Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 35
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
The fourth seat went to William S. Good. Though he got two fewer votes in Columbus than
Noah Bonds, he outpolled Bonds by a huge margin in Eagle Lake."
The new county officials were destined to become casualties of, and martyrs
to, Reconstruction. On March 2, 1867, the federal congress passed an act, over the president's
veto, which imposed martial law on the former Confederate states until they were readmit-
ted to the union. Again over the president's veto, they passed the Second Reconstruction
Act on March 23. The second act authorized the military governments to provide for the
registration of all voters, white and black, though some exclusions were mandated. It also
required that all persons, before registering, swear that they were a qualified voter and take
another oath to support and obey the constitution and laws of the United States. The new
registration of Colorado County voters began on July 11 and proceeded through the end of
August. Benjamin F. Williams, a Columbus freedman who was engaged to travel a seven-
county area encouraging blacks to register, reported that whites had spread rumors warning
the freedmen that the true purpose of the registration was to raise an army to be sent to
Mexico to fight the French; and that his own life had been threatened. The three-man board
of registrars, Enon M. Harris, the Columbus Freedman's Bureau agent, Robert P. Tendick,
a former Union officer, and Isaac Yates, a freedman, travelled around the county, establish-
ing stations in Columbus, Bernardo, Frelsburg, Osage, Content, Oakland, and Eagle Lake.
Unlike Williams, they encountered few problems. Those were minor: they did not have
enough German language forms; the statewide yellow fever epidemic may have frightened
some people into staying home. Though most of the people in the county were white, most
55 Colorado County Election Register 1854-1866; Colorado County Police [Commissioners] Court
Minutes, Book 1862-1876, pp. 56-57. Three candidates got a considerable number of votes in the runoff for
county treasurer on July 14. The third candidate was William Crebbs, who had gotten many fewer votes than
either German candidate, but who had had the highest total of the non-German candidates in the regular elec-
tion. Crebbs, whose principal support was in Columbus, nearly took the post in the runoff, finishing six votes
behind Schmidt and well ahead of Thulemeyer. Dewees, who had been appointed county treasurer in 1865, was
one of the seven candidates for the post in 1866. Though he was the founder of Columbus and, we must
suppose, was held in some veneration, he got only thirteen of the 932 votes that were cast. His low vote total
reflected his performance in office. He had been county treasurer twice. In 1854, the state sued him for failing to
transfer the full amount of taxes due to the state during his first tenure in office, which began in 1840. As we
have seen, during his second term as treasurer he kept the county's funds in a safe inside a Columbus law office,
which was robbed on March 24, 1866. When he left office shortly thereafter, he was unable to make restitution
to the county, and, on October 15, 1866, the county sued him. The suit was not decided until March 12, 1869,
when Dewees and his bondsmen were ordered to indemnify the county. They appealed all the way to the State
Supreme Court, where they again lost the following year., In the interim, Dewees faced a criminal indictment,
handed down on September 29, 1868, for embezzling $53 during his time as county treasurer. In this case, at
least, he was quickly exonerated. One can only imagine the effect these events had on the aging Dewees, who
had lost much of his own money in the same 1866 robbery (see Colorado County District Court Records, Civil
Cause File No. 850: Elisha M Pease v. William B. Dewees, Civil Cause File No. 2098: Colorado County v.
William B. Dewees, Criminal Cause File No. 740: State of Texas v. William B. Dewees, Minute Book C, p. 1093,
Minute Book D, pp. 215, 230; Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court ofthe State of Texas
[Texas Reports] (Galveston: Richardson, Belo, & Co., 1871), vol. 32, pp. 570-573).
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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/m1/35/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.