Slave owners and the ordinances used to support their interests created a precarious environment for citizens. Rewards paid for runaway slaves encouraged ordinary citizens to be bounty hunters. And those associating with slaves risked punishment for inducing slaves to runaway. Below are two of numerous incidents reported in the San Antonio newspapers in the 1850s.
The first, is related to the importation of camels to Texas by the U. S. Army. The second, describes a tragic and illicit romance between a slave girl and an aging white man.
Taken up and committed to the jail of Bexar County, on the 19th of June, 1856, a negro boy who says his name is Theodore Augusta, and that he is a white or freeman; that he left New Orleans about the first of last May and came with the Government camels; that he had been steward on the steamboats Cotton Plant, Arkansas river and the Naneyock, Red river; that he is acquainted in New Orleans with Gil Baron and Bros., Martin Gordon, and John B. and Tom Leaf. He is 19 or 20 years old, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, weighs about 140 pounds, has long, red, curly hair, thin visage, freckles; one upper front tooth out, speaks slow; not very intelligent, and has rings in his ears.
If he is a slave, the owner is requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges and take him away.
WM. B. KNOX, Sheriff B.C.
San Antonio, July 5th, 1856