Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993 Page: 114
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
proceeds of the farm's agricultural pursuits, that would offset the increased per pauper
cost? Unfortunately, no answers to these questions could be found in the commission-
ers court minutes or in contemporaneous local newspapers.
In any case, even at the seemingly high rate, Neal must not have prospered
under the deal, for when his contract expired at the end of September 1884 and the
county asked for bids to maintain the county farm until the end of the calendar year, he
raised his bid to $15 a head. The county accepted the new rate. For the next three
months, Neal was paid $234.70, again an amount consistent with the maintenance of
five residents. On December 2, 1884, the court signed a contract with Walter Eldridge
"Dick" Bridge to operate the county farm in 1885. Bridge proposed a flat rate of $135
per month plus an additional $8 per month for each of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth,
etc. residents. The county called the rate "extravagant." Bridge reduced his flat rate
to $120 and the county agreed. The county added one stipulation to those it had
imposed on Neal. Bridge was required to "keep the colors & sexes separated, making
The second full year of operation cost the county almost twice as much as
the first. For the year 1885, Bridge collected $1,442.50, or almost exactly the minimum
specified by the contract. The following year, Bridge had to compete with Benjamin
Franklin Toliver for the farm. Toliver submitted a bid identical to the contract Bridge had
had with the county in 1885, but Bridge undercut him with a flat rate of $97 per month
plus the usual $8 per month for each of the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, etc. paupers,
and Bridge's bid was selected. Bridge again collected almost exactly the minimum for
the year.9 This time the contract specified that
Bridge will furnish to said paupers good and wholesome food, such as
beef, bacon, bread, (both corn, and at times light bread, commonly called
flour bread), molasses, and vegatables when vegatable time of the year,
dried apples, rice, beans or peas, and coffee not less than once a day,
and to cloth said paupers, with good substantial common cloths, suitable
to the seasons of the year, also to furnish said paupers with substantial
The cost of the county farm went down again in 1887, as Toliver took the
contract with a flat rate of $200 per quarter plus an additional $8 per month for each
the eighth, ninth, tenth, etc. residents. Toliver received $874.60 for the year, an amount
somewhat over the $800 contractual minimum. We can therefore estimate that the
county farm maintained eight paupers for most of the year. Bridge underbid Toliver for
1 888, but the cost of the farm soared over $1,000 for the third time. Toliver having died
in 1888, Bridge fought off three new competitors for the county farm in 1889, but in
1890, one of the three, Dr. Charles Albert Williamson, wrested it away.
David Steiner was awarded the farm for 1891 with an extremely low bid. He
raised his bid the following year but held the farm by a very narrow margin. Steiner
offered to take the county's paupers for $850 a year for up to eight residents plus $8
per month for each additional resident. James Light Townsend bid $857.50 a year for
8 See Commissioners Court Minutes 2, p. 373, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado County, Texas.
9 The payment Bridge received for the last six weeks of the year does not seem to have been
recorded in the minutes. Up to November 1 5, he had been paid $1,01 8.95, which is $3.95 over the minimum.
10 Commissioners Court Minute Book 3, p. 17, 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/m1/6/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.