Monday, September 22, 2014

Upcoming Media Coverage for the October 18th Dedication

The following information about upcoming media coverage for the Great Hanging Monument Dedication was posted on "The Great Hanging - October 1862 Civil War" Facebook page.

Upcoming media coverage for the October 18th Dedication!
Dr. Rick McCaslin, author of Tainted Breeze, will be guest expert for these interviews. Tune in and spread the word.....
September 30 - KGAF Radio - 1580 AM
Live interview: 7:45am
October 8 - KTEN Television 
Live interview: 11:00am
October 5th or 12th - Dallas Morning News
Family interviews and in-depth article, photos

Make plans to be in Gainesville, Texas on October 18th!
Keep updated by checking the Facebook page or the Great Hanging 1862 website.

Great Hanging Monument Dedication Updated Info

The following is the official press release from the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation: 


The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation announced today that a series of events will be held on October 18, 2014 to commemorate the historic event known as the “The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.”

The Great Hanging is a Texas Civil War era event of major historical significance.  Due to its dramatic and controversial nature, little has been done to memorialize those who lost their lives.

Although this event occurred 152 years ago, scholars and lay persons still have difficulty in agreeing on the appropriate interpretation of the incident.  Some contend that the action of the civilian and military authorities that led to the hanging of forty men and the shooting deaths of two men attempting to escape, was justified. Others argue that the tragic incident was nothing more than vigilante mob violence. 

On December 3, 2013 the Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the placement of two large granite stones at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park in Gainesville, Texas to memorialize those who died.  The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation was then formed.

Funding for the purchase of two etched granite monuments, solar powered lighting and the memorial walkway was made possible through private donations.

The public is invited to the formal dedication which will begin with a luncheon on Saturday, October 18, 2014  (11:30 am - 1:00 pm) at the North Central Texas College Lions Field House, Gainesville, Texas. The luncheon will be followed by a program “October Mourning” at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts, also located on the college campus.  The Monument dedication ceremony will begin at 3:00 pm at the Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park at 729 East Main Street near downtown Gainesville. 

Anyone having knowledge of descendants of the Great Hanging is encouraged to contact the Foundation at (817) 999-9551. 

Those planning to attend the luncheon need to RSVP by September 30, 2014  by calling (817) 946-4491 or send email to

Dedication Schedule
October 18, 2014
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Lions Field House, Cooke County Campus
North Central Texas College
1525 West California St.
Gainesville, TX 76240
Luncheon provided by the Texas State Historical Association and the Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by September 30 (817) 946-4491 or email

I 35 to Exit 497,  turn West on California St. (FM 51) 0.7 mi to Bonner St. (CR 304), Turn North 0.2 mi to the Field House on Left

Program “October Mourning”
1:00 - 2:30 pm -Free Admission- At the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts on NCTC campus, southwest of the Lions Field House
“October Mourning” is a 45 minute theatrical reading that brings life to the events of that terrible October in 1862, by local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there.  This reading will be followed by a 45 minute Q & A session with Dr. Richard B. McCaslin, author of “Tainted Breeze”.

Monument Dedication
3:00 pm
Georgia Davis Bass Memorial Park
729 East Main St., Gainesville, Texas (parallel street to California St.)
East of Cooke County Court House
Master of Ceremonies - Dr. Richard B. McCaslin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Great Hanging Monument Dedication

The Board of Directors and Volunteers of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation have announced details for the monument dedication in recognition of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862.
The monument dedication will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014.  Below is the schedule for the planned activities.  Visit the Great Hanging 1862 Memorial website for any updates.

11:30am – 1:00pm Luncheon

North Central Texas College Field House
1525 W. California Lane, Gainesville TX
Luncheon sponsored - University of North Texas;
Texas State Historical Association and Lone Star Chair in Texas History
RSVP by Sept. 30 – 817.946.4491 or email:

1:00pm – 2:30pm “October Mourning”

North Central Texas College - Center for Performing Arts (on Campus, near Field House) Theatrical reading that brings to life the events of that terrible October of 1862 with local actors portraying the contemporary characters. Hear the story of the Great Hanging from the perspective of those who were there. (No charge)

3:00pm Dedication Ceremony

Georgia Davis Bass Civil War Historical Park
729 E. Main St, Gainesville TX

Master of Ceremony – Dr. Richard McCaslin
Guest speakers – to be announced soon

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Great Hanging at Gainesville by Dr. Richard McCaslin

On October 24, 2013, Dr. Richard McCaslin gave an informative presentation about the 'Great Hanging at Gaineville' at the Allen Public Library.  It was published on YouTube November 8, 2013. 

In this YouTube video, "Dr. Richard McCaslin presents an account of a horrifying yet oft-forgotten episode in North Texas history at the Allen Public Library. History is replete with tales of tragic events that should not have happened. Pretending these never existed only increases the chances of re-occurrence; so learning about them will hopefully deter the repeat of another dismal or shameful event. What has come to be known as "The Great Hanging at Gainesville" proves this point. Unlike most of Texas, counties along the Red River, including Collin, voted against secession just prior to the Civil War. Acrimony between pro-Union and pro-Confederate forces in the state was rampant; Texan against Texan hostilities were more venomous than Northerner against Southerner."

