Texas Day by Day
July 1, 2008
From the Texas State Historical Association
Angry soldiers burn Fredericksburg store, destroying early Gillespie County records
On this day in 1850, a mob of soldiers burned down the store of Fredericksburg merchant John M. Hunter,
destroying all Gillespie County records up to that time. Hunter, the first Gillespie County clerk, had a violent
temper and had clashed more than once with the soldiers at nearby Fort Martin Scott. On the night of
June 30, Hunter had refused to sell whiskey to a soldier named Dole. When Dole became abusive, Hunter
fatally stabbed him in the chest. Some fifty angry soldiers returned the next night, looking for Hunter,
but the merchant had fled town. Several townspeople attempted to salvage the county records from the
burning store, but the soldiers prevented them. Apparently neither Hunter nor the soldiers were punished.
Hunter later built a new store on the same block; it opened in time to be used by the district court
in October 1850.
Links to related Handbook of Texas Online articles can be found on
the web at http://www.tshaonline.org/daybyday/07-01-006.html
NOTE: Gillespie was organized Feb 23, 1848 from Bexar & Travis counties. While the Handy Book states that the
County Clerk has birth, marriage and probate records from 1850, it says there are land records from 1848 ... so,
were these records saved? Of course, as I tell my classes - in case of disaster, deeds are almost always refiled,
so always check for those. Now if it were me, I'd be taking my marriage license back down to the courthouse along
with the deed to our house - and maybe a few other things. Lesson here is that even after a fire, etc., be sure to
ask (and snoop around) to see what records were refiled that predate the fire ..
You can ask the question but remember "the sweet young thing" behind the counter probably does not know and
neither does the "wise old beared one." County Clerk? maybe. We're often on our on out there; reason to make
nice when at the courthouse so you are given a little free reign.
Trevia Wooster Beverly