Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992 Page: 86
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Beeson's Crossing, of course, was the most prominent location in the county
at the time Dewees acquired his new property. Beeson died less than a year after the
revolution, but when he died, there definitely were buildings on his league. His probate
file contains an inventory of his estate dated March 8, 1837. The inventory lists "One
league of land west of Colorado with improvement and gin."6 A few years later, on May
17, 1841, Abel Beeson sold a "Gin House situated on a League of land granted to
Benjamin Beeson, and on that portion alloted to me as one of the heirs of said Beeson,
in the division of said league" to Dewees for $300.80 Thus, if one assumes that after
the revolution Beeson rebuilt on his original site, then Beeson's Crossing must have been
somewhere within his own league. Of course, there are other possibilities. Beeson's
may not have been burned, meaning that the buildings that were on his land in 1837 were
the first ones he had erected and that, consequently, Beeson's Crossing was south of
the present site of Columbus. Or, Beeson may have returned to the area after the war
but abandoned his original homesite, which would then have been owned by Dewees,
and lived, for the first time, on his own land. Only that scenario supports the traditional
location of Beeson's Crossing.61
Most definitive is what may be the last mention in print of Beeson's Crossing
by a contemporary. In August 1839, William C. McKinstry travelled down the Colorado,
measuring its depth carefully and its length roughly. In 1840 he published his
measurements as a guide for navigators in a small book entitled The Colorado Navigator.
Starting from a point that must have been near the present county line, McKinstry notes
"Twelve miles of beautiful river and slack water to the upper Ferry at Columbus ... where
the great BEND OF COLUMBUS commences, and continues for sixteen and a half miles
to the lower ferry.""2 From there, he goes on, it is a total of two and one-half miles to
"Beason's Ferry, house on the starboard bank."63 This "lower ferry" at Columbus must
have been near the foot of present Walnut Street and must have been Dewees', and
Beeson's, therefore, must have been some distance to the south.
Dewees' new town was apparently a quick success, at least among land
speculators, for Colorado County deed records show numerous sales of lots in Columbus
in the early part of 1837. The earliest such transaction listed took place on January 23
59 Probate File 1, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas.
60 Deed Book E, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas, p. 169.
61 Since there were buildings on Beeson's land shortly after he died, the date of his death is also a key
factor in determining whether or not Beeson's Crossing was burned during the revolution. If he died before
the revolution, as might be indicated in Almonte's journal (see footnote 39), then he could not have returned
and rebuilt, indicating that the burning of Beeson's is a myth. Almonte's statement, though, is very scant
evidence that Beeson died before the revolution.
Dewees refers indirectly to a living Beeson in his "letter" dated August 29, 1837. The letter, which begins
on page 211 of Dewees' book, states that one of his neighbors "had had some negroes run away from him"
and that this neighbor sent "two of his sons," Collins and Leander Beeson, after the runaways. Since Benjamin
Beeson's probate file contains records from March 1837, Dewees is again clearly mistaken about the date.
62 William C. McKinstry, The Colorado Navigator (Matagorda: Colorado Gazette, 1840), p. 16.
McKinstry apparently was quite familiar with the Columbus area. At the time he made his trip down the river,
he owned two lots in the city of Columbus. He bought subdivided lot 4 of block 49 from J. W. E. Wallace on
March 7, 1839 for $80 (see Deed Book B, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas, p. 148) and
subdivided lot 1 of block 21 from Fredrick Scranton for $180 on April 22, 1839 (Deed Book B, p. 152). He
may have been gambling that his book would open the river to navigation, initiate a boom in Columbus, drive
up the price of the two lots he owned, and produce a nice profit for himself. If so, he failed. On June 28,
1848, because McKinstry owed nine cents in back taxes on his property, the Tax Assessor sold both the lots
at public auction (Deed Book F, p. 466). It is not known whether McKinstry endorsed the sale or reaped any
profit from it, except, certainly, the satisfaction of his tax debt.
63 ibid., p. 16. McKinstry takes us six and a half miles further downriver to "the mouth of Ally's Creek"
and another six miles to "Passo del Atascosito, where General Filisola crossed with his division of the Mexican
army, with twelve baggage waggons and six pieces of artillery on the 13th April 1836."
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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/m1/18/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.