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Columbus, Texas

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Consider the Lily:
The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas

by Bill Stein

(Copyright, Nesbitt Memorial Library and Bill Stein)

Part 8 : 1870-1878

By 1870, the impact of nearly fifty years of constant and ever expanding human activity had taken a toll on the flora and fauna of Colorado County. The grasses and other vegetation that had been on the prairies, so deeply rooted that they were virtually invulnerable to the plows the early settlers used, had started to lose their grip on the land. Whereas the earliest settlers had had to plant their crops in the alluvial lands around the rivers and creeks, the steel plow, developed by John Deere in the 1840s and 1850s, freed them to cultivate the prairies. The prairie grasses also withered under the onslaught of larger and larger herds of grazing cattle. So did the once constantly running springs and creeks, which began to dry up, perhaps because numerous wells tapped into and reduced the water table; perhaps as the result of the loss of the earlier grasses, which retained moisture better than those which replaced them; perhaps because of the incessant trodding of generations of cattle over the plowed ground, which kicked soil into the streams, making them wider, shallower, and slower, thereby subjecting them to more rapid evaporation. The prairies were beginning to be consumed by an ever increasing number of trees, as people began extinguishing the intermittent and destructive wildfires which once prevented their proliferation, and setting instead, spot-fires which consumed only particular portions of their fields and pastures. The additional forest might have led to an increase in the number of bears in the county, a fair number of which once roamed the woody areas along the watercourses, had they not been hunted, with the assistance of teams of dogs, to the point that they had become decidedly rare. Hunters had also begun to take a toll on the extensive local population of beaver, deer, and red wolves, the last of which were regarded as strictly a nuisance.1

The weather, of course, had not changed. Severe conditions only rarely visited the county in the early 1870s. The worst spell of weather occurred in January 1872, when sleet, snow, and ice remained on the ground for several days. There was another very heavy sleet on January 12, 1877, though it was of much shorter duration. The September 1875 hurricane which devastated the port city of Indianola did minor damage to many businesses in downtown Columbus. The river flooded in October 1870, though to a much lesser degree than it had in 1869. There was a slight flood in early October 1873, and in July 1876, the river rose high enough to stop ferry traffic at Columbus, but did not flood the town.2

In the preceding decade, the population had grown, though seemingly only slightly. In 1870, the federal census takers counted 8326 people in Colorado County. Just over half (4258, or 51%) of the inhabitants of the county were male. Of the total, 3701, or 44%, were described as black. The remaining 56% were said to be white. As might be expected, five years after the slaves were emancipated, the bulk of the wealth in the county was held by the whites. White heads of household reportedly owned, on average, $1689 worth of real estate and $642 in other property. For black heads of household, the figures were $14 and $15, a vast disparity. The richest black man in the county, Harry Taylor, a Columbus blacksmith, had amassed $3500 worth of property. There were 149 white persons who were worth as much or more. No other black person was even as rich as the average white person. Most black heads of household (84%) had no assets to speak of. Blacks who had money often found it difficult to buy land, for white land owners generally found it more profitable to rent. Only 31 blacks owned real estate; 643 whites did. Most blacks apparently sustained themselves by agreeing to cultivate, as free men, a portion of the large plantations they had previously cultivated as slaves. A matching pair of contracts from 1870 stipulate that the landowner is to provide the land and all necessary farm animals and implements and receive half of the farm's proceeds; and that the tenants are to cultivate the crops, take care of the animals and equipment, keep the fences in good shape, and avoid fighting and deadly weapons in return for the other half. In addition, the contracts provide that the tenant's final compensation would be reduced by two dollars for every day of work which they missed. A surviving contract from 1873 is a little more specific. It calls for thirteen tenants to cultivate "as much land . . . as they can," two-thirds of it in cotton and one-third of it in corn, and to pay, as rent, one-fourth of the final cotton crop and one-third of the final corn crop. There was a small additional charge (one penny for every two pounds of cotton) for the use of a cotton gin. The 1873 contract also provided substantial penalties for allowing unsupervised livestock onto the corn or cotton fields ($25 per occurrence), and for engaging in fights "or other disturbances of the peace . . . (except in self-defense)" on the plantation ($50 per occurrence). Such fines were to be divided evenly among the other tenants.3

Some blacks attempted to acquire assets by demonstrating that they were directly descended from those who had them, their former owners. In 1871, the complicated dispensation of William Alley's substantial estate was further complicated by the declaration, by nine former slaves, that they were the children of Alley and one of his former slaves, Caroline, and therefore his proper heirs. The attorneys for Alley's estate responded that the nine former slaves, who used Alley as their surname, were not Alley's children, that their contention otherwise was only an attempt "to disgrace and defame the character of the said William Alley," that Alley had never married, and that, far from having any undue affection or familial feeling toward them, Alley had sold Caroline and her nine children to two other men, George L. Perry and William Bridge. The matter came to trial on October 24, 1871, but the jury failed to agree on a verdict. Citing "the prejudice existing against them and their claim in this County," and declaring that the same prejudice also existed in Lavaca and Fayette Counties, the alleged Alley children succeeded in securing a change of venue to Austin County. But they failed to pursue their claims, and when the estate was divided, they apparently were excluded.4

After the war, the county had supported paupers in various ways. In 1868, for instance, the county buried poor persons who died, boarded and supported a number of orphans, made cash payments to specified paupers, and rented a house for one indigent woman, paying $100 for the year. Soon, it had established a "pauper list," to which persons could be admitted, and thereafter receive monthly stipends, upon demonstrating that they were incapable of supporting themselves, or upon volunteering to house a qualifying orphan. The list became so burdensome that, in January 1871, it was strictly audited, and all but five persons were stricken from it, each of whom were to receive $10 per month. The poor could not be avoided, however, and reapplications soon added more recipients. So again, on May 16, 1876, the county cut the list back down, this time to seven persons, and sharply reduced all of their stipends. Within a few months, the local newspaper had begun suggesting that, as a permanent solution to the problem, the county purchase some land and open a poor farm.5

The most noticeable change in the human demographics of the county was the development of a German community in the town of Columbus. The Germans, who had originally been almost exclusively rural, had begun moving into town before the Civil War. The growing presence of Germans led to the formation of two societies in Columbus. One, the German Casino, was incorporated on April 17, 1871, the other, the German Germania, was incorporated on May 3, 1873. The former organization began with the intention of promoting "social recreation of the members," but two years later, when the German Germania was formed for the same purpose, the Casino changed its objectives to "the promotion of morals, benevolence, and encouragement of musical and dramatic science." The Casino had, since at least early 1872, operated a theater in Columbus which featured dramatic performances, dances, and even exhibitions of gymnastics.6

In the same spirit, the Germans of Columbus organized a large-scale, continuing festival, which they called the Volks Fest. The First Grand Volks Fest was held on April 23 and 24, 1872. Volunteers spent weeks organizing and advertising the event, and enclosing and preparing the grounds on which it was to be held, the area north of Columbus known as the grove. The Volks Fest began with a parade through Columbus. The town's commercial buildings were draped with German and American flags. The parade was led by the Columbus Brass Band. The band was followed by an elaborately decorated wagon carrying the queen of the festival, which was dubbed the "Watch on the Rhine." Then came the committee which organized the festival, several wagons decorated to represent the various industries of the country, two baseball teams (named the Colorado Base Ball Club and the Pioneer Base Ball Club), several wagons representing agricultural products, the local German singing club, the Allemannia Brass Band from La Grange, thirty-two small girls each costumed to represent one of the states of the union, a decorated wagon carrying the queen of the tournament and her ladies of honor, and finally, the Knights of the Tournament, a procession of the participants in the upcoming contest. When the parade reached the grove, three men, Richard V. Cook and John T. Harcourt, each a former state senator from Columbus, and Gustav A. Loeffler, a Houston man concerned with promoting and managing immigration to Texas, made speeches. After lunch, the two baseball teams played a game, with the Pioneer club winning. The baseball game, which was probably the first ever played in the county, was followed by a dance. The second day of the festival opened with another baseball game, this one between the Island City Base Ball Team and the Houston Base Ball Club. After the game, the tournament began. Organized to resemble a medieval tournament, the participants each paid a rather-high $4 entry fee. Each adopted a fanciful nickname, like "Knight of the Lone Star Banner," "Knight of the Garter," "Knight of the Alamo," and "Knight of the Forest." The Knight of the Farmer, James William Guynn, won first prize, a new saddle, and his brother-in-law, the Knight of Colorado, Walter Eldridge "Dick" Bridge, took second prize, a silver pitcher. The festival closed with a sack race, a race of children across an obstacle course of ropes, and two "Fat Men's" races, which drew a total of six participants.7

Higher cultural efforts by county residents dwindled to almost nothing. Fannie Amelia Dickson Darden sporadically published poems in the Colorado Citizen and seemingly continued to paint pictures. She was joined by and, it must be said, exceeded by Friench Simpson as a poet. Simpson was writing poetry as early as 1864, when he was sixteen and living at Oakland. His first known published poem, "Dolce Far Niente," appeared in the Colorado Citizen on July 23, 1874. Later in the year the Citizen published another Simpson poem, "A Study of Nature." By then, he had secured employment with the Texas State Geological Survey, a job which afforded him the opportunity to travel widely within the state, and to write brief accounts of his travels for the Citizen. Following Simpson's lead, in 1877, Darden produced a prose piece based on her travels for the newspaper. Darden's piece was about Sutherland Springs, a resort near San Antonio to which she had travelled to improve her health. Earlier, she had turned her attention to history, publishing what would become perhaps her best known work, "Dillard Cooper's Account of his Escape from Fannin's Massacre," on the front page of the Citizen of July 30, 1874. As the title suggests, Darden had heard the story from Cooper, who lived near Columbus. To tell of his escape, with three other men, from the massacre of James Walker Fannin's command by the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution in 1836, she employed what was for her uncharacteristically simple and reasonably compelling prose.8

In these years, portrait painting began to take a back seat to the relatively new art of photography. Whereas the earliest photographs were quite small, making them unsuitable to frame and exhibit on a wall, by the 1870s improvements in technology had made it possible to obtain larger images. By October 1871, two men named Anderson and Bennett had established a photographic studio in Columbus. They operated their business for nearly three years, closing it on May 1, 1874 and moving to Galveston. That August, Fred S. Jones attempted to fill the void left by their departure, moving into their old building. In September, Jones expanded his business by hiring F. A. Ryan to paint portraits and teach art at the studio; but nonetheless, it failed. He closed his gallery in early 1875. Later that year, the team of Alonzo Newell Callaway and John (or Julius) Serdinko tried their hand at the Columbus photography market, setting up a tent and declaring their intention to make photographs for a month. Serdinko apparently abided by the schedule, but Callaway remained in town, replacing Serdinko with Conrad Peterson. Peterson departed in late 1876; Callaway moved to Brenham in March 1877; and John H. Chapman took their place in town. Along the way at least one Colorado County man was motivated to join their profession. Eugene Himley announced his qualifications as a photographer in October 1875, and opened a gallery in Comal County the next year.9

In the 1870s, music and other entertainment in the county flourished as never before. Brass bands developed in Columbus, New Mainz, and the new town of Weimar. Two German musicians, a pianist named Bottcher, who also took in students, and the violinist Arnold Prause, performed at several venues around town, sometimes individually, sometimes jointly. The Columbus theater that had been established by the German Casino was apparently taken over by Henry Ilse. In the late summer of 1874, Ilse, who also operated a grocery store on the ground floor of the downtown building, thoroughly renovated the theater. By the end of September, Ilse had installed not only a larger stage, but new scenery which was painted by the same artist who provided the scenery for the prestigious Tremont Opera House in Galveston. If Ilse hoped to attract productions similar to those at the Tremont, however, he was soon disappointed. The only known events at Ilse's Hall were dances with music by the Columbus Brass Band on November 28 and on New Year's Eve. The latter was the last event at Ilse's Hall. The next day, January 1, 1875, Ilse sold his business to Reinhard Dick and his son-in-law, Charles William Rau. The new owners changed the name to Dick's Hall and Grocery, and apparently named Dick's son, Gustav Conrad Dick, to manage it. Dick's stewardship got off to a rocky start. Around the time of the sale, Ilse's bartender, Charles Loewendel, perhaps dismayed by the change in ownership, had taken to drinking heavily. Two weeks into the year, Dick apparently notified Loewendel that he was not fit to continue work, and, on the morning of January 14, Loewendel committed suicide.10

