Friday, November 30, 2018

Heartbreaking--the Birthday Card Jennifer McCarthy did not live to mail to me

Jennifer's sister mailed it to me.
Jennifer had been so full of life that many of us cannot come to terms with her death.
"My beautiful lanky Cousin," I used to day on Facebook posts.

A Post to cheer up a friend: Okie Three Quarter of a Million Dollar Smile

Which cost $1,000,000 more or less and will be all wasted when I am cremated.
Meanwhile, better to spend money on us.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No one told me not to play in the rain

I met one person, Alex, no one else. Why do people stay out of the rain?  Or maybe it is the new lagoon that makes you have to pick a place to get to the ocean from the dunes? Anorak got soaked at once, and cotton gloves, but, hey, it was Morro Bay and the beach was beautiful. Well, wet and uneven and downright treacherous but beautiful.

Friday, November 23, 2018

My Blog Note on the Morris Men, Hanged at Gainesville, Texas, in 1862

My note is at the end. I am very happy to see descendants of the hanged men going online in sites such as this one.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who's Who? The Morris Men

According to some accounts of the Great Hanging, there were four Morris Men who lost their lives in the hanging. Most accounts give only initials for the given names, such as W. W. Morris, M. W. Morris, John W. Morris, I. W. Morris, John A. Morris, etc.  It can be a little tricky trying to figure out just who is who.

McCaslin in his book "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862," lists four men who were hanged with the surname of Morris.
Diamond’s account of the Great Hanging only identifies three men with the surname of Morris that were brought to trial before the Citizen's Court.
James Lemuel Clark has three Morris men on his list of men who were hanged.

Hershel Parker said...
I am a cousin of Aaron Hill, the Clerk of Cooke County in 1862. I have posted a review of McCaslin's THE GREAT HANGING on Amazon. My postscript there mentions a history of the hangings I have found--the first defense I have seen (1863). The writer--"P"--says that a reliable friend of his told him that Hesley [a misprint for Wesley] and Washington Morris, brothers, told him that they said they deserved death, that they and others from the timbers (the wooded area where Lincolnites had settled) had pre-selected the flat-land farm near Gainesville that they were going to seize after they had killed the inhabitants. Now, I vouch for nothing except for the writer's knowing some astonishingly verifiable details about some people involved. This was the Hanging Crew's history in 1863. Don't blame me for anything Cousin Aaron did but please do let me know if you have encountered anything about him that is not published in the obvious places!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Jennifer McCarthy, Not Alone

With Paul Seydor 19 November 2018-an appropriately blurry photo

With a heavy heart because of the news of the death of my Cousin Jennifer, we welcomed Paul and his family and friends on the annual stop-over before their going to Carmel for Thanksgiving. Paul is the longest-known of the friends we knew separately in the 1970s, and after Harry's death the most brilliant man I know.

The reality of the death of 55 year old Jennifer McCarthy. Yesterday morning at first I thought it was a dumb, cruel joke on Facebook.

This is a comment by someone who knew her in Oakland.

"This is just a devastating shock. If you knew Jennifer McCarthy at all, either through IBU, 510, Moto, or any other of her worlds, then you were touched, inspired, amazed. Half a year younger than me, so alive, and then gone so suddenly."

Her sister Joyce found a MOBY-DICK postcard in her house yesterday addressed to me. Well, Saturday I sent her a message saying not to go outside (in the smoke) unless she had to.

This morning the San Luis Obispo paper says the smoke that blew out into the ocean from Oakland and San Francisco has swept around back to shore and some of it is coming to Morro Bay.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Shock of the Death of Jennifer McCarthy at 55. My Beautiful Lanky Cousin.

The 90th birthday of my brother Wilburn, 1928-1958. Remembering. Then the absolute shock of seeing on Facebook people talking about my beautiful lanky cousin Jennifer, in her mid fifties, daughter of my first cousin Patsy who died in May of 2017--Patsy, the only one who remembered who was who in late 1930s and early 1940s pictures. What a dumb cruel joke to talk about Jennifer's death yesterday, I thought. No. It was a brain aneurysm. Jennifer is dead at 55 and a half. We messaged pretty often and I got to say "Like" on Facebook and got to say, "My beautiful lanky cousin" very often on Facebook. So I did the best memorial run I could, for brother and cousin, half distance because I am still not strong. But alive at almost 83. I assumed Jennifer would live as long as her mother, who was a couple of years older than me. "My beautiful lanky cousin."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Western Bluebird, not a Robin Redbreast from the East

My mistake. The fires have driven Western Bluebirds our way. I was so excited about seeing one at the bird bath that I did not check the Bird Book.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Global Warming --a Robin Redbreast at my Bird Bath

I did not have my camera with me while I was watering, but I swear one of the drinkers at the bird bath just now was a perfectly normal Eastern bird, a robin redbreast. It was good to see him, but also terrifying when you think of the disruption of habits.

