Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865 - 1869
National Archives Microfilm Publication M821 Roll 32
"Miscellaneous Records Relating to Murders and Other Criminal Offenses Committed in Texas 1865 - 1868"
Carolina, Falls Co., Texas
June 14th, 1868
My dear sir:
Accompanying this you will find a memorial signed by a number of the residents of this neighborhood, who were suddenly called together yesterday morning by the intelligence of a murderous assault the night previous upon a family of unoffending Freedmen occupying a cabin some two miles from this place on the road leading to Belton, the circumstances of which are detailed in the deposition of David Friar, the head of the family. This man, David Friar, lived upon the premises and is in the service of his former owner, David Dodson. Both the Freedman and his old master are examples of sobriety, industry and high moral character. One of the men shot is supposed will recover, the other is in a very critical condition. No one can conjecture what reason or motive could have instigated the assailants to make such an assault, nor can it be ascertained who they were.
Some four or five weeks since, there occurred some few miles north of this & within the limits of this county several outrages of a similar character. In one instance two armed white men on foot, in broad open day, went to the house of a Freedmen named Henry Hawthorn, and without any provocation known to the community murdered him on the spot. This occurred within four miles of this place. This information I get from Dr. Featherstone, a gentleman of high moral character, upon, or very near whose premises the affair took place.
Shortly after, a few miles further North, two Freedmen were sitting upon a fence, on the road, a white man rode up, and after a little friendly chat, without the slightest provocation, or at least previous indication of his intention, shot one of them dead, and aimed to kill the other, but missed him.
In the same neighborhood, a few days after, another Freedman and his wife were riding along the road when there appeared a white man following them, who, from the roadside, commanded them to halt, & before they knew his purpose, shot the Freedman, inflicting a severe wound in the shoulder & arm.
We hear of other such affairs daily but I give you an account of these, as occurring within a few miles of this place, according to the reports current amongst us.
Society is in a deplorable condition. If something is not done, a state of things will arise horrible to contemplate. The country will become uninhabitable except by a class of people amongst whom it will not be pleasant to dwell. The suggestion in the memorial of a civil commission, under the name Jury, I think well calculated to meet the emergency. Such a commission should be organized in every county. Let it have the name and organization of a jury, liable to be called together whenever needed, thereby affording the means of prompt and summary trials for crime whenever it occurs. Let it be selected or empowered by the county court, under such instructions from Headquarters as will insure the selection of trustworthy men.
There should be a general disarming of the county enforced by a strong mounted police, effectively armed & sufficient to accomplish the purposes. The people should be taxed to pay the expenses of maintaining such a police. We want effective strong government. It is no time for trifling, cavelling or hesitating. The law must be put in the ascendant, criminals must be made to fear the law. Summary and prompt trials and an effective Police, to follow swift upon the trial of crime, and enforce the verdicts of a Jury Commission, would afford great relief.
I will write you again soon, with great consideration.
I am most Respectfully
Your Obedt. Servt.
(signed) B. G. Shields
E. M. Pease Esq.
Governor, State of Texas
A True Copy