Dick's Hall also offered a series of dances by the Columbus Brass Band, and one more notable attraction, a concert by the pianist known as Blind Tom on May 17, 1875. The attractions improved markedly after Rau purchased his father-in-law's interest on October 26, 1875. The renamed Rau's Hall featured General Tom Thumb on March 3, 1876, and S. S. Baldwin, a lecturer who, on March 29, by demonstration and explanation, attempted to expose spiritualism, the religious craze of the time, as a hoax. On June 10 and June 16, Rau hosted Max Fehrmann, a musical performer associated with the Tremont Opera House. Fehrmann's show featured a play, a scene from an opera, and "comic songs" in both German and English. For November 6, Rau booked the Georgia Minstrels, advertising them as a "celebrated troupe of genuine negroes." In 1877, Rau's Hall featured two more minstrel shows, and two appearances by the fairly-well-known actress Fay Templeton. In the first, on March 21, Templeton's company performed the enormously popular play "East Lynne." By the time of her second appearance, in another popular play, "Colleen Bawn," in mid-May, the theater had changed owners.11

Rau had failed to make a mortgage payment due to Ilse on January 1, 1876; after which Ilse sued both Rau and Dick. On March 9, 1877, the district court ordered that the building and grounds be sold at public auction to satisfy the debt. On May 1, 1877, Dick's wife, Josephine, made the highest bid, and the facility reverted to Dick's control. The theater lay dormant over the summer, but was revived in November with appearances on two consecutive Mondays by an obscure comedian named John Dillon. Dillon had played at the Tremont in Galveston in late October and early November, and stopped to perform in Columbus on November 12 on his way to another engagement in San Antonio, and again on November 19 on his way back. Strangely, Dick had evidently hired Ilse to manage the theater. For the rest of its tenure as the principal theater in Columbus, it would be known as Ilse's Hall, or, as it would be referred to for a brief time in 1880, Ilse's Opera House. Ilse's intermittent program of dances and concerts in 1878 and 1879 was broken only by another appearance in town by Blind Tom on February 18, 1878.12

To be sure, the citizens of the county were entertaining themselves in other places and in other ways during the late 1870s. By 1876, public entertainment facilities had opened in both Eagle Lake (Newsom's Hall) and Weimar (Richter's Hall). In December 1874, a circus played Columbus. Though it was reviled by those who attended, other circuses came in December 1875, November 1876, and November 1878; and a pair of tightrope walkers made two appearances in town in the summer of 1879. In warm weather, people commonly went to Eagle Lake for picnics, or to go boating or fishing. In 1877, one estimate had it that 500 fish were caught on Eagle Lake every day. And, the lake served as a tourist attraction. In May 1876, a train load of Harris County citizens joined the residents of Eagle Lake for a large-scale picnic at the lake. The Harris County contingent brought a band; the Eagle Lakers erected a pavilion at the lake and provided boats and fishing equipment. The growing population on the west side of the county did their boating, fishing, and picnicing on Adkins Lake, though without the company of tourists. In the summer of 1871, a steamboat named Providence plied the river, taking people on pleasure cruises. Gambling, despite being against the law in some forms, was also popular. For a few months in 1876, an illegal gambling establishment apparently flourished on Spring Street in Columbus. For more edifying entertainment, in 1872 a short-lived gentleman's club, which featured periodicals and other material in a reading room, was organized in Columbus. In 1874, it nearly evolved into a modest library, but lack of interest or lack of money forced its failure. Debating societies in Columbus, Weimar, and Osage, the last of which was known as the Plow Boys Club, were more successful, publicly arguing about women's suffrage, the career of Napolean Bonaparte, or whether war or drunkenness was a greater evil. In two remarkable debates in the summer of 1874, the Plow Boys Club decided that Indians had been treated worse than blacks, and that blacks should not have the same privileges as whites. On July 3, 1874, the Osage debaters expanded their interests, changing the name of the organization to the Crockett Literary Society, and devoting at least part of their efforts to the production and appreciation of poetry.13

Organized sporting activity was sporadic. In 1872, after the games at the Volks Fest, Columbus baseball teams played at least two games against teams from La Grange, winning the first and losing the second. Probably, the Volks Fest continued to feature a baseball game. Certainly, at the Volks Fest in 1874, a Columbus team beat a team from Brenham, 61-35. Another Columbus team was organized in April 1875, but it is not known to have played any games. Two summers passed before, in December 1876, another team was formed. That team finally played its only known game, beating a team from Schulenburg by the astounding score of 51-2 on April 26, 1877. However, by the end of that summer, the young men of Columbus had abandoned baseball and turned their attention to public games of checkers, played on a board installed on the courthouse square. The following year, they embraced gymnastics, again using the courthouse square for their public demonstrations.14

In Columbus, the black population continued to stage annual celebrations of their emancipation from slavery, usually on June 19, or "Juneteenth" as it came to be known. In 1876, the celebration featured a parade, a dance, speeches by local white citizens, and, evidently, a baseball game. Similar festivals were held at Oakland in 1877 and at Weimar in 1878 and 1879. The 1879 Columbus Juneteenth celebration, held at the grove north of town, attracted some 600 people.15

The continuing series of annual Volks Fests in Columbus, however, ended after the fourth one was conducted in May 1875. The Third Annual Volks Fest, held May 26 and 27, 1874, featured the usual parade followed by speeches, a baseball game, foot races, and dances, and added livestock exhibitions and a shooting contest, which was won by Helmuth Kulow. The tournament, held on the afternoon of the 27th, was won by James West. John Stafford finished second, John Willower third, and James Light Townsend fourth. The festival concluded with a fireworks display in a light rain. The 1875 festival was marked by smaller crowds and a considerably shorter parade, and was ended prematurely by a substantial rainstorm. Still, it featured speeches (including one by Mathias Malsch in German); exhibitions of glass blowing, galvanic batteries, and art; a shooting gallery; a food booth to benefit the construction of the Episcopal church; and two dances, one of them at Dick's Hall. The tournament, on May 26, was organized by local physician Joseph Warren Brown. Brown charged participants $2.50 to enter, and gave prizes of $25, $15, and $10 to the top three finishers. The winners, West, Shelley C. Smith, and Warren Decatur Stafford, had just completed their competition when rain dispersed the crowd. The planned third day of the festival never materialized.16

Despite the demise of the Columbus Volks Fest, festivals with a German flavor continued to crop up in other parts of the county. There were German Gesang Vereine (singing clubs) in both Frelsburg and New Mainz. In 1871, the year it was established, the club in Frelsburg had begun holding a festival each May featuring dancing, singing, and the copious consumption of beer. Oakland area Germans organized a Schützen Verein (shooting club) and held a shooting contest each May. Not to be outdone, Weimar area Germans conducted festivals each fall, beginning, apparently, in 1876. That September 27, the citizens of Weimar staged their own recreation of a medieval tournament, with fourteen participants. The following spring, the Weimar Odd Fellows lodge scheduled a festival for April, but rain forced its cancellation. In 1878, Weimar's spring festival was reorganized by a group calling itself the German Volks Fest Association. Thereafter, the Weimar Germans celebrated both spring and fall.17

Colorado County Germans also participated in a celebration of the United States Centennial, held in Austin County near New Ulm on July 4, 1876. The event, which attracted about two thousand people, was very similar to the recent Volksfests, featuring speeches (in German), a parade, a tournament, music, horse races, dances, shooting contests, and theatrical performances. There were no celebrations of the nation's centennial in Colorado County. The prevailing sympathies of those county residents who were neither black, German, nor Czech remained strongly in favor of the causes of the Confederacy and against the government of the United States. These citizens, who called themselves conservatives, were consumed by political opinions which they embraced with a passion that bordered on madness. Though the conservatives, who were predominantly white, were in the political minority, they did control most of the county's wealth and its only media outlets. They usually supported candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party; and their contempt for black voters and other voters who supported Republican, or as they called them, Radical candidates, can hardly be overstated. In 1871, Fred Barnard, the editor of the Colorado Citizen, in a series of highly inflammatory statements, summarized his view of the Republican agenda: "Heavy taxation to keep the roads in order for the benefit of niggers . . . Tax the white man to build schoolhouses and educate nigger children . . . Squandering the people's money to enrich scallawags, carpet-baggers and niggers . . . Disfranchising all respectable white men and placing the ignorant negro over them . . . Squandering the people's money in private speculation, to enrich scallawags and niggers . . . Heavy taxation for the white men of the South, and fat offices for scallawags, carpet-baggers and niggers." The general disapproval of government authority by the conservatives extended to the lowest level. On August 15, 1870, when the state legislature reincorporated the City of Columbus, no provision for the public election of city officials was made. Rather, the governor was empowered to appoint the mayor and five city aldermen. Three of the men whom Republican Governor Edmund Jackson Davis appointed, Edmund Eason, Bartley Harbert, and Isaac Yates, were black.18

County government, too, was hampered by the extreme partisan feelings of the citizenry. When, on July 4, 1870, the newly installed county court met, controversy erupted over the installation of the new sheriff, William M. Smith. The three Democratic members of the court, Henry Clay Everett, Daniel Washington Jackson, and Johann Friedrich "Fritz" Leyendecker, seemed inclined to reject the sheriff's bond. Though they acknowledged that the bondsmen had more than enough wealth to support their positions, they objected to one, Robert Earl Stafford, on the grounds that he "was a notorious desperado" whose property was mainly cattle, and to another, Francis E. Jones, because he resided in and maintained his property and wealth in Matagorda County. Camillus Jones, the Republican who presided over the court, wishing to postpone consideration of the bond, set the vote on it for the afternoon then adjourned the court at noon, taking the copy of the sheriff's bond with him. Though neither he nor the other Republican, George S. Ziegler, returned to the courthouse that afternoon, the three Democrats did. They declared that the session had been illegally adjourned, resolved to continue it, and sent word to Smith to provide them with another copy of the bond. Smith refused, whereupon the three Democrats rejected the bond and declared the sheriff's office vacant. Jones appealed to Governor Davis for relief; but Davis also received a letter from another prominent Colorado County Republican, Robert Peter Tendick, which characterized Jones as a drunkard and Smith as incompetent, uninterested in performing the duties of the sheriff, and unpopular among the blacks. Tendick also noted that Jackson and Leyendecker generally favored Republican positions. On July 9, the governor informed Jones that he had indeed illegally adjourned the court, but that the court could not oust Smith from the sheriff's office without giving him another chance to produce an acceptable bond. Because most of the wealthy men in the county were conservative Democrats, and thus Smith's political opponents, it was only with great difficulty that he managed to find new bondsmen. To do so, he agreed to sign a highly unusual contract which effectively sold the sheriff's office to the Democrats, and which would eventually cost him his job. William Lucius Adkins agreed to sign Smith's bond on condition that his son-in-law, Rowan Green, be hired as deputy, and apparently with other stipulations. On October 10, in a contract with Green, Smith declared that, though he would hold the office, he would not perform the duties of sheriff, but instead would allow Green as deputy to act as he pleased and to keep all the fines and fees which would normally devolve to the sheriff. For his part, Green was to pay Smith $800 every December as long as Smith remained the duly elected and installed sheriff. On October 12, the county court accepted Smith's new bond and installed him as sheriff. Two days later, he named Green his deputy.19

Later that year, when the district which was composed of Colorado and Lavaca Counties elected persons to replace its recently deceased members of the Texas senate and legislature, the contest was bitter indeed. The conservatives, that is to say the Democrats, backed Wells Thompson, a highly-respected Columbus attorney, for state senator, and Julius E. Arnim, a Lavaca County storekeeper, for state representative. Only a year earlier, Thompson had been defeated in a bid for lieutenant governor. Nonetheless, his campaign had won wide support. The Republicans ran Robert P. Tendick of Columbus for senator and Henry M. Shoemaker of Lavaca County for representative. Both men were union army veterans who had been stationed in Texas after the war, and remained in the state after their units were mustered out. The polls remained open for four days beginning on Monday, November 28. The two sides used the time to try to influence voters, by both gentle means and physical intimidation. As the vote totals were released, day after day, it became clear that the election would be very close. On the first day of the election, a black man named Burton who supported Thompson was arrested and briefly sent to jail, evidently for fear that other blacks would attack him. The same day, county officials stopped a white man named Green Mitchell from continuing a speech in support of the Republicans when Rowan Green, the acting sheriff, threatened to shoot him. George Washington Smith, the brother of Sheriff Smith, made a public spectacle of his racial bigotry, and was probably the most tireless advocate of the conservative positions. As the election proceeded, he buzzed around Columbus, angrily confronting Republicans in public places, calling them all manner of unflattering names, provoking them nearly to the point of violence. Nonetheless, when the votes were counted, Tendick and Shoemaker emerged victorious. The Republican newspapers trumpeted the victory; the Democratic papers took solace in the observation that at each succeeding election the Republican margin of victory was declining. Two weeks after the election, tempers still ran high. On December 12 in Columbus, a white man named John Davis shot a black man named Edward Jackson in the back shortly after Jackson had affirmed that he had voted Republican. Jackson, who was unarmed, died on the spot.20

