Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 100
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
detected premeditated fraud of the freedmen. No doubt, he wrote Assistant Commis-
sioner Gregory, there were "many deliberate" frauds intended by "unprincipled parties."
This rascality was practiced by dishonest individuals who regarded "this as the last year
of free labor and intend to profit by the experience and demoralization of the
George Van De Sande
Other agents, however, had too many responsibilities in their own districts
to pay much attention to Colorado County. Accordingly, about three months after Raper
left in January 1866, another sub-assistant commissioner was designated for Columbus.
The new appointee was First Lieutenant George Van De Sande, a white officer of the
Tenth United States Colored Infantry. Although confusion exists about how long Van
De Sande remained in Colorado County, it could not have been more than two months.
His major concern was feeding and providing health care for the black refugees that
congregated at his post. But like Raper, Van De Sande's regiment was soon mustered
out, and he left.97
J. Ernest Goodman
J. Ernest Goodman became the fourth official bureau agent in Columbus.
Like Van De Sande, he had been a white member of the Tenth United States Colored
Infantry. Goodman, however, had lost his left leg at Ringgold Gap, Georgia in 1864, and,
being thereby rendered unfit for full combat duty, was thereafter assigned to the Veteran
Reserve Corps. Little is known about Goodman's background. Although he is listed in
the bureau records as having served Columbus between May and August 1866, he
seems to have been on duty only until the end of July. His brief tenure in Columbus was
characterized by conflict with the local authorities and the black community. Certainly,
as his career demonstrates, an agent had a difficult task in maintaining a disposition that
seemed fair to everyone.98
Bureau agents, once they arrived at their stations, had to make arrangements
for living quarters and offices in which to conduct business. Goodman's correspondence
reveals something of the details involved. Though he had no troops at his headquarters,
Goodman estimated that he would need four chairs at a total cost of twelve dollars; one
five-dollar table; a lamp and other material costing five more dollars; a monthly rental
allowance of fifteen dollars; thirty dollars to pay a messenger and fifteen more to hire
a horse for him; plus three dollars for postage and the same amount to hire someone to
scrub the office. This came to a grand total of sixty-eight dollars, which was somewhat
expensive for the bureau. Goodman did not specifically identify the location of his office
in Columbus but there can be no question from his description that the quarters were
not particularly comfortable. The building needed a good many repairs, including glass
in the windows and leveling of the floor. Upon authorization, Goodman planned to have
97 I could find no information on Van De Sande's background as his compiled military service record
was being microfilmed and thus was unavailable. For brief comments see Richter, Overreached On All Sides,
pp. 40-41; Campbell, "Reconstruction in Colorado County," p. 10.
98 Richter, Overreached On All Sides, p. 107.
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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/m1/32/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.