Dr. Richard McCaslin is the author of the book pictured above, "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862."  McCaslin's book, published in 1994, is the definitive source for information concerning the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  He gives a "fair and balanced" narrative of the Great Hanging that took place at Gainesville, Texas in October, 1862.

Link for the above YouTube video:  (

Gainesville Great Hanging Website Launched

On February 21, 2014, the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation announced the launch of their new website dedicated to the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.  Click on image below to go to the website.

The Great Hanging 1862
The mission of the Great Hanging Memorial Foundation as explained on the website is:
"The Great hanging Memorial Foundation is a 501 c3 (non-profit) organization  and was created to honor those who lost their lives, as well as preserve Civil War history and educate Americans about these events."

The Great Hanging Memorial Foundation is seeking donations from individuals, private foundations, and corporations. Your financial support for the Memorial would be greatly appreciated and would help to make the proposed Memorial a reality.  

You can also support the construction of the Great Hanging Memorial by purchasing a custom engraved Granite Paver. Your paver with its personal message will be placed in the walkway for visitors to see.  To purchase a granite paving stone engraved in memory or in honor of someone, click here.  Purchasing a paver in memory of your Great Hanging ancestor would be a wonderful way to honor those who died in the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  Hopefully everyone who died during the hangings will have a paver in their memory.

Please consider making a donation or purchasing a paver so that this Memorial can become a reality!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reapers of the Whirlwind by L D Clark

This YouTube video clip is of 91 year old L D Clark presenting an introduction to his screenplay called "Reapers of the Whirlwind."   This screenplay is based on Clark's historical novel, "A Bright Tragic Thing."  The novel was about the Great Hanging which took place in Gainesville, Texas during the Civil War.  L D Clarke is the great-grandson of Nathaniel Miles Clark, one of the men hanged in the Great Hanging.

Gainesville Council Approves Monument

Those of us who have personal ties to the victims of "The Great Hanging" just got an early CHRISTMAS present!!  There will finally be a monument for the men who died during of The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.  Yesterday, December 2nd, the following was reported on KXII News, Sherman, Texas.

Gainesville, Texas to get "Great Hanging" monument

Click here for news clip or click on image below.

Gainesville council approves construction of "The Great Hanging" monuments

GAINESVILLE, TX -- The Gainesville city council approved the placement of two monuments that some in the community say are long overdue.
In October 1862, nearly 150 men suspected of supporting the Union were arrested for treason against the Confederacy.
42 of them were hanged in Gainesville, just days later.
Now,151 years later, the city and community is making sure this historical event is not forgotten.
91-year-old L.D. Clark has waited decades to hear these words...
"The motion passes unanimously," Mayor Jim Goldsworthy announced to the council.
Tuesday night, the council approved construction of two 5 foot tall monuments to be built where The Great Hanging took place.
"Well, it makes me feel somewhat justified," Clark said.
Clark's great great grandfather, Nathaniel Clark, was one of the men accused of treason, and hanged on the land right off California Street in Gainesville.
Clark and other members of the Great Hanging Monument committee say this project is long overdue.
"As you grow up in this area, you hear about it. So, I felt like it was a story that was long overdue to be told to the general public," Nancy Brannon said.
Nancy Brannon says the current monument, which was erected in the 60s, is nearly unreadable. And Steve Gordon says the information on it is now outdated.
"That's the information available up to 1964. There's been a lot of research done since then," Gordon said.
Gordon and several other Gainesville residents, some whom have since passed away, have worked tirelessly to collect the facts of the historical event.
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said their efforts helped push this motion through.
"Our concern at council is that we're historically correct. Beyond that, we would like us to remember history as it unfolded and learn from history," Goldsworthy said.
The monuments will tell the known facts, and list the 42 names of the men who died.
The group says this outcome is a victory for them, but specifically for Mr. Clark.
"There's been a great change of heart in Gainesville concerning this monument, and it's going to be a great, adequate one to fit the situation," Clark said.
Clark has written both a novel and screenplay on The Great Hanging. He says he hopes one day that screen play will be bought and shown in theaters across the country,
The group has spent their own money, and collected donations to pay for the monument.
If you'd like to help contact Steve Gordon at 940-372-8835.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gainesville's Forgotten People

Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas

Gainesville's Forgotten People
The Families of the Great Hanging Victims

One has to wonder why a memorial has not been placed in Gainesville to remember the men who died in the Great Hanging of 1862.  In what some call "one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War" at least 40 men suspected of Union sympathies were hanged in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.  For the last 150 years, Gainesville has tried to hide from the Hanging and sweep it under the rug.

