The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946 Page: 525
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The Citizens White Primary
ever kept of any of the meetings, and the membership was kept
more or less a secret to protect the participants in case some
of their acts should run afoul of Federal law. Judge T. D.
Rowell of Jefferson, the only known survivor of this group,
takes pride today in the part he had in the movement seeking
to purify the elections of the county.
It was the usual custom for the negroes to hold meetings in
the various communities to receive instructions on voting, to
divide the spoils, or to hear a candidate invited to appear before
the group. The first step of the new committee was to break up
the holding of these meetings. Having received prior notice of
a meeting, members of the committee secreted themselves in the
woods surrounding the church or schoolhouse where the meet-
ing was to be held. When the leader and more prominent ne-
groes of the group appeared, they were met by several men
who stated in words which could not be misunderstood that the
meeting would not be held that night and that there would be
no trouble if all returned peaceably to their homes. It could be
easily determined by the threatening tone of their voices and
the stern expressions on their faces that these men meant what
they said, and most meetings disbanded without much protest.
If any negro was recalcitrant, he was escorted to his home and
warned of what might happen to him if he chose further to
disregard their advice. Two uncooperative bosses were killed at
Jefferson by unknown persons as an aftermath of this develop-
Although from a practical standpoint this committee almost
eliminated the evil, it realized that some institution had to be
inaugurated to put an end for all time to corruption by use of
negro votes in elections. For this purpose the Citizens White
Primary was organized. In the spring of 1898, over four hun-
dred white men from all parts of Marion County met in the
courthouse at Jefferson. The meeting was called to order by
Davis Biggs, a veteran of the Civil War; William Clark was
elected chairman; and Captain W. S. Haywood was elected
secretary. Resolutions were adopted setting up what was called
a Citizens White Primary. A Citizens County Executive Com-
mittee was selected consisting of a chairman, a secretary, and
twelve committeemen. Two committeemen were selected from
each of the six justice's precincts of the county. The following
account of the organizational meeting appeared in the Jefferson
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946, periodical, 1946; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/m1/610/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.