Marking history: From the 1910 Slocum Massacre to 50 years of the Broken Spoke

Good morning Austin:

When the Texas Historical Commission convenes today at 1 p.m. at the Stephen F. Austin State Office Building on North Congress Avenue, it is expected to approve 174 new historical markers across the state. The full list of all 174 new markers being considered by the commission is at the bottom of today’s First

The Broken Spoke
The Broken Spoke

Reading, by county. In Travis County, it includes a marker for the black settlement of Kincheonville, founded in 1865, and the Broken Spoke, that venerable honky tonk on South Lamar, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.  For the most part, county historical commissions have submitted applications to the state Historical Commission requesting the markers, but, very occasionally, there is a disagreement locally about the merits of a marker.

Constance Hollie-Jawaid, center, and her daughter, Imani, and author ER Bills. Jawaid and Bills are seeking a historical marker in the vicinity of the 1910 Slocum Massacre, which she hopes will be a first step in recovering land her family once owned
Constance Hollie-Jawaid, center, and her daughter, Imani, and author ER Bills. Jawaid and Bills are seeking a historical marker in the vicinity of the 1910 Slocum Massacre, which she hopes will be a first step in recovering land her family once owned

In December, I wrote about one such disagreement in Anderson County about if and how to mark the 1910 Slocum Massacre.  The story began:

SLOCUM — Slocum is a speck on the map — an East Texas crossroads in Anderson County about a dozen miles southeast of Palestine. It is home to a couple of hundred people, about what it’s always been.

According to the Handbook of Texas, published by the Texas State Historical Association, Slocum’s defining struggle to get its own post office back in the 19th century was a “slow come,” and it’s now long gone. In 1929, Slocum was flattened by a tornado that killed eight people, injured as many as 150 others and left a mule stuck high in a tree.

There is no mention anywhere in the handbook of the 1910 Slocum Massacre, in which a marauding mob of local whites went on a rampage, killing blacks pell-mell, and sending much of the local African-American population fleeing for their lives, abandoning homes and property, never to return.

“I do feel like (Hollie-Jawaid) had great intentions of having this recognized as to what happened, but you can’t take all these newspaper accounts and give an accurate description of what happened,” said Jimmy Odom, who chairs the county Historical Commission.

Despite his misgivings, Odom passed the application on to Bob Brinkman, director of the Historical Markers Program for the state Historical Commission in Austin, who, with his staff of one, must review and make a recommendation on this and 173 other marker applications, submitted by the Nov. 15 deadline, to the 12-member state Historical Commission meeting at the end of January in Austin.

Odom didn’t check the box indicating approval by the local historical commission, and he included with the submission his commission’s critical commentary: “The Massacre of 1910 was an atrocity committed by a group of ignorant white men. Those men should have paid for their crimes. This event should never be forgotten in the history of Anderson County. However, it is the general view of the Historical Commission that historical markers should represent people, places and events that had a positive influence on our community. This event absolutely did not have a positive influence on anyone and it is a scar to the community of Slocum.”

“History is history,” said Hollie-Jawaid. “It’s the lens that you look at it that determines whether it is positive or negative.”

 Here are a three videos I shot, two of Hollie-Jawaid explaining why she felt the marker was essential, and a third by David Franklin, a Dallas police officer who lives in Slocum and pastors a local church, expressing his concern that any marker stick to proven historical facts.



Among the other 173 requested markers are one for Machine Gun Kelley in Wise County, the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1862 in Matagorda County, and, also in Matagorda County, the Matagorda Incident.

I do not know for sure what the Matagora Incident refers to, though it is likely this tragic episode described here by Shirley Brown.

The Matagorda Incident may not be as well-known as larger events of the Civil War, but it is just as memorable to the families and friends of the young men who gave their lives for the cause in which they believed. The horrors of war were brought to the front doors of the residents of Matagorda, Texas, when twenty-two men perished in the midst of an expedition against Federal troops. They perished not as the result of hostilities but as the result of severe weather.