It has been five years since this blog was started.  Since that time, quite a few families of the Great Hanging victims have been found through research and with descendants sharing their family stories.  But, the reality is that wives, children, parents, and siblings for many men are still unknownIt's as if history has forgotten them.  Each man who died in the hangings had parents, most probably had siblings, and the majority had wives and children.  Why has it been so hard to find them?

The main goal (mission statement) of the blog is:
Each family of a Gainesville Hanging victim has a story that needs to be told and shared.  Our goal is to remember all the men who died in the 'Great Hanging' and find their families – spouse, children, parents, siblings.

If you have a "Great Hanging" ancestor, or you are just interested in history, please help by sharing stories and research about the victims of the Great Hanging and their families.  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, start a website, donate your stories to a historical society/library in Gainesville, post the information on this blog, and/or all of the above.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gainesville's Past Still Stirs Passions

The following article written by Steve Campbell was posted Sunday, 7 Oct 2012, in the Star-Telegram. 

Note in the article that the Mayor Pro Tem Ray Nichols of Gainesville goes on record calling the Great Hanging, "That other thing?" and stating, "I don't think that's important to anybody."  Nichols' comment was insensitive, rude, arrogant, and unbecoming of a public official.  He owes an apology to those of us with an ancestor who died in the hanging!

After 150 years, a dark chapter of Gainesville's past still stirs passions

Read more here:

Read more here:


GAINESVILLE -- Rand McNally recently named this North Texas town America's Most Patriotic City, but that red, white and blue slogan has collided with a grisly episode from 150 years ago: the Great Hanging of 1862, when vigilantes hanged 40 Union sympathizers and shot two more who tried to escape.
The Civil War incident that pitted neighbors against neighbors in a paroxysm of suspicion and retaliation remains a touchy subject here, particularly for families whose ancestors were strung up from an elm tree not far from the courthouse.

They say the city of 16,000 has always tried to duck the dark episode that at the time sparked outrage in the North and drew applause across the South.
"People damn well try to whitewash it," said 89-year-old L.D. Clark, a retired English professor whose great-grandfather Nathaniel M. Clark was hanged on Oct. 13, 1862, leaving behind a wife and seven children, including a son in the Rebel army.

Mayor Jim Goldsworthy says Gainesville isn't "running away from the horrible event."
The city would rather "hang our moniker on being the most patriotic town in America and drive our tourism that way."

The latest contretemps flared when a local museum planning an Oct. 12-13 event to mark the 150th anniversary put up a billboard in late August off Interstate 35 promoting it as "October's Reign of Terror, Commemorating the Great Hanging of 1862."
It quickly came down when Cooke County Heritage Society directors bailed on the event after Mayor Pro Tem Ray Nichols voiced his disapproval with the "sensational" marketing to the director of the Morton Museum, which the society manages.

"We received some information that intimidated the executive board, and we decided to cancel," said Steve Gordon, a retired engineer and former president of the society who organized the event. "We got scared because the city gives the museum money. I'm very bitter about it. Gainesville has been hiding from the Great Hanging since it happened."

Nichols, a retired banker, said he wasn't acting in his official capacity but as a private individual and contributor to the museum who felt the billboard "put the city in a bad light."
He also didn't appreciate that the event was scheduled on the weekend of the city's Depot Days, an annual celebration of the area's railroad history.

"Gainesville was voted most patriotic city in America this year, and we are very excited about it and our Medal of Honor Host City program. I think those are important. That other thing? I don't think that's important to anybody," he said.
Don't tell that to Colleen Carri, Clark's niece and a heritage society board member who decided to keep the commemoration alive by pairing it with the annual Clark family reunion Oct. 13.

Carri expects 220 attendees, including descendants of six other hanging victims, at the event called Remembering Our Past, Embracing Our Future.
With cities across the country commemorating Civil War anniversaries, she said, Gainesville is missing out.

"I don't get their mentality except they are afraid it's going to tarnish this most patriotic thing. They didn't know how to spin it; they didn't know what to do with it."
But this might be one where spin couldn't win.

"Having a celebration of a time when they hanged people being loyal to the United States would not go well with the most patriotic town label," said University of North Texas professor Richard B. McCaslin, one of the event's speakers and the author of Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.

The Rebel line

There's another skirmish line on this old battlefront, and it is cloaked in gray. Some North Texans with the Sons of Confederate Veterans believe the Unionists were traitors, and they've produced a movie to tell the "complete history" based on two controversial accounts by men involved in the hangings.
David Moore of Weatherford has two ancestors who were ringleaders of the Unionists -- Henry Childs, a doctor, and his brother, Ephraim, who were the first to be hanged.
"If I was living back then and I knew what those brothers did, I would have hung them, too. It was treason," said Moore, the director of Black October 1862, which will be screened Oct. 13 at the Masonic Lodge in Gainesville.
"Were there innocent people hung? Yes. We're saying there is more to it than what has been presented in the literature out there," Moore said.

