Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet for Lunch?

Last week on a late night talk show, the question was asked: "If you could have lunch with any three people in history, who would you pick?"  That got me to thinking, and I bet most of you know exactly what it was I was thinking... 

"If I could have lunch with any three of my ancestors, who would I pick?

It was hard for me to choose just three, because I would love to hold a big banquet with many, many more in attendance.  But, I finally made a list --  then changed it, then changed it again.  So, after a week of thinking about it and changing my mind, here's my list of three:

1.  My first choice would be Susan Emeline West Leffel.  Susan Emeline West, daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee, was born 3 Jun 1817 in Kentucky. Susan married David Miller Leffel on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio.  Susan and David moved to Texas around 1858, when she inherited land from her father, Michael West.   The Leffel's move to Texas would set in motion events that would eventually lead to David's death.  Susan's husband, David Miller Leffel, 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 what is called the Great Hanging at Gainesville. 
After much study into the Gainesville Hangings on my part, I would like to talk to Susan about what she and her family really went through and what really happened.  I would like to know if David was buried in the mass grave with many other victims of the Hanging, or if he is buried somewhere else.  Why did she stay in Texas after the end of the Civil War?  I would also like to know what happened to some of her siblings and their families.  So many questions...

2.  Second choice would be Rebecca Morgan Medlin.  She is my 3rd great-grandmother and the mother of my 2nd great-grandma, Bettie Medlin Stewart.  Rebecca died when Bettie was still an infant, so even Bettie did not know her mother.  Rebecca is shadowy figure in my family history, shrouded in mystery and family legend.  There are stories passed down about her being a Cherokee Indian and hiding out in the mountains when the Cherokee were driven out of Tennessee.  Supposedly she was good with herbs and making her own medicines.  Her mother may have been Indian and her father white.  Other Indians may have killed her parents because her Indian mother married a white man.  Do these stories have any truth to them?  I have no idea.  Was she related to the Morgans in Putnam County?  Who were her parents?  Where did she meet her husband and where were they married?  So many unknowns in her life. Yes, I would definitely like to spend some time with great-grandma Rebecca.

3.  My third choice would be Jane Baldwin, my third great-grandmother.  She has tugged at my heart for years!!  Not only can I NOT find enough records to know all the "who, what and why" of her life, but my heart cries for her.  Jane experienced so much loss during her lifetime -- her husband and many of her thirteen children.  By 1870 when Jane was about 65 years old, only TWO of her thirteen children are known to still be living: James M. and Francis Marion. Jane's other eleven children were already deceased or their whereabouts completely unknown. Texas was definitely not kind to the Baldwin family!  But through it all, Jane did not lose faith in God -- In 1854, she was a founding member of  the "Little Flock Baptist Church." 
There are so, so many questions I would really like to ask Jane.  What happened to this child or that child?  Where did she grow up?  What is her maiden name? Who were her parents and grandparents?  Where did she meet her husband and where were they married? Were they happy and did they have a good marriage?  What was it like living in Texas in those early days?  The list could go on and on and on.

If you could pick three ancestors to have lunch with, who would you pick? 
Do you even know who three of your ancestors are? 

Now is the best time in history to get involved in genealogy and family history, so many records are accessible right from your own computer.  And, many records are free -- FamilySearch.org adds free records daily to the billions of records they already have!  Get started and have fun!  Find those three ancestors you would love to meet for lunch.


**Descendants (male and female) of these ancestors are encouraged to participate in DNA testing!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Mystery of Jane

 Jane Baldwin of Walker County, Texas

Jane Baldwin, my 3rd great-grandmother, is the end-of-the-line, dead-end, Brick Wall in the Baldwin family research.  Over the last thirty years, I have spent countless hours researching Jane in major libraries, local libraries, court houses, Texas State Archives, online databases, and anywhere else I could think of.  I have hired researchers, written letters, cold-called Baldwins out of phone books, posted queries online, tested my DNA, and anything else I could think of.  A number of years ago, Kevin (4th cousin once removed) and I collaborated our research efforts.  He, then, wrote the following article about our Jane Baldwin.  Since Kevin did such a great job writing a research report, I am just re-posting his article with his permission.  Enjoy.

I encourage any descendants of Jane Baldwin and John & Louisa Thomas to participate in DNA testing!


The article posted below is courtesy of the Thompson Family Genealogy Blog:  Leaf, Stem, Branch, and Root.   Kevin posted a continuation of Jane's story here.


