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Jay Bird Monument

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1896. 400 Morton St.

Set alongside the Richmond City Hall of 1940 by Houston architect Sam H. Dixon Jr. on Richmond's nineteenth-century main street is this slender, gray granite obelisk. Rising from a stepped base with inset plaques framed by polished red granite colonnettes and inscribed “Our Heroes,” the monument commemorates a street battle that occurred at this site, then the Fort Bend County Courthouse Square, on August 16, 1889. The political issue was whether Fort Bend County's white minority, the Jay Birds (15 percent of the population of 10,586 in 1890), would have to continue to accept the coalition of white Democrats (the Woodpeckers) and their African American Republican supporters (85 percent of the population) that had consistently won elections to county offices since 1869. A series of political killings following an election in September 1888 culminated in a shootout between the Jay Birds and Woodpeckers at Courthouse Square. Militia units from Houston and Brenham had to be called to Richmond to restore peace. Politically, the result was expulsion of the officeholders who benefited from African American support and formation of the prototype of the White Man's Union Association in Richmond in 1889. African Americans were systematically excluded from the political process and the Jay Bird Democratic Association of Fort Bend County was the primary force in Fort Bend County politics through the 1960s.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.
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Citation

Gerald Moorhead et al., "Jay Bird Monument", [Richmond, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/TX-01-AS30.

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