Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January, 1998 Page: 6
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
herself as the "natural guardian," insisted on retrieving her daughter. She demanded her
claims be enforced, and the girl was sent to Columbus to be reunited with her. In yet another
case, Dr. C. P. Brown had to relinquish a young boy whose mother had entered a claim
for him. William Davidson, a freedman described as a "man of good character" and
competent to support his daughter, Delphi, nontheless had difficulty reclaiming her. As
slaves, both he and his daughter had belonged to Ruth Davidson, who had a plantation near
Prairie Point. Delphi had been Ruth Davidson's personal servant. After the war, Ruth
Davidson moved to Austin and took Delphi with her. Once, William Davidson encountered
Ruth Davidson in Columbus, and requested that she return Delphi. She promised to do so,
but never did. Shortly, Ruth Davidson died. Delphi remained with the family, living with
some of Ruth Davidson's children. Her father finally went to Harris for his help. Harris
drafted a letter, though with what result, it cannot be said.6
Bureau agents also had to be concerned about those needing public assistance,
primarily the insane and paupers. During his tenure, Harris succeeded in securing for a Mr.
Long an allowance of $100 currency a year from the police court of Colorado County for
maintenance of his sister Peggy. Long would receive twenty-five dollars quarterly. Long
also needed supplies for his sister, and Harris believed that a local merchant would be
"perfectly safe" in making advances for these purposes. Stevenson also found a freedman
who was a pauper, and had to direct the police court to provide some type of help for the
individual. Harris also had to call the attention of the chief justice and the county
commissioners to the case of Harriet, an insane freedwoman. Polly Harris, another
freedwoman, had Harriet in her care but was unable to support her, and so requested the
assistance of the county. Stevenson later discovered two other cases of insanity in the county
and made arrangements to have them transferred to the state lunatic asylum.7
Under Harris' direction, education for the black community in his sub-district,
and especially Columbus, was checkered. It is difficult to assess Harris' contribution and
evaluate the results of his efforts because of a bitter feud he waged with one of the teachers.
6 Enon M. Harris to W. H. Heistand, January 21, 1867, Field Records, vol. 72, pp. 30-31; Harris
to Heistand, February 12, 1867, Field Records, vol. 72, p. 40; Harris to Dr. C. P. Brown, March 2, 1867, Field
Records, vol. 72, p. 53; Harris to A. Doubleday, June 4, 1867, Field Records, vol. 73, pp. 115-116, all in
BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives. William Davidson must have worked for his former master in 1865, for
he also declared that she owed him money from that year.
7 Enon M. Harris to Mike Burch, April 2, 1867, Field Records, vol. 72, p. 72; John D. Gilmore to
Louis W. Stevenson, March 10, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 48; Harris to John D. Gilmore, August 26,
1867, Field Records, vol. 73, p. 255; Letter of Louis W. Stevenson, April 11, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71,
p. 66; Endorsement, Roberts, April 16, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 67; Endorsement, Pease, April 18,
1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 67; Endorsement, Roberts, April 18, 1868, Field Records, vol. 71, p. 67, 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/m1/6/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.