Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago Page: 21 of 58
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RECONSTRUCTION IN TEXAS. 21
of the public service, as appointments corruptly made. One of the
very indifferent appointments the Governor made was that of one
Thurman to be district judge.
Thurman told the writer that he was by birth a Kentuckian. He
represented that some where and at some time of his life he had
read law. During the Civil War he was, he said, in some one of the
Territories, engaged in mining, at which he said he had hard luck.
After the cessation of hostilities he came to Texas, landed in Bryan,
Brazos county, without money, and by some hook or crook secured
from the military authorities then in charge of the State the appointment
of mayor of Bryan. He held this office until the meeting
of the Twelfth Legislature, in its first session, when he resigned the
office of mayor and left for Austin, where he arrived in a penniless
condition. He found Austin, he said, rather a barren field in the
way of opoprtunities for making money. About the best opening
he saw was that of lobbyist before the Legislature, and he embraced
it. At the close of the session, said he, I had in my pocket $3500
and a commission as district judge. The judge was quite free in
his conversation with the writer, and as a Congressman for the
State would be elected in 1872, he said he would like to be a Congressman,
for the reason that his education and training fitted him
better for a politician than the bench.
The first court that Thurman held after his appointment was in
Leon county. He managed in a way to open his court and organize
the grand jury. In the first case he tried the writer represented the
plaintiff as attorney. When the case was through, all but the charge
to the jury, the judge signed the writer to approach him, which
he did. He said he was out of practice and rusty in the law, and
he asked the writer if he would not write for him his charge to the
jury. To this the writer demurred, telling him it was improper
and contrary to all precedent; but he still insisted, and continued
to insist, until the writer finally consented, in order to dispose of
the case. The judge finally managed to wind up the Leon term.
His next court was at Calvert, in Robertson county. He held that
court and at the conclusion of the term it was announced that
Judge Thurman had resigned. There was a portion of the story
connected with the judge's obtaining his commission that he neglected
to tell to the writer, but which came to his knowledge later.
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Wood, William D. Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago, book, 1902; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth14387/m1/21/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .