Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 11
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
intervened when local authorities arrested a freedman named Tom Tate. On April 22, 1866,
Tate and about fifty other freedmen were attending a Sunday worship service when authori-
ties moved in to arrest another member of the congregation, Dimpt Burford. When Burford
caused a disturbance, Tate chastised him and, probably unaware that he had been arrested,
ordered him to go home. As Burford moved to obey, Ira Albert Harris warned Tate that he
would be arrested if Burford departed. Finally aware of the situation, Tate ordered Burford
to stop. Burford did so, and was shortly taken away to jail. About a week later, authorities
decided to arrest Tate as well, charging him with attempting to interfere with an arrest. Tate,
however, had already told Goodman of his confrontation with the authorities, and expressed
concern that he might be arrested. When Sheriff James B. Good arrested Tate, he took him
before Goodman, who, after a brief proceeding, set him free. A few days later, on May 4, a
second indictment, this one for killing a hog that belonged to another man, was handed
down against Tate. He was arrested again the same day. Goodman, perhaps unaware that a
second indictment had been issued, or perhaps infuriated over what he may have regarded
as harassment, ordered Good to release Tate immediately. When the sheriff refused, Goodman
sent a squad of soldiers to the jail to forcibly remove the prisoner. The authorities responded
on May 7 with another set of indictments against Tate and on May 8 with an indictment
against Goodman for breaking Tate out ofjail. Eventually, all the cases would be dismissed.'7
The fifth Freedmen's Bureau agent in Columbus, Enon M. Harris, a man of
notably flawed character, arrived in late 1866. He was destined to remain in town for more
than a year, over the course of which any potential respect for the Freedmen's Bureau
would be eroded. Harris was held in low regard in both the black and white communities.
Though he was the local agent at the time, when Colorado County's freedmen celebrated
the second anniversary of their emancipation with a parade through Columbus and a feast
in the grove north of town on June 22, 1867, Harris was not one of the speakers. Instead,
another Texas Freedmen's Bureau agent, William H. Rock, addressed the crowd.'8
A year after his arrival, Harris would take up the problem of the Crisp planta-
tion. On October 4, 1867, the freedmen who had worked for John H. Crisp in 1865 but not
17 Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File No. 570: State of Texas v. Mack
Oates and Tom Tate, Criminal Cause File No. 591: State of Texas v. Tom Tate and Polly, Criminal Cause File No.
603: State of Texas v. Mack Oates and Tom Tate, Criminal Cause File No. 611: State of Texas v. J. Ernest
Goodman, Criminal Minute Book D, pp. 114, 126, 185, 226; Notes from sub-assistant commissioner's field
notes: Endorsement of J. Ernest Goodman, May 30, 1866, Barry A. Crouch Collection (Ms. 41), Archives of the
Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus. The indictment of Tate characterized the Sunday religious gathering of
the freedmen as a riot.
18 Galveston Daily News, June 30, 1867. Celebrations of what the freedmen called "Juneteenth," the
anniversary of their emancipation, were regular annual events in later years. It is not known if the 1867 festival
was the first or second such event. Rock was preceded on the speaker's platform by Columbus attorney Richard
V. Cook. Both speakers were white men who urged the blacks to improve their economic situations through
education, industry, frugality, and sobriety. Cook, a former Confederate officer, added his assurance that the
white community always kept the best interests of the freedmen in mind.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999, periodical, January 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151405/m1/11/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.