Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In Search of the Killough Massacre

Killough Monument
The winding black top country road shaded with huge east Texas pine trees protected us from the hot July sun as it pried its way through the branches.  As descendants of the Killough Klan living in a distant state, my husband and children had never seen the family monument dedicated to one of the greatest tragedies in East Texas history.  A massacre and tales of conspiracy are still keeping us guessing to this day of what really took place that set this tragedy into motion.  This was how legends are started so we wanted to uncover the truth.  Is it fact or fiction or could it be both?

Our directions and GPS seemed to fail us as we drove deeper into the countryside on Farm to Market (FM) roads that didn’t seem to end.  Farm after farm and roads that appeared to shrink in size as the large oak and pine trees overshadowed them with their huge century old branches.  As we parked along the side of the road a couple who lived close by stopped and asked if they could help us.  In our desperate situation we readily accepted their help.  They knew exactly where we wanted to go and appeared to have helped lost sightseers in the past find this elusive historic site.  

As we followed we quickly realized without a guide we would have never found the old Killough farm homestead.  As we traveled along twisting roads and turning onto one FM road after another our GPS was clueless.  We were fortunate that day unlike our ancestors years ago. 

As we reached the monument, thanked our guides and received directions on how to find our way out, we started to explore the area.  We quickly realized how foreboding and mysterious it appeared to us.  We gave a lesson in history to our children of what we knew yet there was so much we really didn’t know and could only speculate. 

As we approached the monument we did know that we stood on what was once blood soaked ground and the air around us felt heavy with sadness.  The monument area, however, was open and inviting but the surrounding area was thick with trees and overgrown shrubs.  We were thankful that we were there during daylight hours even though dusk was fast approaching by the time we reached the area.

The Killough massacre took place on October 5, 1838.  The Killough family, with Isaac Killough Sr. as the Patriarch, was Irish immigrant farmers who went out that day to harvest their fields.  Normally they would take their guns with them but that day was different.  They didn’t take their guns which proved to be a fatal error.  Eighteen were either killed or taken never to be seen again. It is still a mystery to this day on why they didn’t take their guns since there were known Indian raids in the area.   What happened to the captured family members?

History was awakening before our eyes deep in those east Texas woods.  No longer were we just reading about the event but we were seeing and feeling it just by being there where it all took place.  The monument stood with a large heavy stone base that thinned out the taller it reached into the sky.  It was inscribed with a summary of details that took place that fateful day. It was a pinnacle of a memorial that told of death and survival. 

It read: 
Site of the
Killough Massacre

“In this area on October 5, 1838, the Wood, Killough, and Williams Families, all relatives, were going to the fields.  They were gathering crops grown in spite of Indian raids.  Here less than a year, the settlers usually carried guns to the fields, but this afternoon were unarmed.  Attacked suddenly, 18 pioneers were either killed or captured, never to be heard of again. 8 horseback riders escaped.  The wives of Isaac Killough, Sr., Isaac, Jr. and Samuel Killough fled on foot, carrying a baby.  On their third day of hiding, a friendly Indian saved them.  This was the largest Indian atrocity in East Texas.  Bodies of the few victims were found were buried here.”  (1965)

We knew before seeing the monument that our ancestors had been murdered and some were missing.  That was fact.  We didn’t know what happened to the missing people who were captured.  Any answer to that question would fuel that which legends are made of.   

The fact is our family members died.  Some survivors were carried away by a band of rebels to never be seen again and others escaped to the local Fort. According to Jack Moore’s research paperback book, “The Killough Massacre”, this piece of history is not just about the massacre of innocent settlers. It also depicts the anger and rebellion coming out of the Texas revolution and how it said to have spawned some of Mexican descent to band together with some rebellious Indians to rid the Republic of newcomers.  

Survivors identified a man they knew and said he was disguised as an Indian during the raids that fateful day along with the rebels.  Could this man have fooled the settlers into leaving their guns and then betrayed them?  Answer to this question only produces a new legend.  We may never know.