You don't need to be Charlie Eppes to know that the Bruce has millions of descendants

Nevertheless, with the Outlaw / King playing on Netflix it is interesting to check Geni to see my father linked to the Bruce as 19th great grandson. What's funny is that the link is through the McGehees. The DNA really does show that the 17th century immigrant to Virginia was really a MacGregor, bearer of an outlawed name. Then my mother appears as 2nd cousin 20 times removed through Frank Bell and his father Robert Knox Bell. The thing is, there are probably 12 different ways any Scot descends from Robert the Bruce. It's not that big a deal, except that it adds a frisson to the line flashed on the screen at the end about 300 years later his descendant taking the throne of England too. Not that he was a very nice cousin . . . .
But for fun I checked the Bruce's immediate descendants and ran grandson John Glen against my Parker astronaut cousin thinking I might see a continuous Glenn run but oh, no, off into other names. So it's another connection. There are so many roundabout connections, so many ways of getting to kinship, that we have to remember that having Robert Ewart for a grandfather twice is the top of the barrel of duplicate ancestries. The other side of this is that if you are going to have a man as your grandfather twice, how nice to have him be a Committee of Safety man.
And when I started this checking 15 years ago I realized that anyone whose white folks came in the 1600s as many of my father's did and whose other white folks all came before the Revolution--well anyone will have not thousands of American cousins but millions. You look at the men at the Alamo and Gonzales and see that none of them could have had any idea that how they were kin, except for immediate family.
And then you realize that in the years I have been checking the figures have changed. If there were several millions early in the 2000s when James Keith Head explained that we were double cousins (double cousin plus, really) the number of millions has--what? doubled?
Anyhow, it's not a great movie, but I have never seen such a battle on the screen. And it was not even Brannockburn.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Revised from what I first put on Amazon about McCaslin's THE GREAT HANGING AT GAINESVILLE, 1862

This ending is stronger.