Davis was pursued by two black officers, Fayette Yancy and Allen Nail, both of whom were part of the state's recently created, and almost immediately controversial, law enforcement organizations. Nail, who had purchased property on the outskirts of town in 1868, was the captain of the state guard unit based in Columbus. His unit, like others across the state, was created in late 1870 to be ready to take control of the county whenever the governor believed that enforcement of the law was being obstructed "by combinations of lawless men too strong for the control of the civil authorities." Nail's unit, which contained 100 men, most if not all of whom were black, was almost certainly held in low regard by the conservatives. However, it was bolstered by a series of reserve militia units from around the county which had white captains and memberships, and which were no doubt thought respectable by the whites.21

Yancy, when he was a slave, had evidently been regarded by his owner, William Yancy, as enterprising and trustworthy, and had purchased property in Columbus less than a year after he was emancipated; nonetheless, he forfeited any respect he had accumulated in the white community when he became a private in the state police on August 1, 1870. The state police force was formed to help combat the growing number of violent crimes within the state, however, because it was composed of and controlled by people who supported the Republican political majority, conservatives, without considering its merits or efficacy, immediately and thoroughly despised it. By the time of the Davis shooting, Yancy already had been, and would continue to be, harassed by local officials and the local courts. In October 1870, a Colorado County grand jury handed down two indictments for assault against Yancy. Apparently, on the preceding September 3 and September 30, while attempting to carry out his duties, Yancy had struck men named Horace Hunter and Christoph Burger on the head with a gun. Robert Tendick rushed to Yancy's defense, swearing that he himself had seen Burger "quite intoxicated" on the day of the incident. Nonetheless, on June 13, 1871, Yancy was convicted of assaulting Burger and fined the substantial sum of $100. Three days later, Yancy's lawyer asked for a new trial, stipulating that Deputy Rowan Green had discussed Yancy's case with the jurors while the trial was in progress. On June 27, the court granted the new trial. While awaiting his new day in court, Yancy continued to perform his duties as a state policeman. On February 3, 1872, he apparently assaulted another man, Harrison Kyle, though this time with something other than a gun. Almost immediately, he was hit with another indictment. The beleaguered Yancy returned to court in June 1872. He was again found guilty of assaulting Burger and again fined $100, after which the court saw fit to drop the other two indictments against him. This time, Governor Edmund J. Davis came to his rescue. Tendick wrote the governor, outlining the case and pleading for a pardon for Yancy. Stating that "there is the best reason for believing that the applicant was convicted through prejudice against his color and because he was a policeman, and Whereas it appears from the statement of facts furnished by the Judge who tried the case, that applicant was really defending himself from a most outrageous attack of the prosecutor, and that of the two, the prosecutor should have been fined and not the applicant," on August 2, 1872, Davis issued Yancy a full pardon.22

By early 1871, Sheriff Smith was coming under increasing pressure from his one-time Republican supporters to discharge his deputy, Rowan Green, who was philosophically aligned with the Democrats, or face removal from office. Smith knew that firing Green would prompt the deputy's father-in-law, William L. Adkins, to revoke his signature on Smith's bond, and force him to forfeit the sheriff's office. Smith struggled with the dilemma for months, going so far as to, on February 23, 1871, appeal directly to Governor Edmund J. Davis, for advice. Finally, on June 28, 1871, the ax fell. District Judge Livingston Lindsay removed Smith from office, citing his inability to control Green, the frequent escapes of prisoners from the custody of the sheriff's office, and the failure of anyone from the sheriff's office to pursue John Davis. At the urging of local attorneys, Lindsay appointed former sheriff James B. Good to temporarily assume the office. Immediately, a petition and a barrage of letters in support of permanently appointing Good arrived in the governor's office. But one man, former state representative Benjamin Franklin Williams, who was black, urged Governor Davis to wait until both he and Robert Tendick endorsed a candidate. Shortly, Davis received a petition requesting that he appoint John Richard Brooks as sheriff. Though the petition was signed by eighty citizens, both black and white, neither Williams or Tendick signed it. They had another candidate in mind. Their petition, signed by far fewer citizens, asked Davis to appoint Charles Schmidt, who was Tendick's father-in-law, to the post. Already Davis had received correspondence from George S. Ziegler, who had served with Tendick in the United States Army during the Civil War, which warned him that Tendick wanted Schmidt to be sheriff, and which pointed out that Schmidt was already serving as cattle and hide inspector, as internal revenue collector, and as a state policeman. Schmidt, however, included his resignation from the state police force with the petition, and Davis, stating that Schmidt had received the strongest support by "both officers of the courts and citizens," named him the new sheriff on July 13, 1871. Smith, as a consolation, was handed Schmidt's old post as cattle and hide inspector, and was named cotton weigher as well.23

However, Schmidt, too, was destined to lose a bond war with the county court. On July 24, he submitted a bond for $12,000, with Robert Tendick and his wife Kate, John Rosenfield, and Edward Wilson as bondsmen. The court accepted it, but raised the amount to $20,000 and ordered him to get another bond. Meanwhile, Schmidt appointed former sheriff Johann Baptist Leyendecker as his deputy, finally removing Green from authority. Schmidt submitted his new bond on August 28, but it was rejected when one of the new bondsmen, John William Schoellmann, withdrew his support. He tried again on September 4, and was again rejected. This time the court noted that part of the pledged property was a homestead and that the bond did not state that all of the pledged property was unencumbered. Further, they doubted the ability of a married woman, meaning presumably Kate Tendick, to pledge her separate property. Schmidt gave up and returned to his role as cattle and hide inspector. Shortly, the governor received a petition, signed by 76 persons, most of whom were black, recommending that he appoint Leyendecker to the post, a letter, signed by four men endorsing Brooks, and a letter from Lindsay endorsing Good. Davis, however, appointed James H. McCulloch on November 9, 1871. But McCulloch apparently did not even live in the county, and he apparently never submitted a bond to the county government. The governor finally gave up and appointed Good sheriff on December 22, 1871. Good's bond was approved by the court four days later. Shortly, Robert Tendick and Schmidt found themselves under indictment; Tendick for perjury on the grounds that he had overstated his wealth on Schmidt's bond; and Schmidt for acting as cattle and hide inspector without authorization, and, because he had solicited fees while doing so, for swindling. Tendick's first trial, on February 24, 1872, resulted in a hung jury. Schmidt was acquitted of both charges on October 15, 1873. Tendick finally secured his acquittal on February 13, 1874.24

Like the successive Republican candidates for sheriff, Camillus Jones, the Republican who had been elected the county's presiding justice, came under increasing attack by the Democrats. Jones's behavior evidently had never been satisfactory, even to his fellow Republicans. On October 14, 1870, he had been indicted for conducting trials while inebriated in each if not all of the previous three months. He fought the charges for a year. When he promised District Judge Livingston Lindsay that he would reduce his consumption of alcohol, Lindsay endorsed Jones to the governor. But his situation was hopeless. Finally, on October 10, 1871, he resigned, commenting, "I would represent that I have transacted the affairs of my office honestly but I do not wish to retain it longer." As though it had been arranged in advance, on October 20, the indictment against him was quashed. Six months later, the governor appointed him Columbus city marshal. However, he never presented the city with a bond, and therefore never assumed the role. On May 7, the governor replaced him with John C. Journey, the man who had been the city government's first choice. Alas, Jones's troubles did not end there. In June 1872, his political opponents hit him with three more indictments, all for failing to properly do some comparatively minor paperwork in the month he had resigned as justice of the peace. By the time these cases were dismissed, on October 14, 1872, Jones had disappeared from county history.25

With the departure of Jones from office, and, four days before, the victory in a special election for United States congressman of Democrat John Hancock over Republican Edward Degener, Colorado County's Democrats were in a festive mood. On the night of October 12, they held a lengthy celebration, with a torchlight parade, music, cheers, cannon fire, speeches, and a dance. However, their joy was soon diminished by the results of the election to fill Jones's former office. The Republicans first nominated James Richard Fleming, but Fleming professed to be a Democrat and refused the nomination. They then turned their attention to Jahu Worner Johnson. Johnson had lived in Texas before the war, but had moved to Columbus only four years earlier, in 1867. Johnson drew two opponents: Littlebury M. Newsom, a longtime resident of the county who had served in the Confederate army for nearly the entire war, achieving the rank of lieutenant, and John D. Gillmore, who had served as county judge from the time he was appointed by a Republican governor in 1865 until he was removed by a Republican governor in 1868. In the election, on January 10, 1872, Gillmore and Newsom apparently split the Democratic vote, and Johnson easily won.26

The state police force and the state militia, along with other initiatives like the state's new public school system, all cost money, and caused the state government to raise taxes rather substantially. In addition to higher ad valorum taxes, occupation taxes were again imposed, prompting another confrontational editorial from the editor of the Colorado Citizen, Fred Barnard. On May 11, 1871, Barnard declared that "the tax law, enacted by the nigger conclave at Austin" was designed "to rob the people of the fruits of their industry, for the benefit of the Radical party," and stirred his readers with "That terrible word, retribution, haunts them day and night, until every carpet-bagger, scallawag, and negro composing this infamous body imagine they see the ghosts of their murdered victims following them wherever they go, and that the gaunt spectre, famine and bankruptcy, is grinning at them from every bush and tree in the forest. We offer these vampires a little consolation under the circumstances, which they would do well to heed and be wise---it is to hang themselves to the nearest tree after they adjourn, and thus rid the country and their friends of their presence forever."27

Though conservatives like Barnard apparently did not think it a problem, there was certainly a climate of violence in the county, and indeed across the state, for the new state police force to suppress. In the summer of 1870, there had been several murders and other violent incidents around the county. The west side of the county was shocked by three murders in 1870 and 1871. On May 29, 1870, south of Oakland, Joseph Wiggins Stafford was killed by a man named Milton Allen. Little, however, is known of the particulars, and Allen was never apprehended. On July 1, 1871, Thomas Morrisey was found shot to death near Content. Four facts led the authorities to arrest David Landers for the murder: Morrisey had spent much of the previous day with Landers; Landers had been heard to mildly threaten him; Landers had been seen leading Morrisey's horse after the killing; and, Landers had blood on his saddle. The same facts were apparently enough for the court, which refused his plea for time to produce a witness who would testify that the blood was that of a slaughtered animal, and on October 19, 1871, convicted him and sentenced him to death. Landers immediately appealed, and, in March 1872, the state supreme court reversed the judgement. Landers went back before the district court and, on October 17, 1872, was again found guilty, but this time was accorded a sentence of 21 years in the state penitentiary. The third murderer escaped with an even lighter sentence. On September 9, 1871, Sidney Ludlow, who was apparently drunk, was thrown from his horse in downtown Oakland. He rose to his feet, waving his pistol. When two of his friends, John D. Tooke and Jacob Andrew Eason moved to peacefully disarm him, Ludlow warned them not to approach and refused to give up his gun. When Tooke tried to take it away, Ludlow shot him. Tooke died two days later. Ludlow was quickly taken to trial, and on October 20, 1871, sentenced to seven years in the state penitentiary at Huntsville.28

In late 1871, the troubles on the west side of the county made their way into the county seat. Four years earlier, on July 15, 1867, a Lavaca County court had issued a warrant to arrest A. Stapleton Townsend for stealing two horses and conspiring to steal some others. Two days later, a posse confronted Townsend near his house, near Oakland, and when Townsend attempted to flee, opened fire. Townsend fell, mortally wounded. The five members of the posse were indicted for shooting Townsend, but the case did not come to trial for four years. On March 18, 1871, three of the defendants were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary. Two days later, however, the defense attorneys asked for a new trial, citing among their grounds that they had only just discovered what one of the state's witnesses could testify. That witness, Robert E. Stafford, claimed to have visited Townsend on his deathbed, and heard Townsend state, at first, that one of the defendants, David Snodgrass, had shot him, and then, about an hour later, that because he was running from them, he did not know who had shot him. Apparently, prosecutors had worded their questions so that only the first statement was introduced into evidence. The defendants got their new trials, and, on July 15, 1871, Snodgrass was exonerated. The following March, another of the defendants was acquitted, and the remaining cases were dismissed.29

Stafford's revised testimony evidently infuriated the Townsend family. In any case, there seem to have been hard feelings between the two families when, on December 5, 1871, some five months after the trial, he and Sumner Henry Townsend had an altercation in downtown Columbus. Their disagreement culminated in a shootout in which perhaps fifteen shots were exchanged. Townsend was shot in the arm and shoulder, and Stafford's brother, Benjamin Franklin Stafford, was shot in the ankle. Four days after the incident, State Police Captain Leander Harvey McNelly and one private arrived in town. They arrested, or assisted in arresting, Bob and Ben Stafford, their brother, John Stafford, their cousin, Richard R. Ratcliff, and Townsend. All were subsequently indicted either for carrying weapons or for assault. In judgements handed down in June 1872, February 1873, and February 1874, Ratcliff was fined $125, Ben Stafford $50, and Bob and John Stafford one cent apiece for their parts in the affair. The charges against Townsend were dismissed.30

