Staged reading of "October Mourning" to commemorate Gainesville Great Hanging

by Darin Allred | Oct 09, 2013 <p> </p>

GAINESVILLE - A staged reading will commemorate the 151st anniversary of the Great Hanging in Gainesville.

"October Mourning," written by North Central Texas College history professor Dr. Pat Ledbetter, will be performed at 7 p.m., on Oct. 21 in the Little Theater on the NCTC Gainesville campus. The reading is free and open to the public.

"Basically I just took the documents we have about the Great Hanging and just retold the story from the prospective of the major participants including the hangers and the hangees," Dr. Ledbetter said.

The 45-minute performance, which is endorsed by the Cooke County Historical Commission and the NCTC Honors Program, is a captivating re-telling of the Great Hanging that occurred in October 1862 as 40 suspected Unionists in Confederate Texas were hanged in Gainesville. Two others were shot as they tried to escape. The Great Hanging may have been the largest single outbreak of vigilante violence in the history of the United States.

A cast of 16 including Kevin Beall, Phil Pierce, Norman Newton, Russell Schmid, Steve Gordon, Craig Hertel, Sam Houston, Ben Willingham, L.D. Clark, Gordon Smith, Kelly Fiore-Watson, Corey Hardin, Ron Melugin and three NCTC students will read the various parts. Mr. Clark is a direct descendent of Nathaniel Clark who was a local farmer and one of the victims of the Great Hanging. L.D. Clark will read the part of Nathaniel Clark in the performance.

Before the reading begins, a special bell-ringing ceremony will be held at 6:45 p.m., on the lawn in front of the NCTC administration building to remember the lives lost.