The Texas State Treasury Robbery by Susan Page Davis

We’re so happy to welcome the return of Susan Page Davis. How close did Texas come to bankruptcy? She’ll tell you. Oh, and scroll down for her giveaway!

Immediately after the Civil War, Texas was in chaos. This was at least partly due to the hasty disbanding of the Confederate army at the end of the war. There were 60,000 troops in Texas in the spring of 1865. Morale was horrible. Many Confederate soldiers deserted and plundered. Soldiers pillaged the quartermaster’s stores in Galveston in late May and detained and plundered a train. A mob demanded that a government warehouse be opened to them, and a blockade-running ship was overrun by civilians. Troops sent to calm the mob joined in the plunder. Other episodes of rioting and stealing exploded across Texas.

When word reached Austin that the Confederate forces had surrendered to Grant, the Texas legislature couldn’t raise enough members to repeal the secession ordinance. Rather than stay and face the uncertainty of their status under the Reconstruction government, Governor Pendleton Murrah and several other Confederate officials fled into Mexico. Most other state officials were removed from office. Union occupation troops were on the way, and Texas temporarily was denied readmission to the Union.

During this time of disorganization and fear, violence became common. Mobs and bands of outlaws, many of them army deserters, contributed to the turbulence. In the capital, Austin, citizens got together in an attempt to protect the people and their property.

Captain George R. Freeman, a Confederate veteran, organized a small company of volunteers in May 1865, to protect the state capital until the Union army could get there.  The city was in turmoil, and a mob had taken control of the streets, plundering stores and causing riots and general havoc.

Freeman’s volunteers restored a measure of peace, and they then disbanded with an agreement to gather again if needed. A church bell would sound the alarm if necessary.

Texas during the Civil War. In 1861, the Texas legislature created the Frontier Regiment to guard frontier settlements. They occupied several abandoned federal posts and established a line of 16 camps through the center of the state. Map courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

On the night of June 11, Freeman was informed that a gang planned to rob the state treasury. The bell tolled, and about twenty of the volunteers gathered at the Christian Church on the south end of Congress Avenue. Some of them came directly from church services.

By the time the volunteers arrived at the treasury building, the estimated fifty robbers of the gang were already inside, breaking into the safes. A brief gun battle broke out. One of the robbers was gravely wounded. Freeman was shot in the arm.

The thieves got away with more than $17,000 in specie, that is, in gold and silver coins. That’s a lot of weight to carry! A later audit report stated that a total of $27,525 in specie had been located in the treasury at the time of the robbery, as well as $800 in Louisiana bank bills. Several million dollars of U.S. bonds and other securities were also in the vault, but the robbers didn’t take them. One package of bond coupons was recovered from the floor after apparently being dropped by a fleeing member of the gang.

Before he died, the wounded robber told the outnumbered volunteers that the leader of the gang was “Captain Rapp,” but this man was never caught. No other members of the gang were ever captured, and the loot was not recovered, though some money was found outside, between the treasury building and Mount Bonnell.

Captain Freeman and his company of volunteers were later recognized by the state for their service, but the resolution providing a reward for them never passed the legislature. In 2009, Freeman was honored by a historical marker placed at his former home in Hamilton, where he later practiced law. He is credited with interrupting the robbery and preventing the bankruptcy of Texas. He had served prior to this incident as a Confederate officer, as captain of Company D, Twenty-third Texas Cavalry.

Federal troops arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, and it took a while to restore order. Ex-Confederates were granted amnesty if they promised to support the Union in the future, but it wasn’t until March 30, 1870 that Texas’s representatives were once again allowed to take their seats in Congress.

Do you find the historical account of things like this robbery interesting and get your thoughts whirling? There are so many unanswered questions. Susan is giving away one autographed copy of Mail Order Standoff to one person who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.

The Mail-Order Standoff: Marriage plans are put on hold in the Old West when four mail-order brides have second thoughts. How will their grooms win their trust? My story – THE BRIDE WHO DECLINED – opens in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1880s. Rachel Paxton turns down a mail-order proposal, but a few months later she learns the man she rejected has died—and left his ranch to her in his will. She can’t figure out why, and she’s not sure she wants the inheritance.

The four novellas include

Right on Time by Angela Breidenbach

Pistol-Packin’ Bride by Margaret Brownley

Twice the Trouble by Vickie McDonough;

The Bride Who Declined by Susan Page Davis.

AMAZON   |   Christian Book

 

ABOUT SUSAN:

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than ninety published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Visit her website at: https://susanpagedavis.com , where you can see all her books, sign up for her occasional newsletter, and read a short story on her Freebies tab.

 

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51 thoughts on “The Texas State Treasury Robbery by Susan Page Davis”

  1. Susan- This is wonderful history. It’s great that Freeman’s historical marker was erected in his home town of Hamilton. I spent many years of my youth in that town. I was actually born in Hamilton county in a little town called Hico, TX. I’m originally from Stephenville, TX., but due to work I reside in Kansas.
    Thank you got this great history lesson. I can’t remember if I have heard this story in my TEXAS history class In school or not. It’s been a day or two since that class. Ha ha!!

  2. Loved your blog! I have been able to learn so much more from authors and their research for their novels than I ever was taught in a history class. I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books! Hamilton is close to where I’m from and one of my former boy friend’s is from there and still resides there. Be safe during this crazy time in our lives.

  3. Always interesting to read things about the past and what happen to places after the civil war ended.

  4. This was so interesting to read! History is so appealing to me in any novel I read. It causes me to appreciate what our great country waged for freedom. Thank you for coming today and also for the pictures you provided. So interesting. Your book looks like a fun read. The bride who declined … I like that strong choice!

  5. Welcome. I find all history to be very interesting. I watch all the TV shows about hidden gold, long lost cities and more. Hugs and thank you for sharing.

  6. Yes, history fascinates me and historical fiction is my favorite genre. Thanks for sharing your post and giveaway.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950ATgmailDOTcom

  7. Welcome. Oh but this is interesting history. I love learning about our history. I love fiction. I love my God. I think this is why I love to read Inspirational Historical. (clean of course) Your story sounds like an interesting tale.

  8. History is so fascinating and important. I enjoyed learning about this setting. Your book sounds memorable.

  9. I absolutely love any type of history. I always loved historical romance books when the story line was surrounded by a true historical event.

  10. I love all these little snippets of history that we would never know if not for blogs and posts like this. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I always find it interesting and enjoyable to hear about historical events. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I love historical books. Most authors do enough research to add authenticity to the characters and story. That gives us the opportunity to read an enjoyable story and learn something at the same time. So many of these stories relate details of parts of our history that we have never heard of. Often those details change or add to the perspective we have of events. I have been known to research further some of the details in books to find out more about them.
    THE MAIL-ORDER STAND OFF sounds like an enjoyable read. I love anthologies and mail order brides are a favorite trope. Thank you for the history tidbit and and the giveaway.

    • You’re welcome Patricia. Just to be clear, this event is not featured in The Mail-Order Standoff. I researched it for the Seven Brides for Seven Texans collection, but it fascinated me so much I thought I’d share it here.

  13. I love to read anything that is history now but didn’t like it much when I was in school and had to learn it. I guess there will always be robbery as long as we live.

  14. Cool! I’ve never heard this story before! I wonder if the thieves were able to actually spend the gold and silver coins or if they too scared to do so? I guess they probably just moved into a different state or territory where news of the robbery hadn’t reached. But who knows?

  15. I have lived in Texas all my life and had never heard about this. Thank you for posting. I would love to win a copy of this book.

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