Around the same time, a substantial community of Jewish storekeepers had begun to develop in Columbus. In or shortly before 1870, Henry M. Ehrenwerth, Henry Friedlander, and John Rosenfield all opened stores in town. They were joined by Leopold Steiner, who opened a grocery store in 1871. The most prosperous of the early Jewish merchants, Ehrenwerth, succeeded so well that in 1875, he was able to construct a two-story brick building which, when it opened, housed both his store, and, on the second floor, a saloon. Shortly thereafter, Rosenfield also moved into a better facility. His old building was taken over by Nimon Rosenfield, who moved from Weimar to open his own store in Columbus. Meanwhile, Leopold Burgheim had opened a drug store next door to Ehrenwerth's. In 1876, Ehrenwerth's clerk, Adolph Senftenberg, eloped with Minnie Merseberger, the daughter of Mayor Henry Merseberger. Though the bride's father had tried to stop the wedding, when the couple returned, he helped his new son-in-law set up a store in his downtown brick building. Senftenberg, working with his brother who lived in New York, would, in the next decade, build his New York Cheap Store into the largest retailer in the county. The curious residents of Colorado County got their first look at a Jewish religious rite on January 9, 1877, when Alex Dreyfus married Dora Morris in Columbus. Two weeks later, and again a month after that, a rabbi came to town, addressing a crowd at the courthouse. By then, Dreyfus, Joseph Frankel, Louis Mendel, David Steiner, and others, had added their presences to the Columbus Jewish community.31

The evident prosperity of the community of Columbus merchants, Jewish and otherwise, was no doubt aided by the establishment of two banks in Columbus in the early 1870s. Whereas earlier Texas constitutions had prohibited the incorporation of banks, the Constitution of 1869 omitted mention of them. By the summer of 1872, efforts were being made to establish a bank in Columbus. Later that year, or perhaps in early 1873, the firm of Frazell & Autrey opened for business. Before the end of 1873, the bank had been reorganized. Autrey left, local attorney Robert Levi Foard became the senior member of the firm, and D. F. Frazell the junior member. The new bank did business as R. L. Foard & Company. The same year, James Hendley Simpson and James Carlton opened another private bank in town, James H. Simpson & Company. The Simpson bank was certainly the more successful. On October 11, 1875, Frazell left the Foard bank. In March 1876, the Simpson bank moved into a concrete building across the street from the courthouse, a sharp contrast to the small wooden structure occupied by the Foard bank. By the end of 1876, Foard's bank had closed.32

There were also significant developments in agriculture. By 1876, many farmers near Osage and Content, including notably Thomas R. Green and Mordecai Gibson Flournoy, had abandoned cotton and begun raising sugar cane; and producing, from it, syrup. Northeast of Columbus, Charles Kessler had taken to making wine. Though Herbemont grapes grew best in his three-acre vineyard, which he planted in 1866, he also produced considerable quantities of Concord and Catawba grapes. By the mid 1870s, his wine was sold in Columbus stores. Two local nurseries, the Pearfield Nursery, which was opened about half way between Frelsburg and Columbus by Fritz Leyendecker in 1876, and the nursery of Clark Finney, which was in business less than a mile north of Alleyton by at least 1877, afforded county residents the easy opportunity to plant their own grapes, as well as pears, peaches, plums, and ornamental trees and shrubs.33

It was ranching, however, which was destined to displace cotton farming as the county's agricultural base. The fantastic success of Robert E. Stafford, who, in ten years, had built a comparatively small investment into a small fortune, inspired many others to imitation. Some attempted to exceed him. In October and November 1876, in what the Colorado Citizen characterized as "a gigantic scheme," the International & Great Northern Railroad took title to 37,760 acres of previously unowned land in the southern part of Colorado County. The railroad intended to put the land under fence, creating a giant pasture on which cattle, hogs, and deer were to be raised, with the resulting beef, pork, venison, cheese, and butter sold for a profit. The fences were to be constructed of wood and maintained by cowboys who were to reside in cottages built near the gates. Ultimately, the constructed fence was to be replaced by a thick hedge, which was to be planted along the fence in the ranch's first year of operation. The property was to contain suitable sheds for the cattle, and numerous water wells, operated by windmills, to constantly fill troughs. Nearly every aspect of the enterprise was revolutionary. At the time, few, if any, ranchers in the county had fences, sheds, or wells. However, the railroad apparently encountered financial problems, and never developed the ranch.34

The International & Great Northern's land grab was merely the largest in a number of similar acquisitions in the 1870s. Between April 1875 and May 1877, five other railroads: the Columbus Tap, the Galveston, Houston, & Henderson, the Houston Tap & Brazoria, the San Antonio & Mexican Gulf, and the Texas & New Orleans, patented 25,595 acres inside the county. In addition, in May 1875 and October 1876, the Waco Manufacturing Company, a textile firm, patented a total of 2905 acres, and, in April 1875, the Galveston and Brazos Navigation Company patented 640 acres. On March 31 and April 3, 1877, the firms of Adam Adams, R. C. Beaty, & M. C. Moulton, and of C. R. Beaty, E. T. Seale & J. M. Forwood, patented another 2500 acres in return for their services in opening channels in the Sabine and Neches Rivers. By the end of 1877, slightly more than 96,000 acres in the county, or about 15% of its total land area, remained unpatented.35

Some land ownership, of course, was still in dispute. By June 6, 1874, when the district court finally heard the case, the lawsuit that had been brought by the heirs of Ursula Veramendi Bowie (Maria Antonia Veramendi Sierra, Teresa Veramendi Rodriguez, and Marco A. Veramendi) to evict the occupants and supposed owners of the James Bowie Survey on the west side of Colorado County had dragged along for seven years. Though the jury quickly brought in a verdict in favor of the defendants, the persistent Veramendis resolved to continue their legal quest to recover what they regarded as their family lands, and appealed, finally to the state supreme court. In 1878, while in session at Galveston, the supreme court ruled in favor of the Veramendi heirs, and mandated that they be granted a new trial, again placing the homes of several residents of western Colorado County in jeopardy. However, on March 5, 1879, the district court again ruled in favor of the defendants, and the Veramendi heirs at long last decided to abandon their suit.36

On October 14, 1872, about six weeks after John C. Journey resigned the post, Governor Davis appointed William Fondren as the new Columbus city marshal. Fondren had been selected by the city government, but only by a narrow, 3-2 margin. In addition to two aldermen, the mayor, John C. Miller, also apparently opposed Fondren. All was well, however, when Fondren failed to qualify. Miller fired off a letter to the governor recommending James W. Fields for the post, and stipulating that more than one hundred citizens had endorsed his candidacy. Davis appointed Fields to the post on November 1.37

Four days later, county voters went to the polls. When the voting ended, on November 8, John R. Brooks had been elected sheriff. Brooks, who beat the incumbent, Good, by ninety votes, took over the post in an orderly manner on January 3, 1873. At the same time, the voters of Colorado and Lavaca Counties elected three representatives to the state legislature. The three Republican candidates, Eugene L. Overbay, Benjamin F. Williams, and Johann Zwiegel, narrowly carried Colorado County, but, on the strength of the vote from Lavaca County, the three Democrats, Thomas A. Hester, Fritz Leyendecker, and George W. Smith, won the seats.38

The City of Columbus was allowed to begin conducting elections again in June 1873, at which time, it seems, the city council again became an all-white, though largely German, institution. Still, conservative distrust of government remained strong. In the summer of 1874, a mild scandal erupted, when the city came under criticism for renting an office for the mayor when it already owned a small building, called the market-house, which contained stalls that were once used by butchers. Already discontented with local tax rates, the citizenry was further aroused by an editorial in the August 20, 1874 issue of the Colorado Citizen, which noted a move to have the city take over the ferry on the north side of town, to make it free, and to raise taxes to pay the expenses of its operation. The Citizen agreed that free access to the city, and therefore to the railroad, ought to be provided to people who lived north of town, but suggested that the only way the citizens could afford it would be to eliminate the city government, which it decried as an expensive luxury. On September 24, the mayor, John D. Gillmore, announced that city tax collection practices had been lax and that he had assigned the city marshal to sweep the city, collecting back taxes. The next day, a number of citizens conducted a formal meeting to question the city's tax collection methods. Seeking relief from what they regarded as onerous taxes, on February 5, 1875, a petition to dissolve the city government, signed by 251 persons, was presented to the state legislature. The city apparently acted quickly to quell the revolt, for eight days later another petition appeared at the capitol, this one stipulating that the city government should not be dissolved because it had "done away with" the exorbitant taxes. By then, the city had renovated the market-house and moved the mayor's office into it. On February 25, however, the mayor assigned the city marshal a new task: beginning on March 1, he was to kill all the unlicensed dogs in town. Forewarned, it must be presumed that many dog owners shortly bought the necessary licenses from the city.39

Better, but not free, access to the city from the north was shortly to follow. The ferry, which had been more or less in place since 1838, was serviceable enough for most of the year, but was frequently too dangerous to use when the river was high. After at least a month of discussion, on November 23, 1874, a number of citizens and businesses pledged to support the construction of a toll bridge by a proposed company to be called the Columbus Bridge Company. On January 20, 1875, the state legislature chartered the company, and mandated that they build a bridge within two years. After preliminary meetings on February 13 and February 20, the company was formally organized at a meeting at the courthouse on February 25, 1875. Under its president, George Witting, the company moved fast. The contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded on April 6, 1875. Materials began arriving shortly thereafter. Construction began in May, and the bridge opened to traffic in late August. The company had had to borrow only about 20% of the money it needed to build the bridge and begin operations.40

With the successful completion of the bridge on the north side of Columbus, the county came under increasing pressure to improve the road leading to it, and to construct a substantial bridge over Cummins Creek. Buoyed by a donation toward the effort by Thomas Wentworth Peirce, who was part owner of and the key executive officer of the railroad, the Columbus Bridge Company decided to undertake the project itself. In July and August 1875, the county appropriated money to the company to help with the construction, and declared that they would henceforth maintain the road between the two bridges as a first class road. In April 1876, the company hired the same contractor who had built their bridge at Columbus. The Cummins Creek project also proceeded smoothly. The bridge opened in the summer of 1876. Though passage over it was free, its presence certainly must have added to the tolls the company collected on the bridge at Columbus. After completing the Cummins Creek project, the bridge company decided to remove itself from the day to day operation of its toll bridge, choosing instead to rent it to independent entrepreneurs each year.41

On December 2, 1873, the Republicans again seized full control of the county's police court. The three incumbent justices of the peace who had refused William M. Smith's sheriff's bond, Henry C. Everett, Daniel W. Jackson, and Fritz Leyendecker, each lost their bids for reelection. They were replaced by, respectively, Ernst Ludwig Theumann, Alfred Schrimsher, and Eugene Himley. The incumbent Republican presiding justice, Jahu W. Johnson, did not seek reelection. His seat went to Leopold Steiner. The fifth justice of the peace, Republican George S. Ziegler, won reelection. Notably, though the five justices of the peace were each designated with a precinct number, because of an interpretation of the voting rules by the governor, all five were elected countywide. When Steiner died, of yellow fever, four days after the election, an election to replace him was set for March 7, 1874. In that election, James Asbury Toliver, who was identified with the Republicans, easily outpolled Basil Gaither Ijams. The new Republican officeholders were seated with a minimum of bonding problems. On January 28 and 29, 1874, Theumann's, Schrimsher's, and Ziegler's bonds were accepted. Himley's was rejected, but was accepted when he next presented it, two months later. The same day, Toliver's bond was accepted, and he began presiding over the court. In the same election, Benjamin F. Williams, a black minister from Columbus, stood as a candidate to regain the seat in the state legislature he had held two years earlier, and he finished high enough in Colorado County to win one of the two seats allocated to the district. However, the voters of Lavaca County did not support him, and Democrat William Shelby Delany of Colorado County and Republican William P. Ballard of Lavaca took the two seats.42

The Columbus city elections of 1875 went better for the Democrats. Though Republican Henry Merseberger defeated Democrat Benjamin Marshall Baker for mayor, the Democrats took control of the city council. Three of the five seats went to men nominated by the Democrats, another to a man endorsed by both parties. None went to blacks. Soon afterward, the Republicans experienced a defection on the county police court. On August 4, 1875, Eugene Himley resigned his seat, evidently to pursue his contemplated career as a photographer. In the special election to fill the position, on September 11, 1875, Benjamin Harris Neal, a physician living near Frelsburg, easily bested his challenger. Neal, unlike Himley, was elected only by voters who lived within his precinct.43

