Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 68
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
and three constables, John Breedon, John Cheney, and Thomas Reed, were also elected.
Brotherton, and presumably the others, were sworn in on February 10.9
Since the county court was not organized in time to meet on its first legally man-
dated day, January 9, 1837, it convened for the first time on April 10, 1837. Like William-
son's district court session a week earlier, the county court probably also met in the old
schoolhouse. Nonetheless, the county clerk, Brotherton, who wrote the minutes of the
meeting, referred to the building as the courthouse. Before the meeting, he or someone else
stood at the door of the building and announced to the public that court was about to
convene. In addition to Brotherton, the chief justice, Menefee, one of the two associate
justices, Dewees, and Sheriff Townsend, were all present. Very little business was
conducted. A jury was called. Six of those summoned were present; ten others were absent.
Following Williamson's example, Menefee fined nine of the ten who did not attend twenty
9 Election Returns, RG 307, Secretary of State Papers, Texas State Archives, Austin; Colorado
County Deed Records, Book A, p. 23. On December 25, 1835, a man named Tom Thatcher murdered another
man said to be his cousin in Vicksburg, Mississippi, then fled toward Louisiana. There his trail was apparently
lost. It is well within the realm of reason to suppose that he came to Texas, which would then have afforded
him some shelter from authorities in the United States, and that, a little over a year later, he was elected district
clerk of Colorado County (see From Virginia to Texas, 1835Diary of Col. Wm. F. Gray (Houston: Gray, Dillaye
& Co., 1909. Reprint. Houston: Fletcher Young Publishing, 1965), pp. 57-58).
Brotherton, who has appeared many times in the preceding chapters of this history, curiously, had
connections to two governors of the State of Missouri. When he came to Texas in 1822, he carried with him
a letter of introduction from the then governor of the state, Alexander McNair. After Brotherton died, in the
first few months of 1839, his nephew, Joseph Washington McClurg, inherited his considerable Colorado County
property. McClurg came to Texas and, on March 25, 1839, was appointed administrator of his uncle's estate
by the Colorado County probate court. Later, he took a job as deputy county clerk, and, on December 2, 1840,
secured a license to practice law. Apparently, he left the state shortly thereafter. The May 3, 1841 sale of most
of his holdings in Columbus, some of which he had purchased only a month earlier, probably signals his departure
from Texas. He continued to own two lots in Columbus and more than 500 acres on the river west of town until
1851. That year, his appointed agent, William B. Perry, sold one of the town lots and the farm. He sold the other
lot the following year. By then, McClurg had been to California, where he unsuccessfully tried his hand at mining
gold. He returned to Missouri, where, in Camden County, he and two partners opened a vastly successful store.
His growing wealth and the Civil War led him into politics. Beginning in 1862, he served three terms in congress,
and, in 1869 and 1870, he served as governor of Missouri (see Eugene Campbell Barker, ed., The Austin Papers,
3 vols. (vols. 1 and 2, Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1924, and vol. 3, Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1926), vol. 1, pp. 493-494; Colorado County Probate Records, File No. 36: Robert Brotherton;
Minute Book A, p. 15; Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book B, p. 300, Colorado County
Commissioners Court Minutes, Book A, pp. 15, 18; Colorado County District Court Records, Minute Book
A & B, p. 86; Colorado County Deed Records, Book C, p. 79, Book H, pp. 12, 13, 14, 68, 225; Floyd C.
Shoemaker, ed., Missouri Day by Day (State Historical Society of Missouri, 1942), pp. 142-143. This Robert
Brotherton who died in early 1839 is different from the Robert Brotherton who died on July 16, 1839. That Robert
Brotherton, who came to Texas about the same time as the Colorado County Robert Brotherton died, was a
traveling minister (see The [Houston] Morning Star, August 9, 1839)).
10 Colorado County Commissioners Court Minutes, Book A, p. [i]; Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas
1822-1897, vol. 1, p. 1210. Until the county secured a bound book, the commissioners court minutes were kept
on loose sheets of paper. In 1995, the first book, Book A, was rebound. The 22 loose sheets that contained the
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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/m1/8/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.