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.
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
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,
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
Myrtle Springs, Kirven, Woodville,
Batson Prairie, Chester,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost is $25.00, plus state sales tax.]
See Bob Bowman's East Texas
column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
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