The Republicans, though, demonstrated their continued control of Colorado County in the elections of 1875 and 1876. In the early August 1875 election of candidates to the state's constitutional convention, the three Republican candidates, Jahu W. Johnson, Ernst L. Theumann, and William P. Ballard, outpolled their Democratic challengers, George Millan McCormick, Julius E. Arnim, and John Wilkins Whitfield, in Colorado County. However, on the strength of their vote in Lavaca County, the Democrats were elected. From September 6 through November 24, 1875, they, and other delegates from around the state, most of whom were Democrats, drew up a proposed new constitution for the State of Texas which reorganized county government, eliminating the police court and substituting a commissioners court to be presided over by a county judge. On February 15, 1876, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved the new constitution. At the same time, they elected officials to fill the positions mandated by it. But, had it been left to the voters of Colorado County, the constitution would have failed: 1558 persons voted against it and only 1213 for it. Again, Colorado County by and large elected Republicans to the county's offices, but, on the strength of the vote in Lavaca County, and in the case of the state senate, Gonzales County, sent Democrats to Austin. Wells Thompson, the Columbus attorney, won the three-county race for the senate; Milton V. Kinnison of Lavaca County and Ibzan William Middlebrook of Colorado County took their district's two seats in the state legislature. In the Colorado County judge's race, though, Republican Jahu W. Johnson surprisingly beat William S. Delany, the respected attorney whose campaign centered on the notion that the county judge ought to be a lawyer. In the sheriff's race, Republican James A. Toliver beat Democrat Thomas J. Grace by 200 votes. One of the four new commissioners, Alex F. Kinnison, was a black man. He captured 63% of his precinct's vote. Two other black men, Ellsworth O. Almond, who became inspector of hides and animals, and Caesar C. Eason, who became one of the eight constables in the county, also won elections. The other seats on the commissioners court went to Christian Heydorn, Mike Muckleroy, and Williamson Daniels, whose party affiliations are no longer evident. Almost immediately, Kinnison and Eason published statements in the Colorado Citizen, warily appealing for full public support. The county's police court met for the last time on April 18, 1876.44

By then, it was becoming clear that party differences had begun to blur. For the Columbus city elections of June 5, 1877, the Democrats and the Republicans nominated the same man, Benjamin M. Baker, for mayor. Both parties also endorsed one candidate for alderman, and candidates for city recorder and city treasurer. Three of the other council seats were taken by Democratic nominees; the last was taken by a Republican, a black man named Edmund Eason. The marshal's office went to the Republican nominee, Jesse Joyner Harrison, though his opponent was longtime Republican John R. Brooks, who was evidently running as a Democrat. Harrison enjoyed the advantage of incumbency, having been appointed to the office in January 1875. Members of both parties also praised the performance of Jahu W. Johnson, despite the fact that, in November 1876, by virtue of a vote of the commissioners court, he became the first Colorado County judge to collect a salary. When he resigned, on September 24, 1877, he was replaced by a Democrat, Samuel Daviess Delany, the brother of the man Johnson had defeated in 1876. The new judge had only recently come to the county from Kentucky.45

Meanwhile, two of Colorado County's leading Democrats had made great advances in the state government. When, on December 1, 1876, Governor Richard Coke resigned to become a United States senator, and Lieutenant Governor Richard Bennett Hubbard assumed the office of governor, Thompson, who had been elected president pro tempore, became the presiding officer of the state senate. Only three months earlier, one of his two Columbus law partners, George M. McCormick, had been named assistant state attorney general. Two years later, McCormick was elected attorney general in his own right, though, running as a Democrat, he did not carry his home county.46

Whatever the true population of the county in 1870, it is certain that during the following decade, the population rose markedly. The rise was partly attributable to an organized effort made to encourage people to settle in the area. As early as 1871, an Immigrant Aid Association, to help immigrants meet their immediate needs for food and shelter, had been formed in Columbus. In January 1871, when some 750 immigrants passed through town, the association greeted them warmly. They were provided with a great many more immigrants to greet that year by virtue of the efforts of one man, Mathias Malsch, who sponsored the immigration of about 850 central Europeans, most of whom were Czech, to Texas in 1871. Malsch reported that his first shipload left Bremen on March 13, 1871 and arrived in Galveston on May 21; and that his last arrived on December 20. The great majority of his immigrants were Catholic, though some were Lutheran. Five of the immigrants died at sea and a sixth at Galveston. According to Malsch, 266 of them settled in Colorado County, with the rest settling in Austin, Fayette, and Bastrop Counties. In addition to paying for passage, because few of the immigrants had the means to immediately sustain themselves, Malsch also provided food, livestock, and farm implements. Apparently, the immigrants were to repay him from the profits of their labor.47

After his controversial stint as deputy sheriff, Rowan Green took up the practice of law. Shortly, however, he too had made it his business to encourage settlement in the area, and, not coincidentally, to sell real estate. He made no attempt to attract foreigners, turning his efforts instead to his home state, Georgia. He went to Georgia in August 1874, carrying with him circulars which trumpeted the value of moving to Colorado County. He returned to Columbus in September, having set the wheels of migration in progress. His efforts began to pay off in late 1875, when a number of families apparently followed his suggestion. The same year, Green wrote a long letter praising the county which was published in at least one Georgia newspaper. In 1876, he expanded the letter into a pamphlet; the following year he expanded the pamphlet and reprinted it. Whether spurred by Green or not, many more migrants from other parts of the United States arrived in Colorado County in early 1877. These new settlers, like those from Europe, generally were welcomed warmly, at least partly for political reasons. As the local newspaper acidly noted on October 19, 1871, "the arrival of large numbers of honest immigrants who, to a man, want a white man's government" were seen by the conservatives as "a stunning argument to the negro" who "want the African floodgates opened, and cannibals imported to counteract the influence of these white people upon the political status of the State." By 1878, however, even some of the white immigrants had begun to grate on the locals; the county, the local newspaper complained, had become overrun "with impecunious tramps, who cannot get work, and finally resort to crime."48

Throughout the 1870s, the railroad continued to drive the economic and demographic development of the county. On June 11, 1868, in a meeting at Harrisburg, the directors and president, Sidney Sherman, of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railroad acknowledged that they were hopelessly in debt and unable to proceed as a company. They were in default on a mortgage they had taken out on November 1, 1860; they owed a contractor, William M. Sledge, a considerable amount of money; the dispute over ownership of the rails used to construct the Columbus Tap Railroad, which they had acquired, had never been resolved. Over the next eighteen months, the railroad's many problems were worked out, and a group of investors, many of whom lived in Boston, Massachusetts, emerged as the new owners. During the same months, the company's new managers undertook major improvements to the dilapidated railroad, making extensive repairs to the track, installations, and rolling stock, and purchasing new rolling stock. In addition, the Brazos Iron Bridge Company constructed a bridge across the Brazos River to replace the awkward and dangerous barge system which had, until then, been used by the railroad. By 1870, the railroad was ready to proceed with its westward extension and approached the state legislature to amend its charter. A year earlier, they had decided to extend their line to San Antonio, rather than to Austin as had been the original plan. On July 27, 1870, the legislature sanctioned the new plan, and changed the name of the railroad to the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railroad. In 1875, the railroad built a roundhouse on the west side of Columbus, and in 1878, a cattle pen which enclosed some two acres a mile or two west of town. By then, they had extended their track beyond the county line. Though the railroad had begun acquiring rights of way across the lands west of Columbus as early as August 1871, they began doing so in earnest in late January 1873. Over the next two months, they acquired at least ten rights of way on the west side of the county. They also planned two new depots.49

The G. H. & S. A. pieced together the first new depot site, some seven miles west of Columbus, in two agreements, one reached with Gail Borden, Jr., on March 7, 1873, the other with William Stapleton two days later. The depot and its surrounding planned town was to be named Borden, and was to be laid out on land on Harvey's Creek which until then had been owned by Borden and Stapleton. Half of all profits from the sale of lots were to go to the railroad; the other half to either Borden or Stapleton. Stapleton already lived in the area, as did both Gail Borden and his brother, John Pettit Borden. The Bordens also operated a hotel, and an industry, the Borden Meat Preserving Company, there. Since 1849, when he invented the meat biscuit, a consumable though not delectable food product which resisted decay, Gail Borden had concerned himself with preserving food. His patent on condensed milk had made him a considerable fortune. Between May and October 1871, Borden acquired five tracts of land west of Columbus. By March 1872, he had begun construction of the meat packing plant, and the place had become known as Bordenville. On October 3, 1872, he conveyed all of his land in the area to his new company, the Borden Meat Preserving Company. By March 1873, in addition to the hotel, two schools (one for whites and one for blacks) had been constructed in the area, and Borden's home site included a garden and an orchard. The company's main building, in which up to 25 head of cattle per day could be processed, was a two-story structure of wood and stone. It produced roasted beef and, from the less desirable cuts, a less desirable extract of beef. The considerable water it used was piped to the building from a reservoir on the creek. The company's nearby slaughterhouse was adjoined by 150 acres under fence, where the unfortunate cattle were allowed to spend their last days. The new town of Borden, ambitious in its plat, grew very slowly if at all. It received its post office, with John Borden as postmaster, on January 19, 1874. Eight days earlier, its most famous resident and the driving force behind all its industry, Gail Borden, had died. The beef packing plant would operate, under the guidance of Borden's son, for only a few more years. By the summer of 1878, it was out of business, at least in part because of its inability to pay the railroad's shipping charges.50

The railroad acquired its second depot site, in far western Colorado County some seven miles west of Borden, from Daniel Washington Jackson on April 22, 1873. Jackson agreed to provide the railroad with suitable land for a depot, and the railroad agreed to lay out a town on a 320 acre tract and to split the profits from the sale of the lots with Jackson. By June 20, the depot was in place. Jackson formally conveyed one-half interest in the town tract to the railroad, specifying that some lots should be reserved for "churches, schools, parks public places, & burial grounds." By August, the town had been surveyed and laid off into lots, and given the name Weimar. On August 28 and 29, the first two lots were sold, the first to William Herndon and the second to Alex Roeber. Only four months later, on December 23, 1873, Weimar was given a post office. A telegraph office was installed a year later. In terms of population growth, Weimar was far and away the most immediately successful of the railroad towns in Colorado County. Weimar's depot provided a link to eastern markets for the farming communities of Oakland, Content, Osage, and the small Fayette County community of Holman, all of which had considerable populations, all of which were just a few miles away, and all of which immediately declined or virtually disappeared. Weimar grew so fast that on July 21, 1875, less than two years after the first lots were sold, the citizens of the town petitioned the county police court to hold an election to consider incorporation. On August 26, 39 persons voted to approve incorporation, and only ten voted against. Five days later, on August 31, 1875, the county declared that the town was incorporated. In the city's first elections, held on September 15, 1875, Herndon was elected mayor and Larkin D. Secrest marshal.51

By early 1876, citizens of Schulenburg and Flatonia, each of which were recently established railroad towns in neighboring Fayette County, were urging the citizens of Weimar to separate their thriving new city from Colorado County and join in establishing a new county, which was to be named Menefee County. But the citizens of Weimar were against the proposition. By then, though the city boasted fewer than 500 residents, Weimar had two schools: the Weimar Institute, taught by Patrick Henry Hargon, and the Preparatory and Classical School for Males and Females, taught by Henry Columbus Quin. By September 1876, Quin had added three more teachers to his faculty. In 1877, a man named Schneider opened a third school in Weimar, this one conducted in German. By the end of that year, there were fourteen dry goods and grocery stores in town, plus two drug stores, two wagon shops, two hotels (the St. James and the Commercial), a restaurant and three saloons, three livery stables, three shoe stores, a tailor shop, and a saddle shop run by A. F. Rose. A third hotel had been destroyed by fire in October. There were also Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges, each of which had established a cemetery. Late that year, Jackson, Weimar's founder, finally moved to town, where he opened a livery stable.52

