Friday, February 13, 2009

David Hinson

[Editors note: This post is about David Hinson, one of those killed at the Cane Creek Massacre.]

I debated long and hard about creating a post on members of the mob. There are a couple of reasons. First, most of what I have is hearsay. I don't really know much about them because, with a couple of exceptions, they did not come forth with their side of the story. Plus, I'm not really interested in tarnishing to name of someone's ancestor. Which, of course, leads me to the next reason. I don't really know who they were. I have some names, but nothing concrete.
The exception to this is David Hinson. We know he participated, though we don't know why, since he died after being shot by John "Riley" Hutson. Many people have made accusations and guesses. But these are, of course, a little too convenient since those making the accusations may be trying to shift the blame to the one person who can't defend himself. Unfortunately, these accounts are all we have to go on.

Of course the other side of this is that these people were as much participants in these events as any one could be. To ignore their story would be doing them a disservice. Below is a sampling of what has been written about David Hinson. Where possible I have included the exact words written by those who would know best.
David Hinson enlisted at age 19 in the 3d Tennessee Infantry Regiment alongside is brother James P.. He was captured in the Confederate surrender at Fort Donelson, sent with his regiment to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois and later exchanged in September, 1862 near Vicksburg, Mississippi. David fought in every battle the 3d Tennessee took part in for the remainder of the war. He was paroled after the Confederate surrender in North Carolina in April, 1865. After the war, he returned to Lewis county as did his other comrades in arms. The luck that was with him all through the fierce struggle of the war ran out several years later in 1884 when, during a visit to his old 3rd Tennessee comrades, the Conder boys on Cane Creek, he was killed along with them during the Mormon Massacre. He was aged 40 years. (Contributed by his descendant, Charles Hinson, Vice President of the Maury County Historical Society)
David’s widow was Rebecca "Caroline" Curry. He had three children in the 1880 Census, Margaret, Martin, and Janetta. At the time of the massacre they would have been 21, 20 and 15. His parents were George & Nancy Hinson, from North Carolina. They all lived in Hickman County. David had several brothers, Lindsey "Babe" Hinson, James P. Hinson, and George Hinson being just some of them.

The Hickman Pioneer, on 15 August 1884, described Hinson as
"a well-known citizen and distinguished for his daring courage and good marksmanship. He was a jovial man, and liked by all who knew him."
David lived about seven miles from the Condor farm on Brushy Fork Creek. John D. Westbrook called David Hinson a Methodist minister. That could be true, but the census listed him as a farmer. And no other source calls him a minister. And the Methodists were known for requiring their ministers to be educated. I see no evidence that David Hinson received such an education.

John H Gibbs records a meeting with two ministers by the names Vandeveer and Henson, and called them Baptist and Methodist respectively. Some have jumped to the conclusion the Henson was David Hinson. While I have no evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to assume that in a county with at least two large Hinson families, that this one had to be David Hinson.

It is possible that Hinson was a lay leader of some kind. But regardless of his position, he was clearly more invested in the events. Some accounts name him as the one who fired first. Even if you do not believe that, in all versions, he is the first at the door of the Condor home.

William Hill McCaleb recorded in 1907 that:
"Dave Hinson had two nieces, Misses ____, who were supposed to be inclined to the Mormon faith. Dave got a crowd of boy friends with switches to whip the Mormon elders and drive them out of the country, and went to the meeting."
If Dave Hinson believed the claims made in the Red Hot Address, specifically the salacious intention of "all" Mormon elders, that alone could have spurred him to action. Even though McCaleb is pretty clear that the intent was only to drive the elders out of the county he went on to say:
"About a week before the killing, David Hinson swapped a knife for a fine double barrel shot gun with Fayette Bates. ... Bates knew Dave Hinson's intentions toward the Mormons, and advised him to drop it."
McCaleb's account, however, has other factual errors, some quite severe, that take away from his credability. Of course, Mormons did not record the names of those who almost get baptised, so we will never know for sure about Hinson's nieces.

W. W. Pollock in 1943 wrote that:
"...had all members of the mob been sober, there would have been no killing. After years of very close study of this tragedy and coversations with many who were present at the time of the killing, I have reached that conclusion."
I can certainly respect that Pollock's proximity to the killings (in time and geography) gave him a better position to make that claim than I have. Unfortunately, Mr. Pollock did not cite his sources. Regardless, we can infer that Mr. Pollock felt he had evidence that at least those who did the shooting, including Dave Hinson, were not sober.

In an interview with Miles L. Jones, Ruben Mathis said that:
"[David Hinson] was a man that feared neither God, man, nor the devil, and would kill a man on the least provocation."
Of course, Mathis was implicating himself as a member of the mob. So attributing more blame to Hinson may have been self serving. Miles L. Jones also recorded that David Hinson did not die for another hour after the shooting. He was carried away (dragged by the arms by former slave "Old Kudge Sisco" and an unnamed member of the mob) some distance and sat down under a tree. Reportedly he asked for water but made no other comments before he died.

David Hinson was burried on August 12th, 1884 in the Banks-Hinson Cemetery on Brushy Fork Creek "at intersection of chert road that leads to Wades' Branch Road." His grave has the following inscription:

"Hinson, David - 1843-1884 - Killed Aug. 10 by Mormons"


Anonymous said...

"Ruben or Rube Mathis was involved with the Mormons in Lewis Co. TN. It was said he participated in the Morman Massacre on Cane Creek, hiding some of the Mormons until they could leave the area safety for Salt Lake City"
Rube Mathis' wife was related to David Hinson.
[These were some of my ancestors & I've heard many
versions of the event over the years]

BruceAllen said...

A post on Ruben Mathis is comming up soon. I have heard a couple of versions of how Mathis and Hinson were related. But I have not been able to demonstrate any of them however. Since you have better information would you consider sharing more details? I'd also love to hear any (or all) of the versions you have heard over the years. You can post here or send me an email (at bruce_crow at

Anonymous said...

Find a grave has Leland Thompson 1891-1964 died in California as Don of Harry b thompson and elizabeth Yeates. Plus a copy of obit and picture. Perhaps the descendants have info.

JuneR said...

This is part of my family.My 2x great grandfather Rueben was Davids uncle.David was my cousin.They are related.Im also related to Thompson,Carroll,to many that were involved that horrible day.