Monday, November 13, 2017

Jane Elkins, Black female about age 53, hung in Dallas, May 27, 1853

"Jane, a slave, AKA Jane Elkins, was the first female to be legally hanged in the state of Texas."

Many now in Dallas may be living descendants of Jane Elkins.

As some in Dallas complain about the removal of Confederate Statues and names as hiding our history, they are continuing to hide the horrendous abuse slavery allowed every day! They are continuing to hide the ongoing abuse up to the present day against descendants of slaves.

Why do we want to honor men who wanted to keep such an abusive system that led to the victims of the system being murdered such as 53-year-old Jane Elkins on May 27, 1853, in Dallas?  She was hung by the Dallas 1853 legal system for killing a widower to whom she had been hired out by her owner to watch his 2 children. Slave rape was too common. It was not allowed as a defense if the rape victim attempted to defend themselves with similar violence. When asked to make a statement at her trial by Judge John H. Reagan, she remained quiet.  She knew what she was facing.

Judge John H. Reagan did not allow her rights as we see them today. Maybe the DISD school with his name, on 201 North Adams in North Oak Cliff, four miles from where she was hung, will someday have Jane Elkin's name as an acknowledgment of the horror of slavery that John H. Reagan saw as normal. John H. Reagan was the Postmaster-General for the Confederacy. In 2018 when many Confederate Names were removed from Dallas schools, for some reason, the John H. Reagan name was not on the list and not changed as it was in other Texas school districts:

However, now in 2019, Austin ISD has voted to remove his name from a high school with his name in Austin:

It is very possible Jane Elkins killed Mr. Wisdom due to rape, or wanted to protect her children and/or grandchildren from such treatment. She knew she would die. This may have been her sacrifice for her children.

Slavery did not allow rape as a defense.  Over 2 years after the hanging of Jane Elkins, in Missouri a lawyer tried such a defense for his 19-year-old client, Celia, who had been raped since the age of 14 by her owner.  She had given birth to two children, apparently his. When she demanded it stop, he went to rape her again.  She killed him.  The facts of the case were not the issue, but the Missouri Supreme Court would not allow such a defense.  Celia was hung on December 21, 1855, after giving birth to a third child, a stillbirth, in jail.  See:

Slavery was the reason for the Civil War. Confederate soldiers were fighting for slavery to continue. The "Lost Cause" mythology of benign slavery is a lie developed after the Civil War to cover the horror of slavery.  Confederate statues were used to support "Lost Cause" mythology.

Dallas should put out a challenge to the national artist community to submit written plans, including drawings, planning the creation of a greater-than-lifesize bronze statue depicting the 1853 hanging of Jane Elkins on the Dallas Courthouse Square. 

These proposals would be judged to win one of maybe 4 prizes of $1,000 to $5,000 to use in creating small scale models of their proposed bronze sculptures. Then the Dallas community and leaders would select the winner. Fundraising for the statue(s) would begin if one proposal is judged as acceptable to be placed on the square where the hanging of Jane Elkins happened.

One of the most horrendous truths of slavery that Confederate statues tried to hide was the too common sexual abuse of slaves. The hanging of Jane Elkins in Dallas County Courthouse Square points to such abuse.

The Robert E. Lee statue could be placed together with the Jane Elkin's statue bring proposed, but dominating the scene as a reflection of the truth.  The Lee Statue would point to "Lost Cause" lies that followed since the Civil War so as to allow segregation and other abuses, too common in Dallas, to continue. 
(Robert E. Lee is documented as not wanting any statues, such as this one of him, being created. Sadly he could not control what was going to happen in the future with his image.) 

To provide more detail the following pages are from "Hangings and Lynchings in Dallas County, Texas: 1853 to 1920 Paperback – January 22, 2016  by Terry Baker (Author)" (The link goes to Amazon.)

This weekend 9-30-18 Jane Elkin's story was mentioned in the Dallas Morning News complete with more links to documentation and apparent verification that she was a rape victim who took the law into her own hands:

Find a more complete listing of Dallas County lynchings before 1950 at

A play about Jane Elkins was done in 2014, but spoke of her as a "girl."  See

Other records are at .  However on this page is this photo below indicating it was the courthouse at which she was killed.  That is not correct.  In 1852 Dallas County probably had less than 1,000 population and could never have afforded a two story couthouse.  (See where a 1858 census recorded 433 in Dallas.) This image appears to be the 1873 image of the Courthouse that was left without a roof and onlywalls for over 2 years until Dallas could secure money from the Texas Legislature to finish the building.  See

Dallas was a very small town with less than 1,000 in all of Dallas County in 1852. They certainly could never consider building a 2 story courhouse.  This appears to be the courthouse built in about 1972 to replace a courthouse that burned, but then this new one remained for over 2 years without a roof due to lack of money. The money was eventually provided by the Texas Legislature. The link about about the Kennedy Memorial Mystery is about the strange image with 4 walls on the 1873 Dallas Map.  More details are there.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dallas Black History Timeline from Heritage Park, Shotgun House, October 2017

The following Black History Timeline for Dallas was photographed in October 2017 as it was presented on the walls of the Shotgun House in Dallas Heritage Village. As any timeline it reflects decisions about interpretations of history and could include many more dates and people.  It is a wonderful start!   Some additions to the history have been typed below between the photos taken.

May 27, 1853 a slave known as Jane Elkins became the first woman executed by hanging after a trial in Texas. See blog posting. A handwritten record of that legal action is on microfilm in the Dallas Central Library. She was estimated to be 53 years old and had been hired out by her owner to care for two children of a widower she ultimately hit in the head with an axe.  There was no defense against murder for rape. When asked to comment at her trial she said nothing. 

(To show the atmosphere at the time: In 1855 another slave, age 19 named Celia in Missouri, had a defense lawyer who actively used the rape defense in her defense for the murder of her owner who had regularly raped her since she was 14.  She gave birth to two children.  The appeal went to the Missouri Supreme Court and her conviction stood. She had a still birth in jail.  She was hung on December 21, 1855.)