Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 70
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
same day, Dewees sold an undivided half interest in the town, excluding certain lots, among
them the few that had already been sold to others, to Wallace. The third advertisement
moved the general sale up to July 2, provided a detailed description of the townsite, stated
that the town contained sixteen buildings, one of which housed a school taught by Henry
T. Arnold, and promised the imminent construction of a courthouse and a jail.'3
The ads seem to have had little positive effect. Only two sales of lots in
Columbus by the proprietors were recorded in July 1837, the month the general sale was
to have occurred. In the preceding two months, when the ads ran in the newspaper, there
were nine recorded sales by the proprietors. Sales remained fairly steady for the next year.
A number of early purchasers, who no doubt purchased their lots as investments, conveyed
them to others. On July 31, 1838, Dewees and Wallace divided their interest in the town,
each taking sole ownership of about half of the many remaining lots. Two months later, they
tried another newspaper advertisement. The new ad, taken out on August 24, 1838,
proclaims that there were now between forty and fifty buildings in town, that the jail had
been completed, that a courthouse was under construction, and that there was a school,
taught by a "Revd. Mr. Harrison," in town. Again, judging by recorded purchases, sales
did not take off.14
Rather than the growth that the hoped-for influx of people into Columbus
would have brought, the county experienced a wrenching loss of population and territory
on December 14, 1837, when Fayette County, with a county seat at La Grange, was created.
The new county was given all of northwest Colorado County from just downriver of
Burnam's Crossing to La Grange. The citizens of Colorado County, however, did not take
such a huge loss of territory lying down. On May 10, 1838, they submitted a petition, signed
by 34 men, to the congress. The petition stated that the loss of so much land and the people
13 Day, comp. and ed., Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas 1836-1839, p. 37; Matagorda
Bulletin, September 27, 1838; Andrew Forest Muir, ed., Texas in 1837 (Austin: University of Texas Press,
1958), p. 81; Telegraph and Texas Register, May 2, 1837, which contains the first printing of the first of the
three ads, and June 8, 1837, which contains the first printings of the second and third ads; Colorado County Deed
Records, Book A, p. 139. The statement, in a brief biographical sketch of Armstead Carter, that Columbus
contained only three or four houses in 1838 must be taken as a slight underestimate (see A Twentieth Century
History of Southwest Texas (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), vol. 2, p. 361). In March 1836,
Sam Houston's army had moved the home of Martha Bostick from its original site inside the bend to the north
of Columbus into the fledgling town, for, as J. W. E. Wallace later stated, "the purpose of shelter during the
difficulties of the time." The house may have been destroyed during the hostilities (see Colorado County District
Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 63: William B. Dewees v. Martha Bronson alias Bostick).
14 Matagorda Bulletin, September 27, 1838 and other issues through January 31, 1839; Colorado
County Deed Records, Book A, pp. 9, 15, 21, 32, 40, 45, 54, 63, 69, 71, 73, 75-76, 83, 107-108, 110, 120,
127, 130-132, 134-135, 137, 146, 148, 160, 163, 168, 173, 180, 187, 189-191, 193, 196-197, 236, 246, 266,
269, 271, 274, 276-277, 280, 287, 291, 296, 300, 313-314, 325, 327, 330, 335, 337-338, 348, 355-356, 382,
394, Book B, pp. 16, 23, 30, 40, 52, 111, 115, 156, 208, Book F, p. 191, Book I, p. 331, all of which are
conveniently summarized in Bill Stein and Jim Sewell, "Historical Atlas of Columbus," Nesbitt Memorial
Library Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, May 1993, pp. 99-104.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996, periodical, May 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151397/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.