But I noticed that the entry on Matagorda County in the Handbook of Texas describes this 1887 “incident,” foreshadowing events in Slocum 23 years laters:

Matagorda County’s social and political life in the late nineteenth century was marked by racial tension and conflict. The Ku Klux Klan, an organization dedicated to restricting the social and political activities of the newly freed slaves, was active in the area during Reconstruction. Nevertheless at least some area blacks remained active in local politics, and the county consistently supported the Republican tickets in presidential elections between 1872 and 1896. One of the most violent episodes in the county’s history occurred in 1887, when the black community known as the Vann Settlement, or the King Vann African Settlement, was attack by armed white vigilantes from Matagorda, Wharton, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties. According to one local history, the incident convinced the area’s black population “that they had best remain in the background and leave the government of the county to the whites.” A White Man’s Union Associationqv was formed in the county by 1894. Though a majority of the county’s voters supported Republican William McKinley in 1896, the number of Republican ballots in the county dropped off dramatically in elections held over the next twenty years. McKinley had won 561 votes in 1896, for example, but Theodore Roosevelt was able to win only ninety Republican ballots in the county in 1904. The area’s Democrats had apparently reestablished their control by driving blacks from the political process.

There is this proposed marker for Two Civil War Hangings in Corpus Christi.

From the Corpus Christi Caller Times, April 26, 2006

Every town in Texas had its hanging tree. And many were put to use when Committees of Public Safety – better known as vigilantes – were not much bothered by questions of innocence or guilt.

Schoolchildren in this part of Texas, because of classroom trips, know that the most famous hanging tree stands on the courthouse square in Goliad. Elsewhere in South Texas, hangings and lynchings often took place at the nearest tree. There were hanging trees all over South Texas.


During the Civil War, two New York boys were hanged in Corpus Christi with placards were pinned to their chests reading, “Traitors Take Warning” and “Union Men Beware.”

And there is the marker application for the Battle of Freshwater Fork of the Brazos (aka Battle of Blanco Canyon), Crosby County.

Here from the Handbook of Texas,

BLANCO CANYON, BATTLE OF. The battle of Blanco Canyon marked the climax of Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie‘s initial campaign against Comanche bands in West Texas. In September 1871 Mackenzie received permission from Gen. William T. Sherman to mount an expedition against the Kotsoteka and Quahadi Comanche bands, which had refused to come into their reservation in the aftermath of the Warren Wagontrain Raid. Mackenzie gathered eight companies of the Fourth United States Cavalry, two companies of the Eleventh Infantry, and a group of twenty Tonkawa scouts at the site of old Camp Cooper on the Clear Fork of the Brazos in late September. The column set out in a northwesterly direction on October 3, hoping to find the Quahadi village, including the warriors led by Quanah Parker, encamped in Blanco Canyon near the headwaters of the Freshwater Fork of the Brazos River, southeast of the site of present Crosbyton. On the fourth night out a base camp was established at the junction of the Salt Fork of the Brazos and Duck Creek, near the site of present Spur. The next day the infantry were left behind at the camp while the scouts and cavalry continued on.

On October 9 the cavalry column reached the White River and Blanco Canyon. Late that evening Quanah Parker and a Comanche force stampeded through the cavalry camp, driving off sixty-six horses….

I will stop there with the mention of Quanah Parker.

In 2007, a state historic marker was placed  at 131 E. Exchange in Fort Worth for Quanah Parker.

Here is the text on that marker:

Quanah Parker

Comanche chief Quanah Parker was a son of two cultures. He was born about 1845 along Elk Creek, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). His Anglo mother was Cynthia Ann Parker, taken captive in a May 1836 raid and adopted by Qua-Ha-Di (Antelope) Comanches, and his father was Comanche chief Peta Nocona. Texas Rangers reclaimed Cynthia Ann in an 1860 fight at the Pease River. Nocona died soon after, and Cynthia Ann lived with relatives near Birdville in Tarrant County before dying with no further contact with her Comanche family.

