Sunday, November 16, 2008

David Miller Leffel

David Miller Leffel is considered a true American Patriot by his descendants. David was one of forty Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a “Citizens Court” in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville. At his mockery of a trial by the Citizens Court in Gainesville, David swore support of the "old Constitution and Union." He was then hanged for disloyalty and treason to the Confederate cause.
David M. Leffel's story begins in Virginia, where he was born 20 Jan 1816, the third child born to Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel.  As a toddler of three years old, David moved to Clark County, Ohio with his family.  He spent his growing up years in Clark County near many of his relatives on both the Leffel and Miller sides of the family. 

The Leffel family of Clark County was prominent and prosperous. A cousin of David’s, James Leffel, was inventor of the double turbine water wheel and started the James Leffel Company in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. David’s ancestry in this county goes back to his great-grandfather, Baltzer Leffel, who as an immigrant from Germany in 1750 settled in Pennsylvania. Baltzar was a Patriot and swore his allegiance to the Patriots cause of Freedom and Liberty.  He is listed in the DAR Patriot Index for the American Revolution, and so, any descendants of David Miller Leffel should qualify for membership into the DAR.

David married his sweetheart, Susan Emeline West 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio. Her father was present at the wedding.
Clark Co, Ohio Marriage License, Vol 2, pg 211
David and Susan moved to nearby Champaign County to raise their young family, which grew to eight children.  One daughter, Eliza Jane, died as an infant and was buried in Champaign County in 1843.  David's occupation was that of a carpenter

Susan's parents were Michael West and Susannah McKee. After Susan's mother died in Ohio, her father, Michael West, and brothers moved to Texas before 1848. Michael West and his son, Michael, had obtained land grants as colonists in the Peters Colony in Grayson County.  An older brother, John West, was living in Red River County, Texas. When the older Michael West died in 1858, he left his land in Grayson, Texas to his heirs, which included daughter, Susan Leffel.

Sometime right after the death of her father in 1858, Susan and David packed up their young family and moved from Ohio to Grayson County, Texas to claim Susan's inheritance of land left to her from her father.  Their decision to move from a Northern State to a slaveholding state would set in motion events that would lead to the violent death of David in the Great Gainesville Hanging.

It is hard to know exactly where David and Susan lived when they arrived in Grayson County, Texas.  It appears that they did not live on the land that Susan inherited from her father.  In February of 1860, Susan buys 80 acres from her brother, John, and then that same day sells her inherited land to same brother.  In July of 1860, Susan sells the land she had just purchased a few months earlier from her brother, John, to N.H. Holt (a future nephew-in-law). David and Susan cannot be found in the 1860 census and it is not known which county in Texas they were living in after she sold her land in Grayson County.   David was a carpenter by trade not a farmer.  They may have rented a place in one of the towns.  By 1862, they are living in Cooke County, where David shows up on a tax roll.  Perhaps, they moved to be closer to Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, who lived in Cooke county.
Why didn't they show up in the 1860 census? Where were they living in 1860? Why were they not listed in the census records?

In 1861, Texas withdrew from the Union and allied itself with the Southern States. All state officers had to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. When Governor Sam Houston refused, he was removed from office. There was much unrest and political tension, especially in North Texas. As the Civil War continued, it ripped apart families and communities, as well as the nation. Cooke County in Texas was one such community.

David Leffel was one of forty-two Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a 'Citizens Court' in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in the Great Hanging at Gainesville. Leading up to this tragedy, David's brother-in-law, William Boyles, encouraged him to attend a meeting of the 'Peace Party' at the home of Rama Dye. At the meeting, the rescue of prisoners held by the Citizens Court was discussed. Fifteen men who attended the meeting Dye's home that night were later executed, David being one of them. The Citizens Court consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the 12 jurors during Gainesville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. So the slaveholders alone could condemn a person to death! In 1860 Cooke County population was 4,000, of which 66 were slaveowners which owned 300-400 slaves. These men exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Diamond account refers to David Miller Leffel with only initials for a given name -- D. M. Leffel. Clark refers to David as "Oald man Leffel." At his trial by the vigilante Citizen's Court, David states, "I was sworn by Wm Boyles, who gave me the signs, grip and password. I was sworn to support the old Constitution and Union." David Leffel was connected with the Ramey Dye meeting for the rescue of the prisoners. He was found guilty of disloyalty and hung. David's hanging took place on Sunday, October 19, 1862. It is not known what happened to his body after the hanging.  It may have been thrown into the warehouse in Gainesville along with the rest of the bodies and then carelessly buried in the mass grave along the creek with the other victims of the Hanging.

