Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 142
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
The stockholders of the new Colorado Navigation Company conducted their
first meeting, in Columbus, on October 28, 1850, and elected a board of commissioners
and a board of directors. The directors, among them Charles William Tait and Eli Mercer,
met on the 29th and resolved to call on subscribers to pay half of the amounts they had
pledged; empowered a director, John Duncan, to hire or purchase a steamboat to be used
in removing the raft and the river's other obstructions; and empowered the president,
Hardeman, to buy eight slaves for the company. The company met again, in December in
Matagorda, and made arrangements to return the Kate Ward to the Colorado. After she had
gotten around the raft in 1848, she had been hired by the city of Victoria to remove
obstructions in the Guadalupe River, completing her assigned task before June 1850. The
company met for the third time in Matagorda in March 1851, and voted on what was perhaps
the key question before them, whether or not to try to remove the raft or to dig a canal around
it. The latter idea, which had been strongly backed by some of its members, was rejected.
The company shortly sent the Kate Ward, with its twelve hands and apparently twenty to
thirty hired slave laborers, to begin removing the raft, naturally enough, from the
downriver side. By May 1851, their finances were failing. They had already called for
subscribers to pay half of the amounts they had pledged; now they issued a call for half of
the remaining half.46
Meanwhile, the steamboat Colorado was experiencing a difficult first year on
the river. In January 1851, the river rose and she attempted to cross the raft, only to be
trapped within it when the river fell overnight. She lay there just a few days, however,
before the river rose again, and she completed her trip over the raft. She made Columbus
for the first time in late February, and left there on March 1. She headed upriver to La
Grange, arriving there to cheers from a crowd along the river bank on March 21. She had
passed a flatboat loaded with 200 bales of cotton headed downriver, probably on the
preceding day. Some distance north of La Grange, at Rabb's Shoals, she halted. Luck was
again with her, however, as on March 30, a heavy rain fell and the river rose enough to
allow her to proceed. She made it as far as Austin, again, as at La Grange, arriving to a
throng of cheering citizens. Though the river was at a very high stage, she met similar
difficulties on her return trip. Burdened with a cargo of cotton, she ran aground between
Bastrop and Austin and was detained three days. Her ascent had been slowed by a lack of
dry wood for her boilers, and her captain, Douglass, had secured promises at Bastrop and
La Grange that on her return trip wood would be provided. The citizens of Bastrop kept
their promise, and gave Douglass $100 in cash besides, but those at La Grange did not, and
Douglass had to dispatch her crew to the banks once again to chop down trees. Taking
46 Texas Monument, October 23, 1850, November 6, 1850, December 18, 1850, December 25, 1850,
February 26, 1851, March 12, 1851, May 14, 1851; Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years In Victoria County (Victoria:
Victoria Advocate, 1968. Reprint. Austin: Nortex Press, 1985), pp. 461, 512-513.
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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/m1/30/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed February 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.