Becoming chief upon his father’s death, Quanah refused to sign the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty that sent many Plains Indians to reservations. Instead, he led raids in texas and Mexico for another seven years, likely including the last foray into Tarrant County in June 1871. That winter, Quanah’s band eluded Col. Ranald MacKenzie’s Fourth U.S. Cavalry across the Texas panhandle. Comanche losses during the 1874 Panhandle Battle of Adobe Walls, in which Quanah was wounded, followed by a harsh winter, finally brought him and fewer than 100 remaining Qua-Ha-Di to the reservation at Fort Sill, Indian Territory in May 1875.

Quanah served as liaison between his people and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He proved to be a pragmatic leader, encouraging the Comanches to take up ranching and farming, and to educate their children in government schools. Quanah prospered through his investments and built his spacious “Star House” near Cache, OK. He traveled widely, giving speeches and interviews and participating in wild west shows, the Texas State Fair, Texas Cattle Raisers Association gathering and the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Quanah visited Fort Worth and the Stockyards on many occasions. He died in 1911 and is buried at Fort Sill.

The story of Quanah Parker brings us back to Slocum’s Anderson County, because that is where his mother was originally buried – there is a state marker at her gravesite – until he had her body removed and reburied in Oklahoma.

Here, from the Handbook of Texas, part of their entry on Cynthia Ann Parker:

December 18, 1860, Texas Rangers under Lawrence Sullivan Ross attacked a Comanche hunting camp at Mule Creek, a tributary of the Pease River. During this raid the rangers captured three of the supposed Indians. They were surprised to find that one of them had blue eyes; it was a non-English-speaking white woman with her infant daughter. Col. Isaac Parker later identified her as his niece, Cynthia Ann. Cynthia accompanied her uncle to Birdville on the condition that military interpreter Horace P. Jones would send along her sons if they were found. While traveling through Fort Worth she was photographed with her daughter at her breast and her hair cut short-a Comanche sign of mourning. She thought that Peta Nocona was dead and feared that she would never see her sons again. On April 8, 1861, a sympathetic Texas legislature voted her a grant of $100 annually for five years and a league of land and appointed Isaac D. and Benjamin F. Parker her guardians. But she was never reconciled to living in white society and made several unsuccessful attempts to flee to her Comanche family. After three months at Birdville, her brother Silas took her to his Van Zandt County home. She afterward moved to her sister’s place near the boundary of Anderson and Henderson counties. Though she is said in some sources to have died in 1864, the 1870 census enrolled her and gave her age as forty-five. At her death she was buried in Fosterville Cemetery in Anderson County. In 1910 her son Quanah moved her body to the Post Oak Mission Cemetery near Cache, Oklahoma. In 1957 her body and that of Quanah’s were reinterred in the Fort Sill Post Cemetery at Lawton, Oklahoma. In the last years of Cynthia Ann’s life she never saw her Indian family, the only family she really knew. But she was a true pioneer of the American West, whose legacy was carried on by her son Quanah. Serving as a link between whites and Comanches, Quanah Parker became the most influential Comanche leader of the reservation era.

And, bringing this full circle, David Franklin of Slocum – who, above, expresses his concerns about a marker for the massacre – is a Parker descendant:

Yes sir. My great-great-great grandmother was Rebecca Parker, daughter of Ben who was killed at Fort Parker when the Comanches attacked. That would make her first cousin to Cynthia Ann.  My fifth great grandfather was John Parker, also killed there, who was Cynthia Ann’s grandfather.

Finally, closer to home and still very much alive and kicking, is the Broken Spoke.