To read more about the Great Hanging, go to:
The Handbook of Texas Online has an article on the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862.Following is a link to the article: www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/GG/jig1.html
This article is from W.T. Block on TexasEscapes.com. Texas Escapes Online Magazine; "Cannonball's Tales" by W.T. Block, Jr., December 1, 2006 column http://www.texasescapes.com/WTBlock/Hangings-at-Gainesville-Texas-1862.htm
A Blog on the Gainesville Hanging:
http://gainesvilletx1862.blogspot.com/

William Jefferson Leffel, oldest son of David and Susan, returned to Ohio at the outbreak of the Civil War and continued to live in Ohio thoughout his life.  But, back in Texas, several family members of David's family were listed on the Grayson County, Texas Confederate Indigent Families list. The Texas State legislature made this list after they passed a resolution in December 1863 and pledged support and maintenance of families, widows, and dependents of soldiers currently serving in Confederate forces, or of soldiers killed or disabled in service.  A. M. Leffel and Sarah (&William) Counts are on the list. This means that David's son, Anthony M. Leffel and son-in-law, William Counts, were away from home during the 1864-1865 time period fighting for the Confederate forces.  This would have been after the Hangings in Gainesville in October 1862 when David was hanged.


David Miller Leffel was a kind and gentle man who loved his family.  Dying left his widow, Susan, and younger children with out his care and protection. The only information David's family back in Ohio received, was that he had been killed in Texas by a Confederate mob, on account of his Union sentiments. David's brother, Joel Leffel, was serving in the Union Army at the time of David's death and died in the Army Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky in 1863.  That means that David's father, Anthony Leffel, lost two sons in the Civil War.
Below is a picture of David's father, Anthony Leffel.


Susan lost her dearest friend and companion, when her husband was killed in the Hanging. In 1869, Susan is living in Pilot Point, Denton County, Texas, when she writes a letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the continued harassment by southern rebels. Susan's whereabouts are not known after that time (1869).
Did she die shortly after writing the letter to the Governor in 1869? Was she killed by those who kept harassing her and her family? Why is she NOT found in the 1870 census?

Susan's sister, Elizabeth West Boyles, also lost her husband during this period. Some say William Boyles was shot while escaping, then died later of the wounds while he was hiding out in the timbers.  John Haning, husband of another sister, Rebecca Jane West Haning, was away fighting in the Confederate Army at the time of Hangings.

Where are David and Susan buried?  That question has yet to be answered and haunts all of us who are descendants.  A Miller family history book, The Genealogy of the Descendants of Frederick and Mary Elizabetyh Peery Miller, published in 1913, states that both David and Susan were buried in Texas, BUT the actual burial sites for David and Susan are unknown. 
The questions below still need to be answered:
Was David buried in the mass burials with the other victims??
Or, was he buried by his family in an unknown grave??
When and where did Susan die? 
Was she able to be buried next to her beloved David? 
Or, is she buried in some unknown grave?

David Miller Family
David Miller Leffel was born on 20 Jan 1816 in , Botetourt, Virginia. Son of Anthony Leffel and Mary Miller Leffel. He died on 19 Oct 1862 in Gainesville, Cooke, Texas as a victim of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. It is NOT known what happened to his body after the hanging.
David married Susan Emeline West daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. Susan was born on 3 Jun 1817 in , Mason, Kentucky.Susan died sometime after 1869 in Texas. It is NOT known when or where she was buried.
David and Susan were the parents of eight children and 45 grandchildren:

