On the eve of one of America’s most historic elections, you
may have thought that the title of this blog post had something to do with
current events. Many political pundits
are outraged by the level of vitriol between the two candidates vying in
tomorrow’s election. The Reconstruction
Era of American history provides documentation of many election events that
will make the 2016 election seem tame by comparison.
|The old Texas Capitol (1853-1881) was the setting for historic drama when African-Americans, most of them recently freed from slavery, took office as leaders of the Lone Star State. All images of the legislators and delegates, State Preservation Board. Capitol photo from the Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/forever/index.html|
In 1889, Congress published a book entitled Testimony on the Alleged Election Outrages in Texas
that summarized the investigation of
alleged violence and harassment of certain citizens which accompanied the 1886
election in Washington County, Texas.
The Congressional publication includes
testimony taken in Federal District Court, Austin, Texas, in August 1887 in
U.S. v. Lafayette Kirk et al. (p. 691-769
My research has been focused on the “et al” portion of the case. The other man that was charged in this case
is the “Mysterious Bob Sloan”
who is the subject of one of my top ten blog
posts featured in the right hand column of this blog. Much of the testimony focuses on Bob Sloan
and his actions and motivations for turning his allegiance from the Republicans
to the Democrats. The TSU Law Library
staff provided me with an index to the witnesses in the testimony from their
Proquest Congressional documents database.
The entire book has been made accessible digitally
Portal to Texas History and is keyword searchable. The current state of Optical Character
Recognition software being what it is you may also find an index helpful. The list of witnesses includes a variety of
actors in the tragic drama that occurred in Washington County in 1886. If you are interested in Washington County
history, you will see a “Who’s Who Listing” of many well known names and some
that are more obscure like Bob Sloan. Unfortunately, even though Bob Sloan’s
name appears in the testimony on numerous pages he did not provide any direct
The petitioners in the Congressional investigation were Stephen
A. Hackworth, James L. Moore, and Carl Schutze. Their petition referred to intimidation and
lynchings that created a reign of terror in Washington county:
Alfred Jones, Shadrach
Felder, and Stewart Jones, three colored Republicans, were arrested upon
pretended and malicious charges of crime, and, while in the custody of the
civil authorities of said county, were, on the 2d day of December ultimo,
surrendered by said civil authorities into the hands of large numbers of armed
and disguised men—known as Ku-Klux—who wantonly and cruelly hung them to death;
that this outrage was committed while the friends of these men were preparing
to have their cases fully heard and investigated by habeas corpus proceedings,
and the civil authorities of said county, together with their leading political
friends, well knowing that reasonable and adequate evidence would be obtained
at such trial which would expose and make public their political crimes and
outrages, ordered and instigated, as your petitioners verily believe, the death
of said Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones; that John Ireland,
governor of said State, has failed and refused to make any effort whatever to
have arrested and brought to trial the lawless men who committed this outrage,
although the facts were made known to him and he was earnestly requested to
take prompt action therein.
There is currently no known historical marker devoted to the
lives of Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder and Stewart Jones. By using the keyword functionality of the
Portal to Texas History, you can find dozens of references to the surname
“Felder” in the Election Outrages book. I chose the name “Felder” as it would
have fewer matches than “Jones.” Here is a description of what happened to
Shadrach Felder and eight other men from page 38-40
in the testimony of Felix
Kinlaw, an African American who worked as an election official in 1886. Mr. Kinlaw was one of the eight African
American men who were arrested on election day, November 2, 1886:
Q. How many of you
were arrested and put in jail ?-A. Eight of us. Q. Who were they?-A. Shad
Felder, John Glass, Stephen Jackson, Ephraim Jones, Felix Kinlaw [the
witness], Andy Hayes, and William Davis.