Here, from the Statesman’s Peter Blackstock’s report on that institution’s 50th anniversary:

When you set eyes on the Broken Spoke, the vision seems impossible: Flanked on both sides by imposing new apartment structures, the 50-year-old reddish-brown honky tonk with the crushed-granite parking lot stands its ground, a final holdout from an Austin that is all but gone with the winds of generational change.

Today, it stands out much like the Alamo, the iconic monument to Texas’ independence now surrounded by modern hotels and office buildings in downtown San Antonio. The comparison isn’t lost on Broken Spoke owner James White, 75, who has spent two-thirds of his life turning a traditional country dance hall into a treasure of Texas cultural history.

“I did feel like the Alamo,” he concurs. “You go down to San Antone to the Alamo, and you’ve got all those buildings all around it. But once you go inside the Alamo, you don’t see those buildings. It’s kind of like a step back in time: You can imagine Crockett and Travis and Bowie and everybody right in there. Just like here: When you walk in the Broken Spoke, you get the vibes of people who were here 30, 40, 50 years ago.”

Crockett and Travis and Bowie and … W, bringing enormous intensity, below, to a game of bar shuffleboard at the Broken Spoke in December 1994, when he was governor-elect.


This photo of George W. Bush playing shuffleboard at a staff party at the Broken Spoke in December 2004, shortly before being inaugurated as governor, is on the wall of the Broken Spoke
This photo of George W. Bush playing shuffleboard at a staff party at the Broken Spoke in December 2004, shortly before being inaugurated as governor, is on the wall of the Broken Spoke



Legend under Bush photo at the Broken Spoke
Legend under Bush photo at the Broken Spoke

Here is the list of proposed new state historic markers.

