the little ones who were just beginning to talk, would say: Ma where is pa? Pa come home, O, ma, go after him. How these words went like a dagger to the heart of that disconsolate wife. He was her husband, she loved him! Let the world say what they may.”

Who were these women?? -- these widows, mothers, and daughters of the Gainesville Hanging victims?

One thing was certain, these women needed their story told. They needed a voice! They needed to be found!  In many cases, who these women were, was not known to present day researchers. Many women are still not known, but many have been “found” since this blog was started and their sad but courageous story is finally being told.

For a list of known spouses of the men hanged at Gainesville, go the the "Weeping Wives" post.  It is updated as new information is found.

If you have information on any of the families of the Hanging victims, please share. There are many ways to share: write a book, start your own blog, post your family information on, leave a message on genealogy message boards, donate your stories to a historical society/library in Gainesville, post the information on this blog, and/or all of the above.

Thomas Barrett, "The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, October, A.D. 1862," Gainesville, Texas: January, 1885; Old West Magazine, pages 49-66, Summer 1981, Note: Original pamphlet was written in 1885. Its author, Thomas Barrett, was on the Cooke County jury that found 42 men guilty of conspiracy against the Confederacy in the Fall of 1862. According to the Handbook on Texas, Barrent "deprecated the role of emotion in the jury's decisions and argued that his being on the jury had saved large numbers of lives." Note: Barrett did NOT mention names of the victims.

1 comment:

Cowgirl said...

Thank you for sharing this. These stories do need to be told. I am surprised that it was not done before now. Gainesville has brushed this whole affair under the rug, just as history has brushed women's stories under the rug.
For the most part, the history of mankind is just that, the history of "man."
Women were affected by this event -- their story needs to be told.