Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 22
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
one through the leg, the other in the arm. And, there were several cases of whites intending
to kill blacks, such as Ed Price, who attempted to murder Green Brooks. In August 1868,
John Ridge, a freedman, was robbed and shot at by a party of men wearing disguises, men
who were possibly members of the Ku Klux Klan.47
In November 1868, some Columbus freedmen had a quilting party, and when
it was over decided to have a dance at the house of Sam Pinchback. Joe Lawrence, a
freedman, became involved in a dispute with another man. Pinchback ordered them to end
the quarrel or leave his home. Lawrence refused to listen and Pinchback quietly but firmly
put him out. Lawrence drew a razor and cut Pinchback severely. Some of the freedmen went
to a local justice of the peace for a writ, but he put them off until the next day. When they
returned, he withheld the writ until they paid him $3.00. Lawrence was jailed and had to
await the action of the grand jury.48
Also in 1868, Giles Mathews, a freedman, bought a horse from William
Deckert, a German, making a down payment. Before the balance was due, the horse proved
to be stolen property and was taken from Mathews. Mathews reported the fact to the sheriff,
who instructed him to arrest him when Deckert came for the balance. When Mathews
attempted to do so, Deckert started to run. Mathews pursued him, shot at him, and severely
wounded him in the hip. Deckert died in jail on December 21 from the effects of the wound.
There was no investigation of any kind. The verdict of the community was "good riddance."
Deckert had several aliases and was said to have been a "notorious scoundrel." In a dispute
about a hog around the same time, two freedmen, Dick Rodgers and Cyrus Townsend,
began shooting at each other. Townsend died the next day, but Rodgers escaped, although
he allegedly had been wounded. The authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, but whether
he was ever apprehended did not become part of the official record.49
The courts punished those found guilty of stealing animals rather severely.
John Tompkins, a freedman, stole a horse valued at $25 from another black man. Found
guilty, he was sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary. So was Enos Jones, who took
a pony worth $50 and failed to account for how it came into his possession. After Anderson
Foster, a freedman, stole an ox from a teamster and killed it for the hide, Foster's bail was
set at $10(0 when the case was continued. Charles, a freedman, stole a hide from a steer that
47 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, August 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations
Reports, S-279; Stevenson to Vernou, October 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations Reports, S-326,
both in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
48 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, November 30, 1868, Assistant Commissioner,
Operations Reports, S-343, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
49 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, December 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner,
Operations Reports, S-3, 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/m1/22/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.