Q. All colored men?—A. Yes, sir; all colored. Q. What were they charged with?
A. I could not tell you what they put us in there for. Q. You had not done
anything, had you?—A. Hadn’t done a thing, sir. Q. How long did you stay there
in jail?—A. We staid there four weeks and two days, I think it was. Q. What
became of Shad Felder ?-A. They killed him...Q. Who else did they take out and hang?--A. They took out Alfred Jones...Q. Was he related to Stewart Jones?--A. No, sir; he was my father-in-law. Q. This Alfred Jones, was?--A. Yes, sir.
The FindaGrave Memorial for Shad Felder cites a Dallas Morning News article
about his death:
In the early morning
hours, a mob of 20-60 men overpowered the jailer and took three prisoners from
the jail: Shed [sic] Felder, 45; Alfred Jones, 60; and T.H. Jones, 40. The men had
been charged with the shooting murder of D. Bolton in November. The bodies of
the men were found later that morning hanging from a pecan tree about a mile
from the jail on Independence Road. ("Three Negros Hanged at
Brenham", The Dallas Morning News, December 03, 1886)
Unknown; Virtual Cemetery info created by: M. L.; Record added: Sep 05, 2006; Find A Grave
The 1880 census provides us a little more information on a young man named Shadrack Felder who may be related to the Shadrack Felder aged 45 described in the newspaper article:
Shadrack Felder in
the 1880 United States Federal Census:
Name: Shadrack Felder
Birth Year: abt 1865
1880: Precinct 1,
Head of House: Son
name: Guy Felder
Birthplace: South Carolina
Guy Felder 55
Mary Felder 17
Wiley Felder 7
Julia Felder 6
Lucy Felder 4
Jack Pink 18
Clara Pink 16
If these folks are related to Shadrack Felder, it appears
that Mr. Felder would have many survivors and those survivors may have
descendants that might be interested in his story.
The following persons that provided “Testimony on the
Alleged Election Outrages in Texas” in August 1887 were indexed by
Congressional Proquest as witnesses in order of appearance. I hope this
information is helpful to Washington County researchers. The testimony includes many personal details
about these individuals. Even though the
subject of the report is a very sensitive subject, the genealogical facts that
it contains may open the door to reconciliation and reunion with the ancestors
and the descendants of everyone involved in the case.
Certainly we can look at the facts of this case and realize
that the politicians of the 21st century are “trustworthy, loyal,
courteous and kind” when compared to Texas politicians of the 19th
WITNESSES IN ORDER OF
BOOKER, Marshal, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 4.
SPANN, C. P., former election official, Washington County, Texas,
JONES, T. M., teacher and election official, Brenham, Texas,
NICHOLSON, J. M., planter and election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 22.
PENNINGTON, Lewis P., former election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 31.
KINLAW, Felix, former election official, Washington County, Texas,
HAYS, Andy, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 47.
SHAW, William M., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 50.
BROWN, E. B., former election official, Washington County, Texas,
MAYO, G. A., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 63.
WILLIAMS, W. L., farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 66.
SCOTT, A. G., minister, Washington County, Texas, p. 69,
BUSTER, W. S., resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 77, 607.
BROWN, G. W., Republican candidate for County commissioner,
Washington County, Texas, p. 86, 108.
NEWMAN, Frank M., Democratic voter, Washington County, Texas,
p. 90, 97, 610.
BAUER, Charles, former election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 100, 627.
POTTER, O. B., resident, Brenham, Texas; native of Ohio, p.
BLOUNT, W. H., farmer, Washington County, Texas; former
candidate for Texas legislature, p. 126.
HOFFMAN, Joseph, assessor, Washington County, Texas, p. 130,
HACKWORTH, William W., resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 143.
HACKWORTH, Riggs P., justice of peace, Brenham, Texas, p.
145, 190, 608.
FRICKE, Paul, former candidate for sheriff, Washington County,
Texas, p. 156,621.
JODON, Florent D., attorney, Brenham, Texas, p. 167, 635,
SCHUTZE, Carl, attorney and journalist, Brenham, Texas;
editor, Texas Staats Zeitung, p. 195.
