EAST TEXAS ROOTS
Marshall, Texas became known as the Athens of Texas, in reference to the ancient Greek city state. The city was founded in 1841 during the Republic of Texas era (1836 to 1845), with a land grant from Peter Whetstone and Isaac Van Zandt.
The city's growing importance was confirmed when Marshall was linked by a telegraph line to New Orleans, becoming the first city in Texas to have a telegraph service. It was also the first city in Texas to use electricity.
By 1860 the city was the fourth largest city in Texas and the richest county with more slaves than any other in the state. It became the political and production center of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The county had more slaves than any other in the state, making it a hotbed of anti-Union sentiment.
K. M. Van Zandt writes that in 1859, “Agitators for the North came to incite the Negro slaves to rebellion”. In 1861, a military company was organized and known as “Bass’s Gray”. K. M. Van Zandt served in this unit as 2nd Lt.
FOOTNOTE: “Fear of Northern agitation and Negro insurrections was widespread throughout the South. During this period, home guards and vigilance committees were formed by man communities and all Northerners were suspect.
At Fort Worth, two men, Burley and Crawford, were hanged; and the popular editor of the Fort Worth Whig Chief, A. B. Norton, was forced to discontinue publication of the paper and fled the country.”
[Source: Force Without Fanfare: Autobiography of K. M. Van Zandt]
By 1862, fear and panic spread throughout northern and eastern Texas and culminated in the: Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862.