Part Two: The rest of the short story about the U.S. freedom order in Texas

Editor’s note: The first part of this blog was published on the Good Genes Genealogy sites two days ago. Here is the rest of the preview of our upcoming Juneteenth audiobook.

General Granger was assigned a difficult task that became worse for him after delivering the freedom message in Texas. According to historians, General Granger “became extremely unpopular among many whites in the state of Texas. He was blackballed and ostracized by many Whites, so much so, that after only six months in command of the Department of Texas, Granger was relieved of his command on August 6, 1865. On October 31, 1865, he was placed in command of the District of New Mexico.”

General Granger’s health also declined after his transfer in command. Source:

Texas came a long way from being the last state to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation to becoming the first state in 1980 to declare Juneteenth as an official holiday. With the determined, multi-year lobbying effort by famous Texan Opal Lee, in 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the nation’s official holiday of Juneteenth.

Several miles north of Galveston near the Navasota River in Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas, General Granger’s Order No. 3 reached the homestead. The Pleasant Retreat Plantation was owned by Logan Stroud, a slave owner who inherited the property upon the death of his father, Ethan. The father and son had acquired plantations that resulted in 5,000 acres used for raising cotton, corn, oats, wheat, hogs, sheep and it served as a ranch. At the time of Civil War, the younger Stroud was the largest slave holder in Limestone County, owning more than 100 slaves. It was recorded that he had 150 slaves on the day now known as Juneteenth.

According to the property records, the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Limestone County from the porch of the Pleasant Retreat Plantation, on Saturday, June 19, 1865.

On Saturday, June 19, 1865, in Limestone County, Texas, plantation owner Logan Stroud stood on the front porch of this house to tell more than 150 of his enslaved workers that they were free. | Photo: Historic American Building Survey. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Newly freed Blacks in Texas set the tone for celebrating the early days of June 19th with recognitions of their former lives and the memories of their loved ones who endured enslavement. However, there were some Blacks who thought the Juneteenth and Emancipation Day celebrations should put the awful days of slavery behind and instead, look forward with celebrations of hope and aspirations. During the years of Jim Crow, Juneteenth celebrations were confined to the Black communities from coast to coast in the United States.

The photos (see below) are from Mrs. Grace Murray Stephenson, a lady who recorded her June 19, 1900 day of celebration. She sold her diary to the San Francisco Chronicle, which printed her memories.

While awaiting the arrival of the Good Genes Genealogy’s Juneteenth audiobook, learn more about the June 19th holiday and the other “Black” holiday, August 1st. Check out our e-book that is available on all book buy sites.

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Texas and the origins of Juneteenth

The word came through an in-person delivered order from the United States Government on June 19, 1865

Years before the state of Texas received official notification that its enslaved people were free due to the U.S. Emancipation Proclamation, all other rebellious Confederate states complied with the presidential order.

The in-person announcement from U.S. Brigadier General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, came on June 19, 1865.

U.S. Brigadier General Gordon Granger, Galveston, Texas,  June 19, 1865

 A month earlier, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi division, surrendered on May 26, 1865.  Days later, on June 2, 1865, General Smith officially laid down his arms at Galveston.  He immediately fled the country for Mexico and Cuba as General Smith was deemed treasonous for not following earlier orders to surrender.

While General Smith was slow to surrender his command in Texas, he was accompanied by his valet, a mixed-race slave who was owned by General Smith’s father and believed to be the military leader’s half-brother. Once free, former slave Alexander Hanson Dames, attended two historically black institutions of higher education and earned a degree as a medical doctor. Dames became a well-respected physician whose accomplishments earned him the first statue in Jacksonville, Florida that honored a black man. The statue is situated next to General Smith.

It was a long time coming for Blacks enslaved in Texas who were forced to endure two-and-a-half years more of plantation rules than their counterparts. The General document was welcomed by slaves, yet its last two sentences is deemed controversial by some historians:

“The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

General Granger’s troops marched through Galveston while some read the General Order No. 3. Their first stop was at the Union Army Headquarters at the Osterman Building.

Osterman Building, left, 1865

Next, they marched to the 1861 Custom House and courthouse. The last reading of General Order No. 3 was at what was referred to as “the Negro Church on Broadway” that is known today as Reedy Chapel-AME Church4.

To learn more about Juneteenth, pick up a copy of the Good Genes Genealogy e-book:

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