Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 136
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
to Fayette County, where, in 1856, Jones won, then appealed to the state supreme court,
where, on October 28, 1872, nearly twenty years after the case was filed, Jones won again.
Nonetheless, one must imagine that long before Jones' victories, de Serin had found a more
stable environment for his endeavors. He is not known to have lived in the county after
1852. What became of his sheep, each of which he had named and for which he kept
meticulous birth and death records, is unknown.37
De Serin's eccentric sheep-raising, and others' eccentric cattle-raising, were
sideshows to the county's economic base, farming. There were two distinct types of farmers
in the county: those who used slaves and those who did not. Most of the German farmers
in the north part of the county did not, and their failure to do so isolated them further from
their English speaking neighbors. The largest slaveholder in the north part of the county,
Thomas Ware, had in 1849 sold his plantation to William Frels and purchased another,
smaller one, to the north of Claiborne Herbert's on the east side of the Colorado River. Mike
Muckleroy, who had been established on more than 1000 acres to the north of Ware's
plantation since 1842, and Elizabeth Y. Hopson, were left as the only substantial cotton
producers who used slave labor in the German settlement. In 1850, Muckleroy produced
thirty bales of cotton with the help of four slaves, and Hopson fifty bales with thirteen
By virtue of his purchase from Ware, Frels became by far the wealthiest and
most productive of the German farmers. His holdings, which encompassed 250 improved
acres, produced 3200 bushels of corn and 45 bales of cotton and contained 100 cows, 60
37 Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler of Texas, pp. 299-302; W. Eugene Hollon and Ruth Lapham
Butler, eds., William Bollaert's Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956), pp. 4, 11; Amelia W.
Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1939),
vol. 2, p. 489; Colorado County Deed Records, Book H, pp. 148, 153, 154; Seventh Census of the United States
(1850), Schedule 1, Colorado County, Texas; Texas Monument, February 11, 1852; Letter of William Jefferson
Jones, July 12, 1887, Jones Family File, Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Fayette County District Court
Records, Civil Cause File No. 899: Peter McGreal v. Leon de Serin, Minute Book G, p. 214; E. M. Wheelock,
comp., Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas [Texas Reports]
(Houston: E. M. Cushing, 1874), vol. 36, pp. 673-674. De Serin left behind the body of his young daughter,
Leonia, who is buried in the Borden Cemetery. Legend has it that she was killed when she was thrown from
a horse. The family was apparently gone from Texas by 1860, for they seem not to have been found by the federal
census takers in the state that year.
38 Colorado County Deed Records, Book G, pp. 152, 154, 183. See also Dewees, Letters from an
Early Settler of Texas, p. 307, wherein he comments, in a "letter" dated January 3, 1850, "The Germans and
Americans seem to keep themselves aloof from each other." A probably false story about Muckleroy and his
slaves is still sometimes heard in the north part of the county. The story goes that Muckleroy was so proud of
a new rifle that he had just purchased that he bet a man, to whom he had been bragging about it, that with it he
could shoot one of his slaves off his roof, which was at a considerable distance. The man, the story goes on,
took the bet, and Muckleroy killed the slave with one shot. Moral considerations notwithstanding, it is difficult
to imagine Muckleroy picking so valuable a target for his test when he might have easily picked some inanimate
object. The story is probably indicative of the attitude that Muckleroy's German contemporaries had toward both
him and toward slavery.
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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/m1/24/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 28, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.