Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 18
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
structed track at least as far as Live Oak Street, and built both a freight and a passenger
depot along it.28
Other entrepreneurs too, planned to take advantage of the arrival of the rail-
road. The month after the bridge was opened, a Fayette County man named G. R. Macumrer
launched another steamboat, which he christened Lorena, on the river. Macumrer floated
the vessel downriver from La Grange to Columbus, where her engines and other machinery
were fitted. The Lorena was intended only to operate above the bridge, which blocked her
path further downriver. Her seemingly undistinguished future was presaged by the apparent
difficulty she had returning to La Grange some two months after she was fitted out at
Columbus. She embarked on her first commercial voyage, on which she took a boatload of
cotton from La Grange to Columbus, on March 6, 1868. On the north side of Columbus,
seemingly at the instigation of George W. Smith, a number of men from Chicago estab-
lished a beef packing plant on the river which, when it began operations in late December
1867, could process perhaps 100 head per day. It remained in business, though without
notable success, for at least a year. And, for the first time since the establishment of the
town, a move was afoot to take advantage of the potential energy afforded by the presence
of the river by constructing a canal across the north side of the city, thereby allowing the
water to fall from its level on the north side of town to its considerably lower lever on the
east side across a much shorter distance and therefore at a much rapider rate.29
Even as the citizens of Columbus were celebrating the arrival of the railroad
and the prosperity it was expected to bring, their neighbors in the small town of Alleyton
were suffering through their gravest crisis, a crisis which, ironically, was probably caused
in large part by the presence of the railroad. On September 2, 1867, an Alleyton man iden-
tified only as E. Parker died. He was the first of 28 Alleyton residents who would die that
September of yellow fever. The first few persons who were diagnosed with the justly-
feared disease were railroad employees who had made routine trips between Galveston,
where yellow fever was then raging, and Alleyton. At Alleyton, the local mosquitoes spread
28 Colorado County Deed Records, Book M., pp. 436, 548, 595; Colorado County Bond and Mort-
gage Records, Book F, p. 196. The first passenger depot in Columbus was built on the west side of Block 3. As
we will see, it was moved to its better remembered downtown location in 1874.
29 [La Grange] State Rights Democrat, August 30, 1867, December 6, 1867, December 21, 1867,
February 14, 1868, February 28, 1868, March 6, 1868; Weekly Austin Republican, March 18, 1868; Galveston
Daily News, June 30, 1867, December 24, 1867, February 28, 1868; Houston Daily Times, September 23, 1868,
November 4, 1868, January 7, 1869, May 11, 1869. Though the newspaper report refers to Macumrer simply as
"Captain Macumrer," he is presumed to be the same man as G. R. Macumrer, who was listed as a 36 year old
engineer in the 1870 census of Fayette County (see Ninth Census of the United States (1870) Schedule 1,
Fayette County, Texas). There is some indication that a second boat for service on the river was also constructed
in early 1868, though the name of that boat, if it existed, is unknown. The Galveston Daily News of February 28,
1868 states that a man named "Benthal" was also building a boat. He may have been John C. Benthall, who
worked as a blacksmith before the war.
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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/m1/18/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.