Most people only know the victims' stories, said Joe White of Gainesville, the First Lieutenant Commander of the Lee-Bourland Camp 1848 of the SCV. (Col. James Bourland, a "good fighter and good hater," led the troops that rounded up the Unionists.)
"It was the Confederate States of America. They were under military law," White said. "If you have people feeding information to the enemy, what are they?"

Monumental divide

The lingering schism between Gainesville's link to the Confederacy and the mass hanging is "strikingly illustrated" by two monuments, McCaslin said.
On the front lawn of the Cooke County Courthouse, a monolith topped with a Rebel soldier stands watch over the square.

Part of the 1911 monument's flowery inscription reads "no nation rose so white and fair none fell so pure of crime," which makes Clark grimace.
"So pure of crime?" growls Clark, who 30 minutes before had read an inscription on his great-grandfather's grave at the Clark Cemetery that said he was "Murdered by a Mob."
A few blocks away, the town's lone marker for the Great Hanging stands forlornly among piles of construction debris from a flood control project.

"What's fascinating is that this account on this marker is the only evidence of the Great Hanging in Cooke County. There's not a marker with any of the victims' names on it," Carri said.
Goldsworthy says the site will be restored when the construction is done.

The marker was once located across I-35 "as far away as you could get from the town center," said McCaslin, who added that now-deceased former Mayor Margaret Hayes pushed for a Great Hanging park and got the monument moved.
"She saw it as a tourism possibility. People like that sort of ghoulish stuff," he said. "Some places have turned their dark days into big tourist attractions, like the Salem witch trials in New England. They've managed to flip it over. Maybe we're not far enough away yet."

"A pressure cooker"

In 1862, Cooke County was a remote outpost of the Confederacy. Only 10 percent of the households had slaves, and it had voted 2-to-1 against secession while Texas as a whole was 3-to-1 in favor of it.
Located just south of the Red River, Gainesville was a frontier town beset by threats. Just north was Indian Territory. Deserters and outlaws roamed the border lands. To the west, Comanche Indians ruled.

"These people were living in a pressure cooker," McCaslin said.
When the war started in 1861, many Union supporters volunteered for frontier guard units in hope of avoiding fighting in the East. But the Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 changed everything, McCaslin said.

A loose affiliation of men formed a secretive Union League with a primary aim of avoiding the draft, he said.
But rumors were soon rampant that the group had grown to 1,700 and had John Brown-style plans to storm militia arsenals in Gainesville and Sherman and then aid an invasion.

Bourland's troops arrested more than 150 men on Oct. 1, and Confederate Col. William C. Young formed a citizen's court of 12 jurors of mostly slaveholders. Seven Unionist leaders were hanged, and then a mob lynched 14 more, McCaslin said.
The rest of the suspects were to be released, but "the real killing started" the next week after unknown assailants murdered Young and another man, he said.
Nineteen more men were then convicted and hanged. Over the course of the day, two prisoners at a time were hanged from the back of a wagon.

But Gainesville wasn't alone in its fear and retaliation. In Decatur, five Unionist suspects were hanged, and a prisoner was shot in Denton. Earlier, in August, 19 Unionist German settlers fleeing from the Hill Country to Mexico had been killed in the Battle of Nueces, and nine prisoners were executed.

Neighbors torn apart

McCaslin has never found evidence of communication between people in North Texas and Union authorities.
"I think it was just talk. That infuriates some people; they want me to tell them these were horrible traitors that deserved to be killed. But traitors to what? They were actually loyal to the country they had been raised in all their lives."

What remains most fascinating for McCaslin is how quickly neighbors turned on one another.
"But it is not the first time and it's not the last time. We see it today. Under pressure people can do very unreasonable things.

"When you bring something like this to light, smelling to high heaven, it undermines the idea of a united South. To me, it makes it a more human story because we always divide. It's what we do; it's what we are. It's the nature of a democracy. Sometimes we handle it well, and sometimes we don't handle it well at all.
"That upsets people; they don't want to hear that Great-Great-Grandpa made a mistake."

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981
Read more here:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Events Commemorate Great Hanging

This newspaper article is from the Gainesville Daily Register.

Gainesville Daily Register

October 2, 2012

Events commemorate Great Hanging

By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer 
Gainesville Daily Register
Gainesville — Cooke County historians have planned special commentorative events this month  to mark the 150th anniversary of Gainesville’s Great Hanging, which was Monday.

Observances began with Saturday’s presentation of “October Morning,” a play reading in which local participants re-enacted key elements of the October 1862 incident through narration.

Another key tribute is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 13, at Gainesville Civic Center. Organized by descendants of the hanged Nathaniel Clark, the event is called “Remembering Our Past, Embracing Our Future” and will feature speakers, a catered luncheon and a Color Guard ceremony.

Saturday’s show, presented by Morton Museum of Cooke County, was written by Dr. Pat Ledbetter and selected from existing historical documents.

Morton Museum President Steve Gordon said such presentations are important to maintain annually in Gainesville, since the Great Hanging is the area’s single notable Civil War-era incident.