The Mystery of Jane
by Kevin Thompson

There are probably three significant mysteries in our family that I would like to solve. The mystery described below is the current blocking point in research of the Baldwin line.

In the 1850 United States census, a woman named Jane Baldwin appears as a head of household in Walker County, Texas with 12 other individuals aged 20 and under [1]. The 14 year old child named Frankin (Franklin) is my 3rd great-grandfather. Presumably, Jane Baldwin is my 4th great grandmother. But, who is her husband and where is he?

Jane is one of the most mysterious figures in the family tree. 
Her story is, on the surface, one with a lot of missing pieces. We might begin with her appearance in the 1850 United States Census. She is an illiterate widow, born in Ohio, with (apparently) 12 children (two sets of twins). By the birth dates of her youngest children, her husband died between 1847 and 1850. By the birth dates and places of her children, she and her husband emigrated with their children from Illinois to the Republic of Texas between 1836 and 1838 (making Jane and her son Benjamin Franklin citizens of the Republic of Texas). Very little is known about many of the children, but at least 5 of them have well-traced family trees.

It is my belief that a man named William D. Baldwin is a likely candidate for her husband. William D. Baldwin first appears in the 1830 United States Census in Illinois. He appears to be married and has 1 son and 2 daughters. We next find him fighting in the Black Hawk War in 1831-1832 [5, 6].
Signature of William D. Baldwin
William next appears in Texas receiving a 3rd class conditional land grant for 640 acres (meaning he is married) in Jasper County on 03 Jan 1840 [7, 8]. Information in these documents show he immigrated to the Republic of Texas in Jan 1838 which aligns perfectly with the dates implied by Jane's children. He also appears on the Jasper County 1840 tax roll paying a $1.00 poll tax [9, 10].

On 04 Jul 1842, William D. Baldwin receives the unconditional certificate for his 640 acre land grant in Washington County[7, 11]. The primary signer of the certificate is a man named J. C. Thomas. The certificate states that William has been in the Republic of Texas for at least 3 years.

William next appears in Washington County, Texas on the 1843 tax roll [13]. Then on 04 Sep 1843 he makes the unusual move of giving a power of attorney to a man names James H. Holt concerning his land grant [12]. Mr. Holt is given full authority to sell the land. Since we find William in Grimes County next in 1846 [14, 15, 16], presumably he was leaving the area and left someone in charge to eventually dispose of the land for him. Note the mention of J. C. Thomas (and a Pheba Baldwin) in this power of attorney document as being present before the land commissioners with William on 04 Jul 1842 when he received the unconditional certificate.

In 1844, William Baldwin was a founding member of the Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Grimes County, Texas.  In the Minutes of Organization of the Rocky Creek Baptist Church, those being present were: J. C. Thomas, Louisa Thomas, William Baldwin, etc.

Sometime in this period, William is a witness to a John C. Thomas land sale.

On 27 Jul 1847, William's land grant is surveyed and placed in Nueces County [17].

From 1846 to 1848 William D. Baldwin appears on the Grimes County tax rolls [14, 15, 16]. None of them indicate he had much of anything, and no deed records for William have been found in Grimes or Montgomery County (from which Grimes was formed in 1846). He is always seen paying a small tax with no land, horses, cattle, etc. It is not known why he is in Grimes County now, why he is not living on his land in Nueces County, and where he is living or who he is living with in Grimes County. (Is he living with John C. Thomas?)

During the 1846 to 1848 period William also appears on the Nueces County tax rolls [18, 19, 20]. This is probably solely due to the fact that he is a land owner in the county. Since he is paying a poll tax in Grimes County in these years, he is likely living in Grimes County.

The next we see of William he has died in Grimes County. His estate is in probate in June 1849 [21]. John C. Thomas is requesting and receives Letters of Administration at the request of the unnamed widow (remember Jane was illiterate and likely would not have been able to represent herself). No other mention of the estate probate has been found. The location of William's grave is not known. It should also be noted here that J. C. Thomas does indeed appear in the 1850 United States Census in Grimes County [22]. He is with a woman named Louisa.

And so picks up the story of Jane. She appears in the 1850 United States Census in Walker County as an illiterate widow with 12 children [1].  Jane's family starts at the bottom of page 11 and continues on page 12.

