Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 4
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Naturally, agents took every precaution against splitting families. Edward
Collins, the Brenham agent, sent an affidavit to Harris involving a black woman who
petitioned to join her husband. He declared that she could reunite with her spouse whenever
she chose, having been informed that she was free, but he did not deem it advisable to take
mothers away from their children, and urged that if the mother left to rejoin her husband,
she take the children with her. The complication was that the children had been apprenticed
to an individual whose character was so objectionable that the children's father was afraid
to visit or do anything for them. Harris recommended that the children be released, but
Collins refused to cancel the agreement without orders from "superior authority. "2
Stevenson, responding to another inquiry, reported that he had traced a young
man answering the description of Andrew Jackson who had previously lived in the area to
Bastrop County. He also fielded a request from Rock to search for Charlie Robinson, whose
mother, Priscilla Jones, was looking for him. Robinson had reputedly worked at a livery
stable in Columbus, but Stevenson could develop no information. In another instance,
inquiries about the children of Sinai Bell were read in church, prompting Stevenson to
search for him throughout his sub-district. But again, he failed to turn up anything concrete.
Stevenson himself initiated a search for Caroline Oliver, who reportedly was in jail in
Houston. She, however, was not there, nor had she ever been.3
In the aftermath of war the freedmen often asked the bureau to pay for
transportation costs to reunite families. For example, John H. Hicks of Washington, D. C.,
wanted assistance to transport his sister-in-law and her children from Eagle Lake. Formerly
the slaves of Mrs. Sarah Mumford, they were sold in Richmond, Virginia, in 1858. The
sister-in-law, Malinia Hywood, resided with a Mr. Montgomery and served as a chamber
maid. She had bound her oldest child to Montgomery's sister. Although she was well
treated, she was only paid enough for a meager support. Stevenson refused to recommend
that the bureau pay the costs, declaring instead that the woman ought to stay in Texas, where
she could do better financially than was "possible under the most favorable auspices in the
2 Edward Collins to Enon M. Harris, May 26, 1867, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 40; Endorsement,
Harris, June 6, 1867, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 41; Endorsement, Collins, n. d., Field Records, vol. 71, p.
42, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives. The case was referred to the assistant commissioner. There seems
to be no evidence of a decision made in the manuscript sources.
3 Richardson to Louis W. Stevenson, March 9, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 48; Stevenson to
Charles A. Vernou, October 19, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, S-316; Stevenson to Vernou,
June 21, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, S-228; Stevenson to acting assistant adjutant general,
September 2, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 108; Endorsement, M. E. Davis, September 8, 1868, Field
Records, vol. 71, p. 109; William H. Rock to Stevenson, October 9, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 114;
Endorsement, Stevenson, October 19, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71i, p. 115; Stevenson to Richardson, May
11, 1868, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received, S-203, all in BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
4 Letter of John H. Hicks, April 10, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 76; Endorsement, Louis W.
Stevenson, May 2, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 77, both 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. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151402/m1/4/: accessed March 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.