“Because there are no transcripts, nobody knows exactly what happened,” Gordon said Monday. “The jurors? They all went to their graves keeping their mouths shut. Fifteen jurors went to the grave and wouldn’t talk. I don’t know if their consciences bothered them, or what. But there’s good people and bad people in this mess.”

The hanging occurred after the Texas Militia arrested more than 200 suspected Unionists in late 1862. On Oct. 1, vigilantes in Gainesville executed 42 of these men, following convictions on charges of conspiracy to commit treason against the Confederacy and fomenting an insurrection. Research suggests 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.

Stories of the Great Hanging inched through the following decades in a low key, since little documentation could be found.

Extensive details didn’t proliferate locally until the late 1980s, when University of Texas scholar Richard McCaslin created a 625-page book intended as a dissertation.

And Gordon added that during the past decade, commemorations of the Great Hanging have been an annual fixture but have been difficult to mount.

In late August, organizers were forced to cancel an elaborate two-day event set for October, due to lack of support.

The Civic Center ceremony on Oct. 13 is intended as a substitute, but Gordon said civic interest in the Great Hanging is apparently waning.

“I’ve been pushing this for years, but I’ve been getting my head beaten in about it,” he said Monday.

“The town does not want to know about it. The connotation of hanging sounds terrible. ... Gainesville wants to gloss it over. But it’s a Civil War-era event and we just can’t overlook that.”

The museum president added that Gainesville has received national notoriety for more positive reasons, such as the “Most Patriotic City” award received in July, and these are to the city’s credit.

But historians continue to feel that the legacy of the Great Hanging, however troublesome, is fascinating local history that merits attention from new audiences.

“We need something to get people off the highway,” he said. “Gainesville should take advantage of that event.”

For more information about the ceremony on Oct. 13, you may e-mail or call (817) 999-9551. Registration for participants of the event is open through Friday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Commemoration now hosted by Clark Family

Great Hanging Commemoration now to be hosted by the Clark Family.   Commemoration will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2012.  

The Clark family has issued the following information:

Update - August 29,2012

On Monday night , August 27th, the Cooke County Heritage Society Executive Board of Directors met and made the unanimous decision to cancel “October’s Reign of Terror” due to lack of support. This two day event was the Commemoration of the Great Hanging of 1862, This educational event featured bus tours to local cemeteries, renowned authors and speakers, and a Civil War era ball.

HOWEVER - the Clark family will host a one-day event at the same location.

Remembering Our Past, Embracing Our Future
October 1862 - 2012
This year marks the 150th year since the Great Hanging at Gainesville. The Clark Family invites you to join them for commemoration events and catered luncheon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012 at the Civic Center
200 S. Rusk St, Gainesville, Texas

9am – 12noon Speakers – Richard McCaslin, Leon Russell, Ron Melugin and L.D. Clark

12noon Catered Luncheon

3:30pm Clark Cemetery
Color Guard Ceremony

5pm Clark-Carri Farm
629 Clark Rd Gainesville
Hor d’ oeuvres & Bonfire

RSVP - before October 5, 2012

Additional information contact Brenda Clark Fehlbaum – 214.803.9212 or
Colleen Clark Carri – 817.999.9551
This was posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:32:00 PM

2012 Great Hanging Event Canceled -- WHY??

 The following can be found on the website for the Commemoration of the Great Hanging:

On Monday night , August 27th, the Cooke County Heritage Society Executive Board of Directors met and made the unanimous decision to cancel  "October’s Reign of Terror” due to lack of support.

Not much of an explanation  --  Sounds kind of lame.  Especially for those who have already purchased flights, reorganized work schedules, reserved rooms, etc, etc.   

**UPDATE** Check out the follow-up announcement by the Clark family here.

**Please read this post to find out WHY the commemoration event by the Cooke County Heritage Society was canceled.  Note the comment made by the Mayor Pro Tem of Gainesville.  It appears that Gainesville wants to ignore the fact that the hanging took place in their town.

Monday, August 20, 2012

1895 Cooke County Map

A comment left on the Bus Tour post reminded me that sometime ago I started to try locating the land owned by the men who were hanged.  I never finished the project, but will post a map showing a few of the land surveys belonging to victims of the hanging. 
Below is a copy of a 1895 plat map for Cooke county showing land owned by several of the men who were killed during the hangings.  Texas land surveys are known by the name of the person who was originally authorized to purchase the land.  So if your ancestor was not the original owner of the land, you would need the land deed for your ancestor to find out the name of the survey in order to find it on a map.  According to the Texas General Land Office:  "for the purposes of reference the name of the original certificate holder is retained as a means of identifying the surveyed tract."

1895 Cooke County Survey Map

The Texas General Land Office has an excellent website.  Another helpful website is Arphax Publishing.  The Arphax Publishing Texas Land Survey Maps series and Family Maps series are very helpful in finding the land your ancestor owned. 
I will be glad to add names to the map, if information is left in comments showing which survey was owned by your 'Great Hanging' ancestor.:) 
The above map can be found on It is in their map collection called Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000. is available free in most major libraries and in LDS Family History Centers across the U.S. 

