Colorado County Biographies


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Stephen Harbert

(Houston Post,)

Stephen Harbert was born January 15,1809, in Wyth county, Virginia, while the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, was in office. How his life links us with the past! Two years before his birth Fulton first navigated the Hudson river with his steamboat. He was 3 years old when the second war with England was declared. He was 3 years old when the printing press was invented; 6 when Napoleon was defeated at the battle of Waterloo; 10 years old when the first steamship crossed the Atlantic ocean; 11 when the first locomotive was used in the United States; 17 when kerosene oil was first used for lighting; 20 before Lucifer matches were made. He was a man, 21 years old, before the world discarded the quill for the steel pen. He was 26 when Morse invented the telegraph and 28 when Queen Victoria ascended the throne of Great Britain. He has lived during the lifetime of all the presidents of the United States except that of George Washington.
In 1815 Mr. Harbert, with his his parents, moved to Sparta, Tenn. He has described the hardships of life in that time as greater than is appreciated generally. Our poor of the present day live in affluence as compared with the well-to-do of that place and time. A little coarsely ground corn was something highly treasured and a suit of clothes made of spun cloth was a rarity. Later a rude water mill was erected in the community in which he lived and a very primitive gin and grist mill were installed and conditions were greatly relieved. Many of our necessaries of life were then unknown. However, game was plentiful, and although Mr. Harbert was not much of a hunter, he killed forty bears along Calf Killer creek in Tennessee during a period of ten years while he lived there.
His first vote was cast for Andrew Jackson for president in 1832. During the time he lived in Tennessee he became well acquainted with David Crockett. He lived at Dresden, and Crockett in the same county, ten miles in the country. He did not vote for Crockett for congress in 1828, but Crockett was elected. He has described Crockett as a courageous hunter and fighter, of fine appearance, an eloquent orator, although of slight literary education, and a fine judge of whisky. He was acquainted with Sam Houston. from the time he was elected to congress from Tennessee in 1823 until Houston moved to Texas in 1832. He afterwards met General Houston while he was governor of Texas in 1859.
Mr. Harbert moved to Tunica county, Mississippi, in 1842,
where he lived ten years. He came to Colorado county, Texas, by ox wagon with his family in 1852, where he has since resided. When he first came to Columbus the town had but two stores and a blacksmith shop and less than fifty inhabitants. During his residence here he has and
been engaged in farming and stock raising, and at one
time conducted a large mercantile establishment, when Columbus supplied a territory that extended as far west as Gonzales and as far north as Bastrop. He has been prominent in the political affairs of Colorado county, but has always refused to run for any office. He was one of the prime movers of the Farmers' Grange in Texas many years ago. He is a well read man and throughout his life has kept himself thoroughly posted on current events. He is of pleasing personality and is an elegant old gentleman. Until 1894 Mr. Harbert enjoyed perfect health, but during that year, in an accident, one of his legs was broken and he has walked almost none since that time. He is now brought down town on some pleasant days in a wheeled chair and occasionally is taken driving in a buggy. He lately had his first automobile ride, which he enjoyed and expressed the wish that he might yet ride in a flying machine. His mind is now remarkably clear and lie can instantly recall names and dates. He owes his longevity to the fine physique and perfect constitution with which his Creator endowed him, besides temperance in all things and regularity of habits
He was married to Nancy Vinson, July 25, 1840, in Denmark, Tenn. Several children were born to them, five of whom survive. His first wife died February 8, 1871. He was married to Mrs. Mollie Arrington in 1875. Both are members of the Christian church.

O. A. Zumwalt.
Columbus, Texas

Weimar Mercury, November 13, 1908, page 1

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