Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 29
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
after the Bowen lynching, a gang of disguised men attacked Ridge, robbing him, and shoot-
ing at him.45
The tension in Columbus was broken slightly by a re-creation of a medieval
tournament, staged in mid September 1868, at which local cowboys pretended to be knights,
competing for prizes by scooping up rings with lances and engaging in other similar con-
tests. However, the growing climate of hostility between the races again manifested itself
on September 19, 1868. About 11 o'clock that night, a freedman named Green Brooks went
to Edward Price's store in Columbus. There, at the culmination of an argument, Price, a
white man, attacked Brooks with a knife, wounding him in the shoulder. Though Brooks
left to swear out a complaint, a number of blacks who were attending a dance nearby heard
about the incident and rushed over to the store to support him. Price met them on the side-
walk, challenging them to fight him one at a time. The mob surged over him, dragging him
into the street, beating him, and firing guns, apparently into the air. Freedmen's Bureau
agent Louis Stevenson, who was in his office on the same block as Price's store, raced over
to the scene and persuaded the blacks to disperse. Price worked his way free of the mob and
went to his home to tend to his wounds. Shortly, a rumor that a mob of freedmen had
murdered a white man swept town. Another angry mob, this one white, gathered, and
Stevenson turned to confront it. He and local attorney Andrew J. Vaughan convinced the
mob to take no action. Soon, Sheriff Leyendecker was on the scene. By one o'clock, he had
located Price. The mob, seeing that they had been misinformed, dispersed quietly. Fearing
further troubles, two days after the incident Stevenson requested that another contingent of
soldiers be sent to Columbus to be on hand to help keep peace during the upcoming session
of district court. On September 23, ten men and one officer from the 17th United States
Infantry arrived in town. They left on October 13, four days before the court adjourned.46
About two weeks after the contingent of soldiers left, someone made an appar-
ent attempt to set at least one downtown Columbus building on fire. The town had only
recently been victimized by an arsonist, whose fire had destroyed several buildings in town
45 Weekly Austin Republican, May 6, 1868; Reports of Louis W. Stevenson, April 30, 1868, June 30,
1868, August 31, 1868, all in Barry A. Crouch Collection (Ms. 41), Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library,
Columbus. The last contingent of troops which assisted the Freedmen's Bureau agent in Columbus left town on
March 1, 1868. The Columbus chapter of the Ku Klux Klan seems to have been organized shortly thereafter. If
indeed the Klan was responsible for both the lynching of Bowen and the robbing of Ridge, one must wonder if
Bowen was lynched by mistake. The principal factors against that proposition are that Bowen was in the custody
of the mob for a considerable time; and that when he was taken from the jail, the jailor conversed with him,
calling him, he said, by name (see Houston Daily Times, September 12, 1868).
46 Houston Daily Times, September 22, 1868; Reports of Louis W. Stevenson, September 21, 1868,
September 30, 1868, Barry A. Crouch Collection (Ms. 41) Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Colum-
bus; Colorado County District Court Records, Minute Book D, pp. 113, 151, 152, 192. Actually, a special
session of the district court convened on September 21. That session ended on October 3 and the regular session
began on October 5. It adjourned on October 17.
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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/m1/29/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.