Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 7
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Perhaps no plantation had more difficulty making the adjustment from slave to
hired labor than that of John H. Crisp. On June 25, Crisp visited Nathaniel Axion, who had
been his slave and his foreman for eighteen years, informed him that he had been freed, and
asked him to stay and work for wages on the plantation. He also asked Axion to inform his
other former slaves that they were free and to make them the same offer of employment. On
July 4, 1865, Crisp held a barbecue on his plantation. In addition to his former slaves, many
local people and two officers of the 23rd Iowa, including the commander, Major Leonard
B. Houston, attended. At the barbecue, Crisp evidently urged the slaves to stay on his plan-
tation as laborers until Christmas in return for food, clothing, and medical care. Some in
attendance thought that the freedmen agreed to do so. But Axion and several other former
slaves believed that they were to be paid as much as ten dollars a month. At the end of the
year, Crisp refused to pay the freedmen anything other than the food, clothing, shelter, and
medical care he had already provided.9
Nonetheless, many if not most of the same freedmen agreed to work on the
plantation again in 1866. This time, the terms of their employment were clear to everone
concerned: the freedmen would be compenstated with 25% of the crop they produced.
Crisp, however, had already begun looking for a way to continue the slaveowning lifestyle
to which he had become accustomed. At the end of the summer of 1865, he left for Brazil,
where slavery was still legal, to evaluate the prospect of buying a plantation there and
stocking it with slaves. He returned to Texas determined to relocate. Others considered
following. On March 6, 1866, Crisp sold his plantation, complete with livestock and the
75% of the crop to which he was entitled to S. M. Baird, an attorney who had recently
opened an office in Columbus, for $20,000. Baird was to pay Crisp on June 1, but evidently
failed to do so. Crisp cast around for another buyer and finally found one, in Rufus King
Gay and his wife, Bettie Munn Gay, who bought the plantation for $10,000 on April 15,
1867. On June 28, he sold his part of the growing crop, the livestock, and the farming
implements to Thomas C. Hanford and Charles D. Willard for another $9165.'~
Osage at the courthouse until September 13, 1869. Though it designates a tract for a Baptist church, it might be
worth mentioning that this tract apparently was not reserved by Adkins for the church-rather it was purchased
by the Baptists on February 7, 1868 (see Colorado County Deed Records, Book N, p. 472). The law office in
Content, which is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, had been occupied by "Payne and Putney,"
neither of whom can be more definitely identified. Probably the "Payne" was Don Fernando Payne and the
"Putney," Richard J. Putney.
9 Statements of James L. Walker and Andrew C. Burford, December 9, 1867, Statements of Nathaniel
Axion, Charles Banks, James Banks, Fabe Caldwell, Henry Chavers, Mark Ervin, Jr., William Gilchrist, Tamer
Harris, Anderson Lee, Caswell Smith, and Grandison Smith, October 7, 1867, all in Barry A. Crouch Collection
(Ms. 41), Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus.
10 Colorado Citizen, September 7, 1865, May 5, 1866; P. H. Webster to Edgar M. Gregory, February
5, 1866, Report of Enon M. Harris, October 8, 1867, Letter of Richard V. Cook and David H. Crisp, October 8,
1867, all in Barry A. Crouch Collection (Ms. 41), Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus; Colo-
rado County Deed Records, Book M, p. 417; Colorado County Bond and Mortgage Records, Book E, p. 777.
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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/m1/7/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.