Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 22
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
turned their attention to Jahu Worner Johnson. Johnson had lived in Texas before the war,
but had moved to Columbus only four years earlier, in 1867. Johnson drew two opponents:
Littlebury M. Newsom, a longtime resident of the county who had served in the Confederate
army for nearly the entire war, achieving the rank of lieutenant, and John D. Gillmore, who
had served as county judge from the time he was appointed by a Republican governor in
1865 until he was removed by a Republican governor in 1868. In the election, on January 10,
1872, Gillmore and Newsom apparently split the Democratic vote, and Johnson easily won.26
The state police force and the state militia, along with other initiatives like the
state's new public school system, all cost money and caused the state government to raise
taxes rather substantially. In addition to higher property taxes, occupation taxes were again
imposed, prompting another confrontational editorial from the editor of the Colorado Citi-
zen, Fred Barnard. On May 11, 1871, Barnard declared that "the tax law, enacted by the
nigger conclave at Austin" was designed "to rob the people of the fruits of their industry, for
the benefit of the Radical party," and stirred his readers with "That terrible word, retribution,
haunts them day and night, until every carpet-bagger, scallawag, and negro composing this
infamous body imagine they see the ghosts of their murdered victims following them wher-
ever they go, and that the gaunt spectre, famine and bankruptcy, is grinning at them from
every bush and tree in the forest. We offer these vampires a little consolation under the
circumstances, which they would do well to heed and be wise it is to hang themselves to
the nearest tree after they adjourn, and thus rid the country and their friends of their pres-
ence forever." 27
Though conservatives like Barnard apparently did not think it a problem, there
was certainly a climate of violence in the county, and indeed across the state, for the new
state police force to suppress. In the summer of 1870, there had been several murders and
other violent incidents around the county. The west side of the county was shocked by three
murders in 1870 and 1871. On May 29, 1870, south of Oakland, Joseph Wiggins Stafford
was killed by a man named Milton Allen. Little, however, is known of the particulars, and
Allen was never apprehended. On July 1, 1871, Thomas Morrisey was found shot to death
26 Colorado Citizen, October 12, 1871, October 19, 1871, October 26, 1871, November 30,
1871; William S. Speer and John Henry Brown, eds., The Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall,
Texas: The United States Biographical Publishing Co., 1881), pp. 122-127; Executive Record Books,
Edmund J. Davis, vol. 1, p. 753, Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin. The vote totals in the
1872 election to replace Jones were: Johnson 404, Gillmore 234, Newsom 189. Fleming, after moving
away from the county, would serve as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875, as a district
judge, as a state Senator, and as a presiding officer at the state Democratic convention and a delegate
to the national Democratic convention in 1894 (see The New Handbook of Texas (Austin: Texas State
Historical Association, 1996) vol. 2, p. 1030).
27 Colorado Citizen, May 11, 1871.
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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/m1/22/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.