1850 Walker County, Texas Census, page 11

1850 Walker County, Texas Census, page 12 
Why would this Jane of the 1850 Walker County, Texas Census be connected to William Baldwin of Grimes County?
It is the subsequent events in her life that bear this out.

The land she is living on in 1850 is the one labor of land bought from Daniel B. McMahon (granted to him via Certificate #22, 1st Class, 14 Mar 14 1839) on 21 Dec 1849 [23]. The land was 14 miles N 64°W of Huntsville, Texas. Note that this is quite close to the Grimes County line. It is not known where in Texas the family was living prior to this. Importantly, note that John C. Thomas is a witness to this land purchase.




Jane Baldwin is seen on the 1851 and 1852 Walker County tax rolls living on the land purchased from McMahon[24, 25]. She does not appear on the 1853 tax roll.

William D. Baldwin's 640 acre land grant in Nueces County is sold on 28 Mar 1853 in Washington County, Texas[26]. The land is sold by his attorney James H. Holt (via the 04 Sep 1843 Power of Attorney) to George W. Gentry. Since we see Jane on the move shortly after this (see below), it is possible the income from this sale allowed her some freedom.

In 1854, Jane Baldwin is seen in Leon County (near the Limestone County line) as a founding member of the Little Flock Baptist Church [27]. How do we know this is our Jane? In the 1860 United States Census the Jane Baldwin family is living on the edge of Limestone County near the Leon County line (her children Franklin [29] and Arminda [2] are living nearby, separately) [2]. Three other founders of the church are living near her (Cothern, Lamb, and Stapleton). And, the church and cemetery are also in this area. So, surely this is Jane. Note also that J. C. and Louisa Thomas are also founding members of the church. In the 1860 census they are found living in Bear Grass, Texas in Leon County near the Limestone County line in the general area of the Little Flock Baptist Church [28].

On 05 Aug 1854 the future buyer of Jane's Walker County land (William Robinson) writes a letter concerning the patent for the land to "Mr. Tomas" [30]. On the back of the letter the words "Favor of Franklin Baldwin" can be seen. (Benjamin Franklin Baldwin, Sr. , who went by the name Franklin, is Jane's son.) Again we see Mr. Thomas connected to Jane Baldwin. And, it appears that a deal to sell Jane's Walker County land was in the works as early as 1854.

On 23 Nov 1858 Jane receives a patent for the Walker County land bought from (and originally granted to) D. B. McMahon [31, 32]. She finally sells this land on 13 Oct 1859 [33], almost exactly a decade after she bought it. It is important to note here that John C. Thomas is the notary public for this sale (in Bear Grass, Texas where he resides in the 1860 census).

The last we see of Jane Baldwin she is living with her son Francis Marion Baldwin in Limestone County in the 1870 United States census [3], which was enumerated on 1 Jun 1870.  Jane is sixty-five years old.

By 1870, only TWO of Jane's thirteen children are known to still be living: James M. and Francis Marion.  Jane's other eleven children were already deceased or their whereabouts unknown in 1870.

It is not known when Jane died or where she is buried. 

The constant theme of this story is John C. Thomas. The theory, which is strongly supported by many of the facts, is that his wife Louisa is the eldest child of William and Jane Baldwin (so he is a son-in-law). According to the 1850 and 1860 United States censuses, Louisa was born in Illinois in 1826. This is the right time and the right place. She would be one of the two girls under 5 in the 1830 census (the son is probably Allen M. and the other daughter could very well be Mary if her and Allen's birth dates are slightly off in the 1850 census).

The Thomas' repeated presence with William and/or Jane from 1842 to at least 1859 (and through a move from Grimes to the Leon/Limestone County area) is a strong indicator of family ties.

The only other documented Baldwin that arrived in Texas in time to have a child by 1838 is a James R. Baldwin. However, his conditional and unconditional land grants are in Bexar County, Texas which would place the family far from the eventual location of Walker County, Texas. This decreases the likelihood that this is the right man to be Mr. Baldwin.

The best I can conclude is that William D. Baldwin is indeed the husband of the Jane Baldwin seen in the 1850 United States census in Walker County, Texas.

Jane╩╝s maiden name and parentage are unknown. With her sudden appearance on the scene in the 1850 census, little can be gathered of her early life and family.

Jane had 13 children (including Louisa) and two sets of twins.