HACKWORTH Stephen A., presiding judge, Washington County, Texas,
p. 215, 658.
KIRK, Lafayette, judge, Washington County, Texas, p. 246.
CAWSE, William, former election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 303.
WRIGHT, Robert, former election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 310.
VERNON, John A., justice of peace, Washington County, Texas,
p. 317, 604.
AWBREY, Benjamin Y., former election official, Washington County,
Texas, p. 329.
IRELAND, John, Governor, Texas, p. 335.
ROBERTS, J. H., secretary, citizens group opposed to
Republicans, Washington County, Texas, p. 348.
LEWIS, Hugh M., County clerk, Washington County, Texas, p.
MULLER. Henry bookstore proprietor; editor. Texas Volksbote.
SEARCY, W. W., attorney; chairman, Washington County
Democratic Executive Committee, p. 391.
ENGELKE, F. A., president, First National Bank, Brenham, Texas,
REICHARDT, E., proprietor, furniture store, Brenham, Texas,
HAYNES, Harry, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 409.
FISCHER, Frederick, farmer and butcher, Brenham, Texas, p.
PERRY, William, superintendent, cotton press, Brenham, Texas,
ELDRIDGE, Boling, resident, Brenham, Texas, p. 440.
FISHER, Hermann, merchant and saloon proprietor, Brenham, Texas,
TRISTRAM, Joseph, druggist, Brenham, Texas, p. 455.
HOFFMAN, Rinehardt, merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 465.
LEHMANN, Bernhardt, saloon proprietor, Brenham, Texas, p.
CURRY, E. P., attorney, Brenham, Texas; former People's
Party candidate for magistrate, p. 471.
HODDE, Henry, merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 486.
THOMPSON, William, cotton dealer, Brenham, Texas, p. 489,
HOPKINS, Gus, cartman, Brenham, Texas, p. 492.
HUNT, Algie, farmer, Washington County, Texas, p. 499.
LEVIN, John, editor and publisher, Brenham Banner, p. 502
MOORE, James L., merchant, Brenham, Texas, p. 506.
ROBERTSON, B. F., planter, Washington County, Texas, p. 528.
ROUSE, E., mechanic, Brenham, Texas, p. 541.
WESSON, J. M., attorney; captain, militia, Grimes County, Texas,
ROGERS, B. S., County attorney, Washington County, Texas, p.
BRYAN, Lewis R., attorney, Brenham, Texas, p. 558.
GIDDINGS, De Witt C., former U.S. Representative, Texas, p.
DEVER, N. E., sheriff, Washington County, Texas, p. 623.
SLATER, James E., telegraph operator, Brenham, Texas, p.
HART, D. H., Clerk, Federal District and Federal Circuit Courts,
Western Texas, p. 641.
DURFEE, Edward D., Railroad agent, Burton, Texas, p. 649.
WILSON, Robert, resident, Washington County, Texas, p. 651.
TOLAND, Elijah J resident, Washington County, Texas, p. 658.
MOORE, Robert J., member, Texas legislature, p. 668.
SWEARINGEN, J. T., p. 687.
To learn more about reasons for the congressional hearing on the
“Alleged Election Outrages in Texas,” I recommend that you read the full text of the petition:
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES.
February 4, 1889.—Ordered to lie on the table and be printed.
ALLEGED ELECTION OUTRAGES IN WASHINGTON COUNTY, TEX.
Mr. Evarts, from the Committee on Privileges and Elections,
[To accompany Senate resolutions of January 26, 1887, and
February 2d, 1888.]
