Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 13
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The Freedmen's Bureau in Colorado County, Texas, 1865-1868
Stevenson also had to deal with an increasingly hostile attitude toward black
education among the whites. Shortly after arriving in Columbus, he reported that a "person
who attempts to reach a freedman loses caste at once and takes rank below a Nigger, in the
estimation of the whites." Columbus still maintained a black school, but outside its confines
little had been done, primarily because, he reported, the freedmen were "hard at work on
the crops." He decried a lack of money and teachers, and asserted that the instructors who
were present were, as a rule, incompetent and inefficient. He suggested that northern
charitable institutions might be approached to provide some help. A month later, he was
surprised and encouraged to hear some local clergymen evince an amicable feeling towards
the black church and Sunday school. Stevenson continued to make a concerted effort to
encourage the citizens of Osage, Alleyton, and Jones Bend to take the initiatory steps to
build a schoolhouse, so he could seek aid. At Jones Bend, he obtained gratis five acres for
a church, school, and grave yard.22
He was further encouraged by the exhibition given by the pupils of George W.
Hanna on August 21, 1868, which demonstrated to him great proficiency on the part of the
pupils and careful attention on the part of the teacher. Though the civil authorities had made
no efforts to forward the cause of black education in any way, Stevenson had perceived a
change for the better in the white community's attitude toward it, describing it in his next
report as "indifferent." None of the county schools had been interfered with. In Osage,
former slaveholder William Lucius Adkins had donated a lot upon which the local black
denizens were to build a school and church. Stevenson also had some negative things to say
about the black community, commenting that they did little to educate themselves beyond
buying books, and that they needed a better class to allay the prejudice which the whites
had against "nigger" teachers. "23
By the end of his bureau tenure, Stevenson viewed the feeling on education as
"nominally good." Freedmen had made efforts to secure ground and build a schoolhouse,
but had found it almost an impossibility to get unity of action and accomplish anything. He
optimistically predicted that once the crops were gathered and the freedmen had money to
begin construction, several log schoolhouses would be built and new schools opened. The
greatest difficulty then would be in securing good and reliable teachers who would take
22 Louis W. Stevenson to Richardson, April 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports,
S-190; Stevenson to Richardson, April 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-190;
Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, May 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-211;
Stevenson to Vernou, June 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-239, all in BRFAL, RG
105, National Archives. Jones Bend was apparently what had previously been and is now again called Reels
Bend. The community at which the school was located, which was on land that was owned by William Jefferson
Jones, seemingly eventually developed into what is now Vox Populi.
23 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, August 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations
Reports, S-279; Stevenson to Vernou, September 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-
301, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
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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/m1/13/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.