How many people knew about it? What else is the Parker County Historical Commission covering up?
This year Living Blue in Texas has been covering the ongoing drama in Weatherford surrounding the Confederate statue which sits on the lawn of the Parker County Courthouse, in the heart of Weatherford. Progressives in Parker County have been regularly protesting and advocating to move the statue to the old city cemetery. However, they have been met with violence, hate, and racism every step of the way.
The organizer of this movement, Tony Crawford, has been telling the town that his ancestors were lynched at the Parker County Courthouse. However, counter-protesters and other townspeople have repeatedly called him a liar. I have seen it on live streams and on Facebook groups, there is a large group (mostly white, mostly elderly), of Weatherford residents who continue to tell the story about how no Black people were ever lynched in Weatherford.
Weatherford is not a unicorn.
If you read Living Blue in Texas on a regular basis, you probably know we often write about historical events, especially as they relate to our modern fight with the Confederacy. In Texas, I have yet to find a town or county that has some scars of racial violence of the past. Some have more than others.
Between 1861 and the 1960s, thousands upon thousands of Black Texans were murdered, lynched, brutalized, or disappeared. Even Lynchings in Texas hasn’t found all of the lynchings, I uncovered a few more in Kaufman County that they hadn’t documented yet.
About a week ago, Traces of Texas in Weatherford tweeted a picture of Parker County Courthouse. I tweeted back, “Right in front of that courthouse, multiple Black people were lynched around 1900.”
I was wrong about the year, but multiple people were lynched in front of that courthouse.
You can see the responses below the tweet, where multiple people responded to me saying there was never any lynchings in Weatherford or challenging me to prove it.
How did I know?
Over this last year, while covering Progressives in Parker County’s fight with Neo-Confederates, I have become friends with many of the members of the group.
I had heard Tony Crawford’s story multiple times about how his family was lynched on the Courthouse lawn. Then recently, I was made aware of some documents the Crawford family had, which I was asked to keep secret at the time.
After I was challenged on Twitter about proving whether or not there were lynchings in Weatherford, I started looking for proof. Something that was public and could be verified by others, aside from, “My friend Tony told me about it.” I looked for about an hour or two and although I found plenty of interesting stuff, I wasn’t finding any direct reference to lynchings in Weatherford. So, I texted Tony and asked if he could point me in the right direction. He said, “That’s funny because I was going to call you today. I spoke with my brother last night about this and we’re ready to release the information about our family lynchings.”
Historical Sketch of Parker County.
The Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford, Texas was a book written by Henry Smythe in 1877. You can find that book free online with Google Books, HERE. This account is on pages 159-160.
According to this 1877 book, during the summer of 1861, a slave named Dick, who belonged to Monroe Upton was found in a woman’s bed.
Supposedly, the woman was going to bed for the night and found him already there. They took Dick out backed and whipped him, but then they let him go after he promised not to do it again.
The next day, a person (unidentified), who did not have the authority of law enforcement re-captured Dick and publicly whipped him, until he confessed that he and three others were planning on killing all of the white men and children and take the white women as prisoners.
Knowing what we know now about the human condition, it is highly unlikely that Dick had a plan like that. He likely falsely confessed to this to make the people who were beating him, stop.
The names he gave of his co-conspirators were Steve Young, Austin Young, and an unnamed slave belonging to John A. Fain.
Steve and Austin Young were Tony Crawford’s ancestors.
The three men were also apprehended and all four of the men were lynched the very next morning. They were lynched on the frame over the well in the courthouse square.
The second account.
This one comes from the September 12, 1895 issue of the Weatherford Democrat, which also can be found online, HERE.
In this account, they wrote of the quelling of a slave insurrection in the summer of 1861 and how the three leaders were hung on the public square. (Although, it was actually four Black men who were hung, not three.)
It also spoke of the lynching of James Luckey, who was actually white. He was just one of the many suspected Union-sympathizers killed in Weatherford in 1861.
The third account.
This one comes from the January 11, 1923 issue of the Weatherford Democrat, which can be found online HERE.
This account came from Mrs. John Freeman, who said she witnessed the lynching of the four men on the old courthouse well.
The fourth account.
The old mayor of Weatherford, Gustavus A. Holland, wrote a historical book called The History of Parker County and The Double Log Cabin, which was published in 1937.
You can find the entire book available online on Ancestry, however, you have to have an Ancestry account to view it. Luckily, I have one of those, so I was able to screenshot it.
What the fourth account reveals is the most shocking part of this story.
According to Mayor Holland, the account of events was reported to him by W. R. Turner, a long-time prominent citizen of Weatherford. As in the other accounts, the four men were lynched from the cross beam over the well in Parker County Courthouse square.
Then, he tells how each one of their bodies was dropped down the well. The public well, where the town got their water from.
After the dead bodies of these lynched slaves were dropped in the well, the town folk continued to get water from there. They didn’t know anything about diseases in 1861.
After some time, the well was obstructed and people couldn’t get water from there. Knowing there were four dead bodies down there, the people of Weatherford decided that they would rather fill that well in and dig a new one than remove the bodies.
That’s what they did. They buried those poor souls at the bottom of the well.
Where was the first well?
Here is a zoomed-in view of the courthouse in an 1885 map of Weatherford, which you can find HERE.