The children of Jane (Baldwin), and presumably William D. Baldwin:
1) Louisa Baldwin was born about 1826 in Illinois [22, 28]. She married John Covington Thomas.
2) Allen M. Baldwin [1] was born about 1830 in Illinois [1]. He married Charles Frances Amanda Guerrant (sister of his brother Benjamin's wife) on 31 Aug 1854 in Walker County, Texas [34]. He and Amanda both died before Nov 1869 [35], presumably in Walker County, Texas.
3) Mary Baldwin [1] was born about 1831 in Illinois [1].
4) Martha Baldwin [1] was born about 1834 in Illinois [1]. She married James Jutson on 03 Feb 1853 in Walker County, Texas [36].
5) Benjamin Franklin Baldwin, Sr. [1, 37] was born on 12 Jan 1836 [38, 39] in Illinois [1]. He married Magdellen Moseley Guerrant on 10 Feb 1859 [41] presumably in Limestone County, Texas. He was Sheriff of Walker County, Texas shortly before his mysterious death on 22 Mar 1869 [38, 40]. He was buried in McAdams Cemetery [38].
6) Arminda Baldwin [1] was born about 1838 in the Republic of Texas [1]. She married James J. Rose on 07 Feb 1856 in Walker County, Texas [42]. She died before Sep 1863 when James is seen remarrying.
7) Francis Marion Baldwin [1, 44] was born on 06 Sep 1840 [43] in the Republic of Texas [1]. He married Mary Sadler about 1865 in Limestone County, Texas. He died on 21 May 1900 in Eliasville, Young, Texas and was buried in Eliasville Cemetery [43].
8) Sarah Baldwin [1], fraternal twin to Andrew J., was born about 1842 in the Republic of Texas [1].
9) Andrew J. Baldwin [1, 2], fraternal twin to Sarah, was born about 1842 in the Republic of Texas [1].
10) Cornelius (or Cornelia) Baldwin [1, 2] was born about 1845 in the Republic of Texas [1].
11) James M. Baldwin [1, 2] was born on 12 Mar 1847 [45] in Texas [1, 2]. He married Eady F. Spillers on 15 Apr 1867 in Walker County, Texas [47]. He died on 11 Feb 1905 [45, 46] in Seale, Robertson, Texas [46] and was buried in Ferguson Cemetery, Limestone County, Texas [45].
12) Harriet Baldwin [1, 2], twin to Jane, was born about 1849 in Texas [1, 2].
13) Jane Baldwin [1], twin to Harriet, was born about 1849 in Texas [1]. She apparently died before 1860 as she does not appear in the 1860 United States census with her mother and siblings [2].