Southern "Volunteers"

Most of the men who were hanged in the 'Great Hanging' probably had the same sentiments as the poor fellow in the cartoon above about being "drafted" into the Confederate Army.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

McCaslin & Clark to speak at 'Great Hanging' event

Two favorite authors of books concerning the Great Hanging will be speaking in Gainesville at the Civic Center on Saturday Morning, October 13, 2012.  The schedule for Saturday morning, October 13, 2012, of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Great Hanging, includes Richard McCaslin, PhD and L. D. Clark, PhD, Leon Russell, and Ron Melugin.
Noted historian and author, Richard McCaslin, PhD, will speak on the topic of his book, "Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862."  Richard B. McCaslin, a professor and Department of History Chairman at the University of North Texas, is the author of many historical books, including Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas,  1862 (LSU, 1994), which won the Tullis Prize and an AASLH commendation.  Dr. McCaslin  earned his BA from Delta State University, MA from Louisiana State University and PhD from The University of Texas at Austin.

Also speaking is L. D. Clark, PhD.  His topic will be family stories of the Great Hanging.  L. D. Clark is the grandson of James Lemuel Clark and great-grandson of Nathaniel Miles Clark, who was hanged during the Great Hangings.  L.D. Clark earned his BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University. He has a long career of teaching English at the University of Arizona, The University of Nice and Korea University.  He is the author of several books including  A Bright Tragic Thing, a novel based on the Gainesville hanging, and Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark,  memoirs of his grandfather.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'Great Hanging' Bus Tour

This event has been CANCELED!!
**Please check out the follow-up announcement by the Clark family here**

As part of the two-day sesquicentennial commemoration of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, a 4-hour bus tour is offered on Friday, Oct 12, 2012.

The tour bus will depart from the Gainesville Civic Center and visit four sites:
1. The Courthouse Square/Pecan Creek
2. Fairview Cemetery to visit the burial plots of 19 men who had influence during The Great Hanging
3. The Black Cemetery where Col. William C. Young is buried
4. Clark Cemetery where Nathanial M. Clark is buried

Those of us who had an ancestor who was hanged in the Great Hanging would like to know some of the following locations:
Where did the trials take place?
What was the route taken from the courtroom to the hanging tree?
Where is the location of the old warehouse that the bodies were thrown into?  
Where was the hanging tree was located or at least the general vicinity? 
And, the most nagging question of all will always be, "WHERE ARE THEY BURIED?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sesquicentennial Great Hanging Event

This event has been CANCELED!!
**Please check out the follow-up announcement by the Clark family here** 


October 12-13, 2012
Gainesville, Texas

The Morton Museum of Gainesville has recently added information about the Commemoration of the Great Hanging to their calendar.  This event will take place October 12-13, 2012 in Gainesville, Texas.

A website was created for the event: 

The home page states the following:

This Civil War Tragedy resulted in the hanging of forty men suspected of being unionists. 
The two day event commemorates the 150th year of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas.
, October 12, 2012 includes bus tours to historic sites and an evening meal with a Civil War Ball. 

On Saturday, October 13, the day starts with coffee and donuts, lectures by distinguished authors, lunch, a film entitled "Black October" and a panel discussion.

Visit the website for registration information.  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Curd Goss

The following photo was found posted on both facebook and  The photo is believed to be a photo of Curd Goss.

Curd Goss

The following biography was found on the Harrison County, Iowa USGenWeb page. It was posted Jan 2010 by jnjgoss and accessed Aug 2010.

 by jnjgoss

Curd Goss was born March 19, 1819 in Tennessee, the sixth son of John and Mary. He married Mary Ellen Alexander, probably in McMinn County before 1838. A number of their descendants are actively involved in family history and I will try to make clear which information came from those people and which has been found by my own research. Some have been particularly helpful, especially Gerald Roden of Duncan, Oklahoma, who was willing to exchange some opinions with me and expand on the basic identification of the family tree that exists on the Internet. Some of that information prompted me to dig further for other records and improve my understanding of the family.

Curd and Mary Ellen had 11 children: Martha E. (1838), Emily (1840-1854), Samantha (1842), Nancy (1845), William (1847), James (1849), Mary Ellen (1852), John S. (1854), Margaret Jane (1856-1859), Wiley (1858) and Harriet (1860-1861). Martha, Emily (probably), and Samantha were born in Missouri, the next five children in Tennessee, Margaret in Iowa, and Wiley and Harriet in Missouri. There does not appear to be a record of the family from the 1840 census, although my opinion is that they were in Missouri. Curd participated in the Cherokee Removal to Oklahoma during the 1830s, according to information from some of his descendants. That would have taken him through the same part of Missouri where Alvis lived in the late 1830s and where Allen sold land in 1843. The 1856 Iowa state census, discussed below, supports that opinion.

