Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 45
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
In addition to providing increased economic prosperity and increased exposure
to infectious diseases like yellow fever, the railroad also familiarized the citizens of Colorado
County with the grievous industrial accident. Such accidents had happened before, and they
continued to happen-for instance, David F. Whitney was mauled and killed at George S.
Turner's sawmill on March 9, 1871, and Josiah Shaw was killed at his farm on November 1,
1877 when he got caught in the machinery of his gin-but never had they occurred with
such frequency. In May 1874, a train wreck near Weimar killed an engineer and fireman. On
October 8, 1874, another railroad employee, who had been mangled by an engine a week
earlier, died. Two weeks later, a man named Willis McDonald was killed in a railroad acci-
dent about five miles west of Columbus. On February 21, 1875, one man was killed and
another injured as crews attempted to place a derailed train back on the track near Rocky
Hill. The following summer, Nelson Childress, a citizen of Columbus, slipped near the track
and had his arm cut off by a passing train. In June 1876, a newsboy died after his legs were
run over when he fell between two cars. On March 10, 1877, a man was mauled when he
slipped while trying to board a moving train at Borden. He was taken to the Wootton Hotel
in Columbus, where he died nine days later. Another railroad employee was severely injured
in October 1877, and two railroad employees were killed in 1878.58
The railroad also introduced the citizens of Columbus to what would come to be
called "noise pollution," as trains rumbled through the previously quiet town, blowing whistles
and ringing bells. Other types of pollution had long been present. The yellow fever epidemic
had made the community more aware of the dangers of leaving water standing and weeds
County. That family connection may partially explain why Joe Harris kept receiving appointment after
appointment despite his many difficulties (see Colorado County Marriage Records, Book E, p. 258;
Joseph P. Harris to Edmund J. Davis, September 2, 1872, Edmund J. Davis Records (RG 301), Archives
Division, Texas State Library, Austin; Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File
No. 974: State of Texas v. James McDowell; Harris Family File, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial
Library, Columbus. Dilue Rose Harris's reminiscences appear in the Quarterly of the Texas State
HistoricalAssociation, vol. 4, no. 2, October 1900, vol. 4, no. 3, January 1901, vol. 7, no. 3, January
1904. Publications about Harris include: Jeanette Hastedt Flachmeier, "Dilue Rose Harris," in Evelyn
M. Carrington, ed., Women in Early Texas (1975. Reprint. Austin: Texas State Historical Association,
1994), Flachmeier, A Rose in Texas (n. p., 1986), and Rita Kerr, TexasRose (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986).
58 Colorado Citizen, March 16, 1871, May 14, 1874, October 1, 1874, October 15, 1874,
October 29, 1874, February 25, 1875, September 2, 1875, June 8, 1876, March 15, 1877, March 22, 1877,
October 11, 1877, November 15, 1877, May 23, 1878, October 3, 1878. The rise in industrial accidents
was shortly followed by the introduction of the personal-injury lawsuit to Colorado County. In the
summer of 1877, Cecile LaGierse, the widow of the man who died as the result of injuries he received
when attempting to board the train at Borden, sued the railroad. The case dragged on for years, and
was finally dismissed, on grounds that the plaintiff had not come to court, on March 9, 1887 (see
Colorado Citizen, June 7, 1877; Colorado County District Court Records, Civil Cause File No. 3454:
Cecile LaGierse v. Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad, Minute Book I, p. 72).
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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/m1/45/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.