Anderson 15AN02 Slocum Massacre
Anderson 15AN01 Mount Moriah Baptist Church
Angelina 15AG01 Page Cemetery (HTC)
Aransas 15AS01 Hynes-Balthrope House (RTHL)
Aransas 15AS02 Jackson Family Maritime Companies
Aransas 15AS03 Rockport Volunteer Fire Department
Atascosa 15AT01 Robert E. Neill
Atascosa 15AT02 Captain Peter F. Tumlinson
Atascosa 15AT03 Thomas Ransdell Brite
Atascosa 15AT04 Mercy Hospital
Austin 15AU02 First National Bank of Bellville
Austin 15AU01 St. Paul Lutheran Church
Bandera 15BN02 Bandera
Bandera 15BN03 Big Foot Wallace
Bandera 15BN01 Hendrick Arnold Survey No. 59 Burial Ground
Bee 15BE01 Glenwood Cemetery (HTC)
Bell 15BL02 Ralph Wilson, Sr.
Bell 15BL01 Blackburn Cemetery (HTC)
Bexar 15BX01 Juan Ignacio Pérez Land Grant
Bexar 15BX02 Alfred Giles Home (RTHL)
Bexar 15BX04 Santa Anna’s Third Column
Bexar 15BX03 Don Jose Miguel de Arciniega
Bosque 15BQ01 St. Olaf Lutheran Church (RTHL)
Brazos 15BZ01 Santa Teresa Catholic Church
Brazos 15BZ02 Leonard School
Brewster 15BS01 Lajitas Cemetery (HTC)
Burnet 15BT01 St. Frederick Baptist Church
Calhoun 15CL01 Mission Refugio – Original Site
Callahan 15CA01 Cross Plains Review
Cameron 15CF01 Kraigher House (RTHL)
Camp 15CP01 Abernathy House (RTHL)
Cherokee 15CE01 Gallatin School
Collin 15COL05 Allen Water Station
Collin 15COL01 Blue Ridge
Collin 15COL02 Lavon School
Collin 15COL04 Frankford
Collin 15COL03 Farmersville Post Office (RTHL)
Comal 15CM04 New Braunfels Post Office
Comal 15CM01 Slumber Falls Camp
Comal 15CM02 Woolen Mill -Comal Steam Laundry
Comal 15CM03 Phoenix Saloon
Comal 15CM05 New Braunfels Methodists
Coryell 15CV01 Lincolnville Community
Coryell 15CV02 Baugh Mansion
Crosby 15CB01 Big Four School
Crosby 15CB02 Battle of Freshwater Fork of the Brazos (aka Battle of Blanco Canyon)
Dallas 15DL06 Samuel Dealey, Jr.
Dallas 15DL04 Sunset High School
Dallas 15DL01 McKamy Spring
Dallas 15DL02 The Interurban Land Company’s Travis College Hill Addition
Dallas 15DL03 Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
Dallas 15DL05 Joppee Community
Denton 15DN03 Edna Trigg
Denton 15DN01 City Hall (RTHL)
Denton 15DN02 Christal House (RTHL)
DeWitt 15DW01 Proctor-Green House (RTHL)
Donley 15DY01 Clarendon College
Duval 15DV01 Merchants Exchange Bank (RTHL)
Ector 15EC01 Petrochemical Complex
Ector 15EC02 Earl Rodman and William Noel
El Paso 15EP01 Bailey Cemetery (HTC)
Erath 15ER01 Audie Murphy Arena
Falls 15FA01 Buck Family Farmstead (RTHL)
Fort Bend 15FB01 Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery (HTC)
Fort Bend 15FB03 Williams Family
Fort Bend 15FB02 Church of the Living God
Galveston 15GV01 Galveston Orphans Home (RTHL)
Garza 15GR01 The Brazos River in Garza County
Gregg 15GG04 Elmira and A. T. Castleberry II
Gregg 15GG01 Red Oak Missionary Baptist Church
Gregg 15GG02 Sherman Chapel
Gregg 15GG03 Preachers Hill
Hardin 15HN02 Waldo Mathews High School
Hardin 15HN01 David Choate, Jr.
Harris 15HR01 Wooster Community
Harris 15HR02 Greater Ward Chapel AME
Harris 15HR04 Howard Cottonseed Oil Co.
Harris 15HR03 Mack H Hannah Jr.
Harrison 15HS01 Bethel United Methodist Camp Meeting and Church
Hays 15HY01 Calhoun Ranch
Hidalgo 15HG02 Bethel Baptist Church
Hidalgo 15HG01 Percy Herman House (RTHL)
Hill 15HI01 Spivey Crossing
Hill 15HI02 Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
Houston 15HO01 Old Shady Grove Cemetery (HTC)
Hunt 15HU01 Blanton School
Jasper 15JP01 Springhill Missionary Baptist Church
Jeff Davis 15JD01 Granado Mountain
Jim Hogg 15JH01 Agua Nueva Cemetery (HTC)
Johnson 15JN01 Confederate Memorial Arch
Karnes 15KA01 Gregorio Cortez
Kendall 15KE01 William George Hughes
Kendall 15KE02 Ottmar von Behr
Kerr 15KR01 Center Point Christian Church
Kinney 15KY01 1886 Kitchen/Mess Hall (RTHL)
Knox 15KX01 Brazos River Bridge (RTHL)
