new book by Lufkin authors Bob
and Doris Bowman explores 49 lynchings and legal hangings that occurred in East
Texas between 1862 and 1942. |
“Death by Rope” is the 42nd book written
about East Texas by the husband-wife
the inception of the Republic of Texas in 1836, the method of punishing criminals
for capital crimes was hanging at the county level. But in 1924, the State of
Texas took over the responsibility for capital punishment and changed the method
from hanging to electrocution.
Texas man, Charles Reynolds of Red River County, became the first man to die
in the electric chair known as “Old Sparky.” Another East Texan, prison inmate
Belton Harris of Henderson County, built the electric chair.
mass hanging occurred
in 1862 at Gainesville
during the Civil War when 40 suspected Unionists in Confederate Texas were hanged.
Two other men were shot as they attempted to escape.
Another mass hanging
occurred at McKinney a year later
when William Clarke Quantrill rounded up about 30 Confederate deserters and “bushwhackers”
and lynched them on the town’s square.
A mob believed to have included
some of Quantrill’s men also lynched three men, including Collin County sheriff
James Read and former county judge Joseph Holcomb, at Tyler
Around 1900, a man was lynched on Lufkin’s
Cotton Square, reportedly for raping a young girl. It was Lufkin’s
first and only public hanging.
Between 1872 and 1885, a legal hanging
and an illegal hanging at Mount
Pleasant claimed the lives of two men, one of whom who had killed a peddler,
and another who had stole $1.65. The hangings aroused headlines as far away as
the front page of the New York Times.
have claimed the first woman to be hanged in Texas was Chipita Rodriquez, who
was hanged for murder at San Patricio County in 1863, but a black slave woman,
Jane Ellis, was hanged at Dallas as
early as 1853.
One of the last East
Texas lynchings was in 1942 when Willie Vinson, accused of assaulting a woman,
was dragged by a car through Texarkana’
streets and finally lynched on a cotton gin winch.
“Death by Rope”
also explores lynchings and legal hangings at Henderson,
Science Hill, Charleston, Nogalus Prairie, Homer,
Dalby Springs, Canton, Timpson,
Cooper, Myrtle Springs,
Kirven, Woodville, Emory,
Hardin, Orange, Center,
Coldspring, Batson Prairie,
Vista, Paris, Crockett,
Bowman is a former member of the Texas Historical Commission, the Texas Sesquicentennial
Commission, and the Texas Capital Centennial Commission. He and his wife are the
only husband and wife to serve as chairs of the Texas Council for the Humanities.
By Rope” is available by contacting Best
of East Texas Publishers
at 936-634-7444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost is $25.00, plus state sales tax.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
a Dead Man by Bob Bowman
George Hughes of Sherman may have been the
only man in East Texas to be lynched while he was dead...
Books by Bob and Doris Bowman:|