Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging
In the first instance, they very properly selected J. B. McCurley
to whom propositions had been made to join the organization.
Mr. McCurley,"8 a good citizen and a gentleman of fine intelli-
gence, proceeded at once, under full instructions to the discharge
of the duty assigned him. He made application, and was duly re-
ceived and admitted into the order and made acquainted with all
the secrts [sic] & mysteries connected with it.
How he proceeded in the part assigned him may be better and
more fully explained by his testimony given [before] the "Citizens
Court" on the trial of Dr. Henry Childs." And it may be proper
to remark here that nowhere in the proceedings of the Court has
any testimony been incorporated in this report, (except the vol-
untary confessions of the parties condemned) unless it has been
sanctioned by an oath, administered under the forms of law by
officers authorized to administer oaths and elicited according to
the rules of evidence.
I met Ephraim Childs20 at the Hotel in the town of Gainesville,
sometime in the month of September 1862. After some conversation
he remarked to me, "Would you like to go into a Society for the good
of our country?" He then, before any remarked [sic] made by me,
continued- "You are a good union man, are you not?" I told him I
18J. B. McCurley, from Tennessee, was a forty-eight-year-old farmer in Denton
County in 186o. He and his family had come to Texas in the 1850's by way of
Illinois. U. S. Eighth Census, 186o (Returns of Schedule i, Free Inhabitants, for
Denton County, Texas, microfilm, Dallas Public Library). In Diamond's opinion, as
given in his "Review of McCurley," this carrier of the mail between Gainesville and
Denton provided the initial clue in the discovery of the "Peace Party Conspiracy."
Previously published accounts have credited Newton J. Chance with having first
discovered the existence of the Unionist resistance group in Cooke County. Elliott,
"Union Sentiment in Texas, 1861-1865," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, L, 449.
1"Henry Childs was the central figure in the "Peace Party Conspiracy," in view
of the author of this narrative. His opinion also reflects the views and convictions
of members of the "Citizens Court." Diamond himself was not a participant in
the events he chronicles or a resident of Cooke County at the time of the Great
Hanging at Gainesville, although, as explained in his "Introduction," he arrived
at the scene shortly afterward. The absence of the name of Henry Childs in
available contemporary records of Cooke County, including the federal census
of 186o, may be explained by Diamond's statement that Childs "came from Missouri
to Texas but a few years anterior to the war between the States."
2oEphraim Childs, the brother of Dr. Henry Childs, was credited with unwittingly
first having revealed the existence of the secret order.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed April 26, 2015.