Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993 Page: 118
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Synopsis of Reports of John E. Brigham
For year ending November 1: 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907
Number of convicts on hand 13 22 17 6
Average number of convicts per month 23.2 16.3 6.4
Number of residents on hand 29 19 23 18 22
Average number of residents per month 19.8 23.3 17.2 22.0
Number of residents who died 4 2 4 5 6
Number of cattle on hand 12 22 20 29 32
Number of horses on hand 1 2 2 2 1
Number of mules on hand 7 6 7 10 12
Number of hogs and pigs on hand 61 64 56 60 26
Note: The term "residents" used above refers to paupers and lunatics admitted to the county farm by
the commissioners court. Brigham's reports were given to the commissioners court on November 13,
1903, November 16, 1904, November 17, 1905, February 14, 1907, and November 14, 1907 (see
Commissioners Court Minute Book 8, pp. 92-93, 162-164, 286-287, 417-418, and 522-523, Office
of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas). The first two reported the number of convicts received
in each month, rather than the number of convicts on hand. For the year ending November 1, 1903,
the farm received an average of 4.36 convicts per month. The following year, it received 6.08 convicts
per month. The first report simply lists all 29 paupers and lunatics in residency on the farm. Later
reports, presuming they were submitted, were not recorded in the commissioners court minutes.
declined sharply until, at the end of 1907, only six convicts were living on the farm.
Hundreds, however, had come and gone, having worked off their fines.17
With so many convicts moving on and off the farm, security became a
problem. In April 1902, Joseph Vinc Frnka, who was working as a guard at the county
farm, was attacked with a hatchet by a convict named Henry George after he had at-
tempted to force George to work or go back into his cell. A few months later, in what
was probably the biggest mass escape from the farm, six inmates set some quilts on fire
and, in the confusion, fled. Escapes, though usually smaller in scale, were not rare. An
August 14, 1901 report on 45 convicts at the farm stated that 28 had satisifed their
fines, one had died, and 14 had escaped. Later reports reflect a diminution of the
problem, but not its elimination."
In addition to housing for paupers, lunatics, and convicts, before 1924 the
county used the farm as a place to execute condemned criminals. Five men, Henry
Holmes on November 25, 1904, Walter Bates on December 8, 1905, John Armstrong
on April 26, 1907, Albert Woolridge on December 15, 1922, and Ray Jones on March
17 See Commissioners Court Minute Book 7, pp. 267-271, Commissioners Court Minute Book 8,
pp. 20, 92-93, 162-164, 286-287, 417-418, 522-523, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas,
and The Weimar Mercury, February 22, 1902, May 23, 1903 and April 22, 1905.
18 See The Weimar Mercury, May 3, 1902 and September 20, 1902, Commissioners Court Minute
Book 7, pp. 430-431, Commissioners Court Minute Book 8, pp. 112-114,
Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993, periodical, September 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151389/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.