In a new instruction, Amazon suggests that a reviewer say what he will use a book for. Well, I am a Melville biographer, not a student of Civil War history, but I have been looking at my family history (of which I was totally ignorant) in relation to episodes of Southern history from the 1600s on. I have Texas connections. My first five years were in Escobas, Texas, on the Rio Grande, and from 1957-1959 I was the night telegrapher on the Kansas City Southern Railway in Port Arthur. Many of my cousins came to Texas early and played significant roles there. Jim Bowie is a Maryland Pottenger cousin two ways, for example, and the McGehee, Sparks, Sims, Dougherty, Hills, and other cousins had interesting lives in Texas starting before there was a Republic. Bowie and more distant cousins were at the Alamo. Others were on the Runaway Scrape and proved their swimming skills at San Jacinto, and a Bell cousin published a book about his imprisonment after he survived the disastrous Mier expedition. Another Texan cousin is Henry Truman Hill (the middle name traces back to a Maryland ancestor who is also an ancestor of Harry S. Truman).
I began checking on Henry Truman Hill because the same full ancestral name was used by one of my direct ancestors who was an Alabama man a generation older than his Texas cousin, but both of them Methodist circuit riders. The Texas HTH as a former Texas Ranger is buried in Center Point Cemetery, where three dozen Rangers went after their deaths. From Henry Truman Hill I was led to his father, Aaron Mason Hill, District Clerk (that is, County Clerk) for Cooke County, Texas, during one of the episodes of Southern history I had never heard of, the Great Hangings in Gainesville in 1862. Over forty Union men were hanged after “trial” and various other men on both sides (Union and Confederate) were hanged or shot.
So, Amazon, I am using this book, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862, to understand the role Cousin Aaron Hill played in the tragic events. What I have found, indeed, is not pretty. The villains in most depictions of the Great Hangings start with the Provost Marshal for North-central Texas, James G. Bourland, like Col. William Young, the owner of many slaves. Although the majority of people in Cooke County opposed secession, the rich minority were the ones in power. My cousin Robert C. Carpenter, in Gaston County, North Carolina, in the Civil War (2016) shows very clearly that a majority in North Carolina were opposed to secession but pushed into war by big slaveholders who were, of course, also high office-holders. That is what happened here.
Bourland already had a connection with the Hill family, for the only two year period for Henry Truman Hill to have been a Texas Ranger was before the war, since he was a Confederate soldier during the war, and he would have served as Ranger under Bourland. No wonder in 1862 Bourland appointed Aaron Hill, the District Clerk (that is, County Clerk), to be one of five men to chose the twelve jurors to try Union sympathizers. But Cousin Aaron’s role did not end with his helping to choose twelve men. During the trials he and perhaps others of the original five were the keepers of records of the trials, the interrogators, and the ones who presumably wrote down (on the fly) the testimony of a few witnesses and confessions of many Union men.
This is what has cost me a few weeks already: worrying about the presumed records of the trials, what McCaslin in the introduction calls the “vigilante court records.” The earliest important historian of the hangings was Thomas Barrett, an unwilling member of the jury who in 1885 published a pamphlet exonerating himself from the general mistaken public opinion that he had been a rabid advocate of the hangings. The problem for us is that he was so anxious to be inoffensive in his story that he left out almost all names. Even when once he says he is going to depart from his policy and name a name, I can’t see that he does. He talks a good deal about the confessions of the arrested men and what he says goes against what one would expect. There was a massive Union plot to kill rebels, Barrett believed, for he heard the imprisoned men lay out a great plan of a Union uprising that would involve the massacre of even women and children. He does not say who confessed this, but it was apparently Richard N. Martin, according to George Washington Diamond, whose brother, James J. Diamond, had been one of the investigators of the Union plot. Such a confession, obtained as far as we know without torture other than fear of hanging, I find absolutely baffling. Union men plotted to kill women and children? Barrett thought so.
G. W. Diamond was the author of the other long account besides Barrett’s. He was not a witness, but, according to family history, after the war he was assigned the task of writing up the history of the “Peace Party Plot” and given custody of the “original records of the court.” Unlike Barrett, Diamond named names. These records included long confessions in court and (in the case of Richard N. Martin, on the scaffold).
How any one of the 5 men appointed by Bourland could have written down the formal accounts which Diamond copied out is a mystery to me—and of course the way they are presented in the first publication, in 1963, emphasizes their formal perfection. Perhaps my cousin Aaron, the County Clerk, was the man or one of the men in charge of making on the spot formal records and was a speed-writer. I am persuaded that the five men did make some formal records because Barrett says that before the jurors would vote on the fate of a man, the testimony against the men which had been “all written down” was read to them. Presumably this testimony would have included the confessions recorded in detail by Diamond in his account which was left in the possession of his family and not published until 1963.
Now, the family in 1963 did not have the court records which had been entrusted to Diamond. Where were they? This is from the footnote on page 7 of McCaslin’s Tainted Breeze: “In 1925 Rex Strickland, a historian, said that “the records of the Citizens Court were in the possession of Adam Hornback, a resident of Grayson County. This is the last known location of these materials.” McCaslin does not elaborate. Have Texas historians hounded Hornback’s descendants and crawled into their corn-bins and attics? How could they not have kept up the search? The original records would allow us to identify the scribe. Was he, in fact, Cousin Aaron? And did the original records show that Diamond was accurately transcribing them? How much regularizing did he do and how much more did the 1963 editors do? Did the editors in 1963 create the polished official look of the documents, perhaps out of a respect for regularizing? We have to be at least a little skeptical about the records as known only through Diamond’s partial transcription and the editorial work of the 1963 publication. But for all our wariness, Barrett makes it clear that he heard chilling confessions.
How I wish McCaslin in this book had described the search Texas historians made for the papers Hornbeck supposedly possessed!
How I wish McCaslin in this book had included some of the early newspaper accounts of the hangings, particularly as Southern newspaper editors began to understand some details of what had happened. Anything based on observation or reliable report might be valuable. Also, much later newspaper reports, even reports in the 1900s, contain a few new bits of testimony which would have been good to have here.
I wish McCaslin had included a fairly reliable list of murdered men and which families were able to claim and bury the bodies.
How I wish someone would quote the comment that writers repeatedly say that E. Junius Foster wrote in his Sherman newspaper, that the shooting of Col. William Young was the best thing that could have happened. Maybe he said that or something like that, but it would be nice to see the actual newspaper or else to admit that we have heard that this is what Young’s son believed Foster had said. People coming cold to this story need help with basics.
I wish McCaslin had included Susan Leffel’s 1869 letter to Governor Edmund Davie.
I feel very strongly that McCaslin ought to have included the Special Correspondent’s long 4 March 1894 article in the St. Louis Republic. Could Texas historians not identify him? The Correspondent was not a witness, but neither was G. W. Diamond. He had a copy of Barrett’s pamphlet, but he also relied on “the statements made by old citizens.” He knew or at least observed several players in the tragedy who were still alive, so that he could describe them. His way of referring to his interlocutors 32 years on suggests that he was a youngish man himself. He was apparently not a resident, but he walked some of the terrain and knew where the bodies were buried, or where they were dumped. The Special Correspondent ought to have been heard. For example, he quotes an informant as telling him that Joe Carmichael was “a big strappin’ fellow, not afraid of the devil, and he cussed ’em to the last.” This belongs in the record.
Another reason that the Special Correspondent’s letter ought to have been printed here is that it evoked a response that historians have apparently ignored. Catharine Marsh Kahn from Montrose, Missouri, wrote on 13 March a letter the Republic printed on the 15th under the heading “THE GAINESVILLE HANGING. Relatives of Dr. Childs Give Their Version of the Affair.” Mrs. Kahn identified herself as a grandniece of the widow of Doctor Childs (who is here called “Dr. F. C. Childs”—not Henry and not Chiles. Judging from 1850 and 1860 censuses, “Dr. Henry Childs” is the correct form.) Mrs. Kahn says: “Mrs. Dicey Childs is living to-day, as are her five children [she might have said five of her children, for she bore more than 5] and also several hundred of her relatives. So that awful murder is not soon to be forgotten by one victim’s friends.” She was blunt: “Aunt Dicey tells a different story from the writer in last Sunday’s Republic. Those men were hanged because they were loyal to the Union—simply that and nothing more. There was a farce trial for the first seven or eight, and after that—nothing.” Kahn’s depicts Mrs. Childs as crawling out of her bed of confinement, “scarcely able to walk,” but trudging with other women all the way to Gainesville. I quote several horrific lines:
“When they reached the town other women were there before them, weeping, screaming, and begging for the bodies of their loved ones, for they were dead and had been buried some time. And some of the prominent men of the town—fiends they were at the time—mounted horses, and with cattle whips, drove the women before them from the town, saying they would not have them bawling around there.”
The "cattle whips" remind us of how little we have on record from the losing side. Now, when you look at G. W. Diamond’s contempt for the weeping women in the section on “Heavy Rain Fall,” you give some credence to Mrs. Kahn.
What Catharine Kahn wrote is a significant bit of testimony and should not have been ignored. It and the other family testimony in online sites ought to be included in any revision of the book.
And the bit about a little girl seeing her stepfather’s arm being carried around Gainesville by a hog after rain washed bodies out of Peach Creek—that ought to have been quoted. Just what do we know about how bodies were disposed of?
Finally, I find it very disappointing that this volume has no index. Readers need one. This is a frustratingly incomplete book.