The Committee on Privileges and Elections respectfully
reports that it has inquired into the circumstances and events referred to in
the resolutions of the Senate passed January 26, 1887, and presents to the
Senate the testimony taken before the committee and the conclusions upon such
testimony to which it has come. The resolutions referred to the committee are
Whereas Stephen A. Hackworth, a native citizen of the United
States and of the State of Texas ; James L. Moore, a native of Alabama, and now
for twenty years a citizen of Texas; and Carl Schutze, a native of Germany, for
thirty years a resident of the United States and now a naturalized citizen
thereof, have presented their petition to the Senate, wherein they allege that
they have been driven from their homes in Washington County, Texas, and
compelled to abandon their property at a great sacrifice, and that armed and
lawless bands of ruffians have taken possession of and destroyed certain
ballot-boxes in said county at a late election therein for county officers and
member of Congress, and have murdered three citizens of said county, and
overthrown republican government therein, and committed other outrages and
crimes, all of which have been done in order that the majority of the voters
therein may be deprived of their lawful and constitutional right of suffrage,
and that the minority may unlawfully usurp and exercise control in said county,
and that the constituted authorities of said county and State refuse all remedy
for said outrages and crimes:
Be it Resolved, That the Committee on Privileges
and Elections be, and it is hereby, instructed to inquire into all the
circumstances of, and connected with, the said alleged events, and that it
report as soon as may be; and that said committee have power to send for
persons and papers, to employ a stenographer, and to act by any subcommittee,
and that any such subcommittee shall, for the purposes of such investigation,
be a committee of the Senate to all intents and purposes. Resolved, That the
necessary expenses of said committee in said investigation be paid out of the
appropriation for the miscellaneous items of the contingent fund of the Senate,
upon vouchers to be approved by the chairman thereof.
The petition to Congress upon which the resolutions of the
Senate were based states with perspicuity and conciseness the history of the
transactions in Washington County, Tex., out of which the grievances of which
the petitioners complain arose, and which constitute the public grounds upon
which their appeal is made to Congress to investigate these transactions, and
take such action as in its wisdom may seem appropriate to its jurisdiction and
duty in the premises.
OUTRAGES IN TEXAS.
The petition reads as follows:
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
Your petitioners, Stephen A. Hackworth, James L. Moore, and
Carl Schutze, respectfully state—
That they are citizens of Brenham, Washington County, Texas,
but that they are now refugees from their homes in consequence of political
That they are law-abiding citizens and are not charged with
the commission of any crime whatever against the laws of said State, and they
possess the confidence and esteem of all law-abiding citizens who know them.
That, having in vain appealed for protection for their lives
and property and for the security and property of their families to the local
and State authorities of said county and State, they have now no other recourse
except to appeal to yon in the earnest hope that there may somewhere exist
sufficient power to protect a citizen of the United States in his own country.
Your petitioner, Stephen A. Hackworth, is a native-born
citizen of said Washington County, Texas; has resided a greater part of his
life in said city of Brenham ; is now forty-seven years of age; is by
occupation a dealer in real estate ; and from 1870 to 1882 held several civil
positions in said county; owned real citato and personal property in said city
of Brenham to the value of $4,000; was comfortably situated, the income from
his business securing an assured support for himself and family.
Your petitioner, James L. Moore, is a native of the State of
Alabama, but has been a citizen of said Washington County, Tex., since 1866; is
now forty-five years of age, and by occupation a merchant ; and from 1876 to
1882, held the office of district clerk, and from 1882 to 1884 held the office
of sheriff of said county; owned real and personal property in said city of
Brenham to the value of $6,000 ; was comfortably situated and earning a
comfortable living for himself and family.
Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was born in Germany, but was
many years ago naturalized, and has resided in the United States during the
past thirty years, and has been a citizen of said Washington County since 1871;
is now thirty-five years of age and un-married ; is by profession a lawyer, and
from 1877 to 1880 hold the office of district attorney of said county and
State; was, until recently, editor of a German Republican newspaper, published
at the said city of Brenham, known as the Staats Zeitung ; was comfortably
situated, owning personal property to the value of $3,000 ; the income from his
profession and paper earning him a competent support.
Your petitioners are white citizens of the United States, and
dared to believe and maintain the right to be Republicans in politics. For
this, their only crime, your petitioners are now exiles from their homes,
having been compelled to leave under serious threats of assassination, and
abandon their property or accept for it such prices as were proffered them.
