Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 23
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The Freedmen's Bureau in Colorado County, Texas, 1865-1868
had on it the brand of Charles William Tait, who was white. Found guilty, Charles was fined
$100 and confined in the county jail for 30 days.50
As has been noted, Harris and Stevenson reported cases, even if blacks were
not participants. In 1867, Martha Beford, a white woman, was charged with horse theft.
Arrested, tried, and found guilty, she was sentenced to twelve years in the state penitentiary.
The case was appealed: the new jury disagreed with the previous verdict, and discharged
Beford. In a somewhat humorous case, Juan Martinez, a Mexican, was found guilty of petty
larceny for stealing a pair of pants, a coat, and a vest valued at $15 from John Shiner. As
Martinez was about to get in bed with his landlord's wife, the husband appeared, and he
ran onto the prairie naked. Employed by Shiner, Martinez stole clothes from him to cover
himself. He was fined $60 and confined in jail five days.5'
A few more theft cases ought to be reviewed. Charles Myers, a freedman, was
arrested, tried, and found guilty of stealing blankets and corn from George Huff Little. In
general, when a black person stole an animal or produce from the harvest, he received time
in the state penitentiary. Myers, however, was sentenced to 19 months in the county jail.
Other freedmen who stole corn also served time in the local calaboose. A black woman,
Eliza Yancy, who purloined some butter, was arrested by the Columbus mayor and had to
post $100 bail and await a future trial in the county court. The agents also recorded cases
involving attempts to pass counterfeit United States coins, and cases in which revolvers
Sometimes, freedmen who feared for their lives sought protection from the
local bureau agent. For example, Isaac Allen approached Harris with a request that he be
allowed to leave his employer, whom he feared. Harris investigated and found that Allen
was a "reliable man, " and was willing to pay his employer, a Mr. Clay, a reasonable amount
for the damages he would suffer because of the loss of Allen's services. He was unwilling,
however, to continue to labor for Clay, fearing for his life. Allen also requested that his
wife, who was not under contract, be returned to him. However, he acknowledged that his
children had signed contracts, and were bound to stay and fulfill them. Harris ordered that
soldiers accompany Allen to retrieve his wife, as he was "afraid to go alone."53
50 Louis W. Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, October 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Operations
Reports, S-326, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
51 Enon M. Harris to Joel T. Kirkman, March 19, 1867, Field Records, vol. 72, pp. 61; Louis W.
Stevenson to Charles A. Vernou, October 31, 1868, Assistant Commissioner,
Operations Reports, S-326, both in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
52 Enon M. Harris to Joel T. Kirkman, March 19, 1867, Field Records, vol. 72, pp. 61, BRFAL,
RG 105, National Archives.
53 Enon M. Harris to Edward Collins, May 21, 1867, Field Records, vol. 73, p. 72, 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/m1/23/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.