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The Gilley War at Homer, 1866

(The  Free Press, Diboll, Texas, Thursday, June 26, 1980, Section Two, Page Seven)

By Ted Maberry

   Those of us who take part in Angelina's Historical Forum find it difficult to agree with the age old statement - "You can't take it with you".

   As a matter of fact, there are some things that will "enter with thy bones", unless arrangements are made.  If there is some historical event of which you have knowledge, whether you were there in person when it happened, or if it has been related to you in some other way, should it not be revealed for permanent record, then it might be lost forever.

   So, if you are invited to take part in the forum, don't think for a moment that your time is nigh.  Instead, you might be recognized as a living volume in history which needs recording. Then too, you might have a few questions of your own.  We need you who have stories to tell and especially young folks who have listening ears.


   The following is actually an inquiry by Ursin Perkins, owner of the Perkins Sales Company, of Reeves, Louisiana, who is seeking information on the Gilley War, or skirmish, which happened at Homer, the county seat of Angelina County, during the late summer of 1866.

   Mr. Perkins is anxious to find more on the little insurrection which his grandfather and other members of the Gilley family took part.

   The story was handed down to Perkins by his grandmother, the wife if Isaac Gilley, who was a teenage girl at the time it happened and was not then married to Gilley.  Mr. Perkins knows that the story could vary somewhat from his version but wants to find the truth, whatever that might be.

   After checking court record, I know there is truth in the matter; however, the records have not revealed enough on what actually took place.  So, if anyone can shed any light on this interesting event, they should let me know.

   The letter from Ursin Perkins is a follows: 

Dear Mr. Maberry

   I will try to give you a short story of the Gilley War as it was told to me by my grandmother, the wife of Isaac Gilley.

   My great-grandfather, George Gilley, was captain of the Home Guard at Homer during the Civil War, and my grandfather Isaac Gilley was in the Confederate Army.

   George Gilley had many skirmishes with the "Jayhawkers" and on one occasion when they were trying to kill him they swung his baby boy to the front gate posts to try and learn the whereabouts of the child's father.  Not being successful at this they molested his women folks and destroyed all of their possessions.  After the Civil War was over, these same men seemed to have gotten control of the county government, there at Homer.

   George Gilley gave a four year steer to a woman to make him a flag like he wanted. He, his sons, Isaac and Allen, along with a son-in-law, mounted their horses and rode to Homer in the evening.  They placed the flag in the courthouse square, and dared the officials to take it down.  Some of the officials along with others engaged in a brief war with them.

   After the fighting had died down it was found that a number of men had been killed, but the only casualties suffered by the Gilleys were that my grandfather, who was shooting a double barrel shotgun, had his little finger blown off by by a bullet down the barrel of his gun and one of the boys had been shot in the back with some small shot.  The young man, I believe it was the son-in-law, was treated by one of the doctors and was dismissed the next morning.  Then the four of them got on their horses and rode away.

   Jim Windham was killed by George Gilley on Oct. 25, 1866, or it could have been that he was indicted by the grand jury, on that date (Jim was not killed). He was brought to trial on this charge nineteen years later in 1885, and came clear.  Eli Windham was killed by Isaac Gilley on that same date.  He was indicted but never brought to trial.  These two are documented by files in the courthouse. 

   Sheriff William Read McMullen and Charley Stovall were also killed during the skirmish.  It is said that Sheriff McMullen had received word of the trouble going on at the courthouse square and was killed while trying to put it down.

   Any word that might correct or add to the statement which has been made would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Ursin Perkins

   You may write or call Ted Maberry to give additional information. 1008 Brady St. Lufkin, Texas 75901 or call 634-4802.