To extend its line west, the railroad had selected a route through Columbus that effectively bypassed its depots. Realizing that the agreement that had been reached between the railroad and William Jefferson Jones and George W. Smith on August 11, 1867, whereby the railroad would pay Jones and Smith for passage across their property on the north side of Columbus, would, over time, cost them a fortune, the railroad set out to find another way to cross the west side of Columbus. Except for Jones's and Smith's vacant lots on the north side of town, houses and commercial buildings blocked their way. That left the obvious alternative: a city street. On February 11, 1873, the railroad secured the permission of the City of Columbus to construct track on either Crockett or Preston Streets, and shortly afterward, began laying their track along Crockett. However, the new route created two problems for the railroad in town. Thereafter, westbound trains stopping in Columbus had to be diverted from the main line to the depots in the north part of town, then back up onto or across the bridge before proceeding; and eastbound trains had to stop on the bridge and back up to the depots. Secondly, the new route down Crockett Street did not afford the railroad enough room to build their customary side track, on which freight trains could stop to be loaded and unloaded while other trains passed through town. In early 1874, the railroad moved to solve these problems. On February 24, 1874, they asked the Columbus city council for titles to Preston Street between Back and Travis Streets, to the portion of Bowie Street north of Preston, and to a lot on the corner of Crockett and Travis Streets in the heart of the city's commercial district. They hoped to move their passenger depot to the downtown lot and to construct a side track along Preston Street and move their freight depot to the requested part of Bowie Street. They used as leverage, the possibility that both depots would be moved to a farm of about 20 acres west of town that the railroad had purchased on March 21, 1873. In response to the requests, a group of citizens raised the money necessary to purchase the downtown lot for the railroad. By April, the passenger depot had been moved to its new location on the corner of Crockett and Travis Streets. The city, however, was apparently reluctant to give up Preston Street, and, on June 9, 1874, the railroad, again using the twenty-acre site west of town as its threatened alternative, asked for additional land on the south side of Crockett Street for its side track. On August 31, the city authorized the railroad to build a second track on Crockett Street, and to move their freight depot to a site about one block west of their passenger depot on the new side track. Jones and Smith, one must suppose, vigorously opposed allowing the railroad to have a right-of-way along Crockett Street. Jones, however, had moved to Galveston, and could do little from his home there. And, because of his previous political positions and racist attitude, Smith's protests certainly fell on deaf ears. The mayor and aldermen who granted the right-of-way had been appointed by the Republican governor, and three of the five aldermen were black. Smith, it turned out, had little time to fume over his lost revenue, or over the control of the city government by Republicans.53

On October 11, 1873, a Wharton County Deputy Constable named James Roan arrested a black man in southern Colorado County. The man resisted arrest, and Roan struck him over the head with his revolver. That night, when neither Roan or any member of his family was there, a number of bullets were fired into his home. The next night, two black brothers named Wright left the plantation where they worked to go to Eagle Lake to sell pecans, and never returned. When eyewitnesses placed Roan and a party of men in the area on the night in question, about 75 or 100 local blacks secured arms, resolved to find the Wrights, and to take action against Roan if it was warranted. Sheriff John R. Brooks got wind of the gathering and went to Eagle Lake with a posse. He spoke to the assembled blacks, imploring them to disperse, then returned to Columbus to await developments. Soon, the bodies of the missing Wright brothers had been found. On October 16, Brooks returned to the area, discovered that many of the armed blacks had gone into Wharton County, seemingly to look for Roan, and was taken to the spot where the bodies of the Wrights still lay, about three miles southeast of Eagle Lake. The two men had been tied together and coldly shot dead. The next day, United States Marshal Thomas Peck Ochiltree dispatched his deputy, M. K. Canfield, to Colorado County to investigate the incident and quell what had been depicted in the press as a potential riot. There was to be no riot. On October 19, a black man named John Wesley Brown was walking on a road about four miles from Columbus when he noticed two white men on horses. Brown recognized one of the men as Thomas J. Humphreys, a man who had threatened him only the day before because he had not paid a grocery bill. To avoid confrontation, Brown left the road. Humphreys, though he seemed not to have recognized Brown, nonetheless regarded his conduct as suspicious, and followed. As he approached, Brown turned, produced a pistol, and shot Humphreys two or three times. Humphreys died the next day. His death may have assuaged the hostility raging through the black community. Certainly it was further mitigated by the growing general awareness that one of the greatest calamities in the county's history had already begun.54

Even as Humphreys lay dying of his wounds, a number of persons in Columbus had been diagnosed with yellow fever. At least three of them would beat Humphreys to the graveyard; within a week, he had been joined by perhaps twenty more. The epidemic was preceded by a slight flood of the river on October 2, which left behind it enough stagnant pools to breed the hoards of mosquitoes which would soon enough spread the disease. The city was, by then, in deplorable condition. Weeds clogged the streets and covered the many vacant lots; numerous privies had gone far too long without the application of lime; horse, cow, and other manures dotted the streets; and carcasses of dogs, hogs, and others of the many types of animals kept by residents had been allowed to remain where they fell, and they, along with the viscera and other offal of butchered animals, were decaying in the unseasonable heat. Worse, the city council had banned hogs from the streets, a measure which advocates of public health decried, for the free-running hogs at least had consumed some of the garbage that residents discarded in their yards and on the streets.55

Again, as it had been at Alleyton six years earlier, the outbreak of yellow fever was almost certainly the result of the arrival of the railroad, and most particularly of railroad workers, who provided the local mosquitoes with the necessary serum to spread among the previously uninfected population. The first few victims could be tied closely to the railroad. The first to die, Gustav Sachs, worked at a lumber yard near the freight depot. He died on October 18, less than 24 hours after he became ill. His illness was immediately diagnosed as yellow fever. Three to five more persons died within a day or two. The old Brunson Saloon, a wooden structure which had been converted into a boarding house for railroad laborers, and which was characterized by the stench of various alcoholic drinks and the human products which their consumption caused, all of which had spilled onto the floor for years, was an early hotbed of the disease. As news of the fever spread through town, normal activity ceased, and residents began packing up to seek refuge in the country. On October 20, the district judge adjourned court and authorized the county sheriff and his deputies to remove the prisoners from the jail. They took the prisoners to a place outside town, where, being poorly guarded, most of them took the opportunity to escape. For two weeks, Benjamin M. Baker abandoned publication of the Colorado Citizen to flee from the disease. Some of the town's physicians also fled to the country; others became ill themselves. By October 20, only two doctors, John Henry Bowers and Robert Henry Harrison, remained on duty in town. Unaware of the cause of the disease or of any cure for it, they fed their severely ill patients with Borden's extract of beef and otherwise ministered as best they could. By October 21, more than 75 people in town had been diagnosed with the fever. On that day and the next, fully a dozen, including George W. Smith, died. Daniel Webster Harcourt died on October 21; his wife, Lue Ella, on the 22nd. Help arrived from other cities: in New Orleans, $500 was raised to help victims; from Galveston, railroad employee Hardy Eddins brought nurses and medical supplies. On November 5, Peter Joseph Hilden, a Columbus tailor, died. He had witnessed the deaths of his wife and three of his children in the preceding few days. The successful attorney Edward Musgrove Glenn died on November 14. John C. Miller, the mayor of Columbus, died on November 18. His wife died two days later. The city marshal, James W. Fields, died on December 1. Albert Dickson Darden, the son of William John Darden and Fannie Amelia Darden, who, following in his father's footsteps had been admitted to practice law little more than a year earlier, died on December 4. Leopold Steiner, the Jewish merchant who had been elected presiding justice a few days earlier, died on December 6. By the time the epidemic abated in late December, it had left so great a scar on the community that it would be remembered for a century. At least sixty people had died.56

After Fields died, the city appointed Joseph P. Harris, whose own son had also recently died in the epidemic, to assume the role of city marshal. The appointment may have raised a few eyebrows, for Harris had a somewhat checkered past. He already had killed at least one man, and probably had killed two. In addition, from November 25, 1872 until January 22, 1873, he had served as a private in the hated state police force. Moreover, he had served as marshal before, and definitely without distinction. He had been appointed to the post by Governor Edmund J. Davis on December 9, 1870. On November 26, 1871, he and his future brother-in-law, James McDowell, had gone in search of Bartley Harbert, a black Columbus city alderman and member of the state guards, apparently intending to assault him. Harbert got wind of the affair, armed himself, enlisted the aid of a friend, and confronted Harris and McDowell. Soon, Harbert and McDowell had each drawn pistols. Though no shots were exchanged, Harris had taken the opportunity to pistol-whip Harbert, then unduly alarmed the populace by informing the mayor, with no justification whatever, that local blacks were on the verge of a riot. Little more than three months later, in early March 1872, Harris had another physical altercation with a local black official, the local state policeman, Fayette Yancy. The following month, under staunch criticism by local Republicans, he had been removed as marshal. On December 14, 1873, very shortly after he returned to the job, Harris was sent to investigate a disturbance at a residence on Dewees Street. He was accompanied by, of all people, Bartley Harbert, who was acting in his capacity as a special Columbus policeman. When Harris and Harbert arrived at the house, the tenant, a black man named Pierce Henderson, opened the front door. Harbert waited on the porch as Harris entered the house, gun in hand. Reportedly, Henderson was holding a rifle. True to form, the trigger-happy Harris opened fire, killing Henderson. Though Harris seemingly suffered little immediate criticism for the killing, less than a year later, he was again in trouble. On October 14, 1874, he was indicted for using his office to extort money from a local merchant. Finally, in January 1875, amid a swirl of rumors that Henderson's rifle had been leaning in a corner rather than in his hands when he was killed, Harris resigned. Five months later, on June 14, 1875, a grand jury indicted him for murdering Henderson. He was brought to trial, but acquitted.57

In addition to increased economic prosperity and increased exposure to infectious diseases like yellow fever, the railroad also familiarized the citizens of Colorado County with the grievous industrial accident. Such accidents had happened before, and they continued to happen---for instance, David F. Whitney was mauled and killed at George S. Turner's sawmill on March 9, 1871, and Josiah Shaw was killed at his farm on November 1, 1877 when he got caught in the machinery of his gin---but never had they occurred with such frequency. In May 1874, a train wreck near Weimar killed an engineer and fireman. On October 8, 1874, another railroad employee, who had been mangled by an engine a week earlier, died. Two weeks later, a man named Willis McDonald was killed in a railroad accident about five miles west of Columbus. On February 21, 1875, one man was killed and another injured as crews attempted to place a derailed train back on the track near Rocky Hill. The following summer, Nelson Childress, a citizen of Columbus, slipped near the track and had his arm cut off by a passing train. In June 1876, a newsboy died after his legs were run over when he fell between two cars. On March 10, 1877, a man was mauled when he slipped while trying to board a moving train at Borden. He was taken to the Wootton Hotel in Columbus, where he died nine days later. Another railroad employee was severely injured in October 1877, and two railroad employees were killed in 1878.58

The railroad also introduced the citizens of Columbus to what would come to be called "noise pollution," as trains rumbled through the previously quiet town, blowing whistles and ringing bells. Other types of pollution had long been present. The yellow fever epidemic had made the community more aware of the dangers of leaving water standing and weeds growing; however, the increased awareness did not always translate into action. Horses, cattle, pigs, and animals of other sorts, alive and dead, were always present on the streets; people bathed at much wider intervals than is now customary; garbage rotted in yards; unsanitized outhouses and stables fouled the air. In September 1876, a jury complained mightily when it found itself sequestered in the courthouse overnight, unable to escape from the odor of the public privy. They, and the rest of the citizens, also had to contend with the stench from William L. Haskell's brick factory north of the railroad track in Columbus, which was so pronounced that residents implored the city council to take action. That problem, at least, finally resolved itself in September 1877, when, after three years of operation, Haskell stopped making bricks.59

The smell of gunpowder also filled the air. When aggrieved, Colorado County residents seemed to think little of producing and using deadly weapons. Indeed, one of the county's representatives at the Constitutional Convention of 1875, George McCormick, spoke out against a clause regarding dueling, stating that in "cases where a man's honor or that of his family was concerned . . . he must fight or be branded as a coward." Cowardice was apparently largely absent from his home county, for the times there were characterized by an increasing incidence of gunplay and murder, much of which was sensational. The most peculiar such incident occurred on September 29, 1874, when Amos English and Matt Woodlief, neither of whom was a resident of the county, had a gunfight in the middle of the afternoon on Milam Street near the Kulow Hotel in downtown Columbus. Both men, apparently, were gamblers who roamed from town to town. Woodlief had been in town since at least September 23, gambling in a local saloon. On the morning of the gunfight, Woodlief and English had played cribbage, with English ostensibly winning $20. However, Woodlief, claiming that English had cheated, refused to pay until English produced a pistol. When the two men met again that evening, Woodlief still had blood in his eye. He courteously asked English if he was armed; and when English said that he was not, Woodlief told him to go get his pistol. While English was gone, some of Woodlief's local friends persuaded him to forget about the matter, and he took his pistol to his hotel room. By this time, English had gotten his pistol, and was out on the streets looking for Woodlief. When he found him, about three o'clock that afternoon, Woodlief threw up his arms and protested that, this time, he was unarmed. English offered to let him return to his hotel, the Kulow, for his pistol, which Woodlief promptly did. When Woodlief emerged, English began firing. In all, the two men exchanged eight shots. Woodlief was not hit, but English was hit twice, and died about five hours later. Woodlief was quickly arrested, and, in less than a month's time, tried and acquitted.60

In 1875, the county was again forced to deal with its long standing problems in incarcerating suspected and convicted criminals. The jail, which the county had built of a locally created type of concrete, had proven to be among the least secure such facilities in Texas history. The first of what would be four jail breaks in 1875 came on January 9, when three prisoners burrowed through the wall. When four more prisoners escaped on April 27, 1875, the Colorado Citizen characterized it as "the semi-annual escape" and lamented that, though the jail was comfortable enough in the summer, it was a pity that prisoners had to be confined "in such an airy tenement in winter time." After two escapes in four months, the commissioners court finally moved to improve the jail. Since 1873, when the enabling legislation was passed by the state legislature, the county had raised money by means of a special tax to construct a new jail. On June 1, 1875, far short of the necessary funds for a new building, they appropriated the money to improving the existing jail, and hired a contractor to install two new cells on the second floor. The cells were not installed until late August, by which time there had been two more jail breaks.61