Lamar 15LR01 Mt. Canaan Baptist Church
Lampasas 15LM01 First Presbyterian Church
Lavaca 15LC04 Moulton’s WWII Observation Tower
Lavaca 15LC05 Mitchell Family
Lavaca 15LC01 American Legion Hudgeons Post 230
Lavaca 15LC02 Geiger Cemetery (HTC)
Lavaca 15LC03 Hallettsville Public Library
Lee 15LE01 Washington Cemetery (HTC)
Limestone 15LT01 Bassett House (RTHL)
Live Oak 15LK01 Live Oak County Jail (RTHL)
Live Oak 15LK02 J. B. and Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy Ranch House and Stagecoach Inn (RTHL)
Lubbock 15LU01 Arnett House (RTHL)
Lubbock 15LU02 Immanuel Lutheran Church (RTHL)
Marion 15MR01 Godfrey-Singleton House (RTHL)
Matagorda 15MG01 Sargent-Rugeley-Herreth House (RTHL)
Matagorda 15MG02 Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1862
Matagorda 15MG03 The Matagorda Incident
Matagorda 15MG04 W.C. Williams Building (RTHL)
Maverick 15MV01 Chittim Ranch
McLennan 15ML01 Wesley United Methodist Church (RTHL)
McLennan 15ML02 Stratton-Stricker Building (RTHL)
Medina 15ME01 Haby Settlement
Milam 15MM01 Rainbow Courts (RTHL)
Montague 15MU01 City of Bowie
Nacogdoches 15NA01 Gov. Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo
Nacogdoches 15NA02 Gov. Martin de Alarcon in East Texas 1718
Nacogdoches 15NA03 Angelina
Nacogdoches 15NA04 Franciscan Friars in East Texas\
Nacogdoches 15NA05 Captain Domingo Ramon
Nueces 15NU02 Two Civil War Hangings in Corpus Christi
Nueces 15NU01 William DeRyee
Nueces 15NU03 St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church
Nueces 15NU04 Completion of Corpus Christi Seawall 1941
Ochiltree 15OC01 Gray Community Church
Orange 15OR01 Cox House (RTHL)
Orange 15OR04 Mauriceville
Orange 15OR02 Orange Dairy Company
Orange 15OR03 Winfree Baptist Church
Orange 15OR05 West End Park
Parker 15PR03 Bankhead Highway in Aledo
Parker 15PR01 Millsap Cemetery (HTC)
Parker 15PR02 John J. Hamilton Log Cabin
Polk 15PK01 Bluewater Cemetery (HTC)
Presidio 15PS01 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (RTHL)
Robertson 15RT01 Love High School
Sabine 15SB01 Rosenwald/Thomas Johnson School
San Saba 15SS01 Terry Cemetery (HTC)
San Saba 15SS02 T. A. and Emma Sloan House (RTHL)
Tarrant 15TR01 Grammer-Pierce House (RTHL)
Tarrant 15TR02 Meacham Field
Tarrant 15TR04 Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion
Terrell 15TE01 Sanderson Flash Flood 1965
Travis 15TV05 George A. Peterson House (RTHL)
Travis 15TV01 Cranfill Apartments (RTHL)
Travis 15TV04 Kincheonville
Travis 15TV03 The Broken Spoke
Travis 15TV02 James M. & Leana B. Walsh House (RTHL)
Trinity 15TN01 Texas Long Leaf Lumber Company
Val Verde 15VV01 Langtry Cemetery (HTC)
Van Zandt 15VN01 Benjamin Franklin Wheeler
Van Zandt 15VN02 Edmond A. Wynne
Walker 15WA02 Powell Sanctuary (RTHL)
Walker 15WA01 Broyles Chapel Missionary Baptist Church
Walker 15WA03 Jasper Missionary Baptist Church
Washington 15WT01 Brown’s Prairie School and Building (RTHL)
Washington 15WT02 William H. Watson
Washington 15WT03 Mercy Seat Baptist Church
Washington 15WT04 Harmon School
Wharton 15WH01 Frazarville
Wichita 15WC03 The Zale Legacy
Wichita 15WC01 Burkburnett Masonic Lodge 1027
Wichita 15WC02 Joe and Lois Perkins Estate (RTHL)
Wilbarger 15WG01 T. Edgar Johnson
Williamson 15WM01 First Baptist Church Georgetown
Wilson 15WN01 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church
Wise 15WS01 “Machine Gun” Kelley
Wise 15WS02 St. John the Baptizer Catholic Church
Wise 15WS03 Lake Bridgeport WWII Training Site

Author: Jonathan Tilove

Jonathan Tilove is the Statesman's chief political writer. He was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2008 to 2012. Before that he covered race and immigration issues for Newhouse News Service for 18 years.

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