References
[1] 1850 United States Census. Walker County, Texas, Pages 256 A and 256 B.
[2] 1860 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 335 A.
[3] 1870 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 198 B.
[4] 1830 United States Census. Fulton County, Illinois, Page 249 A.
[5] Whitney, Ellen M., The Black Hawk War 1831-1832, Volume 1 - Illinois Volunteers, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, 1970. Page 455.
[6] Ibid. Page 190.
[7] White, Gifford, 1840 Citizens of Texas, Volume 1, Land Grants, Austin, Texas, 1983. Page 12.
[8] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. James H. Holt Deposition. Front Back.
[9] Tax Records of Jasper County, Texas. Tax roll for 1840, page ?.
[10] White, Gifford, 1840 Citizens of Texas, Volume 2, Tax Rolls, Austin, Texas, 1984. Page 87.
[11] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. Unconditional Certificate (#25). Front Back.
[12] Ibid. Power of Attorney. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4.
[13] Tax Records of Washington County, Texas. Tax roll for 1843, page 14-1.
[14] Tax Records of Grimes County, Texas. Tax roll for 1846, Page 1.
[15] Ibid. Tax roll for 1847, Page ?.
[16] Ibid. Tax roll for 1848, Page ?.
[17] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. Land grant survey. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3.
[18] Tax Records of Nueces County, Texas. Tax roll for 1846, page 2 (unmarked).
[19] Ibid. Tax roll for 1847, page 12 (unmarked).
[20] Ibid. Tax roll for 1848, page 3 (unmarked).
[21] Minutes of the County Court of Grimes County, Texas. Book 2, Page 90.
[22] 1850 United States Census. Grimes County, Texas, Page 382 A.
[23] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 459, Montgomery, 1st Class, Daniel B. McMahon. Land sale to Jane Baldwin. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3.
[24] Tax Records of Walker County, Texas. Tax roll for 1851, Page ?.
[25] Ibid. Tax roll for 1852, Page ?.
[26] Texas State Archives: Records of the TX GLO. File 85, San Patricio, 3rd Class, William D. Baldwin. Land grant sale. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3.
[27] Minutes of the Twelfth Annual Session of the Trinity River Association of United Baptists (1859), Texas Baptist Power Press Print, 1860. Page 22.
[28] 1860 United States Census. Leon County, Texas, Page 283 B.
[29] 1860 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Page 335 B.
[30] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. File 459, Montgomery, 1st Class, Daniel B. McMahon. Letter from William Robinson to "Mr. Tomas" re: land patent. Front Back.
[31] Texas State Archives: Records of the Texas General Land Office. Land patent records. Volume 13, Number 325.
[32] Walker County, Texas Deed Records. Book P, Page 273.
[33] Ibid. Book P, Pages 274 and 275.
[34] Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas. Volume 5, Page 246.
[35] Minutes of the Probate Court of Walker County, Texas. Book G, Page 123.
[36] Vick-Rainey, Mary E., Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas 1846-1880, 1978. Page 13.
[37] Mearse, Linda, Confederate Indigent Families Lists of Texas, 1863-1865, 1995. Page 280.
[38] Walker County, Texas Cemeteries, Volume 2, North Walker County, Walker County Genealogical Society, Huntsville, TX, 2004. Page 99, McAdams Cemetery.
[39] B. F. Baldwin, Jr. Bible. Owned by Benjamin Franklin Baldwin. Jr. and Clara Ann Clarke. "Memoranda" page.
[40] Ibid. "Deaths” page.
[41] Ibid. "Marriages" page.
[42] Vick-Rainey, Mary E., Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas 1846-1880, 1978. Page 19.
[43] Loftin, Jack and Marie, Complete Cemetery Census of Young County, Texas 1837-1995, 1995. Page 85.
[44] 1870 United States Census. Limestone County, Texas, Pages 198 A and 198 B.
[45] Bounds, Virginia J. and Imogene C. Barham, Limestone County, Texas, Cemetery Surveys, Volume 1, Part 1, Limestone County Historical Museum, 1988. Page 168, Ferguson Cemetery.
[46] Death Records of Robertson County, Texas. Volume 1, page 8.
[47] Marriage Records of Walker County, Texas. Volume 2, Page 767.

Buggy Ride

Charles B Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield
Marriage and a Buggy Ride

Charles B and Minnie are sitting in the buggy.  I've heard two versions of when this photo was taken.  One version is that it was taken on their Wedding Day, and the other is that it was taken a few days after the wedding.  Given the facts that Minnie and the woman on the horse, both have an interesting-looking ornate headdress/veil on and Charles has a suit on, my feeling is that the photo was taken on their Wedding Day.
Not sure of others in photo, but guessing they may be Minnie's family -- some of the Hatfield Clan.   But, the question of the day is:  Why take the photo on the edge of a cliff? 

Charles & Minnie in Buggy
Charles B Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield were married on 14 Dec 1902 in Woods County, Oklahoma at the "Home of Bride" in the presence of Friends and Relations.  Below is a copy of their marriage certificate.

Marriage Certificate
 At the time of the wedding in 1902, the "Home of the Bride" would have been the log home, shown in the photo below, on her parents homestead in Woods County, Oklahoma.
Hatfield Homestead

Other related posts about Charles B Wilson and Minnie Pearl Hatfield Wilson:
Fixin' Supper - the "Minnie Pearl" Style
Family Bible -- Charles Wilson Family
Wilson Family Pictures

Friday, June 22, 2012

On This Day in my Family History - June 22

June 22 is a special and busy day in the history of my family.  Here is a list of events that have occurred on this day:

June 22 BIRTHDAYS

1. Rev. Luther Cole was born 222 years ago, on 22 Jun 1790, in the town of Hancock, Berkshire, Massachusetts.  Luther Cole, son of Nathan Cole and Judith Colburn, was the brother of my direct ancestor, Nathan Cole, Jr.  Veteran of the War of 1812.  Luther married Mary (maiden name unknown at this time) about 1815 in New York. Mary was born on 15 Sep 1789 in Vermont.  Luther became a Baptist Preacher and was ordained in 1823 in Enosburgh, Franklin, Vermont. .He died on 9 Apr 1871 in Enosburgh. Mary died almost a year later on 2 Mar 1872. They are both buried in Enosburgh Center Cemetery, Franklin County, Vermont. Luther and Mary had no known children

2. Anna Catherina Weiss was born on this day 283 years ago, in Gammelshausen, Donaukreis, Wuerttemberg, Germany.  She was the sister of my 5th great-grandfather, Michael Weiss.