Your petitioner, S. A. Hackworth, was obliged to sell his
homestead for $1,150, being less than one-half its real value. Your petitioner,
James L. Moore, was obliged to sell his homestead for $2,000, being less than
one-half its real value.
Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was compelled to remove his
paper to Galveston, Tex., thereby destroying its patronage and support, and
preventing him from obtaining even one-tenth of its real value.
Your petitioners would further state, that at an election
held on the 2d day of November last, for the election of county and State
officers and member of Congress from the ninth Congressional district of Texas
(of which said Congressional district said Washington county forms a part), a
perfect reign of terror existed in said county caused by armed bands of white
ruffians, who, by violence and by the destruction of ballot-boxes at Graball,
Flewellens, and Lott's Store election precincts, prevented the free and fair
expression of suffrage by the citizens of said county, whereby men in whose
interest these crimes were committed were declared elected who were not in fact
elected, and by the most shameless and unblushing frauds the election was made
a farce. That every effort made by your petitioners and by other peaceable,
law-abiding citizens to obtain lawful and peaceable redress for wrongs, and
security for their lives and property, by appeal to the local and State
authorities of said county and State, has been prevented by the wanton and
cruel murder of important witnesses, and by the further fact that a body of
State troops, ostensibly ordered to said county by the State authorities to
preserve law and order, in fact acted in open concert with the lawless men who
had committed the election outrages, and were then actually engaged in
terrorizing the county preparatory to the commission of other outrages,
afterwards perpetrated by them.
Your petitioners further state that, since the said 2d day
of November last, no protection has existed in said county for the lives and
property of citizens who are Republicans in politics; that one-half or more of
the white citizens of said county are Republicans in politics, and, together
with the colored citizens who are Republicans, have at least 2,000 majority
votes over and above the citizens of said county who are Democrats in politics,
and also own more than one-half of the real estate and personal property of
said county; that said citizens are peaceable and law-abiding, and have never
resorted to unlawful acts or measures to secure political ascendancy or to re
dress their many grievances; that if said citizens should collect in sufficient
numbers to secure protection to the lives of proscribed Republicans, such an
assemblage would be declared to be a "negro insurrection " by the
civil authorities, and would furnish a desirable pretext to said civil
authorities and their armed bands of ruffians to call for and obtain from the
State authorities sufficient re-enforcement of State troops to suppress the
so-called "negro insurrection."
Your petitioners further declare that in pursuance of such
repressive policy, and to prevent Republicans from securing their political
rights and privileges in said county, Alfred Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart
Jones, three colored Republicans, were arrested upon pretended and malicious
charges of crime, and, while in the custody of the civil authorities of said
county, were, on the 2d day of December ultimo, surrendered by said civil
authorities into the hands of large numbers of armed and disguised men—known as
Ku-Klux—who wantonly and cruelly hung them to death; that this outrage was
committed while the friends of these men were preparing to have their cases
fully heard and investigated by habeas corpus proceedings, and the civil
authorities of said county, together with their leading political friends, well
knowing that reasonable and adequate evidence would be obtained at such trial
which would expose and make public their political crimes and outrages, ordered
and instigated, as your petitioners verily believe, the death of said Alfred
Jones, Shadrach Felder, and Stewart Jones; that John Ireland, governor of said
State, has failed and refused to make any effort whatever to have arrested and
brought to trial the lawless men who committed this outrage, although the facts
were made known to him and he was earnestly requested to take prompt action
And your petitioners further declare that prompt action upon
the part of the civil authorities of said county and State, together with the
earnest protest of Democratic political leaders of said county and State,
against the lawless acts of said bands of armed ruffians would have, at any
time since the said 2d day of November last, restored the supremacy of law and
order and secured ample protection to the lives and property of all citizens of
said county and State; but, as already stated, no effort or protest has been
made by either the said civil authorities or the leading Democratic politicians
to prevent the commission of such crimes by said lawless bands of armed
And your petitioners further declare that there exists no republican
government in said Washington County ; that large numbers of citizens who are
Republicans in politics have been terrorized and compelled to leave said
county, through open threats of runnier and violence made by said lawless bands
of armed ruffians, who are acting under orders of said civil authorities and
loading Democratic politicians of said county and State ; that the lives and
property of other citizens of said county, who are unable and unwilling to
leave said county, are now in great peril, and in their behalf your petitioners
humbly and earnestly appeal to you for their relief and protection.