In the first, the structure itself was not at fault. On July 28, a guard, when feeding the prisoners, carelessly left the doors to both cells open. The three prisoners knocked the guard down and, under fire, scrambled out the front door. This time the Citizen wryly commented, "no announcement is yet made of the next exodus." It came less than a week later, and was unusual in that both escapees were women. Milly Walker and her daughter, Fanny Walker, had been arrested in connection with perhaps the most discussed homicide of the year. The elder Walker, it seems, intended to marry a man named Jim Perry, by whom she had already had a child. By some means, Perry's brother, Mose, stopped the wedding. Walker responded by inviting Mose Perry to share her birthday cake. Shortly, he developed symptoms local physicians associated with strychnine poisoning, and died. Led by Robert Henry Harrison, a team of physicians tested the contents of Perry's stomach, using distillations from it to kill both a frog and a mouse, and pronouncing that, as many citizens had already concluded, Perry had indeed been murdered. Walker's trial, in June, ended with a hung jury; ten jurors were convinced she was guilty, two that she was innocent. Her daughter's trial was postponed. On August 2, the two women cut a hole through the wall of the jail and escaped. They were still at large in October, when their new trial date arrived. By February 1876, however, they had been arrested. That month, Fanny Walker had a baby, which was born in jail, and which prompted a sympathetic judge to postpone the trial. The following September 13, when the case came up again, the state dropped its charges against Milly Walker, and Fanny Walker was found not guilty.62

By then, a new sensational murder case had occupied the public consciousness. In February 1876, Mathias Malsch, who had, since his 1871 immigration initiatives, practiced law, was on the road from Frelsburg to Columbus when he encountered another attorney, Emile Houillion, riding the other direction. Houillion suspected that Malsch had had an illicit affair with his wife, Belle. He knew that Malsch had accused him of forging a deed, and had therefore greatly damaged his practice. Believing that no one else was around, Houillion drew a pistol and began shooting. Malsch was hit at least once, and was thrown to the ground by his horse. He quickly scrambled to his feet and began running down the road. Houillion pursued him, still shooting. He shot Malsch again, then dismounted and stabbed him three times. Leaving Malsch dying or dead, Houillion rode back to Columbus, discarding his knife in a field along the way. In town, he encountered Robert Henry Harrison, a local physician, and reported that he had had a shootout with Malsch. Harrison and another physician, Joseph W. Brown, rode to the site. They found a small crowd gathered around Malsch's dead body. Even in his first conversation with Harrison, Houillion had blamed Malsch for firing the first shot. Houillion did not know, however, that two young men had seen the murder, and that they were prepared to dispute his story. Following their lead, authorities soon found Houillion's knife. They arrested Houillion shortly thereafter. His trial began on March 15, 1877. Over the next three days, fifty or more witnesses appeared, many of whom presented sensational evidence regarding Belle Houillion's apparent affair with Malsch. Houillion claimed that he knew nothing of the affair, and that he had shot Malsch only in self defense. He denied that the knife was his, and speculated that some unknown party had killed Malsch with it after he had left him wounded in the road but before he returned with help. The trial ended on March 17. Noting that the evidence indicated Houillion had pursued the fleeing Malsch for more than 100 yards, that his wife's affair was common knowledge, and that Malsch was unarmed, the jury returned to court on Monday, March 19, with a conviction. Houillion was sentenced to be hanged on April 20, 1878. In response to a petition signed by many local citizens, including Sheriff James A. Toliver, Governor Richard B. Hubbard, Jr. granted Houillion a reprieve until May 24. However, on May 22, Hubbard denied his plea for a commutation. On the night of May 23, Houillion wrote letters to his wife, to Toliver, and to a woman in Austin County, then retired to his bed. At about three o'clock in the morning, he called to the jailor, Monroe Harrison, who found him sweating profusely. Harrison called Toliver, who determined that Houillion had ingested poison. He was dead before a doctor could arrive. It was quickly determined that the poison had been wrapped inside a page from a March 27, 1878 edition of a Galveston newspaper, but no one ever discovered who had delivered it to Houillion. He claimed, in his letter to Toliver, to have had the poison in his possession for some time. He justified his suicide to his wife, who evidently had religious convictions against it, arguing "as they are murdering me I have the right to prevent the same the best way I can." In both letters, he continued to insist he was innocent.63

By 1877, the citizens had become accustomed to one shocking murder per year. That year, the victim was Joseph W. Brown, the Columbus physician. Brown was in Houston attending a fair on May 25, 1877 when he was invited to dinner at the Kennedy Hotel by a friend. As the men ate at a communal table, an argument broke out among two other diners. The argument quickly degenerated into a fight, and a third man, William Lafayette Grissom, pulled one of the men from the room. Tempers were still running high when Grissom returned. He and Brown briefly exchanged words. Grissom later testified that he saw Brown reach into his coat, apparently to draw a pistol. Grissom quickly drew his gun and fired two shots. The first, aimed at Brown's head, missed. The second hit Brown in the chest. He fell forward onto the table, then rolled onto the floor. Moments later, he died. As bystanders attempted to minister to him, his outer garments were removed and searched. He had been unarmed. Grissom was brought to trial on February 26, 1878. He was convicted, but he immediately appealed. The following June, his conviction was overturned because the jury had not been properly sequestered. He was retried and again convicted. Finally, in March 1880, the court of appeals affirmed his conviction, and he began serving a 99 year sentence.64

These sensational murders were by no means isolated. Violence and murder permeated the county. On October 22, 1871, at the culmination of an argument, Ben F. Gee struck John B. Harvey in the head with a shotgun, killing him. In Alleyton, on May 26, 1872, Colonel Samuel Stoudenmier and George S. Walton had an argument at the local Sunday School. Later that day, when Stoudenmier visited Walton to iron out their differences, two or three insults were exchanged, and Stoudenmier punched Walton in the face. Walton retreated into his home, emerged with a pistol, and shot at Stoudenmier. At Eagle Lake, on May 3, 1873, Nat Morris went a step further, shooting and killing William L. Wynn. In Columbus on September 11, 1873, livery stable owner Arthur Sherrill was stabbed four times by an itinerant salesman named O. M. McKinney, with whom he had argued. Though Sherrill was severely wounded, he recovered. Near Oakland, on April 1, 1875, in the course of trying to help Deputy Sheriff Christian Heydorn arrest Oscar Hargon, R. Gideon Blakeney shot and killed Hargon. In Oakland, on May 12, 1877, Thomas A. Woolridge, who had gone to town to get a haircut, got into a heated argument with one of his tenant farmers named Joe Holland, who was upset that his crops had been damaged by cattle. As he left, Holland threw a parting remark, but tripped near the gate when attempting to run from the scene. The enraged Woolridge taking advantage of the fall, leaped onto Holland, and in the ensuing scuffle, slashed him in the arm with a pocket knife. Holland, fully conscious, stalked off and bled to death.65

Though there were also many incidents of black-on-black violence---notably the killings of Thomas Stanley by William Long on November 20, 1873 and of Lee Henderson by an unidentified black man in March 1875---blacks, especially those caught in rural areas, often became the targets of white terrorism. In the last days of 1870, two black men were shot on the Gonzales Road west of Columbus. The first, Henry Lee, was killed, the second, Peter Roach, only wounded. Other black men were killed, apparently by whites, in rural areas in late April or early May 1871, on August 8, 1873, in November 1873, on September 19, 1874, in December 1875, on December 1 and December 22, 1876, and on February 11, 1878. Often, the assailants went unidentified. So too was the assailant who shot a black man named Alex Harrison in the head in Columbus, killing him, on December 24, 1877.66

Probably, most of the blacks killed in rural areas had been suspected of rustling, for local cattlemen did not hesitate to shoot such individuals. Following the practice of the day, ranchers let their cattle roam freely and unattended across the unfenced countryside, rounding them up twice a year to brand and sell them. For most of the year, they were easy prey for rustlers, most of whom, in Colorado County, slaughtered stray cows for their meat. Despite the growing concern of ranchers, the county official whose duties and powers were most pertinent toward mitigating the rustling problem, the inspector of hides and animals, found little support for his activities, and sometimes encountered active, violent resistance. Though it is not known to have been a factor in the incident, at the time he was killed, William L. Wynn was serving as a deputy inspector. No doubt the situation did not improve when a black man, Ellsworth O. Almond, was elected to the office in 1876. Almost immediately, Almond fell victim to an assault. By then, ranchers had determined to protect their own cattle. All around the county, vigilante groups began to emerge. In February 1876, ranchers on the Navidad River formed the Navidad Stock Association to guard their cattle against theft. The following month, the citizens of Weimar followed suit, stating that they were forming the Protection Society of Colorado and Fayette Counties because "depredations have and are now being committed upon persons and property in our vicinity, which the officers of the law have heretofore failed to arrest." On July 10, forty-nine blacks who lived in or near Eagle Lake formed a similar society, pledging "to report to the officers of the law all stealing of cattle and hogs, and in fact the stealing or depredating upon property of any kind whatsoever, whether said property belongs to white or colored."67

Their effort, apparently, was too little too late. In July and August 1876, violence which had its roots in the conflict over rustling near Eagle Lake escalated into a range war. James Underwood Frazar and his brother, Newton Ford Frazar, who ran a store in the Eagle Lake Bottom, had come under suspicion in the recent murder of two black men, and a number of area blacks had threatened to attack their store in retaliation. Robert E. Stafford, whose herd of cattle had grown to enormous proportions and who no doubt suffered as much as or more than anybody from the rustling, seized upon the opportunity. He, together with a number of cowboys who worked for him and a number of men from Eagle Lake, rallied to the Frazar brother's defense. As Stafford and his cowboys helped the Frazars evacuate their store, many of Eagle Lake's terrified women and children fled their homes for temporary accommodations in Columbus. Over the next several days, in a series of small shootouts over a wide area, six more black men were killed. Two of them, Bony Cotton and Lewis Gaskin, were regarded as notorious cattle thieves. Neither any of Stafford's cowboys or any other white man is known to have been shot. Finally, on August 9, Sheriff Toliver took a posse to Eagle Lake to investigate. The same day, he was joined by a posse of men from Weimar led by Constable Larkin Secrest. Confronting the combatants where he found them, Toliver ordered everyone to return to their homes. The last skirmish occurred on August 10, as Stafford and his cowboys were leaving the area. One account has it that they were ambushed by five black men, another that they encountered two blacks riding near the river. In any case, the Staffords opened fire, wounding one man and killing a horse. Again, neither Stafford nor any of his cowboys were wounded. Having successfully separated the warring parties, Toliver, with twelve men, remained behind to count and identify the dead.68

Not even the horrible events near Eagle Lake stopped the rustling, though it may have shifted the bulk of it to the northern part of the county. On October 8, at a meeting in Frelsburg, a number of citizens organized themselves into a company "for the suppression of lawlessness and crime," with Fritz Leyendecker as captain. Each member of the company was to report "any violation of law that may come to his knowledge" to Leyendecker; Leyendecker was to be ready to call his company together to help "the proper authorities" make the necessary arrests. Two months later, a series of fires destroyed much of the pasture north and northeast of Columbus. Though no arrests were made, authorities suspected the fires were deliberately set to drive cattle to the river and creek bottoms, where they were killed, then butchered and/or skinned by rustlers.69

An apparently small but vocal group of people in Columbus continued to decry the consumption of alcohol, even in moderate amounts, and what they regarded as the inevitable and deplorable consequences of intemperance, gambling and swearing. The temperance movement must have gained a boost on October 28, 1871, when a local jeweler named Adolphus Krauth dropped dead inside Ilse's Saloon from, it was later publicly declared, "collapse of the lungs, superinduced by the excessive use of stimulants." Early the next year, former members of the defunct local temperance society were encouraged to convene at the courthouse. But the movement hardly progressed until the autumn of 1874, when a travelling temperance lecturer and minister named James Young organized a chapter of the United Friends of Temperance, with meetings every Thursday night, in Columbus. By the end of the year, the group had 112 members, 66 women and 56 men. In 1877, they, and like-minded individuals from around the county, forced an election to decide whether or not liquor ought to be prohibited within Colorado County. But the measure failed miserably. The election, held on March 17, drew more than two thousand voters, and nearly 90% of them voted against prohibition.70

