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"
Office Sub-Assistant Commissioner,
BUREAU R. F. & A. L. STATE OF TEXAS
LaGrange, Sept. 25, 1866
Lt. L. K. Morton
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Genl.
I have the honor to forward the following statements in compliance with circular of Sept. 10th, from your office.
No. 1. On the 14th of May last, a young man by the name of Robert A. Jones undertook to whip the wife of a Freedman. The dispute arose because the Freedwoman wanted to come up to the Freedman's Bureau and make complaint that said Jones had taken some thirty acres of the plantation first allotted to them to cultivate, all of which they had plowed up and planted. The husband of this woman was plowing in the fields at the time. He interfered and told him that he must not whip his wife. When Robert A. Jones went to the house and got a revolver, came back to the field, and shot the Freedman, Henry Jones, dead.
He was arrested by the civil authorities. The Grand Jury found a True Bill for murder against him, he was ordered to and gave bail in the sum of five thousand dollars to appear at the next court.
The father of this boy, Adam R. Jones, not only stood by and seen the transaction, but loaned the boy his horse to go to the house and get the pistol, and upon his return to the field with it wanted his son to give it to him and let him go after the Freedman, who was now running from the field to get out of the way, or away from them. This father, Adam R. Jones, I believe is the only white person as evidence against the party; there were nine colored witnesses but whether their testimony will be admitted I don't know, but then it will as they are interested, & the law says that only where a Freedman is interested can they be admitted as evidence against a white man.
No. 2. In the month of May last a Freedman by the name of Godfree Robinson was employed as a Sheppherd by Mr. Ledbeter some two miles from Roundtop in this county. His business was to take care of and herd sheep.
He went out with his flock in the morning of the eleventh of June 1866, and not returning as usual some inquiring was made for him by his employer, without hearing anything of him, during the night, his horse returned to the stable without a bridle. The following morning two parties stated to Mr. Ledbeter that they saw the horse tied in a thicket and thinking that Godfree was saving a sheep somewhere in the vicinity they paid not attention to it. Upon going to the place, the bridle was found but no traces of the Freedman. About eight days afterwards the body was found in a well over a mile from this place. He had been shot through the body and the head cut off. No traces of the head was to be found nor has it been up to this time. The place where the murder was committed was discovered by the marks of blood, and the shirt collar of the Freedman which had been cut off with the head and left lying on the ground by the murderers.
This Freedman is supposed to have been murdered for twenty seven (27) dollars in (illegible) which he is supposed to have had on his person at the time. A coroners jury was summoned and some suspected parties arranged for the murder, but the evidence produced was not considered sufficient by the jury to hold the parties for trial at the coming court for this district in November next.
That there is not much doubt in the minds of some of the most respectable citizens as to who is the guilty parties, they will more likely escape punishment.
No. 3. Last month some of the Freedmen living near Roundtop in this county applied for and rec'd permission to have a Dancing Party. During the evening several white men under the influence of liquor came into the room and after dancing a while with the girls they broke up the party by firing off their pistols and abusing the Freedmen. Two of these men, one by the name of Bill Obar, went into a house or room occupied by a Freedman by the name of Ben (formerly the property of Mr. Walton). After beating him over the head with a revolver shot him through the stomach, from the effects of which it is thought he never can recover. Though he has been about this last few days, Bill Obar, who shot this Freedman, is at large or has been until the last few days. I am recently informed that he is now in jail at San Antonio Texas, having been arrested for horse stealing by the authorities there. The newspaper version of this murder as it was thought to be at the time (as it was thought the man must die) about the quarrel over the right to a horse is all false & got up for the occasion, or the editor was misinformed as to the true course of the ?dispute.
No. 4. On the thirteenth of September 1866 D. A. Harris, an overseer on the Plantation of Moses Cook, got into a dispute with an old Freedman by the name of Menys Cook about feeding hogs on the plantation. When said Harris took up a billet of wood and struck the old man over the breast and head knocking him down and hurting him so severely that up to this time he has not been able to come to the office to make complaint against said D. A. Harris.
The above was reported in my letter of September 18th, but I thought it best to condense it.
All of which is respectully submitted.
F. B. Sturgis
Sub. Asst. B. of R. F. & A. L.