Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 64
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
the revolution, and probably because of its outcome, Byrne began to divest himself of his
lands in Texas. The new constitution declared that individuals such as Byrne, who had left
the country to avoid the conflict, had, by doing so, forfeited their rights of citizenship and
the lands that they owned. On July 23, 1836, a few months after the Texan victory at San
Jacinto, Byrne moved to sell the quarter league that he had bought from Dewees and one-
fourth of his own league, agreeing to convey it to Peter G. Silvey. Some six months later,
on January 14, 1837, he sold the remaining three-fourths of his league to Sumner Bacon.
Silvey quickly had difficulty with his purchase. Byrne had agreed to make title to the land
in three months or pay Silvey $2000. By March 24, 1837, when Silvey filed suit, he had
done neither. And, Silvey alleged, Byrne was about to leave the country. The next day,
Byrne signed the land over to Silvey and rendered the suit moot. Meanwhile, on February
18, 1837, Bacon had sold the land he had purchased from Byrne to Alexander C. and
Thomas J. Henderson for the staggering sum of $10,000. That land was destined to become
a source of controversy, and of considerable employment for attorneys, a decade later.3
In another way too, the revolution caused a return to the past. For a few months
anyway, the Indians were again a problem. Shortly after the settlers began returning,
Indians attacked the family of Charles Fordtran, who lived, it seems, on the east side of the
river about nine miles upriver from Columbus. The Fordtrans locked themselves up inside
their house and rode out the attack without injury, though, evidently, one of their slaves
was shot. Four men from Columbus, one of whom was Dewees, shortly arrived to assist
the Fordtrans, but found the Indians departed. They pursued them across the river,
overtaking them about a mile from the house and engaging them in combat. A running
battle, which lasted for about six miles, ensued. No one was killed, though apparently at
least one of the Indians was seriously wounded. On the other side, Dewees sustained a minor
arrow wound in the arm.4
3 Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, (Austin: The Gammel Book
Company, 1898), vol. 1, p. 1079; Colorado County Deed Records, Book A, pp. 1, 43, Book E, pp. 575-576,
Book F, pp. 246-247; Judgement of the United States District Court, Thomas J. Henderson and Alexander C.
Henderson v. James C. Abell and William J. Jones, Original Land Grant Collection, Colorado 1-82, Archives
and Records Division, Texas General Land Office, Austin; Colorado County District Court Records, Civil
Cause File No. 1: Peter G. Silvey v. John Byrne. Byrne had also purchased much of the James Tumlinson Survey
north of the river, but quickly sold it. He bought that land on February 28, 1832 and sold it, to Amos Alexander,
on April 16, 1834 (see Colorado County Deed Records, Book A, p. 226, Translated Book A, p. 44).
4 Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas, pp. 205-206. Dewees, who provides all of the details
regarding this incident, does not give the name of the family which was attacked. However, Washington H.
Secrest, writing to Sam Houston on March 1, 1837, states that "the Indians have committed severel depredation
on the Setelers of Millcreak and Colorado they killed a dutchman by the name of Fotran and two children
..." (see Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers, 1825-1843 (Austin: Pemberton
Press, 1966. Reprint. Austin: Texas State Historical Society, 1995), vol. 1, pp. 20-21). The Dutchman, that
is German, in question must have been Charles Fordtran, though he certainly was not killed in 1837. Fordtran
was quite an important player in bringing German immigrants to Texas. He initially lived near Industry, and
in fact came to Texas with the man who established Industry, the man known as Friedrich Ernst (see "Die erste
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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/m1/4/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.