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The Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862: The Accounts of Thomas Barrett and George Washington Diamond
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- George Washington Diamond, Thomas Barrett
In what may have been the single largest outbreak of vigilante violence in American history, forty suspected Unionists were hanged at Gainesville, Texas, in October 1862. Civil War tensions had been running high. The Cooke County community located just across the Red River from Indian Territory was split between natives of the Deep South who often supported the Confederacy and natives of the Upper South and Midwest who were sometimes indifferent or hostile to it. When active resistance to conscription into the Confederate army combined with long-running rumors of an invasion of North Texas by Kansas Jayhawkers and their Indian allies, many of the former decided action must be taken.
More than 150 suspected Unionists were arrested and put before a “citizen’s court” of twelve jurors. The trial was marked by acrimony and violence, which included the lynching of fourteen men by an angry mob. Minister Thomas C. Barrett served on that jury and attempted to mitigate the vengeful rage of his neighbors. He had some success in the matter, but after two high-profile assassinations, the hangings continued. His 1885 memoir of the trial and the hangings is collected in this volume. Also collected here is the account based on records of the citizen’s court completed in 1876 by George Washington Diamond, whose brother, James J. Diamond, helped organize the trial. Placed together in one volume, these writings offer important insight into the tensions that tore apart American communities during the Civil War era. Renowned Civil War historian Richard B. McCaslin provides an introduction, while L. D. Clark, a descendant of one of the men hanged, reveals the extent to which tensions remain in Gainesville even generations later.
Ferris merited fame even before he came to Texas in 1837. While working as a trapper and fur trader in the Rocky Mountains for six years, Ferris kept a diary of his adventures. This journal, the classic Life in the Rocky Mountains, accompanied by a map which he drew from memory, provided a unique and valuable picture of trapper and Indian life in the 1830s. Ferris also gave the public its first written description of Yellowstone's amazing geysers. As a businessman seeking to become a landowner, fur trader Ferris followed his brother Charles to Texas the year after the Texas Revolution. He became the official surveyor for Nacogdoches County, which then included much of northeast Texas west to the Trinity River. Although his brother returned to their hometown of Buffalo, New York, Warren Ferris spent another thirty-five years of his eventful life in Texas.
Surveying at the Three Forks of the Trinity in 1839, Ferris entered the area before John Neely Bryan, the traditionally recognized founder of Dallas, and Ferris's surveys determined the line of streets and roads that shaped the future county. In 1847, Ferris settled down to farming east of White Rock Creek where he raised a family and helped build a community. This literate and versatile character was also a prolific letter writer, and much of the family correspondence to and from Buffalo has been preserved. These Ferris letters, and other family materials covering the period 18281885, help reconstruct the exciting life and times of Warren Ferris.
Although Ferris might appear to be a stereotypical figure of Frederick Jackson Turner's trans-Mississippi Westfur trapper, surveyor, farmerhe is a complex and fascinating man. His long and varied career reveals some of the best and worst characteristics of the nineteenth-century frontiersman. A man worthy of the Romantic period, he was a flawed hero. His moods and motives often conflicted, producing a tension between his ideals and behavior. Warren Ferris's life is rich in human drama, an important frontier story of violent aggression, intrigue and scheming, poignant romance and bitter family quarrels. Susanne Starling has told a fascinating tale about an important figure of American frontier life.
At its most basic, Fort Worth's history is the story of leadership, of how men and women of vision built a flourishing community at a river crossing on the north Texas plains. Through troubled timesthe 1850s, the Civil War, the 1930s, the 1970sthe leadership kept its eye on the future. The city pulled itself through the down timesand put itself on the mapby visionary projects like the railroad, the Spring Palace, the Stockyards, Camp Bowie, the Bomber Plant, and Sundance Square. This book helps to put a modern face on Fort Worth, move it out of the shadow of Dallas, and place it firmly in the twenty-first century.
The book is illustrated with many historic photographs, including: a pair of Wichita Indians; Main Street in old Fort Worth; the current Tarrant County Courthouse, under construction in 1895; Fort Worth Medical College, opening in 1893 as just the third medical school in Texas; Fort Worth's Meacham Field in its early years (ca. 1926) and Meacham field in 1937; the Boeing B-29 and the Convair B-36 side by side at Carswell Air Force Base; Pig Stand drive-ins; the Fort Worth Cats and their opponents, the Memphis Chicks; the Light Crust Doughboys Western swing band in the 1940s; Six Flags over Texas; the "Bombardier 500" race; William B. McDonald, successful African American businessman and political leader; the Woman's Wednesday Club in its weekly luncheon meeting at the Metropolitan Hotel, 1918; the flood of 1949; Sundance Square, looking west across Main Street in the 1980s; and African American drover Chester Stidham with the "Fort Worth Herd" of longhorns.
Also enlivening the text are various sidebars giving detailed information about "Fort Worth's Most Historic Cemeteries," "Courthouse Square," "The Cultural District," "Sundance Square," and "The Historic North Side."
In this concise overview, Hazel examines the city's roots as a frontier market town, its development as a regional transportation center, and its growing pains as it entered the twentieth century. Ku Klux Klan dominance in the 1920s is chronicled, as well as the half-century of control by an elite group of businessmen. The narrative concludes with a look at today's city, struggling with issues of diversity.
The author pays special attention to the role of ethnic groups in shaping Dallas: the French colonists of the 1850s; the German, Swiss, and Italian immigrants of the 1870s and 1880s; the Mexican Americans of the early twentieth century; and the Southeast Asians of recent decades. He also examines the role of African Americans, who came with the first Anglos and struggled for more than a century to gain equality.
Dallas: A History of Big D is based on pioneer letters and reminiscences, as well as the research of recent years. Written in a popular style, it will appeal to scholars and general readers curious about how Dallas grew to become the nation's eighth largest city.