HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 13
local authority. They arrested whomever they pleased. Little
things like making a complaint or securing a warrant for an
arrest cut no figure at all. They generally went in bunches of
four or five and were heavily armed. It was no unusual thing
for them to stop good citizens on the streets or county roads,
cross-examine them in the most insolent manner and then
curse them, using the vilest language in an effort to make
them do something so they could have an excuse for killing
them. They did kill a great many men in various parts of the
state, but as the only witnesses to these killings were themselves,
they never had the least trouble.
Things were in this shape when the climax came. Three or
four of these negro police were in Brenham sitting on a bench
in the public square. A highly respected citizen and merchant
by the name of Ledbetter started across the square from his
store to go to the postoffice. He passed some distance from the
negroes and being hard of hearing, did not hear them when they
called to him and demanded to know where he was going. They
jumped up and ordered him to halt. Still not hearing them he
continued on his way. He had taken only a few steps when
he fell dead, riddled by bullets from the negroes' guns and-pistols.
The murder was so cold-blooded and unprovoked that
the whole community rose in arms. The negroes made their
escape, but the black flag had been raised and from that moment
Davis' state guards were doomed to dogs' deaths wherever
found. None of them was ever arrested for anything he had
done, because when they were found they were wiped out.
They were placed in the same class with snakes, wolves andother
undesirable things and the average white man thought
no more of killing one of them than he could have thought of
killing a snake. I don't know whether it was true or not but
it was currently reported and believed, that after the murder
of Ledbetter not a single member of Davis' negro state guards,
originally about 80 strong, ever died a natural death.
This change of front on the part of the white men had a
salutary effect on the negroes. They became less bold and open,
but the carpetbaggers and scalawags maintained their hold on
them through great political organizations.
The time was now ripe for an organized effort on the part
of the whites and that fact was recognized. One afternoon I
was seated in front of the old Capitol Hotel, where the Rice
Hotel now stands, in company with Colonel Jones, a young
lawyer who had make quite a reputation as a Confederate oficer
and soldier; Major Crank, Captain Charley Evans and one
or two others. After a desultory conversation Colonel Jones
asked me abruptly if I believed in white man supremacy. Of
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed March 11, 2014.