Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 63
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Consider the Lily:
The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
by Bill Stein
When the settlers returned to the Colorado River after the Battle of San Jacinto,
they had, in effect, stepped back in time. Much of the progress they had made in settling
the area had been undone. Most of the buildings had been destroyed, their domestic animals
had been driven off, and many of the settlers either did not or were slow to return. In
addition, the turmoil of the preceding few months had forced them to forego planting and
cultivating crops, and, as they had in 1823, they again faced the prospect of sustaining
themselves almost exclusively through hunting. In 1836, however, game was scarce,
having been diminished by thirteen years of co-existence with man and the movement of
two armies through the area.'
Their hunger and grievous economic problems, however, did not prevent the
newly independent Texans from acting against those who had failed to stand with them
during the revolution. At least one settler had remained at his home on the Colorado during
the conflict, and cooperated fully with the Mexican army. After the Mexicans were repelled
from the incipient country, the army called for his arrest. But the officer who was sent to
take him into custody, apparently after being personally enriched by the suspected
collaborator, somehow let him escape. The officer made no pursuit, choosing instead to
return to his camp, and stopping on the way to be fed by and steal two horses from William
Another Colorado River settler, John Byrne, fell out of favor with his fellow
colonists, and with the government, by fleeing the area during the conflict specifically to
avoid participating in it. Byrne had been granted a league of land on the west side of the
Colorado River a few miles south of the Atascosito Crossing on April 9, 1831. He had added
to his holdings by purchasing one-fourth of an adjacent league from Dewees. Shortly after
1 William Bluford Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas (Louisville: Morton & Griswold,
1852. Reprint. Waco: Texian Press, 1968), pp. 205, 208. Another, more subtle limitation to the prosperity of
the Colorado settlers should be pointed out. Many of the recent arrivals in the colony had served in the war,
and thereby found themselves entitled to land grants. So did many others who met the residency requirements
laid out in the new constitution. The sudden availability of so much nearly-free land must have sharply devalued
the real estate that had already been acquired, depriving landowners both of rents and of markets for either their
land or their produce.
2 Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas, pp. 206-207. The identity of the army officer, to
whom Dewees refers as a major, and that of the Mexican collaborator, are unknown.
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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/m1/3/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.