In the preceding years, the introduction of organized religious activity into the white community in Columbus had begun to lose its momentum. In 1871, one of the driving forces behind the growth of the American Lutheran Church in town, John Jacob Scherer, moved back to Virginia. After his departure, the Lutherans, who had always been strongly interested in education, lost control of Colorado College. Scherer's congregation had purchased a lot across the street from the college building on September 17, 1866. They sold the lot, on which they had perhaps already constructed a church, to the Columbus German Lutheran Church on March 19, 1872. The new owners certainly had a church on the site; however, they did not hold onto it for long. On September 16, 1872, they borrowed $370 from George Billert. Though the note came due a year later, the church failed to pay. Billert apparently did not press for payment, and was soon occupied with other matters. Both he and his thirteen year old daughter, Caroline, contracted yellow fever. She died on November 20, 1873, and he ten days later. His widow, Mollie, remarried the following year, and she and her new husband, Charles Olaf Nelson, approached the church for the money. The church paid the Nelsons $44.40 toward settlement of the debt on May 6, 1874. The Nelsons waited patiently for the rest of the money, then, on January 12, 1876, sued. On February 11, 1876, the district court ordered that the church be sold at auction to satisfy the debt. That May 2, the Nelsons bought the church. Two weeks later, they sold it to the Methodist Episcopal Church South German Mission. By that time, presumably, the German Lutherans had been evicted.71

German Lutherans, however, still had a flourishing church at Frelsburg; so too did German Catholics, at both Frelsburg and New Mainz. In fact, in 1874, the congregation of St. Roch's Catholic Church at New Mainz constructed two new buildings, a convent and a new church. The church was consecrated for services on May 1, 1874. However, the Catholics failed to organize a congregation at Columbus, though the priest at New Mainz, Constantin Hergenroether, tried, conducting services at the courthouse on November 2, 3, and 4, 1871. The Columbus Episcopalians fared somewhat better. On October 3, 1870, William G. Hunt, on behalf of the congregation of which he was a member, purchased a lot on Milam Street on which they planned to construct a church. However, a year later, construction had not yet begun; and thereafter it proceeded very slowly, if at all. When Episcopal Bishop Alexander Gregg visited town from February 24 through February 27, 1872, he conducted services in the courthouse. The new church was apparently not completed until 1874, when a minister named Thomas J. Morris was assigned to it and began keeping its records. Morris listed 68 members of the congregation when he arrived. The Columbus Methodist Episcopal South congregation, which had constructed a church near the river in 1850, also built a new church in the early 1870s. Their new church was spearheaded by a new group of trustees, all of whom were appointed on February 19, 1872. Less than two months later, on April 11, 1872, they purchased a lot a few blocks west of the courthouse for the new church. Having built it, however, they apparently could not fill it, for on November 25, 1875, they conveyed one half of it to the Lutherans, stipulating that "equal religious purposes [were] to be enjoyed by both churches." The Baptists were also having difficulties. By late 1876, the local Baptist congregation had become so small, and, according to the Colorado Citizen, "citizens seem to manifest so little interest in religious matters," that the minister, Powatan E. Collins, resigned, and regular services apparently ceased. The same year, Scherer visited town, taking the opportunity to observe "the reason that so large a proportion of the citizens of your city are out of the church is not because they are more depraved, or harder in heart, but because there are so few who, by consistent example and continued precept, prove that religion's 'ways are pleasantness and all her paths are peace.'"72

Outside of Columbus, things apparently went better for the religious minded. The recently-established Baptist and Methodist congregations at Osage continued to thrive. Both denominations soon had established presences in Eagle Lake. Methodist minister Orceneth Fisher arrived in Eagle Lake in May 1872 to begin gathering a congregation. His Baptist counterpart, John Burke Armstrong, reportedly arrived in town some five years later. Methodists and Baptists, as well as Presbyterians, had also cropped up in Weimar. In 1877, the Methodists took giant steps toward building that city's first church. That year, a number of local women organized themselves into the Ladies Methodist Aid Society of Weimar and began raising money for the construction of a church. Their efforts were greatly bolstered when, on November 2, 1877, Daniel Washington Jackson and Thomas Wentworth Peirce, "in consideration of a desire to promote the cause of morality & religion and to advance the interests of Weimar," donated a lot for the project. The same year, the Methodists declared Alleyton a mission, and assigned a minister to attempt to build a congregation.73

Despite some setbacks, including the destruction of a church between Weimar and Columbus by fire in August 1875, black congregations around the county also prospered. In the summer of 1876, perhaps 2000 blacks gathered north of Columbus for a camp meeting, prompting the Citizen to comment, "the 'heft' of religious element in this county seems to abide with the colored people, judging from the time and attention given to religious matters." Later that year, the black Methodist Episcopal congregation in Columbus, which also operated a school, purchased a lot on the northwest side of town and began construction of a new church. It was completed in 1877. Meanwhile at Oakland, on November 25, 1876, an apparently non-denominational group which called itself the Freedmen's Church bought a one-acre site for their church. Almost a year to the day later, on November 24, 1877, the African Methodist Episcopal congregation at Weimar bought two lots, one for a church and one for a parsonage, from Jackson and Peirce. As they did when they gave the white Methodists a lot a few weeks earlier, Jackson and Peirce cited "a desire we have to promote [the] cause of morality & religion & to enhance the interests of Weimar." This time, however, they gave nothing away, charging $75 for the two lots. Still, the Weimar AME congregation had entered into competition with Weimar's white Methodists in the race to build the first church in town.74

Perhaps because churches tended to be racially segregated, or perhaps because religious activity was of little consequence to them, conservative whites seem to have been unconcerned about religion in the black community. Education, however, was another matter. There was certainly some sentiment against educating blacks; and strong sentiment against educating them in conjunction with whites. So it was that, between 1869 and 1871, when the state made another of its several attempts to establish free public schools, schools which would admit both black and white children, resistance was widespread. Both the constitution adopted by the state in 1869, which mandated the creation of a public school system, and the law of August 13, 1870, which authorized each county to assess taxes to fund the construction of schools and provided that public school teachers were to be paid from the long-established state school fund, failed. It was not until after the law of April 24, 1871, which allowed counties to maintain as well as construct schools with taxes, and which made attendance compulsory by declaring that, with some exceptions, the parents of school-age children who did not attend a public school for at least four months were guilty of a misdemeanor, that such schools became common. For persons in Colorado County, the most notable exception to the compulsory attendance rule was the provision that exempted children "who received regular instruction from any private teacher having a proper certificate of competency," for private schools could be racially segregated. The Colorado Citizen, under the editorial guidance of Fred Barnard, wasted little time in viciously attacking the new school system and the legislature's choice for state school superintendent, former Union soldier and Freedmen's Bureau official Jacob Carl Maria DeGress. Of the schools, the Citizen prodded, "white men, remember that the Radical party intend through the public free schools, to compel you to send your children to the same school with negro children," and of DeGress "he is imminently qualified to boss the job of teaching the negroes to be impudent to the white race" and "he may enjoy the transcendant pleasures of seeing the children of the white rebels commingling on terms of equality with their former proteges, under the rod of a buck negro school teacher."75

In the fall of 1871, public schools opened around the county. However, the most substantial school building in the county, the Colorado College building in Columbus, contained a private school. The building was purchased by the local Odd Fellows lodge in early 1871, and they rented it to a teacher named E. E. Post. Post's private school was so successful that for the term beginning in January 1872, he hired three more teachers, one of whom, Kate Oakes, had conducted a public school in the previous term. After Oakes's closed, the county was left with sixteen public schools which had an average enrollment of 73 students. The largest, apparently, was that at Columbus, which had more than 200 students. Years later, one citizen remembered that because of "an unsocial atmosphere which prevailed in Columbus and . . . the inability to find agreeable lodging and boarding places," white teachers quit the local public schools, leaving them to be conducted by blacks.76

The following year, Post left town, and the Odd Fellows leased the college building to the state for use as a public school. More importantly, Benjamin M. Baker, who would become a strong advocate of good schools, and who seemed to be little concerned whether or not they were public, took over as editor of the Citizen. He began his campaign to establish a single, high-quality school in Columbus with an editorial published on October 1, 1874, an editorial which was evidently prompted by the sudden dismissal of the town's public school teacher, T. L. P. Holloman. When Holloman, who had conducted the school the preceding year, returned to town to resume classes in the fall of 1874, he was told his services were no longer needed. Too late to secure another position, he further divided local educational efforts by opening a private school in the Masonic hall and suggesting that his school ought to be eligible for state funds. Baker continued his lobbying on November 19, saying "the importance of a well-regulated and permanent school in our midst can scarcely be over-estimated." He weighed in again the following week, assuring his readers that the absence of a good school impaired economic development. Few, apparently, were persuaded. Two new schools opened in Columbus in January 1875, and Arnold Prause opened another, this one conducted in German, the following March 15. Three days later, Baker lamented that instead of one school, the city contained "some half dozen village schools, of limited scholarship, eking out an existence of little profit to the teachers, and of very little advantage to the place." Things, from his perspective, were about to get a little better.77

In the fall of 1875, Powatan E. Collins established the Colorado Institute. His new school came complete with a board of directors, elected on August 21, 1875, consisting of nine of the community's leading citizens. The Institute promised to be so successful that, whether from a spirit of cooperation or defeat, the Columbus public school decided not to begin its classes until March 1876, after Collins's school was set to close. Collins, however, opened a spring term on January 3, 1876, a term which did not conclude until June. By then, the state, by virtue of adopting a new constitution, had made sweeping changes to the public school system. The most notable change was the declaration that public schools must be racially segregated, which was written into the constitution and was reiterated by the act, passed by the legislature on August 19, 1876, which set up the new school system. The Colorado Institute, which had hitherto been supported privately, began receiving public funds with the term which opened in the fall of 1876. So too did the several successful schools outside Columbus, including that of Edward Brady Carruth, which had been operating in Osage since 1874, that of John R. Harris which apparently began operating at Oakland in 1875, those of Pat H. Hargon and Henry C. Quin in Weimar, and the Hermann Seminary at Frelsburg. Shortly, if not immediately, separate schools for blacks appeared in Columbus, Oakland, Alleyton, and probably elsewhere. The Alleyton black school was conducted by Alex F. Kinnison, who also served as a county commissioner.78

Several rural schools were also apparently flourishing, including one at Frels Prairie about five miles north and slightly west of Columbus, one at Walnut Bend, one near Boggy Branch, one near Miller's Creek, one near the San Bernard River, one at New Mainz, and one at Content. That at Content must be regarded as typical. On July 9, 1871, six local men met and agreed to support a school in the area. The school opened that fall, under the governance of a board of directors and the guidance of a teacher named G. Marski, and soon began receiving support from the state. In the summer of 1872, the directors determined to build a new schoolhouse, 24 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 12 feet tall. Backed by a number of pledges, they secured a small tract of land and constructed the building. Teachers came and went (Marski was replaced in 1873 by Charles W. Hanns, and Hanns the following year by Max Albrecht Konz), salaries and costs escalated, and the state provided varying degrees of money, but the school remained open for about ten months each year.79

When Robert P. Tendick returned from the legislature in 1873, he was appointed postmaster, but otherwise retired from politics and concentrated his attention on his store in Columbus. In 1874, he moved it to a larger building on Spring Street. Soon, his store was the best in town. His success stemmed in part from the presence of the post office next door, but also from his commitment to low prices and high sales volumes, a practice which he introduced to the county, and which he encouraged other store owners in Columbus to follow. In 1875, when most other stores in the county were operated by their owners and perhaps one clerk, his store employed a manager and five clerks. In 1876, he spent six weeks in the northeast, buying goods for the store, and for a new enterprise, a wholesale distribution house which he opened near the railroad depot. His success led to the complete rehabilitation of his public image. In 1871, the Colorado Citizen had called him "an adventurer, who by fraud, occupies a seat in the State Senate" and added, "I would suggest to this swindler . . . that there is a vacant cell in the State penitentiary awaiting him." Five years later, and under new editorial guidance, the newspaper lauded him for doing "more than anybody we know of in this town to revolutionize the mercantile business."80

By 1878, for all their electoral success, Colorado County's Republicans had done little to advance the cause of assimilating the freed slaves into society. Former slaves had held offices and opened businesses, but, more than a decade after their release from bondage, few, if any, had accumulated substantial material wealth. Moreover, schools, churches, and neighborhoods had largely succeeded in resisting racial integration. Other developments, notably the influx of immigrants, the increase in gunplay and violence, plus the development of public schools, the railroad, banks, and discount stores, had radically altered the character of the county. The passage of the earlier era was more clearly marked by the deaths of the two founders of Columbus, Joseph Worthington Elliott Wallace and William Bluford Dewees. Wallace died at age 81 on August 24, 1877; Dewees eight months later, at age 79, on April 14, 1878. Only two months earlier, the destitute Dewees had been placed on the county's pauper list. The Citizen, in brief obituaries, praised each man for his service in the Texas army in 1836. There was no mention of the roles they played some forty years earlier in establishing the city in which they each died.81

Continue with Part 9