Last week, I introduced you to Dallas, Texas’ Greenwood Cemetery and its history. Today, let’s find out more about some of the people buried there. The first grave I’m going to feature uncovered a story I didn’t go looking for. Thanks to my husband, Chris, it came to me.
I was going through the photos he took there a few weeks after our trip and found this one of a crow perched beside the marker for a J.M. Thurmond. It wasn’t very fancy so I probably wouldn’t have noticed it. But that crow got Chris’ attention so he took a picture.
Something made me look into J.M. Thurmond’s past. It turned out to be quite a story.
Born in 1836, James Madison Thurmond served as a private in Company E, Fourth Kentucky Cavalry during the Civil War. My research indicated he fought for the Confederacy but some sources point to a Union affiliation. There were units from both sides of the war with Kentucky soldiers. After the war, Thurmond moved to Texas and was appointed mayor of Bryan, Texas, by Gov. E. J. Davis in November 1869, an office he held for only two months before leaving in January 1870. Thurmond later moved to Dallas and opened a law practice.
Thurmond was elected mayor of Dallas on a reform ticket in April 1879 and re-elected in April 1880. In September 1880, the city council voted to remove him based on not making those promised reforms, and appointed John J. Good to fill the vacancy. Thurmond married Amanda J. Bentley on February 14, 1880, in Dallas. They had one son, James M. Thurmond Jr.
A Simmering Feud Explodes
One of the attorneys that worked hard to get Thurmond removed as mayor (who was now a judge) was Atlanta native and Confederate veteran Robert E. Cowart. Thus began a feud between the two that simmered for two years until it exploded on March 14, 1882 in a Dallas courthouse.
On that day, angry words were exchanged by Cowart and Thurmond that were witnessed by others. Thurmond drew his pistol but Cowart was faster, shooting Thurmond in the head and killing him instantly. He was only 46. Cowart was charged with murder and convicted later that year but a second trial acquitted him. Public opinion was with Cowart that he had shot Thurmond in self defense.
After his acquittal, Cowart spent many years in Washington, D.C. representing Texas interests in Congress. But he never quite escaped the reverberations of the shooting. One article I found said, “Privately, he expressed himself as regretting he had not let Thurmond kill him, and he was inclined to regard the early death of his wife and the long invalidism of a son as somehow a judgment.”
When Cowart died at the age of 80 in 1924, he was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Cattle King of Texas
One of the few mausoleums at Greenwood is for Col. Christopher Columbus (“C.C.”) Slaughter. His colorful life could fill a book easily but I’ll try to keep it brief.
As a boy, C.C. worked cattle with his father and at age 12, he helped drive the family’s 92-head herd to a ranch on the Trinity River in Freestone County, Texas, where the family moved in 1852. At 17, C.C. was hauling timber and processing Collin County wheat into flour for sale. With the money he earned, he bought his uncle’s interest in the Slaughter cattle herd. His family did not neglect his education, tutoring him at home before he graduated from the now-defunct Larissa College in Cherokee County, Texas.
In 1857, Slaughter became a rancher with his father in Palo Pinto County, Texas, where they owned 15,000 cattle. They sold beef to Fort Belknap and local Native American reservations. In 1861, he married Cynthia Anna Jowell and together, they had five children.
During the Civil War, he served as a colonel in Terry’s Texas Rangers of the Confederate Army. Together with Charles Goodnight, he helped rescue Cynthia Ann Parker, an American kidnapped by Comanches at the age of 10 in 1836. I photographed her grave last year while at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla.
After the war, he founded the C. C. Slaughter Cattle Company, plus co-founded the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in 1873. Cynthia passed away in 1876 and he married Carrie Averill 1877. He established the American National Bank in 1884, which is now part of the First National Bank chain.
Owned Over a Million Acres
By 1905, Col. Slaughter owned over 40,000 head of cattle and oversaw over a million acres of land in West Texas. As a result, he was for some years the largest taxpayer in Texas. He also added to his family, having four children with second wife, Carrie.
In his later years, Col. Slaughter gave generously. He helped establish Baylor Hospital of Dallas, serving on its board of trustees and was president of the United Confederate Veterans. He also served as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a member of the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Slaughter maintained strict control over his operations until 1910, when he suffered a broken hip that crippled him for the remainder of his life. After his death at age 81 in 1919, his heirs divided his ranch and land holdings, and sold them. His mausoleum at Greenwood contains Col. Slaughter, his two wives, two children who died in infancy, his daughter, Delia Slaughter Wright, and Delia’s husband, Judge Gilbert Wright.
Death of a Young Wife
The monument to young Jennie Thomas Scollard is beautiful. But I chose it for more than that reason alone.
Born in 1860, Jennie Thomas was a native of Texas. But her future husband Thomas W. Scollard was British born in 1849. He likely arrived in Dallas in the 1870s. He and Jennie married were married in 1880 and spent their first years in Galveston, Texas.
Unlike many businessmen in Dallas, Scollard was more interested in sheep than cattle. He became a wool buyer/dealer. He also was involved in real estate, constructing the Jennie and Juanita buildings in downtown Dallas. I even managed to find a picture of the one named after Jennie on Ancestry.
Thomas’ fortunes prospered. He and Jennie had three children together, two living to adulthood. But Jennie’s health began to falter in 1887. According to her funeral notice, she went to stay at a place known as Wootan Wells, which promoted itself as a pleasure resort and health spa. They claimed that the waters had restorative powers.
Located in Bremond, Texas, Wootan Wells was just one of many resorts that socialites flocked to in the late 1800s/early 1900s. You could even purchase their water and take it home with you. At one point, it boasted hotels, a bottling works, dance pavilion, and school. A fire that swept through Bremond in 1915 did considerable damage and Wootan Wells’ remaining buildings were torn down in the early 1920s.
Sadly, Jennie died at Wootan Wells at the age of 26 on June 12, 1887. Her funeral notice attributed it to “dropsy of the heart”, meaning she suffered from edema and heart failure. I found it interesting that the notice also made a particular observation about her “life-like appearance” at her visitation.
Thomas Scollard remarried in 1889 to Fannie Bossart, who was 21 years his junior. They had five children who lived to adulthood. One infant born in 1889 named Jennie is buried in the Scollard plot. She has no marker.
When Thomas Scollard died suddenly on his veranda at the age of 55 in 1905, he was buried at Greenwood in the family plot without a marker. Records indicate that after Fannie Scollard died in 1959, she was initially interred at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park (which I visited as well). But she was later moved to Greenwood to be buried with Thomas and the two Jennies in June 1960. Her grave is not marked either.
We’re not finished at Greenwood Cemetery. Come back for Part III.