Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1996 Page: 143
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
advantage of the high stage of the river, she quickly returned from the coast with goods,
unloading some of them, presumably, at each of the cities along the river. She went as high
as Bastrop, taking on 400 bales of cotton and 35,000 feet of lumber. In early May, she ran
aground just downriver from the site of Burnam's Crossing and was laid up for more than
a week. Freed by a rise, she proceeded to the coast. Her third trip, however, was halted
by a summer drought which went uninterrupted until September, and during which the river
diminished to its lowest point in a decade. She made it nearly to La Grange, but could
proceed no further. She was stranded three or four miles downriver from La Grange from
August, at least, until December, when a small rise allowed her to make it to La Grange.47
Douglass took advantage of the time to assist in local efforts to clear the river.
On September 5 and 6, 1851, he supervised a group of volunteers from La Grange who
cleared a channel through Rabb's Shoals. Perhaps a week later he went to Columbus, where
he assisted another group of citizen volunteers in removing rocks from the shoals on the
river north of town.48
Meanwhile, the Colorado Navigation Company had been at work on the raft.
They had begun the second year of their existence by electing commissioners and directors
at a meeting in Columbus on September 8, 1851. Perhaps reflecting their satisfaction with
the company's progress, the president, Hardeman, and all six of the original directors were
reelected. A week earlier, with the river at a very low stage, four of the directors had met
at Matagorda and gone to the raft to see what had been done. In two and a half months, the
Kate Ward, her crew, and other workers, including slaves, had removed, apparently, more
than half the raft, and had proceeded to within eight miles of the head of the raft, about four
miles of which was unobstructed water. The inspecting directors also noted that the U. S.
government survey, which stated that the raft was seven miles long, was misleading because
it had been taken when the river was unusually high, and urged the company to immediately
raise more money so that the work could proceed while the river was low. The company
responded by calling in the remaining amounts that had been pledged.49
In early 1852, proponents of the navigation of the Colorado River attempted,
but failed, to secure an appropriation of $37,000 from the State of Texas to clean out the
river. The Colorado Navigation Company, meanwhile, had abandoned work on the river,
sending the Kate Ward into the bay in hopes of raising money by having her help load and
47 Texas Monument, January 15, 1851, February 5, 1851, March 12, 1851, March 26, 1851, April
2, 1851, April 16, 1851, April 23, 1851, May 7, 1851, May 14, 1851, May 21, 1851, August 27, 1851,
September 3, 1851, December 17, 1851; Texas State Gazette, April 12, 1851. See also Democratic Telegraph
and Texas Register, March 14, 1851, March 28, 1851, wherein the boat is referred to as the Colorado Ranger.
The March 28 edition also contains a story that indicates that the flatboat the Colorado passed on its upriver
voyage in March had been built and loaded with cotton in Bastrop.
48 Texas Monument, September 3, 1851, September 10, 1851, September 17, 1851.
49 Texas Monument, September 24, 1851.
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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/m1/31/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.