Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 46
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
growing; however, the increased awareness did not always stimulate action. Horses, cattle,
pigs, chickens, and animals of other sorts, alive and dead, were always present on the streets;
people bathed at much wider intervals than is now customary; garbage rotted in yards;
unsanitized outhouses and stables fouled the air. In September 1876, a jury complained
mightily when it found itself sequestered in the courthouse overnight, unable to escape from
the odor of the public privy. They, and the rest of the citizens, also had to contend with the
stench from William L. Haskell's brick factory north of the railroad track in Columbus,
which was so pronounced that residents implored the city council to take action. That prob-
lem, at least, finally resolved itself in September 1877, when, after three years of operation,
Haskell stopped making bricks.59
The smell of gunpowder also filled the air. The times were characterized by an
increasing incidence of gunplay and murder, much of which was sensational. The most
peculiar such incident occurred on September 29, 1874, when Amos English and Matt Woodlief,
neither of whom was a resident of the county, had a gunfight in the middle of the afternoon
on Milam Street near the Kulow Hotel in downtown Columbus. Both men, apparently, were
gamblers who roamed from town to town. Woodlief had been in town since at least Septem-
ber 23, gambling in William Lott Davidson's saloon. On the morning of the gunfight, Woodlief
and English had played cribbage, with English ostensibly winning $20. However, Woodlief,
claiming that English had cheated, refused to pay until English produced a pistol. When the
two men met again that evening, Woodlief still had blood in his eye. He courteously asked
English if he was armed; and when English said that he was not, Woodlief told him to go get
his pistol. While English was gone, some of Woodlief's local friends persuaded him to forget
about the matter, and he took his pistol to his hotel room. By this time, English had gotten his
pistol, and was out on the streets looking for Woodlief. When he found him, about three
o'clock that afternoon, Woodlief threw up his arms and protested that, this time, he was
unarmed. English offered to let him return to his hotel, the Kulow, for his pistol, which
Woodlief promptly did. When Woodlief emerged, English began firing. In all, the two men
exchanged eight shots. Woodlief was not hit, but English was hit twice, and died about five
hours later. Woodlief was quickly arrested, and, in less than a month's time, tried and acquit-
59 Colorado Citizen, July 2, 1874, May 18, 1876, June 1, 1876, June 15, 1876, June 22, 1876,
July 27, 1876, September 14, 1876, August 9, 1877, September 13, 1877. The jury that was bedeviled by
the odor of the courthouse privy sent a complaint about it, in the form of a mock court decision, to the
Colorado Citizen. The newspaper printed it on September 14, 1876. The jury included Dallas
Stoudenmier, prompting his biographer, Leon Claire Metz, to write of the incident. Metz indicated that
the matter was a genuine court proceeding, surely a highly questionable interpretation (see Metz,
Dallas Stoudenmire: El Paso Marshal (Austin and New York: The Pemberton Press, 1969), pp. 28-29).
60 Colorado Citizen, October 1, 1874, October 22, 1874; District Court Records of Colorado
County, Criminal Cause File No. 1268: State of Texasv. Matt Woodlief Criminal Cause File No. 1269:
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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/m1/46/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.