Greenbury Logan was a blacksmith and a good one. Blacksmiths were in short supply on the Texas frontier, and every community needed at least one. Stephen F. Austin recognized the need and enlisted Greenbury as one of his colonists in 1831. Greenbury was also a fighter and a good leader. That made him three time valuable. his craft helped to build the farms and ranches of the Gulf Coast, and, when called on, he provided both arms and leadership in protecting them. Although he had intended, like many others, to make his fortune in Texas and return to the United States, he came to love both the land and the people. While the representatives of the colonies debated independence, he put down his hammers and tongs, took up his rifle, and headed for the fight at Gonzales.
On the road from Gonzales to the siege of San Antonio, there were those who wouldn't go until Greenbury agreed to lead them. On October 28 1835, he fought beside James Bowie at the Battle of Concepcion. During the battle that defeated Mexican General Cos at San Antonio on December 5th, he was in the lead and was the third man to fall, his right arm shattered beyond repair. Greenbury Logan was 38 years old and a blacksmith who could no longer handle hammer and tongs when he was discharged from the army.
San Jacinto brought Texas independence and freedom, but, under the leadership of Vice-President Mirabeau Lamar, the Congress passed a law that Greenbury Logan could not live here. You see, Greenbury was a free African-American, at that time called "a free man of color," and Lamar felt that there was no place in Texas for a free black man. Without a special act of the Congress passed in their names, no African-Americans could live in Texas unless they were slaves. This is ironic since, before the coming of the Anglo settlers, the Spanish census, of 1792 recorded that of the 1,600 non-Indian residents of the area, 449 were of African descent, not Mexican or Spanish. But then, that's the sort of fellow Lamar was.
In 1837, twenty-three prominent Texans, including Henry Austin, signed a petition requesting that Greenbury Logan be allowed to stay in Texas as a free citizen. The petition was granted, but, as a disabled craftsman, he could no longer make a living at his trade and, as a black man, free or not, he was denied civil rights. True, because he was a veteran, the government did add to the one-quarter league of land he had by right of early citizenship, but no sooner was the land granted, than the problems of paying taxes arose. Document 2582 of the Sixth Congress contained his request. In part, it reads:
"...every privilege dear to a freeman is taken away-no change to collect a debt with out a witness, no vote or say in any way, yet liable for taxes. It is out of my power to either settle on my lands or sell them or to labour for money to pay expenses on them. If my debts was payd I would be willing to leave the land though my blood has nearly all been shed for its rights. I know I have friends. The Congress would not refuse to exempt my lands from tax or otherwise restoure what it has taken from me in the constitution.
yours with respect,
There is more to the story, but we don't know it all. We know that Greenbury and his wife operated a little hotel down in Brazoria and that he received title to some lands in Callahan and Brown counties because of his service, but we know little or nothing about his life. Although many similar petitions were passed for tax abatement for Anglo-Americans who had fallen on hard times, Greenbury Logan's request never reached the floor for debate in Lamar's Congress. We know he served with honor, suffered though hard times, and died in 1881.
Like I said, there should, at the very least, be a Greenbury Logan Street.