Monday, March 12, 2007

The Orange County War of 1856

Here's a version of it I bet you never heard before.

(From the Calcasieu Press)
Madison, Orange County, Texas
July 4th, 1856

Mr. Editor:

Your readers will perhaps be benefited by a knowledge of the present state of affairs in Orange County, Texas. If you think so, you are at liberty to publish in your valuable paper, the following statement which will be found near the truth:

First, all the good citizens of the county are under arms on duty in various directions, endeavoring to drive out from their midst a gang of gamblers, cow, hog and horse thieves, mail robbers, mail burners, counterfeiters, and murderers, who have been collecting in this county for many years, increasing in boldness as they increased in numbers, till they became wicked beyond endurance.

These villains of various criminal hue, have been ordered to leave the county and go beyond the limits of fifty miles distance. The number of these characters may equal forty, more or less, including all the free mulattoes and their white associates.

At the present writing only three have been killed, some others keep themselves hid in the thickets and marshes, playing a hide and seek game to assassinate the better citizens and fulfill their threats heretofore made, and many are aiming to go into Calcasieu and the adjoining parishes to live.

I will give you the names of many of these people and a light touch of their practices, that your readers may be on their guard.

Wm. Ashworth, mulatto, has possessed a handsome stock of cattle, and for many years has proved himself a man of universal hospitality, but owing to his color, few people of honor and pride of character have descended to enjoy it, while hordes of gamblers, thieves and counterfeiters hung about him and played securely at their respective games unmolested, except by one another. It is said, (and believed to be true) that some 7 men have been shot in his house in the course of his hospitality to these villains.

His son Luke has pursued a course which has thrown some wealth into his hands, but although he has cautiously avoided the appearance of open dishonesty, yet he has been a secret keeper for these rascals and had knowledge of the most of their rascality without ever informing the officers of Justice.

Henderson, 2d son of Wm. Ashworth, never courted the name of honesty, as I can learn, but on the contrary, is inclined to boast of his ability to steal, and I have no doubt but he is entitled to all the honor due to a master thief and an accomplice in murder. Luke Ashworth and others, state that he penned 18 head of cattle belonging to the neighbors and killed them at one time, for the hides. He assisted in the murder of Samuel Deputy.

Clark Ashworth, 3rd son of Wm. Ashworth, has acted his part among the rest, and, on his own responsibility, only stands bound over the court for the Hog stealing.

Tap Ashworth, was driven from an adjoining County for some misdemeanor, and is now involved in a law suit (I am told) of a thousand dollars on account thereof; since residing here, nothing has been alleged against him more criminal than his assistance personally rendered to Henderson in penning the stolen cattle which he butchers; for which he, Tap, receives gratis as much of the choice beef as he wants.

Aaron Ashworth, has never been charged with dishonesty, nor has he entertained a promiscuous suit of vagabond parasites; but having raised a number of daughters of color, he seems to have disposed of them unluckily among a set of lazy, idle white men for mistresses, who were allured more by the beauty of a few cattle bestowed on them, than by the beauty of the girls. Thus he has entailed upon our country a horde of worthless creatures in a shape of human beings, who, no doubt will in due time, be ready to steal and burn any property which the more honorable and industrious citizens may construct for the beauty and improvement of this country.

Sam Ashworth, son of Aaron, seems to inherit in his disposition, all the most diabolical qualities of the Indian, Negro and White man, without any of their principles, is the murderer of Samuel Deputy, a very useful and enterprising citizen. He had attempted to murder several before, but without success. He now stands indicted for one attempt by the Grand Jury of your Parish, and a writ was issued more than a year ago; but for want of an efficient officer, or some other reason unknown to me, no exertion has been made to arrest him, and he is still at large, threatening the lives of several others.

Those who are considered directly accessory to the murder of Deputy are Jack Bunch, Ned Glover, Bill Blake, Burwell Alexander and Henderson Ashworth, the Cow Thief. Jack Bunch, cousin to Sam, assisted in killing Deputy, and is guilty of killing by his own hand, Terly, the drunken keeper of his sister a few years ago.

Ned Glover, alias Haywood, according to his own confession before execution, murdered a man in the State he came from, and changing his name, made his escape to this country. He together with Bill Blake and Burwell Alexander, are accessory to the death of Deputy, by allowing Sam Ashworth, then a prisoner under them, to go at large, but a few hours before the murder took place, Glover is well known to deal in counterfeit money.

Bill Blake is well known to be an extensive and accomplished Thief, Gambler and Counterfeiter.

Burwell Alexander, is at present in Madison recovering from his wounds.

[Illegible] Smith, [illegible] and Bill Wingate are the reputed burners of the East pass Saw Mill and are [illegible] cow and hog thieves.

Jack, {illegible] and Mart Stewart, Bill Jim and Steve Wingate—Johnson and Oliver Clark, Ana and Jim Mc[illegible], all he bunches, and some others are all [illegible] cow and hog thieves, belonging to Henderson Ashworth’s gang.

Willis Goodman, Wright, Pate, Charlie Martin are promiscuous thieves and villains of various hues.

Jack Moore was a bold counterfeiter the man of the mint, and was executed by the Committee of safety amidst his coin and dies, at Joe Bremons on Sabine in the big thicket. Boz Sapp and his father Addison Sapp, were found with him, but made his escape bare footed and bare headed, leaving their saddle bags, in which was found plenty of proof of their rascality and guilt.

The balance of them are either connected with Bill Blake’s gang of horse thieves or Henderson’s gang of cow thieves or both.

The White people on Johnson’s Bayou have wisely determined to rid themselves of their colored neighbors who keep up a constant intercourse with rascals abroad, and they have already ordered them to leave.

They find it impossible with safety to let any remain, as it is reduced to a certainty, that the most honest among them will hide for others who steal and commit other depredations. So your readers may look for the following names among them ere long, to wit: Franswa Galia, Silista Galia, Eli Burwick, James Anderson, Drury Ashworth, Larkin Ashworth, Wm. Nelson, Moses Nelson, Robert Nelson, Stephen Perkins, and Jonathan Carter, all of colored families.

Now Mr. Editor, your readers at once the impropriety of allowing this motley gang to settle among them without industry, without moral principle, and without the least shade of hope, that their descendants which they are propagating, can ever be admitted to an equality with the white people. And they at once see the mistake, which these colored people are laboring under to want a settlement there, under such circumstances. Can you, Mr. Editor (I believe you can), convince some of the leading ones among these deluded people, of this mistake, and show them their true interest in making their exoduses beyond the Rio Grande, where they and their children will at once be on an equality with the Natives of that Country.

Adieu [signed:] PROGRESSION