ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The Slocum Massacre historical marker is on the west side of FM 20-22 in Slocum, a small town in Anderson County. It’s been there for five years now. The story of how it was erected is compelling in itself.
This historical marker recognizes the Slocum Massacre of 1910. Beginning on the morning of July 29th, groups of armed white men shot and killed Black residents. Officially, eight men were killed, but other reports state that up to 200 were killed. Many families fled the area in fear and didn't return, leaving their land to be taken over.
E-R Bills wrote a book about the massacre in 20-14 after having an article published in the Austin American-Statesman.
“I thought, that doesn’t sound like a story a doughy white guy like me should write. i thought surely someone has written about this. I got on the internet machine and there was nothing and it was something i knew i could write.”
Following the release of his book, Bills connected with Constance Hollie-Jawaid (ja-waud), a descendant of one of the victims.
“I uncovered all this stuff that she didn’t know. And she had things that I didn’t know...Her family too after the massacre scattered into the wind.”
It was right away the pair teamed up to see the historical marker through.
“She asked me to work on the application and I said sure, you know.”
But Bills said he met a lot of resistance at the local level.
"First they said it was a shabby application. Then they accused Constance and I of getting help, whatever that means."
So Bills and Hollie-Jawaid took it straight to the state.
“It was very shocking. Some of the assistants told us it was the best application they had ever seen. Eventually when it was approved unanimously we were told we scored 98 out of 100 on the application.”
Bills said he’s heard threats that the marker will end up in the river, but the Slocum Massacre historical marker still stands.
Bills said he meets with Hollie-Jawaid and her family every year to commemorate the anniversary. If you would like to see the marker, it’s located on FM 20-22, six-tenths of a mile south of FM 294.