Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 29
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
On October 14, 1872, about six weeks after John C. Journey resigned the post,
Governor Davis appointed William Fondren as the new Columbus city marshal. Fondren had
been selected by the city government, but only by a narrow 3-2 margin. In addition to two
aldermen, the mayor, John C. Miller, also apparently opposed Fondren. All was well, how-
ever, when Fondren failed to qualify. Miller fired off a letter to the governor recommending
James W. Fields for the post, and stipulating that more than one hundred citizens had en-
dorsed his candidacy. Davis appointed Fields to the post on November 1.37
Four days later, county voters went to the polls. When the voting ended, on
November 8, John R. Brooks had been elected sheriff. Brooks, who beat the incumbent,
Good, by ninety votes, took over the post in an orderly manner on January 3, 1873. At the
same time, the voters of Colorado and Lavaca Counties elected three representatives to the
state legislature. The three Republican candidates, Eugene L. Overbay, Benjamin F. Will-
iams, and Johann Zwiegel, narrowly carried Colorado County, but, on the strength of the
vote from Lavaca County, the three Democrats, Thomas A. Hester, Fritz Leyendecker, and
George W. Smith, won the seats.38
The City of Columbus was allowed to begin conducting elections again in June
1873, at which time, it seems, the city council again became an all-white, though largely
German, institution. Still, conservative distrust of government remained strong. In the sum-
mer of 1874, a mild scandal erupted, when the city came under criticism for renting an office
for the mayor when it already owned a small building, called the market-house, which con-
tained stalls that were once used by butchers. Already discontented with local tax rates, the
citizenry was further aroused by an editorial in the August 20, 1874 issue of the Colorado
Citizen, which noted a move to have the city take over the ferry on the north side of town,
to make it free, and to raise taxes to pay the expenses of its operation. The Citizen agreed
that free access to the city, and therefore to the railroad, ought to be provided to people who
lived north of town, but suggested that the only way the citizens could afford it would be to
eliminate the city government, which it decried as an expensive luxury. On September 24,
the mayor, John D. Gillmore, announced that city tax collection practices had been lax and
37 City Officials Appointment Book, City of Columbus, p. 36, Secretary of State Records (RG
307), Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin; Bartley Harbert et al. to Edmund J. Davis, Sep-
tember 4, 1872, John C. Miller to Edmund J. Davis, September 5, 1872, Edmund J. Davis Records (RG
307), Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin. It is assumed that the mayor did not support
Fondren's candidacy because he, quite conspicuously, did not sign the letter the council sent to the
governor on September 4.
38 Colorado County Election Returns, Lavaca County Election Returns, Secretary of State
Records (RG 307), Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin. In Colorado County, Zwiegel got
1203 votes, Overbay 1166, Williams 1162, Leyendecker 1153, Smith 1127, and Hester 1124. In Lavaca
County, the totals were: Zwiegel 315, Overbay 323, Williams 296, Leyendecker 838, Hester 859, and
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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/m1/29/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.