New Historical Marker Honors Victims Of Travis County Lynching

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelDecember 19, 2017 7:25 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

We are in the midst of flu season – and the highest activity is just ahead of us between January and March. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Texas already has among the highest rates of flu cases in the nation.

Allison Winnike is with the Immunization Partnership and she told Houston Public Media the flu is a serious and possibly deadly disease.

“Every year in the United States, there are between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths, with up to 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations,” said Winnike.

Although getting vaccinated doesn’t eliminate your chances of getting sick, people who do tend to get a milder case of the flu.

Five-year-old Sutherland Springs shooting victim still hospitalized

Five-year-old Ryland Ward is one of the last victims from the Sutherland Springs shooting that remains hospitalized. His family members believe he could be out of the hospital shortly after the first of the year.  When a gunman opened fire at First Baptist Church on November 5, 2017, Ryland was shot five times. He suffered injuries to his kidneys, bladder, an arm, and a leg. His great-uncle Earl McMahan told reporters Monday that Ryland has already undergone multiple surgeries during his six-week hospital stay.

“There’s going to be more surgeries later on but we’ll just take it as we go,” said McMahan.

Ryland lost three family members in the shooting. His step-mother Joanne Ward was killed along with Ryland’s sisters, Brooke Ward and Emily Garcia. Recently, Ryland asked people for Christmas cards while he’s still in the hospital and so far, he’s received several thousand. You can find out how to send him cards here.


An Alabama-based nonprofit group is working to remember victims of lynching across the Southern United States and the terror it caused.

Over the weekend, the Equal Justice Initiative unveiled a new plaque in Austin – the organization’s first in Texas. Evan Milligan, a law fellow with EJI, explains, “That plaque memorializes three African-Americans who were lynched in Travis County.”

The plaque provides an unflinching account of these murders. It explains how in 1894, an African-American woman was arrested after the child of the white family she worked for died. Two African-American men were seized too. All were abducted from jail by a white mob, tied to stakes, and shot to death.

Milligan explains that in researching lynching it’s not hard to find graphic depictions of these deaths. Instead, he says the challenge is “finding a characterization that humanizes the actually victimized person.”

None of the Travis County victims’ names were recorded in news reports of the time – and seem to be lost to history. Milligan says, sometimes, his organization faces questions over why it wants to mark this history.

“Why do want to mark all of these spaces instead of the spaces of achievement, and invention, and moments of triumph within our communities?” Millgan says,

“I think for us, we think, that in order to not repeat this era of history, we have to confront it in detail and we can confront it in local language in local space, we don’t have to wait til we come to one museum or one memorial that’s a great distance from our communities.” Milligan says between 1877 and 1950, they have found record of 338 African-American victims of lynching in Texas. And his organization wants to work with local leaders interested in memorializing this history. He adds that the Equal Justice Initiative is planning to open a national memorial to victims of lynching next year in Montgomery.