Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 77
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
advanced to within a few steps of them before they were noticed. As the Indians bolted,
Dewees attempted to shoot, but his gun misfired. The Indians turned to fight, only to find
that the other nine colonists had arrived. One of the two Indians was killed; the other escaped
to warn his companions. The settlers pursued them for another fifteen miles, then gave up.
Not long afterward, the Indians returned to Colorado County, seeking, the settlers thought,
revenge. About one and a half miles from Columbus, they came upon two men, one white
and one black, building a cabin, and killed them both. A man working in a field nearby heard
the gunfire, thought it peculiar, and casually mentioned it in town later that day. Three men
went to investigate, found the mutilated bodies, returned to town, picked up six other men,
and went after the raiders, alas without success. It was the last time Indians would raid
Certainly, such sporadic Indian activity had little to do with the slow growth
of Columbus, but the town's growth was slow nonetheless. In September 1839, John
Leonard Riddell, who was traveling through the republic, described Columbus as a town
of "fifteen or twenty small houses," among them two "houses of entertainment." The few
structures in town were apparently not very substantial. It was not until the month after
Riddell's visit, more than three years after it had been named county seat, that Columbus
got its first post office. In the first month of 1840, Dewees and Wallace made another
concerted attempt to bring new families, or at least new land owners, into their town,
securing the services of an auction house to sell "100 of the most valuable Lots" in town.
The newspaper advertisements which brought the auction to public attention, almost
certainly engaging in hyperbole, state that the town contained about "sixty respectable
buildings, a large hotel, and about 500 inhabitants." The auction was initially scheduled for
January 15, 1840, moved to January 16, extended to January 20 and 21, then postponed
until January 23. The auction apparently attracted only two buyers, John Daly and John
Koop, who between them on January 23, bought six lots in town. Neither is known to have
become a resident of the city. By May, however, the city had evidently prospered enough
that a man named Thomas Wilson felt it could support a newspaper. That month, he
announced that he intended to begin publishing the Columbus Herald the following July.
No issues, however, are known to have been published.26
25 Telegraph and Texas Register, October 6, 1838; Matagorda Bulletin, May 9, 1839; Dewees,
Letters from an Early Settler of Texas, pp. 223-226. See also A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas
(Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907), vol. 2, p. 361, which contains a biographical sketch of
Armstead Carter that mentions the same Indian raid and refers to it as the last.
26 James O. Breeden, ed., A Long Ride in Texas (College Station: Texas A & M University Press,
1994), p. 45; Matagorda Bulletin, May 1, 1839; Day, comp. and ed., Post Office Papers ofthe Republic of Texas
1836-1839, p. 64; The [Houston] Morning Star, January 9, 1840, January 16, 1840, January 17, 1840, January
22, 1840; Colorado County Deed Records, Book B, pp. 300, 302,304,307,309, 312; Austin City Gazette, May
6, 1840. The Republic of Texas generally established mail routes by legislation, but no act creating a route
through Columbus was passed until February 6, 1840. However, as we have seen, in April 1836, Beeson's
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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/m1/17/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.