By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County commissioners took no action Monday on allowing a privately funded monument to the 1862 Great Hanging of Cooke County to be installed on county courthouse property.
Approval of the monument may or may not occur during a future commissioners meeting. Historian L.D. Clark, who has written and spoken extensively on the historic hanging, visited the most recent county meetings of Monday and of Jan. 15, and proposed that a large granite monument include the names of all 42 hanged plus an epitaph.
“The forty-two Unionists identified as follows were lynched in the Great Hanging at Gainesville in October 1862,” the proposed epitaph reads. “Most were sentenced to death by a vigilante court. Three were condemned by court-martial in their own companies of the Confederate militia. Some were hanged by a mob without trial. Two were shot when running to escape.”
The county monument reportedly remains unbuilt, pending installation approval. Clark said Monday that private parties will fund the monument and that subsidizing such a project will be no challenge. An older monument currently rests on city property near Pecan Creek and has been temporarily relocated while City of Gainesville crews complete bridge construction.
Any timeline of development on a new county monument, however, remains tentative.
Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said Friday that whatever Cooke County officials decide to allow on courthouse property, he hopes the result is tastefully just.
“Hopefully, if anything would transpire at the courthouse, it would only be something that would have a positive effect on the community,” he said.
Goldsworthy added that he understands the intent of hanging victim descendants to memorialize the event of October 1862.
“I trust that the commissioners will make a decision that will be equitable to all parts,” he said. “If they do it, hopefully they’ll decide to take into consideration how it affects the square and how it will affect future monuments on the square going forward — and to the aesthetics of the downtown area.”