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The Killough Monument

The story starts in December of 1837 when Issac Killough, Sr., moved his family from Talladega, Alabama to East Texas and purchased land from the newly formed Republic. The property had originally been part of a treaty settlement between the Texas Revolutionary Government and the Cherokee Indians negotiated by John Forbes, John Cameron and Sam Houston. In December of 1837, however, the Senate of the new nation of Texas nullified the treaty. The Cherokee weren’t all that happy with the treaty because it greatly reduced their lands – since they were led to believe that it would give them a permanent home, however, they accepted the terms. Some bitterness still existed among many tribe members, and the nullification of the treaty only exacerbated those feelings. The stage was set for an inevitable clash between the Texans and the Cherokee.

On Christmas Eve of 1837, Issac Killough didn’t know about this rising animosity with the natives. His four sons, two daughters and their husbands, and two single men, Elbert and Barakias Williams all settled on the land. Over the next several months they built houses, and planted crops to sustain their families. The corn was ready to harvest by August, but word had reached the settlers of a growing threat by the Indians. The Killough party joined with other settlers and fled to Nacogdoches for safety. In a month or so, the threat seemed to have dissipated, or so the Killoughs thought. They struck a bargain with the Indians to allow them to return to the land to harvest their crops, promising to leave before the first frost of winter.

Apparently not all of the Cherokees respected the arrangement, however, because on the afternoon of October 5, 1838, a renegade band attacked and killed or kidnapped eighteen unarmed members of the Killough party, including Issac Killough, Sr., himself. The survivors, which included Issac’s wife Urcey, began a harrowing journey to Lacy’s Fort, forty miles south of the Killough settlement. When they arrived there safely, an enraged General Thomas J. Rusk organized a militia and rode out in search of the Indians. Rusk’s men caught up with them near Frankston, and defeated them in a skirmish in which eleven of the Indians were killed. The Killough Massacre was the largest Indian depredation in East Texas. The bodies that were found were buried at the site, and in the 1930s the W.P.A. erected an obelisk made of stone to mark the location. In 1965 the cemetery was dedicated as a Texas Historical Landmark, and the area is now enclosed by a fence with a small parking lot beside it.

Eerie feelings have been reported around the monument, and some people have reported seeing a Cherokee brave in the woods. If you visit Killough Monument, please remember that is a memorial to a family who died in a very tragic way. As with any cemetery or sacred ground, be respectful, and please do not leave anything behind, or take anything away with you but photographs.


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