1. William Jefferson Leffel was born on 31 Jul 1838 in Donnelsville, Clark, Ohio. He died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. He was buried in Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.William married Mary Buckles daughter of David B. Buckles and Elizabeth Covalt on 31 Oct 1861 in Miami, Ohio. Mary was born on 22 Feb 1836 in , Miami, Ohio. She died on 25 Oct 1911 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. She was buried in Union Cemetery, Columbus, Franklin, Oklahoma.  They were the parents of 10 children.
2. Sarah Ann Leffel was born about 1840 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. She died before 1882.Sarah married (1) William S. Counts on 4 Jun 1860 in , Grayson, Texas. William was born about 1837 in Missouri. He died about 1863 in Texas. He was buried about 1863 in Texas.Sarah may have married (2) John C. Morgan on 14 Jun 1868 in , Grayson, Texas.  Sarah was the mother of three children.
3. Eliza Jane Leffel was born on 24 Jan 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She died on 16 Dec 1843 in , Champaign, Ohio. She was buried in Hill Cemetery, Champaign, Ohio.
4. Anthony Musgrove Leffel was born in Jan 1846 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 17 Mar 1909 in Hood, Texas. He was buried in Granbury, Hood, Texas.Anthony married Mendora Lee Batchelor "Minnie, Nudora" daughter of Hilliard Austin Batchelor and Ripsy Ann Earhart on 13 Feb 1884 in , Tarrant, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce. Mendora was born in Mar 1870 in Texas. She died on 27 Jul 1955. She was buried in Fort Scott, Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri.  They were the parents of 8 children.
5. James Perry Leffel was born on 21 Sep 1848 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 28 Sep 1940 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried on 29 Sep 1940 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma.James married (1) Malinda Jane Martin daughter of Charles Neely Martin and Euphamia Isabell Martin on 5 May 1869 in , Dallas, Texas. Malinda was born in 1843 in Illinois. She died in Apr 1870 in Lancaster, Dallas, Texas.James married (2) Euphamia Isabell Martin daughter of William Harvey Martin and Susan Abigail Whitaker on 3 Jan 1871 in , Ellis, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce.Euphamia was born on 30 Jul 1820 in Matoon, Coles, Illinois. She died on 10 May 1916 in Glen Rose, Somervell, Texas.James married (3) Laura Ann Neely daughter of James Martin Neely Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Burleson about 1887 in Texas. Laura was born on 3 Jul 1859 in , Denton, Texas. She died on 7 Oct 1931 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 8 Oct 1931 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.  James Perry Leffel was the father of six children.
6. Charles Edgar Leffelwas born on 16 Apr 1851 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 4 Jun 1919 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. He was buried in Jun 1919 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.Charles married (1) Sarah Ann Burkham on 5 May 1869 in , Cooke, Texas. Sarah was born about 1852 in Texas. She died in Jun 1870 in , Ellis, Texas.Charles married (2) Caldona Jane Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 18 Nov 1875 in , Dallas, Texas. Caldona was born on 18 Mar 1858 in , Bradley, Arkansas. She died on 12 Feb 1926 in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma. She was buried on 13 Feb 1926 in Rose Hill Cemetery, Grady, Oklahoma.  Charles was the father of ten children.
7. John Wesley Leffel was born on 4 Aug 1855 in Addison, Champaign, Ohio. He died on 21 Feb 1925 in , Jack, Texas. He was buried on 22 Feb 1925 in Cottonwood Cemetery, Hood, Texas. John married (1) Sarah Eleanor McCoy daughter of James McCoy and Sarah Cloud on 13 Jun 1873 in , Cooke, Texas. The marriage ended in divorce.Sarah was born in May 1855 in , Tarrant, Texas. She died on 21 May 1942 in Clarksville, Red River, Texas.John married (2) Mary Elizabeth Box daughter of Grief Johnson Box and Roenna Johnson on 29 Oct 1884 in , Hood, Texas. This marriage for John ended in divorce also. Mary was born on 7 Sep 1844 in , Tippah, Mississippi. She died on 28 Feb 1922 in , Jack, Texas. She was buried in Cottonwood Cemetery, Jack, Texas.  John was the father of two daughters and reared two step-sons as if they were his own.
8. George Leffel was born in Aug 1857 in Ohio. He died on 31 Jul 1919 in , Jack, Texas. George married (1) Mary Runnels on 11 Oct 1877 in Hood, Cooke, Texas. George married (2) Florida W. Tucker on 16 Jun 1898 in Graham, Young, Texas. Florida was born in May 1870 in Texas.  George was the father of six children.


For complete source citations, please refer to the Box Leffel Tree on  Ancestry.com.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad story. Wish you luck in finding out what happened to Susan.