The first reference to the family was in the 1850 census of McMinn County, where they were recorded with the first six children, all shown as born in Tennessee. That record is probably wrong with respect to the first three daughters, Martha, Emily and Samantha, again based on the 1856 Iowa census.

Curd appeared several times in the land records of McMinn County, the first on November 25, 1852, when John Goss Sr. sold 160 acres to Curd for $1600. That same day, John Sr. sold 75 acres to James Goss. On December 23, 1852, John Goss Sr. deeded an additional 280 acres to Curd for an unnamed consideration. Coupled with some January 1852 records when James deeded land on behalf of John Sr. to settle a debt that the father was unable to pay, it appears that the sons remaining in McMinn County bought out their father in the November and December transactions.

Curd appeared again in the McMinn County land records in 1854, the first time in July when Curd bought a tract of less than two acres from his brother, James. Then Curd apparently sold all of his land in McMinn County (the two parcels from John Sr. and the small parcel from James) on September 12, 1854 to Joseph Neil for $4000. These transactions suggested that he was selling out and leaving the area.

In January 1855, Curd bought land in Harrison County, Iowa, just across the county line from Pottawattamie County and within about five miles of where Sherman Goss had moved his family in 1851. Taken together with the September 1854 land sale, it is clear that Curd knew exactly where he was going when he left Tennessee. He did not return to Missouri, where Alvis lived, but moved to Iowa, where Sherman lived.

I found the Iowa connection with help from another of Sherman’s descendants, Martha Grainger of Las Vegas, Nevada, who sent me a biography of Sherman’s oldest son, John S. Goss, who died in Harrison County in 1892. She had found it at the Harrison County GenWeb site where it had been posted long after my research of that site. When I revisited the site to search for Goss information, I found the biography and other references to John – but I also found four unexpected references to Curd Goss. The four references included two biographies that mentioned a farm previously owned by Curd Goss; a first school in Curd Goss’ house; and an 1857(?) incident in which Curd Goss shot William F. Vore. Following up on the reference to the farm, I found two 1855 land purchases and 1858 and 1860 sales of the same property.

With the biography and land information placing Curd in Harrison County from 1855 to at least 1857 or 1858, I found that there was an 1856 Iowa state census that might add to the picture of Curd’s family. I read the very faint microfilm in March 2003 at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Curd was found in LaGrange Township, a farmer from Tennessee, age 37, resident of the state for one year, a voter and militia. His family included Polly, age 41, from North Carolina; Martha E. 17, born in Missouri; Samantha, age 14, born in Missouri; Nancy, age 10, born in Tennessee; William J.A., age 8, born in Tennessee; James, age 6, born in Tennessee; Mary E., age 4, born in Tennessee; John, age 2, born in Tennessee; and Margaret, age ¼, born in Iowa.

The 1856 census was apparently the last in which Curd appeared. There is a record of the marriage of Samantha in DeKalb County, Missouri, in March 1860, but Curd’s family definitely did not appear there in the 1860 census. It is quite likely that the family was on the move from Missouri to Texas and there is one land record in Grayson County, Texas in January 1860 that shows a lot purchased at a sheriff’s sale by “C.W. Goff.” There were Goff families there at that time, but no one answering the description of the buyer of that lot.
Curd was hanged at Gainesville, Texas on October 19, 1862, one of 41 men convicted in what appears to have been an unfair trial. The circumstances surrounding the trial are recorded in several accounts of “The Great Hanging of Gainesville” and were the result of some shootings and the fact that those hanged were opposed to secession. Rather than recount that history here, it can be found in several ways through an Internet search. I do have one possible insight to why Curd was in that part of Texas in the first place. One of the jurors, who objected to the way the jury was reaching their determinations of guilt or innocence, was Thomas C. Barrett. Barrett had lived in Texas since 1848 and in the Gainesville area since 1860. He was married first to Martha Alexander in Tennessee in 1833 and moved to Missouri in 1842. Martha died in 1844 and he remarried before the move to Texas. I think it quite possible that Martha Alexander Barrett and Mary Alexander Goss were sisters and that it was a family tie that took Curd’s family to Texas in 1860, just as it was a family tie that took them to Iowa in 1855.

Curd’s widow, Mary, returned to DeKalb County, Missouri, before the 1870 census, where she was recorded with four of her children: James, John, Ellen and Wyley. After checking various censuses for 1880, it would appear that Mary died before 1880. The children were somewhat scattered by 1880, with William living in Montague County, Texas; Samantha in DeKalb County, Missouri; James and Mary Ellen in Elk County, Kansas; John, probably in Kansas, although I have not yet located him in 1880; Wiley also in Kansas but not located. Regarding John, I have the autograph of his oldest daughter, Laura, who was a classmate of my grandmother, Edith Van Winkle Powell, during the 1890s in Leon, Kansas. Included on the autograph book page is a note with the name “Goff” written down in one corner; that was in fact Laura’s married name. John and his family had apparently moved to Oklahoma before Laura married.

The copy of the Curd Goss family bible indicates that Emily died in 1844; however, she was listed with the family in the 1850 census, so the Bible entries may have been made later with an inaccurate memory of the date of her death. She was not with the family in the 1856 Iowa census, so my guess is that she died in 1854.

My most interesting finding about the family concerned the oldest daughter, Martha. Curd’s descendants had a record of her birth and she was with the family in the 1850 census, with her place of birth shown as North Carolina. I found her with the family in the 1856 Iowa state census of Harrison County, age 17 and born in Missouri. The Missouri answer is probably correct, because I also found Martha in the 1860 federal census in Pottawattamie County, Iowa – with her husband and a two year old daughter. I actually had this 1860 information for three years before I realized that Martha was Curd’s daughter. Her husband was her first cousin, James C. Goss, the second son of Sherman Goss. I had found James and Martha by accident while looking for James’ sister, Mary, who had married in May 1860 to Huston Knight. I found the Knight family as expected, but next to them in the census was the family of James and Martha Goss with a daughter, Mary, age 2. This family was a surprise to me because the history I had for James showed him married in 1863 to Charity Wagstaff, with no record of an earlier marriage. In poking around for information about James and Martha, I found there was a marriage record for a couple by that name in Andrew County, Missouri in 1857. When I visited the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City in March 2003, I happened to read the film of the original marriage records of Andrew County, Missouri, and the 1856 census of Harrison County, Iowa, on the same day. The marriage record was specific about the couple being James C. Goss and Martha E. Goss. The census record was specific about Curd’s daughter being Martha E. Goss. Suddenly it all made sense; why this couple, both in Iowa in 1856, were married down the river in Missouri in 1857 and then back in Iowa by the 1860 census. I would suspect neither family approved of the marriage, although James’ father had died in 1855. It is also possible that this marriage was the reason behind Curd’s shooting of William F. Vore about 1857 that led to Curd leaving Iowa and ending up in Texas. While that is only a guess, I am fairly certain about the marriage being between these two first cousins. Martha probably died before 1863, since James remarried in February 1863. His family, as shown in the 1870 census, was as expected from our family tree and did not include the daughter from the first marriage. However, James’ oldest brother, John S. Goss, had a girl of age 12, Catherine, in the household. Since John and his wife, Mary, did not have any children, my guess is that this girl was James’ daughter. Since there was already a Mary in the household, it is likely that the girl was called by her middle name. She was not recorded in the 1880 Iowa census, although she would have been 22 by that time, and there is no marriage record for her in Pottawattamie County that I have found. James moved his second family to LaVeta, Colorado, and then to the Fresno, California area. I have found no indication that his descendants know anything about his first marriage, but there is no surprise there.

I have corresponded with several of Curd’s descendants and they all seem well aware of how Curd’s life ended, although I may have a number of details in this account that are news to some of them. Again, my purpose is not to repeat the accounts of his descendants, but to add some perspective through the things I have found in my research. Curd’s move to Iowa was a major find in sorting out Sherman’s ancestry, something I might not have been able to do without digging deeper into Curd’s history.

Note: Curd's widow, Mary E. Goss, lived with her son, Wiley Goss in Elk County, Kansas. She can be found in the 1880 Federal census and the 1875 & 1885 Iowa State Census records. She died in 1889 in Howard, Elk, Kansas.

Edward Hampton

From the few records found for Edward Hampton, it appears that he was a single man. His birth date and place are not known, nor are any family relationships known.

McCaslin reported the following about Edward Hampton: “Paid taxes in Cooke County in 1857 on 2 horses. He filed a preemption for 160 acres and paid taxes on it in 1861 and 1862 as well as on 16 horses in the latter years according to the 1862 Cooke County tax roll, UNT.”

Hampton was on the Cooke County tax list for 1857, 1861, 1862, so, he should have showed up on the 1860 US Federal Census for Cooke County.  But, he was not found in the records for Cooke or in surrounding counties. A census record would have reported Ed Hampton’s age and birthplace.

Edward Hampton was tried in a double trial along with John A. Morris. Diamond did not give a full account of the trial; instead he stated that “The testimony in these cases is the same as in preceding trials. They were found guilty by the court.” Their crime was that of disloyalty against the Confederacy. They were found guilty and sentenced to hang. According to Diamond, Hampton and Morris supposedly acknowledged their guilt at the gallows and “exhorted the people to continue the work to break up the order that had so ignominiously terminated their existence.” Ed Hampton was hanged on October 10th.

Hampton “scarcely had time to complete his complete his will before being led to the elm” to be hanged. His hangman, Alexander Boutwell, was witness to his will. He left his estate, after his just debts were paid, to be equally divided between A. D. Scott and the heirs of Mrs. Woolsey. Ed Hampton must have been really good friends or connected through family relationships to the Woolsey family, because he left everything to them. A. D. Scott was married to Mary Woolsey, daughter of Elizabeth Woolsey.

Edward Hampton Will & Inventory of Estate