Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 14
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
permanent charge of schools. Arrangements had been made with teachers who promised
to remain permanently, but as soon as they had earned a few dollars, they had left.24
In Stevenson's final report, written as he prepared to leave Columbus, he
described public sentiment as very favorable toward education. Whether it was a ruse
because there would no longer be a bureau agent in their midst, several gentlemen
generously offered land for schoolhouses, and the freedmen in two or three locations
throughout the sub-district endeavored to build a school. Stevenson reiterated that good
teachers who would settle in the area were a necessity. In some area schools, the teachers
had deceived the freedmen and absconded with money advanced to them. Sending such
instructors would render the greatest assistance to the freedmen, and to the cause of
education, which had previously been a "great damper" upon them.25
Stevenson had to deal with two or three potentially explosive incidents
regarding teachers and students. On March 9, 1868, Hugh Ames, a teacher in a Lavaca
County freedmen's school, claimed that one of his students named Emily Hill became "very
saucy" towards him. Ames decided that she "needed correction." The teacher "chastised
her with a switch about two feet long." Ames, in an incredible display of outlandish force,
beat her over the head and across the face, a veritable thrashing, which Stevenson mildly
described as being "unnecessarily harsh." The bureau agent asserted that Emily was
punished "without judgment" to put it "in the mildest form." The beating administered by
Ames left the student confined to her bed for two days. The marks from it remained visible
A few days after the incident, a man known as Pepper with whom Emily's
mother lived, mentioned the circumstances to Lavaca County Judge A. K. Foster. Foster
asked why the mother had not taken steps to prosecute Ames. Pepper said he was under the
impression that it was not a chargeable offense, especially since it involved a teacher
employed by the Freedmen's Bureau. Pepper then consulted with the county clerk, who
informed him that it was indeed an offense punishable by law. Pepper relayed this
information to Emily Hill's mother and accompanied her to file the proper papers so that
a warrant could be issued. The sheriff arrested Ames, charged him with aggravated assault,
and established bail at $100.27
24 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, October 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations
Reports, S-326; Stevenson to Vernou, November 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-
343, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
25 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, December 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner,
Operations Reports, S-3, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
26 Louis W. Stevenson to J. P. Richardson, May 2, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received,
S-194; Stevenson to Richardson, April 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-190, all in
BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
27 Louis W. Stevenson to J. P. Richardson, May 2, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received,
S-194, 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/m1/14/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.