Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 97
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The Freedmen 's Bureau in Colorado County, Texas, 1865-1868
adapted to the duties required of an agent in the Freedmen's Bureau." He offered to
supply satisfactory local references if demanded, and pointed out that since his home
was near the boundary line of Fayette and Lavaca Counties and almost equidistant from
either county seat, he could "easily attend to interests" of the agency in both counties.
But, probably because he was a civilian, his application was rejected.86
The appointment went to Z. L. Rand, who was in La Grange as the chaplain
of the First Iowa Cavalry. However, in early February 1866, very shortly after he was
appointed, news reached La Grange that Rand and his regiment would shortly be
mustered out. Two citizens, Frederick W. Grasmeyer and Livingston Lindsay, wrote to
Gregory to beseech him to keep Rand in the bureau, stating that he was "willing and
capable of accomplishing much good" and would "exercise" his duties "understandingly
and judiciously." Grasmeyer recognized, and asserted that Rand agreed, that a
"permanent not ephemeral" agent was needed in the vicinity, and that the agent ought
not to be a civilian who was "inclined to do justice impartially," for such an individual
would not be able to "escape censure and animadversion though having the strong arm
of the government" for support, and would not be able to reside in the area after
completing his duties.87
Grasmeyer himself was offered a position as agent for La Grange, but he
declined. Though he was gratified that Gregory had heard of him and had confidence that
the "interest of all parties concerned would be safe in my hands," and though, had he
accepted the appointment, he would certainly have "endeavored to do justice to all," he
realized he would need military backing to carry out his duties and, because no guarantee
could be given that the troops would not be withdrawn, and because, in any case, he
was not a member of the military and therefore uncertain that troops would follow his
command, he feared he would be left to the "resentment and tender mercies of those
who fancy themselves aggrieved when they are required to do justice to the negro."
Moreover, he intended to remain in La Grange, where he had property, and he worried
whether jeopardizing his future in the community was worth what little good he felt he
Grasmeyer also declared that, because it was easier to prevent abuses than
to ameliorate them after they had commenced, over the last six months it had become
much more difficult to straighten up matters "in the business in question." Area blacks,
he emphasized, were becoming demoralized because they had been lied to and cheated.
Promised protection, redress for wrongs, and payment of hard earned wages, they had
long looked for the appearance of an agent of the bureau. When one finally was
appointed, their hopes were revived. Business had commenced, contracts were made
and approved, grievances were scheduled to be heard, arrests were made and others
were contemplated, tracts were distributed, and schools and a church were promised,
when suddenly the troops and the bureau agent were ordered out. Even though Rand
86 James L. Davis (Fayette County) to Edgar M. Gregory (assistant commissioner, Texas),
December 12, 1865, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866, M821, Reel 17.
87 Frederick W. Grassmeyer and Livingston Lindsay (La Grange) to Edgar M. Gregory (assistant
commissioner, Texas), February 4, 1866, Assistant Commissioner, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866,
BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
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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/m1/29/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.