Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 85
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Consider the Lily. The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Benjamin Franklin Stockton, initiated a lawsuit, on what grounds it is unknown, that
challenged the constitutionality of the law which created it. The legislature, apparently in
response to the lawsuit, passed a joint resolution on December 10, 1841 which declared the
elections that had been held in Ward County legal and valid "as if no doubt had ever existed
as to the legality of the same." However, on January 19, 1842, the supreme court took up
the case. Montgomery apparently filed the suit, claiming that since he had to vote in local
elections in Ward County, yet with the residents of Colorado County in congressional
elections, he was in one way or another restrained from voting with his peers. The court
agreed with him. Noting that the constitution stated that "each county shall be entitled to
at least one representative" in congress, on February 4, 1842, they declared Ward County
unconstitutional, at the same time upholding all legal matters and business conducted in and
by the county. Egypt, and the rest of the lost territory, which included the incipient Fulton,
reverted to Colorado County. There were still to be a few sales of lots in Fulton, but, with
its county stripped away from it, it apparently never developed beyond a planning stage.39
By the time the lawsuit was heard by the supreme court, the relationship
between Montgomery and Stockton, who had married sisters and whose plantations were
adjacent to each other, had deteriorated from close kinship to hostility. The Montgomerys
would later say that the hostility stemmed from a clumsy attempt by Stockton, whose wife
had died, to enlist a young widow as his mistress. In the spring of 1841, within a week of
her husband's death, the relevant widow had received a letter from Stockton which offered
her a home and, apparently, quite explicitly stated what she was expected to provide in
return. By no means wealthy and with no means of support, she had turned to Montgomery
for assistance, and he had agreed to house her. According to his son and son-in-law,
Montgomery's hospitality had thwarted Stockton's plans, and thereafter Stockton bore a
grudge. That summer, on July 3, Stockton had encountered Montgomery's son, Samuel
Stephen, and accused him of consorting with one of his female slaves. Sam Montgomery
angrily denied the charge, and was dismayed the following March or April, when he
returned from serving in the army, to find that Stockton had spread the story around. He
immediately resolved to confront Montgomery about it. Knowing that Stockton was on his
way to attend an auction, Montgomery decided to follow him. John Hodges, who had
39 James Wilmer Dallam, A Digest of the Laws of Texas Containing a Full and Complete Compilation
of the Land Laws Together with the Opinions of the Supreme Court (1845. Reprint. Austin: Gammel-Statesman
Publishing Co., 1904), pp. 473-486; Minutes of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas from January Term
1841, Texas State Archives, Austin; Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, vol. 2, pp. 683-684; Election
Returns, RG 307, Secretary of State Papers, Texas State Archives, Austin; Colorado County Deed Records,
Book D, p. 332, Book E, pp. 48-51. The case was styled Stockton v. Montgomery when it was considered by
the supreme court. Curiously, though the report of the case specifies that it was appealed from Colorado County,
no mention of the case occurs in the Colorado County district court records, nor does any cause file seem to
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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/m1/25/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.