3. Samantha Mary Ann Box was born on 22 Jun 1835 in Tippah County, Mississippi.  She was the daughter of Clarkey Carpenter and Thomas Box.  (Thomas was the brother of my direct ancestor, Grief Johnson Box.)  Much to the sorrow of her family, Samantha died on 15 Oct 1844 at the age of nine. 

3. Dennis M. Cunningham, the husband of Josephine Box (sister of above Samantha Box), was born on this day in 1832.  Some records state he was born in Iowa, but one states that he was born aboard the ship coming to America from Ireland.

4. Little Barton Wellington Hatfield was born 22 Jun 1850 and lived only a month.  He died on 25 July 1850.  Barton was the first child born to John Martin Hatfield and Martha Jay, my third great-grandparents.  It is always sad to learn of a child dying so young.

5. There are two June 22 birthdays in the Sadler family:  Pearl Sadler would be 100 years old today -- she was born in 1912.  Harvey Vernon Sadler was born in 1886.

6.  In the Leffel family there is one birthday on June 22.  Ruby Delbrugge, my mom's cousin, was born in 1917.

June 22 WEDDINGS

1688 - Martha Cole & Henry Sweeting
1843 - Amanda Miller & Jacob Croft
1856 - Elizabeth J. Wilson & William J. Roberts
1884 - Rhoda Hunter & Hiram Vinton Hatfield
1891 - Alice G. Dewese & S. J. Rinkle
1920 - Ella R. Spradlin & Roy E. Sheets

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Left me in a sad and mornful condition"

This is courtesy of  the Gainesville, Texas 1862 blog post about Susan Leffel (original post 20 April 2011)  Our direct ancestor, Susan Emeline West Leffel was the grandmother of Grandma Mabel Leffel Baldwin.  Susan's husband was David Miller Leffel, the father of Charles E. Leffel and grandfather of Mabel Baldwin.  This October will mark the sesquicentennial (150 years) of the Great Hanging.  As soon as I find out details of the commemoration that will be held in Gainesville, I will post the information online. 

Susan Leffel, widow of David Miller Leffel

On 11 Jun 1869, Susan Leffel wrote a very touching letter to Texas Governor Edmund J. Davis. Susan was the widow of David Miller Leffel, who was killed in the Great Hanging. In this letter, Susan asked the Governor of Texas for help against the continued harassment to her family and friends, who's loved ones were the victims of the Great Hanging at Gainesville in 1862.
Susan's husband, David Miller Leffel, 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.

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 20 Feb 1864
Susan’s letter may be the only surviving document written by a widow of a Great Hanging victim describing her feelings about the hanging and her experiences afterwards. Susan's experiences and feelings are probably very similar to those of the other widows and family members of men who were killed in the Hangings at Gainesville.

Background info on Susan Leffel:
David and Susan Leffel left Ohio where his family lived to move to the Texas frontier where most of her family lived. Susan Emeline West, daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee, was born 3 Jun 1817 in Kentucky. Susan married David Miller Leffel on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. After Susan's mother died in Ohio, her father, Michael West, and several of her 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. Father, Michael West, died in 1858.  In his will, Michael West left his land in Grayson County, Texas to his heirs, which included 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 by her father. After moving to Texas in 1858, Susan sells the land she inherited to her brother and then she buys another parcel of land in Grayson County that she later sells to N. H. Holt. Most married women at that time did not buy and sell land on their own. Also, married women usually did not hold title to land if they had a husband living. Why isn't David's name also on the land that is purchased and then later sold? This suggests that Susan may have been independent, with a mind of her own. The decision to move from the Northern State of Ohio to a slaveholding state would set in motion events that would eventually lead to David's violent death.

Susan seems to have been a very strong, outspoken and determined woman. At the time Susan wrote the letter in 1869, she had been on her own as a widow for almost 7 years, while trying to care for her family. And, this was during the Civil War and the following reconstruction period. All the while, Susan was being continually harassed by some of the same group that killed her husband.

