Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 127
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
June 25. Before adjourning, the convention's chairman, Thomas Jones Hardeman, called
for each of the six counties to appoint two commissioners to inspect the raft and draft a
report, to be read at the next convention.21
On June 4, three of the commissioners so-appointed, Townsend, William M.
Baylor, and Frederick W. Grassmeyer, met at the raft to undertake their inspection. Joseph
Tinkler, the sitting Colorado County surveyor, was also present. Together, the four men
went to the raft and, proceeding upriver, began to map it. Unhappily, that afternoon, the
river began to rise. As night set in, the four men, reluctant to camp near the rising water,
went to Horton's nearby ranch to sleep. The next morning, the area was so inundated, and
the water was running so fast, they could not get back to the river, even in a canoe. That
afternoon, after deciding to abandon the survey, they wrote their report, which, though they
were hardly qualified to give an opinion, rosily predicted that the raft could be easily
removed. That evening, another surveyor, William Prissic, who had been sent to join the
expedition by Rugeley, arrived. He persuaded the commissioners to remain at the ranch
while he sent for his boat, which, he assured them, could negotiate the rapid waters,
provided they wait for them to rise a bit higher. On June 7, Townsend, tired of waiting,
returned to Colorado County. The same day, Tinkler and Prissic took the boat to the bottom
of the raft and rowed down the river to its mouth, mapping it as they went. At Matagorda,
they reported to Grassmeyer and Baylor, who had gone there to meet them. That night, the
two Travis County commissioners, Thomas William Ward and John C. Duval, arrived. On
June 8, the now-enlarged expedition returned to Horton's ranch. Since Prissic's boat could
accommodate only four men, he, Tinkler, Duval, and Grassmeyer returned to the raft in
it on the ninth. Taking advantage of the high water, they followed the route the Kate Ward
had used to escape from the river in 1848, but found it too to be precarious because of
accumulated debris. The next day they completed their survey of the raft.22
The commissioners' lengthy report, which strongly recommended removing
the raft rather than digging a canal, was read at the convention in Columbus on June 25.
Another committee reported that the canal would be much more expensive to dig than some
believed, because, they said, the ground was so hard that the conventional method of
digging a canal (making a smaller-than-necessary trench, then letting the flowing water
complete the excavation) would not work. Both reports reiterated that the head of the canal,
if it were dug along the Kate Ward's escape route, would soon be clogged by debris. The
convention continued through June 27. Each river county was called upon to appoint two
men to collect subscriptions. Three counties, Colorado, Wharton, and Matagorda, had
already done so. Though the citizens of Colorado County had pledged just $3200, each of
the other two counties had already collected more than $6000 worth. On the third and final
21 Texas Democrat, May 19, 1849.
22 Texas Democrat, July 7, 1849.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996, periodical, September 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151398/m1/15/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.