Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 17
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Davis was pursued by two black officers, Fayette Yancy and Allen Nail, both of
whom were part of the state's recently created, and almost immediately controversial, law
enforcement organizations. Nail, who had purchased property on the outskirts of town in
1868, was the captain of the state guard unit based in Columbus. His unit, like others across
the state, was created in late 1870 to be ready to take control of the county whenever the
governor believed that enforcement of the law was being obstructed "by combinations of
lawless men too strong for the control of the civil authorities." Nail's unit, which contained
100 men, most if not all of whom were black, was almost certainly held in low regard by the
conservatives. However, it was bolstered by a series of reserve militia units from around the
county which had white captains and memberships, and which were no doubt thought re-
spectable by the whites.21
Yancy, when he was a slave, had evidently been regarded by his owner, William
Yancy, as enterprising and trustworthy, and had purchased property in Columbus less than a
year after he was emancipated; nonetheless, he forfeited any respect he had accumulated in
the white community when he became a private in the state police on August 1, 1870. The
state police force was formed to help combat the growing number of violent crimes within
came to Texas with his unit the following month, and was released from service, with the rest of his
unit, at Houston on August 15, 1865 (see Eighth Census of the United States (1870) Lavaca County,
Texas, Schedule 1; Sammy Tise, comp., Lavaca County, Texas Cemetery Records (Hallettsville, 1985)
vol. 2, p. 35; Roster andRecord oflowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion Together with Historical
Sketches of Volunteer Organizations 1861-1866, vol. 5, pp. 485, 841, 920).
The returns of the election provide more evidence that the 1870 federal census takers se-
verely undercounted Colorado County's population. In Colorado County, 2402 people cast ballots,
more than twice as many as the approximately 1040 who voted in Lavaca County. However, according
to the 1870 census, Lavaca County contained 842 more people, and 413 more males, than Colorado
County. Noting that females were not eligible to vote, and estimating that one-fourth of the male
population was under the legal voting age, then Colorado County's voter turnout was an extraordi-
nary 75%, and Lavaca's a more believable 30%.
21 Muster and Pay Roll, Company E, 8th Regiment, State Guards, September 1, 1870, Adju-
tant General's Records (RG 401), Archives Division, Texas State Library; Gammel, ed., The Laws of
Texas, 1822-1897, vol. 6, pp. 185-190; Colorado County Deed Records, Book N, pp. 81, 86. OfNail's
100 men, only 29 could be reasonably identified on the 1870 census. Of those 29, 27 were black. The
other two were named John Harbert and John Smith, whose common names make absolute identifica-
tion problematical. Two other members of the unit, Nail himself and Tom Braker, are identified as black
men in Colorado County's deed records. The reserve militia companies were: Company A, with Cap-
tain George Millan McCormick, headquartered at Columbus, containing 103 members; Company B,
with Captain Ed H. Adams, headquartered at Frelsburg, containing 100 members; Company C, with
Captain A. Braden, headquartered at New Mainz, containing 100 members; Company D, with Captain
Alex Matthews, headquartered at Alleyton, containing 102 members; and Company E, with Captain
Isaac N. Wall, headquartered at Oakland, containing 88 members (see Muster Rolls, Second Regiment,
Reserve Militia, 1870-1871, Adjutant General's Records (RG 401), Archives Division, Texas State
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/17/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.