Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 84
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
On January 19, 1841, the legislature passed an act which created a new county,
Ward County, out of lands that had until then been part of Colorado and Matagorda
Counties and which included the community of Egypt. After, on February 4, 1841, they
scheduled district court sessions for it, the new county differed from the two counties from
which it was created in only one regard: the residents of Ward County remained in the same
congressional districts they had been in before Ward County was created. The legislature
appointed Virgil A. Stewart as the county's first chief justice, and Stewart set about
organizing elections. On February 24, 1841, a district clerk, county clerk, county surveyor,
six justices of the peace, and two constables were elected, and a county seat, at the proposed
town of Fulton, was approved. Two candidates for sheriff tied, forcing a runoff. The winner
of the runoff refused to accept the job, so a third election was held, on May 15, 1841, and
Robert H. Kuykendall, the son of the former militia captain, was elected.37
Kuykendall's election as sheriff gave him a second reason to celebrate the
creation of Ward County. The first came when the county seat was named, for Fulton was
to be on property he had inherited from his father on the east side of the Colorado River.
To ensure that the citizens of Ward County would select the site, he had promised certain
concessions to the county. On June 11, 1841, he hired Stewart, who in addition to being
chief justice was a surveyor, to lay off the town. In return for his work as surveyor, for
assistance in writing title bonds, and for some cash, Stewart was to receive two full blocks
and one other lot in Fulton. In September, Kuykendall made good on the promises he had
made, signing over ten blocks in the town to three trustees, James S. Montgomery, John
C. Clark, and William J. E. Heard, to be sold to raise money to build a courthouse and jail.
He also designated a block that was 333.3 square feet as a community market place, another
of the same size for a courthouse square, and, quite remarkably, reserved blocks that were
half as big for each of the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.38
The very existence of Ward County, however, soon came under attack. One
of the trustees, Montgomery, and one of the men who had been elected justice of the peace,
52; Gross and Saustrup, trans. and ed., "From Coblenz to Colorado County, 1843-1844: Early Leyendecker
Letters to the Old Country," Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 1, no. 6, August 1990, p. 188; Colorado
County Deed Records, Book G, p. 9. In late December 1843 or early January 1844, a ship carrying 139 German
immigrants, 134 of whom were Catholic, arrived in Galveston. The newly arrived Catholics immediately
arranged to celebrate their arrival with a Mass, then went west to look for land. Probably, many of these
apparently devout Catholics ended up in the Cummins Creek settlement and provided the stimulus for the
development of the Catholic congregation there. Supporting such an assertion are the facts that in March 1844,
two months after the settlers left Galveston, Father Oge made a trip to Cummins Creek, and two months after
that, a church was being built (see Letter of Jean Marie Odin to Jean-Baptiste Etienne, January 12, 1844,
Episcopal Collection, Papers of Jean Marie Odin, Catholic Archives of Texas; "1840-Daily Journal-1846
of the Late Rt. Rev. J. M. Odin, " Southern Messenger, June 29, 1893).
37 Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, vol. 2, pp. 529-530, 650-651; Election Returns, RG
307, Secretary of State Papers, Texas State Archives, Austin.
38 Colorado County Deed Records, Book E, pp. 18-23.
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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/m1/24/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed February 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.