Conflicts during the American Civil War produced atrocities on both sides
Like most Americans, I learned about the American Civil War from reading history books, until I discovered that my 3rd Great-Grandfather, Sebird Henderson (1805-1862), was hanged on a hot July day in 1862 by a band of lynchers from Confederate Colonel James Duff’s regiment. Other relatives and neighbors hanged with him were Gus Tegener, Hiram Nelson, and Frank Scott.
This discovery made Sebird’s place in my family tree personally meaningful and inspiring! He stood for what he believed in, and that was to preserve the Union.
Bodies thrown into Spring Creek (a.k.a. Dead Mens’ Hole)
According to a personal letter sent to Texas Ranger Captain John Sansom by Sebird’s nephew, Howard Henderson (shortly before his death), rocks were tied to their feet before being thrown into Spring Creek,which is near Harper, Gillespie County, Texas.
Families of dead men taken prisoners
The Confederate regiment took the women and children as prisoners and locked 10 of them in a small, one-room cabin in Fredericksburg, where they were stricken by an outbreak of measles. The prisoners heard nothing about their husbands and fathers immediately.
Mass grave dug by mens’ families
Once the wives learned of the dumping of their husbands’ bodies into Spring Creek, they pleaded for permission to bury the bodies. Eventually, the women and their six children were released and taken to the hanging site. Although they were very sick with measles, by taking turns all day and night long, a mass grave was dug. The women waded into Spring Creek up to their armpits to retrieve the bodies. By this time, personal identification was impossible. Only Mrs Scott could tell her huband’s body since one big toe was missing. After the bodies were placed on top of sheets and rolled into the mass grave, prayers were recited, and the grave filled. A memorial to these brave men stands today at the Spring Creek Cemetery.
Henderson Descendants honor their Ancestor
I was greatly surprised to find nine Henderson Cemeteries in Texas on Find A Grave, and hundreds of descendants of brothers Sebird, Jasper and John Henderson! Some of the Hendersons migrated to Arizona, and the Arizona branch of our family tree began.
My Great-Grand Uncle, Sebird B. Henderson (1858-1925) named after his murdered Grandfather, whose gravestone we found in the Pinal Cemetery in Gila County, Arizona, surprisingly was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War!
Law enforcement connections abound!
Sebird’s orphaned Nephew, Howard Henderson (1839-1908), later joined the 1st Cavalry, and saw action at Vicksburg and the Battle of Nueces. George Washington Henderson (1869-1943), brother of my Great-Grandmother, Pollie Ann (P.) Henderson Edwards, served as Deputy Sheriff for John Henry “Rim Rock” Thompson in Gila County, Arizona. Another Brother, Charles Curtis Henderson (1875-1911), was a Deputy U. S. Marshal. Finally, my Grandfather, William Sebird “Buff” Edwards (1885-1970), was involved in various law enforcement positions (Gila County Deputy Sheriff, Cattle Inspector, Florence Prison Guard, San Carlos Indian Reservation Special Officer, and Globe Constable) from 1926 until his retirement in 1966 . I’m sure I’ll learn of many more Hendersons associated with law enforcement soon!
I guess you’d say that being lawmen were in their blood!
West Kerr Current, Friday, 01 Apri. 2011.
Spring Creek Cemetery, Gillespie County, Texas. Compiled by Frederica Burt Wyatt, Curator, Kimble County Museum, Junction, Texas. 1999.
Gila Centennials, Inc. Historical Celebration and Pageant. Guy and Donna Anderson, Editors. September 10-19, 1976.
History of Globe, Arizona. Donna Anderson. Classic Day Publishing. Copyrigfht 2007 by City of Globe.
Henderson-L Archives. by Nathan S. Henderson, Jr. Sat. 22 Nov 1997.
Find A Grave. Spring Creek Cemetery, Gillespie County, Texas. Memorial to Sebird Henderson, et al; and, Pinal Cemetery, Gila County, Arizona. Sebird B. Henderson in uniform and Grandfather Sebird’s notation.
Ancestry.com. Edwards, Giessen, Goldsworthy, Henderson, Johns, Van Guysling Family Tree.
Accounts from relatives: Mary Salcedo, Jane Charchenko, Ruth Ann Harper, Carl Wright, and George Brunson.