The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 346
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
destroyed half the town square in Denton and a store in Pilot Point.
Four days later Charles R. Pryor, editor of the Dallas Herald, whose
offices had been destroyed in the fire, wrote a fearful letter to John
Marshall, editor of the Austin State Gazette and chairman of the Demo-
cratic party in Texas, alleging that an interrogation of certain blacks
around Dallas had revealed a sinister abolitionist plot "to devastate
with fire and assassination all of North Texas .. ." After the country
had been reduced to helplessness, the slaves were supposed to rise up
against their masters, aided by "the white men of the North in their
midst."3 Pryor wrote similarly disturbing letters to L. C. Delisle, editor
of the Bonham Era, and E. H. Cushing, editor of the Houston Tele-
graph. Pryor warned Delisle that the plot extended over broad areas of
Texas and warned that everyone should be on the lookout: "You and
all Bonham are in as much danger as we are. Be on your guard, and
make these facts known by issuing extras to be sent in every direction."
The letter to Cushing included some additional frightening details:
leading white citizens had been marked for assassination and blacks
had received carte blanche to distribute the young maidens of their
choice among themselves for the satisfaction of their lusts.'
Responding to Pryor's warnings, communities and counties as far
south as Matamoros established vigilance committees and assigned
them broad powers to ferret out and wreak quick and terrible punish-
ment upon the dastardly white conspirators and their fiendish black
minions. It is impossible to determine the exact number of lives taken
by these committees-Judge Lynch left no court records-but in the
two months or so that it took for the panic to run its course, the vigi-
lantes probably hanged at least thirty men, white and black, for alleged
abolitionist activities. In addition, hundreds of whites with northern
Louis Central Christian Advocate, which feuded bitterly with Southern Methodist journals over
the treatment of Northern Methodist churchmen in the South. Although Elliott's bias is pal-
pable, his work is valuable, partly because it is the most detailed account of the events which it
narrates, but also because he includes many letters that are no longer available elsewhere.
Elliott was meticulous with the documents he used, and although he interpreted them from
the Northern Methodist perspective, the details of his narrative on Bewley closely accord with
other accounts in Southern letters and newspapers. For the most detailed modern study of the
Bewley Affair, see Wesley Norton, "The Methodist Episcopal Church and the Civil Distur-
bances in North Texas in 1859 and 186o," SHQ, LXVIII (Jan., 1965), 317-341 Norton's essay
is a good survey of the internecine warfare between the Northern and Southern wings of
Methodism during the Civil War Era; however, it should be noted that the material relating to
Bewley is drawn largely from Elliott's book and various documents published in that editor's
Central Chzshman Advocate
'State Gazette (Austin), July 14, 186o.
'Bonham Eta, July 17, i86o
'touston I eteg lapt, .uly 2 i1, 1 t0o.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/404/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.