The Killough Massacre is believed to have been both the largest and last Native American attack on white settlers in East Texas.
|Location||Larissa, Cherokee County, Texas|
|Date||October 5, 1838 (UTC-6)|
|Raid on a frontier settlement|
|Deaths||18 either killed or carried away|
|Victim||Killough, Wood, and Williams families|
|Defenders||8 escaped on horseback|
|Motive||Rage over abrogated treaty|
The massacre took place on Friday, October 5, 1838, near Larissa (north of Jacksonville) in the northwestern part of Cherokee County. There were eighteen victims, who included Isaac Killough, Sr., and his extended family (viz. the families of four sons and two daughters). They had immigrated to the Republic of Texas from Talladega County, Alabama, in 1837, settling on December 24 of that year.
Unaware, apparently, that the land made available to them was hotly disputed by the Cherokee Indians who lived in the area, Isaac Killough and his homesteaders began clearing land for crops and building homes. Only a year earlier, however, the area surrounding their settlement had been set aside for the Cherokee under a treaty negotiated and signed by Sam Houston and John Forbes. When the Republic of Texas Senate refused to ratify the treaty and then, in December 1838, formally nullified it, the Cherokee, who already thought they had conceded enough, became extremely agitated.
The immediate and increasing influx of Anglo settlers into lands thought to have been theirs did nothing to quell Cherokee resentment and as there was also residual bitterness among some Hispanics still loyal to Mexico, the atmosphere in the region became tense in early 1838. By the summer of that year, there were rumblings of coming insurrection from either or both of those factions, and evidence existed for collusion between them.
Fearing this growing unrest, Killough, with his relatives and friends, fled to Nacogdoches for refuge. On condition they would leave the area after doing so, the Cherokee leaders agreed to their safe passage if they would return simply to harvest their crops. They did so. But on October 5, 1838, a band of Cherokee who had not been party to the agreement attacked the settlement. Most of the Killough group—a total of eighteen—were killed or abducted as they worked their fields. Those who survived fled for a time to Lacy's Fort on the San Antonio Road, just west of present-day Alto, Texas.
According to Dallas newspaperman Charles Kilpatrick, several of the men walked into an ambush and the Native Americans then:
"...shot down Isaac, Jr., Allen, Samuel and George Wood, then swept uphill into the little settlement. Isaac, Sr., fell in his front yard and Barakias Williams was killed in front of the screaming women. Eight settlers, including seven women and children, were seized by warriors and carried into the forest. They were never seen or heard of again...Nathaniel Killough and his wife (and 11-month-old baby girl, Eliza Jane) escaped into a canebrake and Mrs. Samuel Killough, Mrs. Isaac Killough, Sr., Mrs. Isaac Killough, Jr., and the baby William also managed to elude the redskins. Three weary days later the little party staggered into Fort Lacy at Alto, 40 miles south, where they found safety."
A stone obelisk commemorating the event was erected by the Work Projects Administration in the 1930s and a historical marker was dedicated in 1965.
A man named Hawkins, an earlier settler from Alabama, may have encouraged the attack. One of the survivors recognized him in Indian garb; he left immediately when he realized she had recognized him. Later on, Hawkins returned to Alabama and reported the attack. Later, the same survivor went to Alabama and found out Hawkins was the first to report the event. Gen Rusk was unable to prove Hawkins' involvement.
- Larissa, Texas - TSHA Online |
- Killough Massacre - TSHA Online |
- Killough Massacre: 7 miles northwest of Jacksonville on US 69, north to FM 855 then southeast on CR 3405 to monument site on CR 3411: Texas marker #6975 |
- Handbook of Texas Online. "Cherokee War". Retrieved December 7, 2012.
on February 23, 1836, a treaty made by Sam Houston and John Forbes, who represented the provisional government, gave title to the lands between the Angelina and Sabine rivers and northwest of the Old San Antonio Road to the Cherokees and their associated bands. The treaty was tabled by the Texas Senate on December 29, 1836, and was declared null and void by that body on December 16, 1837, despite Houston's insistence that it be ratified.
- Herring, Rebecca J. ""Cordova Rebellion," Handbook of Texas Online". Retrieved December 7, 2012.
The capture of two Mexican agents after the rebellion produced new evidence pointing to an extensive Indian and Mexican conspiracy against Texas. On about August 20, 1838, Julián Pedro Miracle was killed near the Red River. On his body were found a diary and papers that indicated the existence of an official project of the Mexican government to incite East Texas Indians against the Republic of Texas.