True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 235
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HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 235
Occasionally funny things would occur when, for instance, an
election would be contested and it became necessary to open
the boxes and recount the votes. Then it was often found that
some loud-mouthed Democrat had voted for "the other fellow,"
which fact, no doubt, inspired "Uncle Dick" Westcott to compile
his famous list known as his " book."
After the Democrats had succeeded in getting control of affairs
in Harris County they had hard work in holding it, there being
so many white Republicans and negroes here that every Democratic
vote was needed, hence any backsliding or treason was
looked upon with scorn and contempt. "Uncle Dick" Westcott
was a Democrat at whose feet Thomas Jefferson and Andrew
Jackson might have sat. He held Democracy far above religion
or anything else. He was one of the most remarkable men I
ever knew and was the first political boss Harris County ever
had. His business was different from that of the modern "boss."
'He did not try to dictate to the voters who should be elected to
office except in rare cases, when he was personally interested
in a would-be candidate, but he made it his business to see that
every Democratic voter did his duty and also to see that all delinquents
were held up to scorn.
Now, early in the fight Uncle Dick had been elected county
clerk and since all the ballot boxes were placed in his keeping
after an election, he had a sure way of finding out just how every
vote had been cast. If he had suspicion that Smith had not voted
right, he would open the ballot from from Smith's ward or precinct
and set all doubt aside by looking at Smith's ballot. Of
course, he never boasted of doing this and nobody was able to
prove that he did it, but he knew too many things about the
ballots and of how this man and that man had scratched the
ticket to admit of any other explanation as to the source of his
information. About the first intimation that he had real and
genuine inside information about the ballots was given soon after
an election in which Uncle Dick had been re-elected over quite
a popular Republican opponent. A very prominent and well
known lawyer met Uncle Dick and congratulated him on his
"If you are so glad I am elected, why were you not glad enough
before the election to vote for me and why did you vote against
me?" he asked.
The lawyer was dumbfounded and did not know what to say.
He mumbled something and left. He had a moment before been
telling some gentleman what a fine official and man Uncle Dick
was, but after his interview with Uncle Dick he was heard to
"That old rascal has been opening the ballot boxes and should
be in the penitentiary instead of in the county clerk's office."
Occasionally Uncle Dick allowed his zeal to get away with his
judgment, and, as the gamblers say, he overplayed his hand. A
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/235/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .