Legends of America

Follow the links to the various pages of Legends of America

The Old West Legends of America Outhouse Madness Ghostly Legends Outlaws Old West Saloons Rocky Mountain General Store Legends Photo Store The Book Store Make your travel reservations here! Route 66 Native Americans The Old States - Back East

Legends of America    |    Legends General Store    |    Legends Photo Shop

 

Legends Of America's Facebook PageLegends Of America's Twitter PageLegends on Pinterest

Legends Home

Site Map

What's New!!

 

Content Categories:

American History

Destinations-States

Ghost Stories

Ghost Towns

Historic People

Legends & Myths

Native Americans

Old West

Photo Galleries

Route 66

Travel Center

Treasure Tales

 

   Search Our Sites

Custom Search

Google

 

About Us

Advertising

Article/Photo Use

Copyright Information

Blog

Facebook Page

Guestbook

Links

Newsletter

Privacy Policy

Site Map

Writing Credits

 

We welcome corrections

and feedback!

Contact Us

 

Legends' General Store


Old West/Western

Route 66

Native American

Featured Items

Sale Items

Books/Magazines

CD's - DVD's

Nuwati Herbals

Personalized-Engraved
Postcards

Wall Art

Custom Products

and Much More!

 

  Legends Of America's Rocky Mountain General Store - Cart View

 

Legends' Photo Prints

Legends Photo Prints and Downloads
 

Ghost Town Prints

Native American Prints

Old West Prints

Route 66 Prints

States, Cities & Places

Nostalgic Prints

Photo Art Prints

Jim Hinckley's America

David Fisk (Lens of Fisk)

Specials-Gift Ideas

and Much More!!
 

Legends Of America's Photo Print Shop - Cart View

 

Family Friendly Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas State Flag - Lone Star Legends IconLONE STAR LEGENDS

Mass Hanging at Gainesville, Texas

Bumper stickers for sale!

  Bookmark and Share

 

Cooke County and the city of Gainesville became an area of building tension prior to and during the Civil War. Geographically located closer to “Free-State Kansas than to the capitol of Austin, they were a diverse set of people. Having extremely mixed origins, about half the emigrants came from the Deep South and wanted to continue their traditions of an Old South planter lifestyle, though very few of them were wealthy enough to own slaves. The other half came primarily from the Upper South, and principally made their livings as ranchers. In September, 1858, when the Butterfield Stage Line made its way to the area, it brought with it an even more diverse group from all areas of the nation.

 

Lynching of 41 suspected Unionists in Gainesville, Texas

Forty men were executed in the Great Gainesville Hanging in

 Texas, 1862, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1864.

Over the next several years, tensions began to mount between slave-owners and abolitionists and in the summer of 1860, several slaves and a northern Methodist minister were lynched in North Texas. The next year, the statewide vote on Secession was held in February, 1861, Cooke County’s population was comprised of only about 11% slaves and by a margin of 61%, the county, along with others in north Texas, voted it down.

However, with only 19 of the 122 counties voting against succession, they were resoundly defeated. Almost immediately, the editor of the Sherman Patriot, E. Junius Foster, called for North
Texas to secede from Texas and stay in the Union as a free state. This along with rumors of Unionist alliances with Kansas Jayhawkers and Indians along the Red River, brought the tension to a fever pitch. Despite the protests of the Unionists, secession soon became a reality and many of those that had opposed secession, realizing that their opinions put them in danger, fled to Kansas or California. Others; however, chose to stay, which placed them in a vulnerable position.

After
Texas seceded, the Confederacy promised that the citizens living in Texas would be of the greatest value by defending the state from within its boarders, and no one would be drafted to fight the United States outside of the state. However, the Conscription Act of 1862, changed this, making only landholders with large numbers of slaves exempt from the draft.

This upset a number of men who did not “fit” within the exemption status and 30 of them responded with a signed Petition of Protest, which was sent to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia. Brigadier General William R. Hudson, who commanded the militia district in the area, responded by exiling newspaper editor and leader of the petition, E. Junius Foster, from the area. However, a few months later, the petitioners who remained began to enlist people into a group called the Union League in Cooke and nearby counties. Before long, Gainesville became the focal point of protests.

This early “Union League” was loosely organized and though some were Unionists, others simply joined to resist the draft. Others joined to provide a common defense against roving Indians and renegades. However, rumors began to circulate that the group had grown to some 1,700 men who had plans to assault the militia arsenals at Gainesville and Sherman. The Confederates soon got worried that the rumors were true and in late September, 1862, Brigadier General William R. Hudson ordered the arrest of all able-bodied men who had not reported for duty.

 

On the morning of October 1, 1862, Hudson sent Colonel James G. Bourland, who was one of the largest slaveholders in a county, to arrest those who had not reported for duty. Bourland along with the Texas state troops soon rounded up more than 150 men who were accused of insurrection or treason. Bourland, along with Colonel William C. Young of the Eleventh Texas Cavalry, then handpicked 12 jurors to serve on a “citizen’s court.” Seven of the jurors were slaveholders and Bourland mandated that a conviction did not require a unanimous vote, only a majority vote. Seven of those accused men were sentenced to hang, but before the “court” was finished, 14 more were lynched by an angry mob.

 

 

  

The very next week, Colonel William C. Young was assassinated. This enraged the Confederates and several of the previous defendants were tried again. This time, 19 more were condemned to be hanged, taking the death toll to 40 in Gainesville. Two others were shot as they tried to escape. However, the man suspected of killing William C. Young, was not among these men, and the Colonel’s son, Captain Jim Young, personally tracked him down and ordered his slaves to hang him. Jim Young also killed E. Junius Foster, the editor of the Sherman Patriot, who had applauded the assassination of Colonel William Young. Five more men were killed in Decatur and one in Denton before the madness ran its course.

The mass executions became known as the Great Hanging at Gainesville and was generally applauded by the
Texas newspapers, insisting that the Unionists were terrorists, common thieves, and conspiring with Kansas abolitionists. The actions were also condoned by the state government. However, when Confederate President Jefferson Davis learned of the affair, he dismissed General Paul Octave Hebert as military commander of Texas for his improper use of martial law.

The unrest continued when Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike, who was in charge of Indian Territory, was implicated as a Unionist and arrested. Although he was later released, he continued to be regarded with suspicion and served the rest of the war in civilian offices.

In
Arkansas, a North Texas company of Confederates almost mutinied when they heard about the mass hangings. Though the situation was calmed down by Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby, several men later deserted.

Powerless to exact revenge, many members of the Union League fled the state.

Once the
Civil War had ended there was a half-hearted prosecution of those who were responsible for the mass execution; however, it resulted in the conviction of only one man.

The Great Hanging of Gainesville is commemorated only by a small monument just west of the intersection of California Street and U.S. Highway I-35 in Gainesville,
Texas.

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January, 2010.

From Legends' General Store

Old West Books from Legends' General StoreOld West Books - In Legends of America's style, we carry a wide collection of Old West books about the people, places, and events of the Wild West era. See cowboys, trails, lawmen, outlaws, cookbooks, ghost towns, Native Americans, and lots More!  AND, if you love Old West books, you might also want to take a look at our huge collection of Vintage Western Magazines. This is one of the largest collections of vintage Old West magazines on the whole web-wide world, if not the largest, and it's still growing.

Old West Books from Legends' General Store

 

                                                            Copyright © 2003-Present, www.Legends of America.com