The Confederate statue wasn’t built until 1915, but the red X, on the southeast corner of the Parker County Courthouse is where the location of the statue would wind up at.
This map shows that the well was on the northwest corner.
The lynchings took place in 1861, in Mayor Holland’s book he said the first well was filled in and the second well was built nearby a short time later but didn’t say when.
The first well, which had the four dead bodies buried in it, could be under the lawn, under the street, or under the courthouse itself. Tony Crawford is speaking to local colleges now about getting them out to do some type of ground radars to see if they can find the first well and the bodies which are likely still in them.
According to the Parker County Historical Commission, the courthouse that we all see standing today is the fourth courthouse built for Parker County. They were all built on the same location, the first three had burned down, likely by arson.
About the Parker County Historical Commission.
One of the Parker County Historical Commissioners in the 1970s was Evelyn Broumley. Not long ago her granddaughter, Jennifer Broumley, found the History of Parker County and The Double Log Cabin by G. A. Holland in the Weatherford library. Jennifer relayed the information to Progressives of Parker County and they helped me get in touch with her.
When I spoke to Jennifer she told me that she alerted Donna McCauley, of the book. Donna McCauley had been appointed to the Historical Commission in 2017, this incident happened after the protests surrounding the statue were getting national attention.
When Jennifer Broumley told McCauley about the book, McCauley suggested they hide the book and told Jennifer, “We have to make it hard to find or those people will burn down our county.”
Why would Parker County Historical Commission try to cover up history?
In Weatherford and in Parker County there is a whole slew of Facebook groups where the local Neo-Confederates interact with other Weatherford residents in. Remember Weatherford When… and Parker County History are just two of them. After the July protest, there was a lot of online talk from Weatherford residents about easing history and accusing Progressives of Parker County of being BLM and Antifa.
Several people witnessed similar posts from Donna McCauley in July, which have since been deleted.
After they learned of the existence of the book in the Weatherford library and how McCauley attempted to hide it from them, the Crawford family lawyer and Tony Crawford’s brother had a meeting with Donna McCauley.
The History of Parker County and The Double Log Cabin by G. A. Holland is a historical book that has been used as a reference in historic research and thesis.
After the Crawfords became aware of its existence in the Weatherford library, McCauley changed her story. She said the book was historically accurate, except for the lynchings and she didn’t believe it because there were no reports of it in the archived newspapers.
Except there were no archived newspapers during that time frame. During the 1800s, the citizens in Weatherford burned down their town, multiple times, because of taxes.
Another reason McCauley gave for not believing this account in the old mayor’s book was reported to him W. R. Turner and she claimed that W. R. Turner didn’t live in Parker County in 1861. Except that isn’t true, either.
Here is an exert from the History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Tarrant and Parker counties, 1895, pages 444 & 445. You can find current copies of this in the Library of Congress.
It proves that W. R. Turner moved to Parker County in 1858 and would have been there to witness the lynchings in 1861.
This was a direct and deliberate effort from Parker County Historical Commission to cover up the lynchings that took place on the Parker County Courthouse square in 1861.
Donna McCauley claims to be a historian, however, she essentially tried to hide this major historical event, erasing any memory of it. Why would a historian act in such an unethical manner?
The Parker County Historical Commission lists its officers and board of directors on their website. Donna McCauley isn’t on there, but who knows when the last time they updated it was. What about who is on there?
Greg Boyd is listed as the president. Just like every other boomer in the free world, you can see who he’s friends with on Facebook, because privacy settings are too complicated. Greg Boyd is Facebook friends with TX-4 Congressman Pat Fallon and multiple known Neo-Confederates in the area.
Jamie Bodiford-Brinkley is listed as the chair and her friend’s list isn’t hidden on Facebook, either. Her friends include HD61 Rep Phil King, Marsha Lynn Brown, one of the locals who participated in the attack on peaceful protesters in July, and multiple other known local Neo-Confederates.
The vice-president, Laura Roberts, also has an open Facebook where she is spreading Q-conspiracies. As we all know Q-nuts and Neo-Confederates run in the same crowds.
I haven’t looked at the rest of them, but I’m willing to bet, it’s more of the same.
The implications of Neo-Confederates infiltrating a local Historical Commission.
This is a huge deal. The job of a Historical Commission is to preserve history.
Neo-Confederates still subscribe to Lost Cause ideology.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy have a 100-year war against history. Since the late 1800s, those groups are directly responsible for lying and covering up some of America’s most brutal truths. Lost Cause ideology erases history and promotes white supremacy.
If Neo-Confederates infiltrated the Parker County Historical Commission, it undoubtedly would have been in an attempt to hide, cover-up, or even destroy any records or traces of racial violence in Weatherford.
Since we now know of one direct occasion of them doing this by trying to hide the existence of the History of Parker County and The Double Log Cabin by G. A. Holland in the Weatherford library, how are we to know there aren’t more incidents that they’ve hidden?
It’s likely that when other historical communities learn about what was done, there will be an outrage. Any lover of history or Weatherford resident interested in their roots should be outraged at this.
The appropriate thing for Donna McCauley to do now would be resigning and the other officers and board members who have ties with Neo-Confederates should also step down since preserving history is a direct conflict of interest with the Neo-Confederacy.
Neo-Confederates in Weatherford may have been successful so far in keeping Weatherford’s past a secret. But, if there is one thing we like, it’s a challenge.
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