Susan starts her letter by recalling the arrest and hanging of her husband, David Miller Leffel. She refers to the citizens court as a vigilante committee and states that many of the husbands were “taken off by those nocturnal visitors and destroyed by the hanging.” Richard McCaslin states that the men were rounded up at daybreak on 1 October 1862, but Susan used the word "nocturnal" which indicates that it was still dark when at least some of the men were arrested.  Below is an 1864 newspaper illustrator's interpretation of the Union men being rounded up.
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 20 Feb 1864
In the letter, Susan describes her husband, David, as follows: "kind as he was" and "great source of my comfort and living". She was not only left in a “sad and mornful condition” after her husband was hanged, but since the end of the war Susan and others who had lost relatives in the hanging had been harassed and plagued by attacks. Members of their families had been arrested “without a sine of a rit or any showing of legal authority whatever.”

And, when Susan was robbed of “my many jewelry” and household items, no one was arrested. One has to wonder, just how a pioneer wife and mother came into possession of "many jewelry." Was the jewelry a handed down keepsake from her mother? Or, was the jewelry a gift(s) from her dear husband? Where was the law? Why did they not help a poor widow?

Just two weeks prior to writing the letter in Jun 1869, a dozen men came to Susan’s home to arrest her son on a charge of horse stealing "without a sine of a rit or any showing of legal authority whatever.” The rebel group fired a shower of 40 or 50 bullets as her son fled, but he was soon apprehended. One of the tormentors, Susan mentioned by name, James Anderson of Sherman. Then, the rebels came into her house and one of the party dragged Susan onto the floor from her sickbed and pistol-whipped her younger son. She sadly concluded, “I with maney others have lost hopes of protection from that party’s abuse by the beloved country and government that we loved so dearely. . . what to do, or where to go to hide from them I can not tell.

It is hard to know which sons Susan was referring to in the above statement.  Anthony may have been the  son being arrested, but that is just a guess.  John or George may have been the son referred to as being "pistol-whipped" by the rebels.  Charles had married a month earlier on 5 May 1869 in Cooke County.  James married a month later on 15 Jul 1869 in Dallas County.

This is Susan’s final plea for help to the Governor;
“It is indeed hart rendring that my husband, as kind as he was, and great sorce of my comfort & living should be hanged and his helpless family, (with many others) are as barbrsly treated as tho we were even aliving with the Indians; simply for them to take vengance uppon us because we were and are in favor of our Fathers Country and Government.”

In June 1869, Susan was living in Pilot Point when she wrote the letter to the Governor of Texas telling of the continued harassment by southern rebels. She cannot be found in records after that time.  Susan disappeared, her whereabouts are not known after writing the letter in June 1869.

Some questions we need to ask about Susan's disappearance from records after Jun 1869:
Did Susan die shortly after writing the letter to the Governor?
She mentioned she was "lying sick in bed" when James Anderson jerked her out on the floor. Did she die from the rough treatment of the ex-confederate rebel men who harassed her?
Susan said she did not know "where to go hide" from the ex-confederate rebel group.  Did they threaten her?
Did her tormentors come back after she wrote the letter and kill her for speaking out against them?

Susan's death or burial place is not known.  How sad!

One has to wonder why Susan stayed in Texas instead of returning to the North where her oldest son and several of her brothers lived? Was she determined to "stick it out" in Texas? It appears that she had hoped for peace and protection during reconstruction. In the last paragraph of the letter, Susan admits to finally losing "hope of protection from that partys abuse by the beloved Country and Government."

Susan must have believed in and loved Texas, and she was definitely patriotic and loved her country -- the United States of America! She mentioned being a loyal (lawiel) citizen and being loyal during the war. She called the United States of America, her "beloved Country and Government" that she "loved so dearly."

Below is an actual copy of Susan's letter to Governor Edmund Davis:

