Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 98
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
had been in the area only briefly, the expectations of what the Freedmen's Bureau could
do for them had been suggested and local blacks had begun to respond accordingly. They
wanted to participate actively in the process of freedom and believed that the bureau
would be the channel through which this would occur. They were left, Grasmeyer said,
"with a faint hope" and believed that Chaplain Rand would soon return to La Grange with
adequate military support, or that he would be replaced by another officer who would
be certain to "carry out effectively what his predecessor had begun."89
Grasmeyer believed that, if Chaplain Rand had been allowed to remain at La
Grange and received support from the army and from some of the citizens, the bureau
officer would have "done considerable good." When Rand finally reported to Gregory,
the chaplain was able to supply information about the state of affairs in the area, though
he had only begun his extensive work before he left. Rand described his situation, after
the soldiers were withdrawn, as comparable to that of a judge without a sheriff or
constable, and thus believed his position to be untenable. It would be several more
months before the Freedmen's Bureau established permanent sub-assistant commis-
sioners in the Colorado River valley.90
With no agent in Columbus or La Grange, sub-assistant commissioners in
adjoining counties had to tentatively oversee bureau operations in those areas. In fact,
Columbus would not have an agent for another two months. John Scott, the Victoria
agent, visited nearby sections in mid-February. Though he could stay only a brief time
because the army detail which accompanied him ran out of rations, he negotiated a good
number of contracts, and noted that should agents be appointed in the area, they would
have a great deal of work to keep them busy. He also observed that the freedmen in these
counties were doing well "as usual," with only.a few exceptions, and that they would
continue to thrive if protected by the United States and left alone by the "white men."
Although matters were relatively quiet, Scott noted that several late night murders and
shooting affrays, committed by and involving unknown parties, had occurred in recent
months in Lavaca County, near Hallettsville. He suggested that a detective be sent to
investigate this increase in violence and to discover, if possible, the perpetrators of these
In late February or early March 1866, Isaac Johnson, a captain in the 114th
United States Colored Infantry, was appointed a bureau agent and sent to La Grange.
Because his military support had not yet arrived, Johnson did not immediately commence
his duties. As Gregory had predicted however, within two days of his appearance in the
town, everybody in Fayette County knew what Johnson's business was and, as a con-
sequence, numerous freedmen and planters called upon him for assistance. The
freedmen had all kinds of claims and complaints, chief among them that their employers
had refused just compensation for their 1865 labor and that their children were being
detained by whites. Johnson promised to begin dealing with the complaints as soon as
the soldiers arrived.92
91 John Scott (agent, Victoria) to Chauncey C. Morse (acting assistant adjutant general), February
16, 1866, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866, M821, Reel 17.
92 Isaac Johnson (agent, La Grange) to Edgar M. Gregory (assistant commissioner, Texas), March
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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/m1/30/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.