This is the deposition of Richard Taylor dated 28 March 1866 accounting for the loss of a mule. The deposition lacks sufficient detail to precisely nail down the circumstances of the loss but we know that Richard’s employer was Capt. Leander A. Poor who was sent by the U.S. Army to Texas after the Civil War to re-establish federal jurisdiction and to oversee the rebuilding of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railway from Port Lavaca, on the gulf, to Victoria. Most likely Richard, a teamster, lost the mule while hauling supplies for this construction. The deposition was probably required by Capt. Poor to recover the loss of the mule which was government property.
We learn from the deposition that Richard Taylor was incapable of signing his own name and while there were numerous Caucasian settlers in Texas who were illiterate, I believe Richard Taylor was probably an African American. The 1870 Census shows a Richard Taylor, born between 1835 and 1838 in either Georgia or Alabama, who resided in Victoria County, Texas. This Richard Taylor seems to fit the profile.
Not much is known of Victoria County Clerk, George William Garnett, except that he was born in Virginia and married, in September 1841, Mary Ann Miller, the daughter of William Parsons Miller and Elizabeth Grace. George’s father-in-law, William P. Miller, was mayor of Victoria in 1856 and 1857. County records indicate that George W. Garnett was brought up on charges of extortion in office (1868), and malfeasance in office (1869) which may have cost him his position.
Leander A. Poor was born in Vienna, Maine on June 10, 1833, the oldest child of Jonathan D. and Caroline Porter Poor. He was a graduate of Bowdoin College and, in 1859, was principal at the high school in North Oxford, Massachusetts. At the outset of the Civil War, he joined Company C, U. S. Engineers Battalion at Worcester, Massachusetts but was subsequently discharged due to a medical disability he contracted while serving in Virginia.
In 1864 Poor was commissioned a captain in the United States Volunteers and assigned to the Union Army’s First Division, Fourth Army Corps. At the end of the war, the Fourth Corps was ordered to Texas to reestablish federal jurisdiction in the state. Captain Poor was in Texas from September 1865 to June 1866 and was stationed at Indianola and later Port Lavaca to oversee the rebuilding of the aforementioned San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railway.
In 1866, Poor returned to Maine and was brevetted a major, and honorably discharged from military service. He worked as a school teacher and administrator and was later elected to the Maine legislature as a State Senator from Cumberland County.
State of Texas
County of Victoria
Personally appeared before me, George Wm. Garnett, County Clerk of the county aforesaid, Richard Taylor, who being duly sworn according to law deposes and says that he is in the employ of Capt. Leander A. Poor, Adj. Quartermaster, U. S. Volunteers, as teamster, that on the night of March 11th 1866, one (1) mule for which the said Capt. Leander A. Poor, A. Q.M.U.S. Vols. is responsible, strayed or was stolen from camp and that all possible means have been taken to find the said mule without effect.
Richard Taylor ( X = his mark )
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 28th day of March 1866
Geo. Wm. Garnett, Ct. Clerk