TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the Washington Family Papers, 1885-1972
The Washington family were members of a freedmen's colony in Cologne, Texas founded by George Washington and Joseph Smith. After emancipation, Washington and Smith started a freight hauling business moving goods from the Gulf Coast to Victoria, Texas and the surrounding area. With their earnings they purchased lots and houses in Victoria. During Reconstruction, violence against blacks increased. Washington and Smith, using their savings, moved to a more remote location, purchasing over 700 acres of land between Goliad and Victoria.
Washington and Smith invited other African American families to purchase land from them and thus, a new colony began along Perdido Creek. Perdido, as the new village was called, was only open to black settlers; no whites were allowed. As the population increased, slaugterhouses run by residents in Perdido fueled the prosperity of the town. The town's name went through several changes over the years but the village finally settled on Cologne as the official name, an ironic homage to the smell of the slaughterhouses.
In 1888, successful land transfers from Cologne residents and others in neighboring counties brought the railroad through the town. As the town prospered, parents sent their children to the school which not only served as a place of education but also as a social and recreational center. During the late twentieth century, the population of Cologne dwindled. The headstones in the Cologne cemetery are all that remain of the town. No grave marker is evident for George Washington but the gravestone of his son Nathan and his wife Lora remain within a family plot where nine of their children are also buried.
"Cologne, Texas," BlackPast.org [accessed on September 25, 2017].
Sarah R. Massey, "After Emancipation in African Americans in South Texas, Bruce A. Glasrud, ed. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2011), 85-98.
Frederick Douglas Young, From These Roots: Cologne--One Hundred Years--(1870-1970), (Houston: Texas Southern University Press, 1973).
The collection includes land purchases and related receipts from 1894 through 1957. Also included are tax receipts including those for poll taxes. Photographs are of family members, a house, and gravestone. Many photographs have hand written notes on the back identifying the person or place in the image. Correspondence is minimal with only one letter in the collection. A remnant of fabric exists in the collection as well.
Selected material in this collection has been digitized and is available in our digital collections.
This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.
[Identification of item], Washington Family Papers, MS 373, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
Received as a donation to the Institute of Texan Cultures by Earl and Barbara Young in 1995. Earl Young is a descendent of the Young family, early settlers of Cologne. The collection was transferred to Special Collections in 2011.
Processed by Nikki Thomas, Manuscripts Archivist in 2011. Additional processing by Melissa Gohlke, Assistant Archivist in 2017.