Page 1
Page 2

Page 3

Page 4 - Letter Cover


Transcription of Susan's Letter:
Pilot Point Denton Co. Tex, June the 11th 1869
{ To the Honorable Governor, Chief }
{ Executive of the State of Texas }
I wish to give you some statements of matters and facts of my condition and how I have bin treated: in the first place the vigilent committy hung my husband (at the time they hanged so many at Gainesville) on the account of his Union proclivities, and left me in a sad and mornful condition but still after I have had all that to endure and my family and many of our sympathizing friend (that the leader of their familys were taken off by those nocternal visitors and destroyed by the hanging:) are ever since the war as the carcas to the Eagel:) every now and then they will arest one or our party without a sine of a rit or any showing of any legal authority whatever: why sir some of their party came to my house & robed me soon after the war of my many jewelry and household plunder: (and nothing done with them & two of the party well known to us:) but thinking we would get protection after awhile; I still remained here and bore it, with many slanders and slams unjustly thrown uppon us by that party.
[Page Two]
Yet it seems that the lawiel [loyal] citizens will never scease to be maltreated and unsafe as they were during the war on the account of there lawielty [loyalty]; why sir it hasent bin two weeks since some of that dislawiel possie cameto my house, some 10 or 12, with foure sixshooters a piece and arested my son, without any legal athority, (with the plea that he had stolen a horse some 5 or 6 years ago)(of which charge is ever redy to prove his inocence) fired some 40 or 50 shots at him as he ran and arested him out in the field: a part of them came to the house: James Anderson of Sherman drew and cocked his sixshooter on a lady that I have a living with me, I was lying sick in the bed, he (Anderson) came to my bed with pistle presented and grabed hold of me jerked me out on the floor; from which abuse I came very neare diing for several dayes; He then turned and struck an other of my sons on the side of the head with pistle, disabling him from working out my crop; who was my only dependance to do anything: and roughly abusing another young lad that was at my house; and all with-out any cause at all, no one said or done one thing to them, but they cusing and abusing the Union Class of people generaly,
[Page Three]
It is indeed hart rendring that my husband, as kind as he was, and great sorce of my comfort & living should be hanged and his helpless family, (with many others) are as barbrsly treated as tho we were even aliving with the Indians; simply for them to take vengance uppon us becuase we were and are in favor of our Fathers Country and Government;I with many others have lost hope of protection from that partys abuse by the beloved Country and Government that we loved so dearly; if she can put down rebellion God knows she has had ample time it seems to me; and what to do or where to go to hide from them I can not tell But I thought it ment and rite that some of our Chief Officers shouldknow some of the particulars of the outrages of the enimys of our country.Yours Ever, Susan Leffel

[Page Four - Letter cover]
Pilot Point Denton, June 11th 1869
Susan Leffel relates the murder of her husband and persecution of herself, family & friends by ex rebels or rather extra devils.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Before and After -- Hatfield's OK Homestead

Before and after photos of the Martin Monroe Hatfield Family Homestead in Woods County, Oklahoma.  Maymie said that the homestead was near Estelle, Oklahoma.  You can see from the township map below that the Hatfield Homestead is east of the Estelle Post Office.

The before photo was taken about 1904.  The Martin & Nancy Hatfield family was living in a log cabin on their homestead.  This log cabin is important to our family for two reasons:  (1) Martin's daughter, our great-grandma Minnie Pearl was married to Charles B. Wilson in this log home in 1902. And (2), Minnie's daughter, our grandma Maymie Pearl Wilson, said she was born "in a big log house on my Grandpa Hatfield's old homestead."  Maymie was born on July 14th, 1905.  So, the family was still living in the log cabin in 1905.

Left to right: Clinton on horse, Alfred on horse, Blanche in her cute white dress, Nancy, Martin, and Lillie on the far right just above the tear in the photo.

Hatfield Oklahoma Homestead, circa 1904

The after photo was taken about 3 to 5 years later.  Martin had built his family a home with windows and a brick chimney.  Nancy had cute curtins on the windows.  The Hatfields had planted trees and made a path/walkway to the front door.  There is a pole right in front of the house with something attached at the top -- any suggestions?  Not sure what is going on with the guns?

Hatfield Oklahoma Homestead, circa 1909

Left to right: Clinton holding horses, Alfred holding puppy, Grace holding horses, Martin holding a rifle, Nancy, Anna holding a rifle.  This photo was not dated, but guessing from the ages of the children, the photo was taken about 1907-1909.

Below is a 1906 Township Map for Woods County, Oklahoma - Township 22N Range 16W.  Martin M. Hatfield's homestead is in section 25 & 26.




More information on the Martin Monroe Hatfield Family can be found on previous blog posts:
Martin Monroe Hatfield Family
Anna Belle Hatfield
Pioneer in the new 'City of the Dead' at Dove Creek
Fixin' Supper -- the "Minnie Pearl" style
Maymie Wilson Martin

A big Thanks to everyone who is willing to share and contribute pictures and stories to the blog.