Captain W. G. Veal
from This Was Ellis County
A publication of the Junior Historians,
Waxahachie High School, 1979
Captain W. G. Veal
By Dennis Owens
William G. Veal was arrested in November of 1878 and charged with the "attempted seduction" of a woman in Waxahachie; a charge which the 48 year old ex-Confederate captain and prominent Methodist minister vigorously denied. Nonetheless, the Presiding Elder of the Waxahachie District was promptly expelled from membership in his church despite his pleas of innocence. He was also effectively forced from the City of Waxahachie and eventually gunned down.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1830, Veal moved to Hopkins County, Texas as a young man, where he began a partnership with his brother, J. J. Veal, and future brother-in-law, L.A. Layer. Veal married Ruth Wilson in 1854 and then moved to Creamlevel at the edge of the Texas frontier. Here he participated in several Indian skirmishes. He organized Parsons College in the town, which would one day bear the name of Veal Station. While living in Creamlevel, he was licensed to preach by the Methodist Quarterly Conference meeting at Weatherford. Before the Civil War he moved to Waxahachie where he became Assistant Presiding Elder of the district and was Presiding Elder when he joined the Confederacy in 1861. After four years of service he returned home as a captain in 1865.
In business Veal was associated with the firm of Alford, Miller and Veal, Cotton Factors and Commission Merchants at Galveston. Veal became a charter member of the Northwest Texas Conference of the Methodist Church, which was organized in Waxahachie in 1866. Subsequently he was appointed the first Presiding Elder of the Waxahachie Methodist District. He later served the Georgetown and Waco districts in the same position.
At the 1868 Northwest Conference, Veal introduced the idea of a conference-supported college in Waxahachie. He was appointed financial agent of the new college, Marvin College, in 1869 and served on its first board of 56 trustees until 1873. Throughout most of the 1870's he worked to boost the faltering finances of the small college. He helped to lay the groundwork for the establishment of Southwestern University for Waxahachie at the Texas Education Conference of 1871. However, the conference decided to locate the University at Georgetown. He served that school as financial agent.
After being cleared of "improper conduct" charges in 1876, Veal was appointed in 1878 as the Presiding Elder of the Waxahachie District for the second time. It was during November of that year when the event occurred that was to cloud the remainder of his life. On the morning of the second, Veal visited the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Jones (Jones is not the family's name, but will be used in place of it for this article) while the husband was away. Once inside the home, as Mrs. Jones later testified, Veal allegedly attempted to assault the townsman's wife by pressing his body against hers in a rude manner. When his attempt failed, Veal reportedly left the premises.
After being arrested in Dallas on December 13, Veal attempted to waive a preliminary examination of the incident. His attempt failed. On February 14 of the following year, a church committee, headed by the Reverend S. P. Wright, announced that they had found Veal guilty of the charges and specifications preferred against him and had temporarily suspended his authority as a minister.
With the commencement of the church trial, C. H. Barker was brought to the stand by the prosecution in an apparent attempt to "influence them in the Jones case." It was Barker's wife, who in the summer of 1866 had accused Veal of the previous assault, a charge that was eventually dropped for lack of evidence. Barker had been informed that it would be difficult to make a case against Veal in the Jones incident without his testimony, and the Waxahachie Enterprise stated "he brought the matter before the committee for that reason alone." Barker heatedly denied such an allegation in a letter to the Enterprise, stating that his testimony had been badly misrepresented, and that "Once and for always...if Captain Veal had insulted a hundred Mrs. Joneses and five hundred other ladies, there would not be men enough on earth to influence me, nor money enough west of the Mississippi to convince me to take my wife before the committee, if she had not, herself, been basely insulted by Captain Veal."
In August of that year, Veal requested a change of venue for the state charges brought against him on the grounds that "such a great prejudice existed against him in Ellis County that he could not obtain a fair trial therein." It was determined that the "burden of proof rested upon the state to show affirmatively that the prejudice did not exist." Judge Langley overruled the application for the change and scheduled the case of "The State of Texas vs. W. G. Veal" for the following week. Veal's defense counsel consisted of Col. Hunt and Judge Barksdale of Dallas, Captain Bradshaw, J. W. Hawkins and E. P. Anderson of Waxahachie.
Veal, stated Mrs. Jones at the trial, tried "to put his arms about my person-beneath my clothing for his own satisfaction." Upon entering the house, she testified, "he threw his arms around my neck and kissed me." Witnesses were called by the defense to state that Veal was at her home no more than five minutes on the morning of the second. Despite a defense argument that Mrs. Jones was temporarily insane and had hallucinated the entire incident, the jury found Veal guilty and fined him five hundred dollars. A request for an appeal was denied.
Veal soon left Waxahachie for Fort Worth, but his dreams of obscurity were shattered when the editor of the Fort Worth Journal wrote that Veal was "one of the vilest, most corrupt and most abominable men that Texas ever knew." Choosing to flee again, he moved to Sherman to await the results of the church trial called to discuss the permanent loss of his preaching license.
A year and three days after the alleged incident, November 5, 1879, it was announced "W. G. Veal, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who committed an assault on Mrs. Jones in Waxahachie, was expelled from the church by the conference sitting at Fort Worth at four o'clock yesterday."
An anonymous letter was sent to the Dallas Herald stating, "a parallel case cannot be found in the annals of history. Never before have such flagrant invasions been made upon the rights and privileges of the accused, as was made in this case. The dictates of justice, the mandates of law...were totally ignored."
A Grand Lodge investigation of the church committee's ruling upheld their decision by a vote of 85-67, on the grounds that "strictly legal rules of evidence did not apply to church trials."
Once again choosing to flee from the storm of controversy, Veal moved to Hutchins in 1880 where he operated a plantation for seven years. He then moved to Fort Worth again, where he resided at the time of his death.
While working with a committee to draw up resolutions for a Confederate reunion in Dallas on October 25, 1892, William G. Veal was murdered. An ex-Confederate surgeon, who had lived in Dallas for twenty years, shot and killed the former Confederate captain, Methodist minister and Presiding Elder while he was reading. The United Confederate Veterans Union conducted his funeral and buried William Veal the next day in a Dallas cemetery.