Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 10
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
in the minds of the freedmen the necessity of education, he felt they were making progress
in that direction, and he hoped before another month to report double the number of schools.
But he knew that if the Columbus school were closed, interest might lag and die away. He
was not, however, concerned about the possibility that the schools taught by teachers sent
by the American Missionary Association would all be shut down. His relations with this
group of instructors had been somewhat tumultuous. His troubles stemmed from their
refusal to recognize his authority. The AMA teachers, he declared, "have too many
advisors in travelling ministers." He preferred teachers who would "at least assist in
endeavors to systematize schools and listen to suggestions without insisting they were not
under my charge."'6
Shortly, two new teachers were on their way: Louis Beaumont would teach at
Eagle Lake, and Eliza A. Grace would supervise the school at Osage. Both Beaumont and
Grace had been commissioned with salaries of $25 a month, though Harris had permission
to increase their salaries if the schools warranted. Beaumont was a young Frenchman of
good education and came well recommended. He had served in the 12th New York
Volunteer Cavalry. Grace came from Georgia, but she had resided in Colorado County for
some time. She was "well calculated" to teach the primary branches. Harris also needed
three or four intelligent freedmen who were competent to instruct plantation schools. He
reported that he could establish at least that many, and probably more, if he received
teachers. He also suggested that night schools for adults, taught by black men, would be
a great advantage to the black community, and would be well patronized."
It should not be surprising that the white and black communities in and around
Columbus responded with divergent attitudes to the possibility of the freedmen receiving
an education. By August 1, 1867, when the Columbus and Alleyton schools closed, Harris
observed that the enthusiasm among the whites for educating the freedmen was dead.
Indeed, he pointed out, whites hardly appreciated education among themselves, as
evidenced by the fact that school teachers were among the poorest paid people. Though
black education had gained a modest toehold in the sub-district, only the plantation schools
taught by Adams and Bonner and a school conducted by James J. Jameson and his wife in
Columbus remained open.'8
16 Enon M. Harris to Joel T. Kirkman, June 4, 1867, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, H-
234; Harris to Kirkman, June 14, 1867, Field Records, vol. 73, pp. 143-144; Harris to Kirkman, July 1, 1867,
Field Records, vol. 73, p. 168, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
17 Enon M. Harris to Joel T. Kirkman, June 14, 1867, Field Records, vol. 73, pp. 143-146; Harris
to Kirkman, June 4, 1867, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, H-234, both in BRFAL, RG 105,
18 Enon M. Harris to Joel T. Kirkman May 1, 1867, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, H-
223; Harris to Kirkman, August 3, 1867, Field Records, vol. 73, pp. 221-223; Harris to Kirkman, August 3,
1867, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, H-335, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives; Velva
Burrell Papers (Ms. 26) Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998, periodical, January 1998; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151402/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.