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THE KILLOUGH MASSACRE
Page 2

Text & seven photos by Janet Gregg

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At that time, Nacogdoches was the most established town in the East Texas Piney Woods, having been inhabited by Indians as early as 1250A.D. followed later by French and Spanish explorers and missionaries and ultimately by settlers migrating from other states. In 1837 Nacogdoches became an incorporated city and in the late summer of 1838, it was a seat of political prominence for the Republic. It also had a newspaper, the Texas Chronicle, which had just started publishing that year.

The Indians were considered a real threat because the land the Killough, Wood and Williams families settled on had originally been part of a large tract originally granted to the Cherokees in an 1836 treaty. But in December 1837 the Senate of the Republic of Texas nullified the treaty and sold the land to settlers, creating great resentment among not only the Cherokee, but other Indian tribes as well.

The three families remained in Nacogdoches until late September or early October when Isaac Killough, Sr. negotiated permission from the Indians to harvest what they could of their crop and collect their stock, reportedly until the “first great white frost”.

On their way back to the settlement, they reportedly encountered a friendly, old Indian who warned them not to go home because wild Indians were roaming the area. But they ignored the warning. When they arrived at the settlement they found their fences had been burned, along with other evidence Indians had been there.



On October 5, 1838, the harvest was nearly complete and several of the women were preparing a wedding dinner for the pending nuptials between 17 year old Elizabeth Killough and Barakias Owen. Owen was one of Mary “Polly” Owen’s brothers-in-law. Elizabeth was her youngest sibling.

The families had only a small amount of corn left to harvest, about two wagon loads, just one afternoon’s worth of work. After lunch, they broke from habit and didn’t take their guns with them to the field.

While crossing a creek to get to the stand of corn they were ambushed by a renegade band of painted Indians that included Cherokee, Caddo, Coushatta and possibly Keechi plus Mexicans and several runaway slaves.

What ensued was chaos. next page
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Text and photos © Janet Gregg
November 8, 2005

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The Killough Massacre
 
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This page last modified: November 8, 2006