Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 65
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
That September, a few of Benjamin Beeson's slaves escaped, and two of his
sons, Leander and Collins Beeson, and a third man, Maxwell Steele, went after them. On
September 21, 1836, just after they crossed the Guadalupe River, a number of Indians
opened fire on them. Collins Beeson fell dead. Steele too was hit, and either killed or
seriously wounded. Leander Beeson escaped injury, but his horse was killed. He threw his
rifle into the river, leaped in after it, swam to the opposite bank, ran into a thicket, discarded
his waterlogged boots, and made his way barefooted to his home on the Colorado. He had
seen someone leap into the river behind him, and presumed at the time that it was an Indian,
but by the time he had returned home, he had concluded that it might have been Steele. Upon
hearing of the encounter, ten of his fellow settlers set out to discover what had become of
Steele. On the way, they encountered a larger party of Indians, but routed them, apparently
without casualties on either side, in a surprise attack. At the Guadalupe, they found the body
of Collins Beeson, wrapped it in a blanket, and buried it nearby. There was however, no
trace of Steele, though the settlers later heard that his severed head had been seen in an
Indian camp near Gonzales.5
The same month that Maxwell Steele and Collins Beeson were killed by
Indians, the citizens of Colorado County elected their first representative to the Congress
of the Republic of Texas. The new constitution, which had been adopted March 17, 1836
by delegates in convention at Washington on the Brazos, had created a president, a judi-
ciary, which included a district court and, in each county, a district clerk, and a congress
to which representatives were to be elected the following September. The citizens of
Colorado County sent John G. Robison off to represent them in the first congress, which
convened from October 3 until December 21, 1836. Robison was distinguished, not by any
deutsche Frau in Texas," Der Deutsche Pionier, December 1884, or the much more convenient, though edited
and altered, translation in Crystal Sasse Ragsdale, ed., The Golden Free Land (Austin: Landmark Press, 1976),
p. 3). Ernst took title to a league of land on Mill Creek in present Austin County on April 16, 1831; Fordtran,
as a single man, to a quarter league on the east side of the Colorado River in present Colorado County on May
18, 1831. Just when Fordtran began living on his survey, and perhaps even if he did at all, is open to question.
Most accounts of his life, including one published while he was still alive, imply that he lived near Ernst in Austin
County his entire life (see for example, John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: L. E.
Daniell, 1880), pp. 524-527). It may be reasonable to suppose that Fordtran did indeed live on his Colorado
County tract for a brief time after the war, or at least that he intended to, but that he moved back to his old digs
in Austin County after the visit by the Indians, and that therefore Secrest might easily have been slightly confused
when he implied that the Indians had attacked someone on Mill Creek.
5 Telegraph and Texas Register, October 5, 1836; Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas,
pp. 211-215. Documents in his probate file reveal that Steele rented housing from Benjamin Beeson, apparently
beginning in January 1836, though his estate is charged $144 for twelve months rent by the Beesons. The Beesons
also charged him for a horse, probably the very one he rode on and which was lost when he was killed assisting
them in chasing their runaway slaves. Other documents in the file confirm that he was in Texas by November
1835 (see Colorado County Probate Records, File No. 17: Maxwell Steele). He had served in William Jones
Elliott Heard's company at San Jacinto, and the land he received for that service was used to pay the few claims
against his estate.
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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/m1/5/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.