Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 73
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Historical Atlas of Columbus
by Bill Stein and Jim Sewell
Numerous maps of enormous interest and significance, maps which chart
the settlement and expansion of Columbus, are scattered throughout the deed and other
records in the Office of the County Clerk of Colorado County and in archives and other
facilities. Unhappily, many are difficult to locate. Indeed, it was only due to a vast amount
of good luck, and the generously-shared knowledge of experienced land researchers like
Jim Rutta and Darrell Rau, that many were found at all. In collecting herein schematic
representations of the original maps, we hope to clearly depict the pattern of growth of
the county's oldest city and the relationship of geography to history. Readers should
be aware that the maps are schematics, with scales that vary from map to map.
Whenever possible, they are based on the original plats on file in the Office of the County
Clerk, and thus may not be accurate depictions of the city as it is presently constituted.
Division of the Elizabeth Tumlinson League
Columbus was established in a league of land that was originally granted to
Elizabeth Tumlinson. She received the land, rather than her husband, John, because he
had been killed by Indians near the present site of Seguin in 1823. Elizabeth herself died
less than ten years later, and her six children inherited the land.
The league was divided into six parts, called "lots," each of which was
designated by a number. Tumlinson's labor, just upriver from her league, was added to
lot 3. On December 19, 1833, her six children or their representatives met and drew
lots to determine which part of the league they got. Less than a year later, on September
6, 1834, John J. Tumlinson, who had drawn lot 2, sold half of his part of the league to
William Bluford Dewees for $112.1
For a time, the place was known as Dewees' Crossing. But by 1835, Dewees
had conceived the idea of placing a town at the site and decided to name it Columbus.
By 1837, he had acquired two business partners, Robert Brotherton and Thomas
Thatcher. The partnership, however, did not last long. Brotherton and Thatcher quit the
enterprise, and Dewees recruited Joseph Worthington Elliott Wallace to take their place.2
Original Plat of Columbus
One can only speculate why Dewees, or one of his various partners, named
the new town Columbus. It should be pointed out, however, that a rash of towns across
the present United States acquired the same name at around the same time, probably
1 See Deed Book J, pp. 626-629 and Book A For Bonds and Deeds, pp. 36-37, Office of the County
Clerk, Colorado County, Texas.
2 The earliest known mention of Dewees' Crossing is an August 1834 entry in the diary of a traveller
through Texas (see 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). The
earliest known mention of Columbus is in a December 30, 1835 petition for the creation of a new municipality
that is now a part of the Secretary of State Papers in the Texas State Archives. A series of three
advertisements dated May 1, 1837, May 22, 1837, and June 3, 1837 and printed in the Telegraph & Texas
Register of May 2, 1837 and June 8, 1837 tell the story of the dissolution of the initial partnership and the
formation of the partnership with Wallace. The third advertisement directly states that the new town of
Columbus "is at that bend of the river commonly known as 'Dewees Shoals or Ford.'"
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993, periodical, May 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151388/m1/21/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.