petitioners further declare that the commission of such crimes and outrages is
resorted to in other sections of said State, to prevent citizens who are
Republicans in politics from making organized efforts to secure representation
in the local and State and Federal governments, and the dangers attending such
organized efforts is so well known and understood that in many sections of said
State Republicans have disbanded their political organizations and abandoned
all hope of securing such representation.
And your petitioners further state that, on the 4th day of
December ultimo they were informed by a prominent member of the Democratic
executive committee of said county, who was acting for, and in behalf, and with
the full knowledge and consent of said Democratic executive committee and civil
authorities, that if they would leave the county at once their lives would be
spared, but if they refused to do so their lives would be sacrificed; and your
petitioners being without hope, worn out by persecutions, and at the complete
mercy of armed ruffians who were then collecting and preparing to murder them,
and well knowing that their lives would be sacrificed unless they did not
comply with the demands of leading Democrats, had thus to abandon their homes
and become exiles.
And your petitioner Stephen A. Hackworth was, on the 16th
day of December ultimo, escorted to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway
depot at said city of Brenham by members of the Democratic executive committee
of said county, also by a number of friends who went with him to protect him
from being murdered by armed bands of ruffians who had collected in said city
of Brenham, on the 5th and 6th of December ultimo, for the purpose of murdering
him if he refused to obey the demands of the said Democratic executive
committee requiring him to leave said county, and as the train bore him away
from the depot said lawless bands of armed ruffians rent the air with several
prolonged and exultant yells of triumph.
And your petitioner S. A. Hackworth further states that no
time was given him to remove his family from said city of Brenham ; and knowing
it to be unsafe for him to remain in Texas, he came to Washington, D. C., where
he is now temporarily residing.
Your petitioner James L. Moore was permitted to remain until
the 12th of December ultimo, to enable him to dispose of his property, and on
said date he, with his family, left Brenham for Los Angeles, Cal., where he and
his family now reside.
Your petitioner, Carl Schutze, was compelled to leave
Brenham on said 6th of December ultimo, but returned to Brenham on the 13th of
December ultimo, for the purpose of removing his paper, the Staats Zeitung, to
Galveston, Tex., and on said 13th day of December was, while leaving the depot
at Brenham for Galveston, attacked by armed ruffians, who fired two pistol
shots, and also threw a heavy stone at him through the car window, but he
escaped unhurt, and is now in Galveston, Tex.
And your petitioners further say that they are unable within
the limits of this petition to state all the facts and set forth the long lists
of cruel crimes committed upon helpless citizens of said county because they
dared to exercise their political rights as Republicans to obtain
representation in the local, Stare, and Federal governments of the country ;
and your petitioners are prepared, and stand ready when called upon to do so,
to establish by conclusive evidence the truth of all facts herein sot forth and
And your petitioners hereby respectfully submit all matters
herein stated and complained of to your honorable body for your careful
consideration, and such action as you may deem necessary to cure the evils
herein stated, and thereby secure to all citizens of the United States their
rights under a republican form of government in fact as well as in name. As in
duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.
written authority and request of Messrs. James L. Moore and Carl Schutze, I
have signed their names to the above and foregoing petition, this the 6th day
of January, 1887.
Source Citation: Year: 1880;
Census Place: Precinct 1, Washington, Texas; Roll: 1331; Family History Film:
1255331; Page: 48D; Enumeration District: 141; Ancestry.com and the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database