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Slocum is an unincorporated community in southeast Anderson County, Texas, in the United States. According to the Handbook of Texas, the community had a population of 198 in 2018. It is located within the Palestine, Texas micropolitan area.
The community's name is thought to have originated with E.T. McDaniel, the first shopkeeper and postmaster, who had long sought to get a post office for the community. When the town was authorized a US post office in 1898, the residents called it a "slow come."
Many African Americans fled the area in July and August 1910, after the "Slocum Massacre", an unprovoked riot by 200 whites in which they killed at least 22 blacks, and wounded countless others; they were unarmed. Casualties are believed to have been much higher, with perhaps as many as 200 injured and dead.
In 1914, the community had two general stores left and 45 people; the population increased to 200 by 1927. A tornado demolished Slocum in 1929, causing 8 deaths and 150 injuries. Only two houses were left standing in the settlement.
By 1939 the community had rebuilt, and had eight new businesses and 160 inhabitants. The discovery of oil in nearby fields caused the community's economy to receive a boost in the late 1950s, and by 1964, the community's population grew to 200 residents.
Afterward, the community declined to 110 people in 1970. It grew to 125 in 1974, holding there to 1990. The community had four businesses, two churches, and a few homes in the mid-1980s. It doubled to 250 in 2000, but declined to 175 in 2014.
Slocum Massacre of 1910
On July 29-30, 1910 an unknown number of African Americans were murdered by an all-white mob of an estimated 200 to 300 people. The original death-toll of the Slocum massacre was reported by newspapers as 8 to 22 victims. But evidence and survivors' stories say that the actual death-toll may have reached upwards of 200 victims. Bodies were found in fields and canebrakes. The state ordered in militia, and the commanding officer requested a company of militia as well.
Before the massacre, the majority of Slocum's several hundred residents were black. During and afterward, many black residents fled the town, leaving behind real estate, homes, and other assets to save their lives. Their property was seized and the victims never received compensation. Several events may have sparked the attacks. After a black person was lynched nearby, rumors spread that blacks were planning revenge. Also, a scuffle broke out over a business disagreement between a white and black resident. Many accounts said that white resident James Spurger instigated events by claiming he was threatened by blacks.
All known victims were unarmed, and most were shot in the back as they fled; no whites were injured. Spurger, Reagon McKenzie, S. F. Jennings, and at least 13 other white men were arrested for the attacks, and Spurger and six others were indicted, but none were ever tried. State Judge B.H. Gardner convened a grand jury; almost all local citizens were subpoenaed, and prominent people who resisted testifying were arrested. Seven of the men were indicted on 22 counts of murder; Gardner sent them to be tried in Houston but the special prosecutor did not proceed. Elections had removed Gardner and others involved in prosecuting the case from office, and the next administration did not pick it up again. The defendants were released without trial.
On January 16, 2016, a state highway marker commemorating the victims was unveiled in a ceremony featuring their descendants and state officials. The marker was sought by Constance Hollie-Jawaid, a Dallas school district administrator whose great-grandfather, John Holley, was among the victims. He survived the massacre but fled with his family, losing his granary, dairy, and general store that he had developed since slavery. Another supporter is E.R. Bills, who had researched and published a book about the events: The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas (2014)..
Slocum had its own school in the mid-1980's. The Slocum Independent School District serves area students who attend Slocum High School and Slocum Elementary School. It is a very small school that as of 2016-2017 has around 300 students in the grades k-12 and is registered as a 1A by UIL. Slocum ISD recently completed the new Slocum High School, which was completed and opened for the 2016-2017 school year.
Slocum, Texas has one volunteer fire department. The VFD holds an annual BBQ and school reunion to raise money to provide for the needs of the fire department.
- Davies, David Martin (2017-01-15). "Should Texas Remember Or Forget The Slocum Massacre?". Texas Public Radio. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
- Slocum, TX from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Tim Madigan (January 16, 2016). "Texas marks racial slaughter more than a century later". Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
- "Cavalry to Quell Outbreak in Texas" (PDF). The New York Times. 1910-08-01. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "Slocum Massacre Highlights Historical Double Standard In The South". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
- Madigan, Tim (2011-02-27). "A century later, Texas race massacre completely forgotten except by the "victim's descent."". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The McClatchy Company. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "Score of Negroes Killed by Whites" (PDF). The New York Times. 1910-07-31. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "More Texas Riot Arrests" (PDF). The New York Times. 1910-08-07. Retrieved 2011-03-02.