Dead Manís Hole
1821, Ferdinand Leuders, an entomologist and
naturalist hired to explore the virgin regions of the earth during the early
1800s, came to the vicinity of the "
The hole is mentioned again in local history when it would
later be found by a naturalist named
When the War Between the States began with armed conflict at
In his book, "Burnet County History," Darrell Debo said that the vast majority of pioneer settlers in
Areas with a heavy German population were decidedly
Unionist, although a number of their residents later served in the Confederate
forces. In his thesis, "History of Burnet County," M. G. Bowden said,
"Few soldiers went from the county to the Civil War." But in another
historical account, Mrs. Alta Holland Gibbs stated, "The county furnished its share of men and supplies to the
Confederate cause though only one soldier or renown, General Adam R. Johnson.
The latter part of the war had left only cripples, old men, boys and slaves to
care for the women and children. Hardships were endured regardless of the fact
The area was also becoming overrun group of lawless secessionists who murdered and robbed some of the county's finest citizens who were opposed to secession. The group was referred to as "bushwhackers" and their actions were not in any way typical of the Confederate soldiers and sympathizers in the county.
Mention of Dead Manís Hole showed up again in historical
'Many of the countyís best men, Unionist at heart, fled to
"Having been born in
Grandmother Scott identified grandfather's remains by a peculiar jaw bone and teeth.Ē
After the Civil War
The gruesome account of Dead Man's Hole continues in Ottilie Fuchs Goeth's book, "Memoirs of A Texas Pioneer Grandmother." In this account, the bushwhackers are referred to as fire eaters.
"The so-called fire eaters of the South were almost
worse than the Indians, Secretly they murdered anyone who was not for the South
and who expressed this view too openly. Fanatically they looked upon their
actions as heroic deeds. A few miles from
Many of the best men in the area lost their lives at this spot. One of these was Adolf Hoppe, father of George Hoppe, the son-in-law of my brother William. After the war, sacks full of human bones were removed from the so-called devil's hole (Dead Man's Hole) to be ceremoniously buried at Burnet."
Reportedly, 17 bodies had been thrown into the dark depths of Dead Man's Hole. Sacks of recovered bones were taken to the Burnet County Courthouse, where they remained for several days.
Some widows identified their husband's skeleton by teeth, buttons found nearby, etc. Judge Scott's widow identified her husband by his small wrist bones, which were bound together with silk cloth, After being displayed for several days, the skeletal remains mysteriously disappeared, their final resting place unknown. Of all the murderers who dumped their victims into Dead Man's Hole, only those responsible for the death of Benjamin McKeever were brought to trial.
According to Dale Fray in an article for the Highland Lakes
Visitor's Guide, sometime in August of 1872, McKeever
was riding his horse to visit a lady friend in the Double Horn area when he
came upon a settlement of ex-slaves on Double Horn Creek. A dog belonging to a
man named Ben Shelby ran out into the road and began to nip at the heels of McKeever's horse. McKeever drew
his pistol and fired several shots at the dog, but missed it each time. Angry,
he pointed the weapon at
Three were sentenced to life in prison, one received a two-year sentence and the fifth defendant was found not guilty.
Location of the Dead Manís Hole
In 1997, Ona Lou Roper, owner of
the property, donated 6.53 acres, which included Dead Man's Hole, to
The area is now open to the public, a grim reminder of the
early days in
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Linda Ware, River Cities Tribune, Dead Man's
Hole: A gruesome reminder of early struggles in
of Texas Online, s.v. "Dead Man's Hole," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/DD/rpd3.html† (accessed
∑ Clayton Stapleton, DEAD MAN'S HOLE, http://www.whatwasthen.com/deadman.html†
∑ RootsWeb.com, Historical Marker, Dead Man's Hole, http://www.rootsweb.com/~txburnet/HMDeadMan.html
∑ Austin Chronicle, Day Trips, Dead Man's Hole, http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/vol18/issue41/cols.daytrips.html
∑ TexasEscapes.com, Texas Tales, Dead Man's Hole, http://www.texasescapes.com/MikeCoxTexasTales/Dead-Mans-Hole.htm
of Texas Online, s.v. "Dead Man's Hole," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/DD/rpd3.html
Compiled from various sources by
Voices of the Texas Hills