Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992 Page: 80
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
today, there are many more shallow spots there than there are north of Glidden. Those
wishing to cross the Colorado in the 1 820s probably would have found a much friendlier
river downstream from the present site of Columbus than upstream.
The second possible site of Dewees' Crossing, inside the bend north of
present-day Columbus, is a much more agreeable one as far as the size and speed of the
river are concerned, but makes little sense geographically. People crossing the river at
this site would be forced to turn immediately to the south before continuing a westward
journey. In fact, they would not be able'to continue to the west without again crossing
the river (and then crossing it again later) until they came to the site of Columbus, which,
under this scenario, would then have been Beeson's Crossing. How much easier and
more direct it would have been simply to cross the river at Beeson's.
More evidence is provided by the so called Connected Map of Austin's
Colony, which delineates the land grants and the roads of Texas of the early to mid
1830s.41 The map shows two roads that ran through what is currently Colorado County,
both of which crossed the Colorado River. One road, apparently the older of the two,
crossed the Colorado very near the southern border of the Beeson league; the other, to
the north, crossed at the supposed site of Beeson's Crossing, where Columbus is now
situated. There was no road crossing the Colorado north of Glidden or inside the bend
north of the present site of Columbus.
Benjamin Lundy stayed at Beeson's during the summer of 1833 and again
the following summer. The journal he kept on his trips to Texas was published in 1847
and reprinted in 1969 under the title The Life, Travels and Opinions of Benjamin Lundy.
On August 7, 1833, he arrived at "the farm and house of two brothers, named Alley,
.., on the bank of the Colorado."42 The next day, starting in the afternoon, he walked
"up the Colorado, to the ferry of Benjamin Beeson"43 and stayed there that night. A year
later, on August 12, 1834, he was back at Beeson's. Starting out from San Felipe on
the 11th and heading for Gonzales, he got lost. He camped for the night, having
travelled, he says, twenty miles. The next day he
reached and crossed Cummings' creek, which is a fine stream. I then went on to the
Colorado, at Dewees' ferry, where I crossed it with my baggage, in a canoe, swimming
my horse as before. Thence I proceeded two and a half miles down the Colorado, to the
ferry of Beeson, and put up with him.44
41 This map, which is on file at the General Land Office in Austin, was, according to a legend in its lower
right hand corner, started by Stephen Fuller Austin in 1833, completed by his brother-in-law, James Franklin
Perry, in 1838, and projected by the first commissioner of the General Land Office, John Pettit Borden, and
his two brothers, Thomas Henry and Gail Borden.
42 Benjamin Lundy, The Life, Travels and Opinions of Benjamin Lundy (1847. Reprint. New York: Negro
Universities Press, 1969, Reprint. New York: Augustus M. Kelley Publishers, 1971), p. 41. Lundy encoun-
tered only two Alley brothers because John Alley had been killed by Indians about ten years earlier.
44 ibid., p. 123. Lundy herein sheds some light on the nature of Dewees' Crossing and on the use of
the word "ferry." He refers to Dewees' as a ferry and states that he crossed the river with his baggage in
a boat, but indicates that his horse was forced to swim across.
Two other early Texas travellers corroborate Lundy's account. The botanist Jean Louis Boerlandier ap-
parently travelled through what is now Colorado County in April 1828, for on page 315 of Sheila M. Ohlen-
dorf's translation of his Journey To Mexico During the Years 1826 to 1834 (Austin: The Texas State Historical
Association, 1980), he tells of travelling from the Colorado to San Felipe via the San Bernard in two days. On
page 314, in an entry dated April 23, he speaks of coming to an "Anglo-American dwelling" on the Colorado
that is occupied by "proprietors" who "had established themselves there five years ago." He goes on to state
that they had come from Missouri and that they had been captured by Indians, then released, some time earlier.
Jos6 Marfa S6nchez travelled in the same party as Berlandier and also describes crossing the Colorado.
He states, through his translator, Carlos Castefieda, in "A Trip To Texas in 1828," that the house they came
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992, periodical, May 1992; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151385/m1/12/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.