History can’t be rewritten but we can learn from it.  We can study it up close by traveling to these types of sites and breathing the air, feeling the wind and yes standing where history stood still.  What we do know as fact on that hot summer day is that we found a little piece of history in the back woods of East Texas.  Tragic, ridden with conspiracy, it tells a tale of fact and fiction.  Truth and legend, all snuggled under a large pinnacle of a monument representing death and survival. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Norway's Midnight Sun

Holding the Midnight Sun

Norway was our destination.  My husband and I spent two weeks exploring the cities of Bergen and Trondheim as well as the Islands along the western fjords.  Our Norwegian relative tour guides told us we could not leave Norway without experiencing their midnight sun. We searched for the best place on one of the Islands and found it!

The midnight sun was glowing across the horizon off the coast of Norway deep into the summer night.  There was a thrill just for being on top of ancient rocks that lined the coast of the Atlantic as the light was starting to fade in the distant horizon.  Our words and laughter seemed to echo across the rocks as the waves crashed high into the air.  We were not only enjoying the view but the sounds and smell of the open air of the salty ocean.  

The glowing sun became a light in our hands as we stood and faced the camera.  As a couple we “held” the sun gently surrounded by our linked hands.  Norway in that moment  instantly became my favorite travel destination. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Colorful waterfront in Trondheim Norway

Door of the Church

Trondheim Norway is a very beautiful city with old historic buildings as well as one of the most beautiful Churches, the Nidaros Cathedral.

For additional information check out the following link for the historical information: Nidaros Cathedral

Outside sculptures on the Church
We enjoyed our stay with family who showered us with Norwegian hospitality and gave directions on how we could navigate the city on our own to explore the unique and awesome culture of the city.
Canon on display

We found new and old within the city center.  I think our highlights were visiting the Church and viewing the many sculptures that were spread out within the city especially around the Nidaros Cathedral.  The The Archbishop's Residence was amazing and colorful.  So much history to cram into a short stay but we did the best we could. 
Window in the courtyard area

The pictures here were captured inside the courtyard area and really caught my eye because of the beauty that surrounded the  building.  To me the city truly reflected an artistic flair in the many historical sites, culture and food!  For additional information regarding the Archbishop's Residence check out this link:  Archbishop's Residence 

The Archbishop's Residence

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bergen's Tall Ship Races 2014

2014 Tall Ship Race Festival - Bergen

What a surprise for us when we arrived in Norway to find out the Tall Ships Races 2014 were in Bergen and the festival was in full swing at the wharf!

There were so many unique sailing ships from all over the world.  It was not only breathtaking but spectacular.  We loved it!

The historic wharf was such a beautiful back drop to the festival.  The colors and smells of the open market with mouthwatering seafood only added to the senses.

Viking Ship
We weren't expecting the festival since we were mainly in Norway to visit relatives of my husband that he had not seen since he was a young child.  Our cousins were our tour guides and we pretty much left it up to them on the sights that we would see.  I have to say they were the best ever and for that we are truly grateful.

Day one off the plane was probably the longest day of my life.  No, literally!  We stayed awake except for a quick nap that I took when my eyes would no longer stay open from the jet lag.  I had no experience in jet lag since I had never been abroad before.  It was my first time.  Daylight seemed to last forever especially being in Norway at the end of July and first week of August!

We also stopped at an Irish Pub that was in full swing in the heart of the historic area later in the afternoon.  I have to admit though I was especially elated earlier in the day to find my Starbucks among the historic buildings at the festival.  The triple caramel macchiato really helped keep me awake.  When I calculated the cost from kroners to dollars I realized my $5 cup of joe at home was not too unreasonable in comparison! We also bought many collector cups to take home with us for gifts. When people found out we were going to Norway the first thing asked was, "Can you pick up a few collector coffee cups from Starbucks and a few troll magnets!"  Well, I never.......

Anyway, back to the Festival.  I recommend it to everyone.  You don't want to miss it!  They go to different ports every year so when you visit Europe look it up and see if they will be near you!  I have attached some of the sailing ship pictures to this post.  We took so many pictures and will cherish them for years to come.

Here is the link for the  Tall Ship Races 2015

Happy Travels to you all!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Traveling with my Camera

The Beauty of Everything Norwegian

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. You need time and money so it doesn't happen as often as I would like it to.  

When I do travel I always bring along my camera to capture the moments!  It seems every time I go some place I see the terrain and elements of light in a whole new perspective. The shots are not all lined up and in order. They have gained character and substance as I have grown older and wiser. Nothing has to be perfect it only has to be.