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Texas Books

“Death by Rope”

by Bob and Doris Bowman

Best of East Texas Publishers
Death by Rope
A 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 team.

Since 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.

An East 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.

The largest 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 in 1864.

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.

Historians 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.
The Double Hanging in Bellville, Texas in 1896
The Double Hanging in Bellville, Texas in 1896
Photo courtesy Bellville Historical Society

“Death by Rope” also explores lynchings and legal hangings at Henderson, Hemphill, Gilmer, Science Hill, Charleston, Nogalus Prairie, Homer, Dalby Springs, Canton, Timpson, Granbury, Anderson, Cooper, Myrtle Springs, Kirven, Woodville, Emory, Nacogdoches, Groveton, Sherman, Clarksville, Hardin, Orange, Center, Coldspring, Batson Prairie, Chester, Buena Vista, Paris, Crockett, West, Atlanta, Giddings, Rusk, Marshall, Livingston, Kaufman, Palestine, and Texarkana.


Bob 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.

“Death By Rope” is available by contacting Best of East Texas Publishers at 936-634-7444 or by e-mail at bobb@consolidated.net. The cost is $25.00, plus state sales tax.

See Bob Bowman's East Texas

A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

See also:
Hanging 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...
Related Topics:
Texas Murders & Hangings
East Texas
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Death by Rope
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Death by Rope
By Bob and Doris Bowman

BEST OF EAST TEXAS PUBLISHERS
Premier Publisher in East Texas

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Books by Bob and Doris Bowman:
Historic Murders of East Texas
The most unusual and bizarre murders in East Texas
Order Here
More Historic Murders of East Texas
An additional collection of unusual and bizarre murders in East Texas
Order Here
Historic Murders of East Texas, Book 3
18 more famous murders
Order Here
Historic Murders of East Texas, Book 4
Additional 23 murders between 1834 and 1947
Order Here
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