Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 95
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The Freedmen 's Bureau in Colorado County, Texas, 1865-1868
employed in 1865. And with Raper's assistance, he could settle the three outstanding
cases. To his satisfaction, Miller wrote Gregory that the freedmen worked "in a good
earnest manner in preparation for the new crop."79
Gregory was a strong supporter of black literacy but faced a multitude of
obstacles in financially and psychologically encouraging the fervent desire of many
blacks to become literate. At the Hempstead meeting, when Miller claimed that he and
Gregory discussed at length the condition of the black populace and the necessity for
an agent, they had also spoken about establishing schools in Colorado County. A school
"for the young darkeys" was needed, he wrote, and noted with pleasure that "some of
the grown men 30-40 years old are studying their spelling books and try to write their
own names." In Miller's immediate neighborhood a good school could be initiated. He
did not want to see black children grow up "without the chance of education."80
Recently, Miller had met a Mr. L. Leidelmann, a teacher at Industry, in Austin
County. They discussed the subject of black schooling, "with the view of having the
rising generation of the negroes educated." Leidelmann said he could begin a school in
his vicinity that would immediately enroll at least forty youngsters between the ages of
seven and fourteen years of age. If the bureau needed teachers for black schools,
Leidelmann was willing to accept such an appointment. According to word from the
community, Leidelmann was thought to be a competent teacher in both English and
German. Miller also reminded Gregory that as yet his name as a bureau agent had not
been advertised and he hardly knew "how to act."81
When Lieutenant Colonel H. B. Dox, commander of the Twelfth Illinois
Cavalry, came through the Frelsburg area on his way to Eagle Lake, Miller, who had
learned that Dox's forces had been sent to assist the "Labor-Bureau," talked with him.
Lieutenant Colonel Dox gave Miller a copy of Circular No. 2, which had emanated from
bureau headquarters in Galveston on December 5, 1865. It listed all the current sub-
assistant commissioners employed by the Texas Freedmen's Bureau. Miller was stunned
by the revelation that he was not on the list and found himself at a loss of what to do.82
In his last letter to Assistant Commissioner Gregory, Miller justified his
"illegal" assumption that he was a bureau agent by arguing that he was acting under
Gregory's orders and was receiving information and had received a "diploma" to act as
a sub-assistant commissioner from Abbott. He believed his actions conformed to those
of other agents both in the "letter and spirit." Blacks, Miller asserted, had "full
confidence" in him. In fact, long before he had met Gregory, local blacks had approached
him seeking advice. He hoped, of course, that he had not done any "wrong" and that
he could see Gregory and demonstrate that what he had done had been done with "good
intentions." But the meeting was never to occur.83
From Eagle Lake, in February 1866, P. H. Webster informed Gregory, as
promised, about the agricultural scene. Webster claimed his hands were "getting along
finely." With his plowing about half-completed and his freedmen in "good spirits," the
82 Miller to Gregory, December 22, 1865.
83 Ibid.; Miller to Gregory, February 21, 1866.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995, periodical, May 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151394/m1/27/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.