rhe Vegro xodus from Comalche
BILLY BOB LIGHTFOOT
COMANCHE County, one of the last counties created from
the Milam District, is on the extreme western edge of
the Upper Cross Timbers; like most of the Cross Timber
counties, it is an exclusively agricultural region. Because it has
no negro population, Comanche County is one of the few places
in the South that has no apparent race problem. The 1940
census showed only one Mexican, no Negroes, 28 persons of
foreign extraction, and 19,217 persons of Anglo-American descent
in a population of 19, 46.1
The county, however, has been free of the tensions of racial
strife only since four violent weeks in the summer of 1886, dur-
ing which all persons of African descent were forced to leave
because of a crime committed by one of their number.
The first settlers in Comanche County brought their slaves
with them, and these Negroes played an important role in the
first days of the settlement of the county. A Negro, Isham Hicks,
supervised the construction of the first Methodist church in the
county and later became one of the first victims of the raiding
Comanche County became a separate unit in 1856; thus the
first census recording population for the county as a unit was
the census of 1860. According to the tabulation of that year, the
population was 709 persons, of whom 61 were Negroes.2 These
Negroes were an integral part of the community and a nec-
essary laboring force. The men worked as field hands, farm-
ers, teamsters, and artisans; their wives worked as domestic
servants in the homes of their masters.
When the slaves were freed during the next decade, many
'The Sixteenth Census of the United States (Washington, 1940), Volume II,
Population, Part VI, Table 21.
2J. C. G. Kennedy, A Preliminary Report on the Eighth Census (Washington,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/. Accessed August 23, 2014.