Please, members of the Texas State Historical Association, think about reissuing this book with a supplement that answers such questions as those I have raised and includes both 1894 pieces and other new material, even offhand bits of memory in late newspaper articles. New blogs are bringing forth significant comments from remote descendants. Such new information is hard to reconcile with the official-looking, polished records of the vigilante court as they are presented here in this book. I am tormented by the image of the cattle whips wielded against weeping women by fiendish horsemen. We need to hear the "bawling" of the widows before we can begin to lay this story to rest.

Daredevil Plovers--waiting for waves--their number doubled

Leon Howard 1903-1982

8 November 1903--birth of Leon Howard.
Leon Howard is being forgotten. Hayford and Leyda pushed him to write up a narrative biography from Leyda's in-progress LOG. I have described the folly of this notion as the "Silver Platter" theory of biography in MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. Actually, a couple of would-be biographers asked me to share my own bigger in-progress LOG with them, thinking that would be all they needed. Leon's biography is not of value, but his life as a teacher was of the highest value, surely some students survive to say. As recent as the 1970s, after he retired to Albuquerque, Leon would come back to Los Angeles to see his friends in several colleges and universities. Leo Lemay and I had suitable houses for his purposes, so he would give each of us slightly overlapping guest lists so we could assemble his dearest dozens of friends. So many Leon Howard stories! How many will be lost forever?