Freedmen’s Bureau Report of 31 May 1867

Office Sub Asst Com Bu.R.F&A.L

Tampa, Florida

May 31st 1867

Lieut. Cha F Laraber

A.A.A.G Lieutenant of FLA



I have the honor to make the following report upon the condition of Freedmens for the month ending May 31st 1867.

During the month I have made a tour through Hernando & Sumpter Counties.  The freedmen for the most part are working well and in Hernando County the crops are now in a fine looking condition and I thing are doing well although the people complain that they are not doing any thing.  They think the freedmen ought to do much better but I am inclined to thing it would be hard pleasing them as they wont never be satisfied.- The great injury to the freedmen in the sale of liquor, two places being kept open at Brooksville, one by the Sheriff of the County.  They become intoxicated there at the stores and threaten the lives of the citizens as well as their own people.  The Sheriff does not arrest them for he is the author of the trouble himself, it is doing great injury to the colored people and if they could e closed up it would be a great benefit to all, both white and colored.  The drunkenness of the freedmen is about all that can be complained of in Hernando County.  A few cases of disagreement in setting wages have been referred to me but those were adjusted to the satisfaction of all parties.  The Freedmen School at Brooksville closed a short time ago on account of the failure to procure my assistance from the State but I have got a new School started with a white teacher (Mrs. Hagler) she informed me she would teach if the freedmen would pay for it.  I talked to the freedmen and they seemed to be willing to pay in advanced if desired.  They feel quite interested in their school there are at the present time 10 male scholars and adult female in daily attendance.  The school is kept six hours a day.  The prospects are that the school will flourish and become of great –?– to the colored people.  They also have a Sabbath School where they are instructed by their minister (a white man) every Sunday morning in reading and spelling for one hour, were it not for the evil officials of intemperance now drifting into their midst, they could be called in as fine a condition as any in the State or County.  I am in hopes something can be done to remedy this.  The freedmen had greatly improved during the last month and many are trying to assist them, not that I think it is any very good will they bear them, but it is for some political end.  They are using all their influence to promise their votes at the coming elections but they will find them freedmen are enlightened enough not to cast their votes for their enemies or those who are at best lectured with secessionisms.  They say they are going to vote the Republican Ticket and have some good firm Union men for candidate men who were in our Service and men who will give them their rights as citizens.———- In Sumpter County they are doing quite well but few complaints come from that County, the crops look well but are rather small.  The plants of both Counties have planted largely in corn and but very little Cotton.——- I have a case just reported to me of the shooting of a freedmen in Hernando County by two men supposed to be of a family of Hodges of Sumpter County.  The man was shot through the leg and is at Ocala.  I have not been able to learn the particulars but will go there and investigate the case in a few days.—- Also another case of a freedmen who is kept under limited arrest at Crystal River where he is charged with water packing Cotton but as I can find no conclusive proof of his having done so it being only a supposition and if true more the fault of the owner then the employed.  I ordered his immediate release or I would see the party holding him in arrest sued for damages for false imprisonment.  I have not yet heard what has been done.  I consulted legal Authority and they say no criminality can be attached to the case and that the party imprisoning are liable to a suit for damages. 

The freedmen of Sumpter County like those of Hernando have selected a good Union man as their candidate he was also in our service during the rebellion.— There are no freedmen’s Schools in this county.— As there is no civil agent for the Bureau in this County.  I requested Wm M Christian to take it he consented to do so.  I wont therefore recommend him to you as agent for the Bureau as he is a good Union man and one I thing would be of great benefit to the freedmen of that County.  I also think a small compensation should be given to the agent of that County for his services.— I have not received any orders in regard to the registration of Voters but would recommend to you the following persons for Sumpter County.  Wm M Christian and Robert Hayes for Hernando County Samuel Pearce and Matthew Pones (and if a colored man is also to be selected) Morgan Chapman (col)— some of the worst Rebels in Sumpter Co are at work among the freedmen trying to persuade them to vote for them but it will amount to nothing for the freedmen look to the Union men for counsel and I think there is no doubts but what all understand the importance of their putting good Union men into power to frame good laws for their government.  Mr E Stanley seems to be their leader and to whom they look for advice he is a firm Union man having left his property here at the south during the War and went north and joined our service.

It has been reported to one that certain parties of Hernando County named Thompson Clardy are or have been cutting cedar for market off of Government Land in Anteligu Hammock and selling to parties in New York this has been first brought to my notice.  I will investigate the case and if true will seize the cedar and report the facts to you for further Action

I am Sir

Very Respectfully

Your obs Sevt

Wm G Vance

2nd Lt and Bvt V.R.C.

Sub Asst Comm Bu.R.F&A.L


**This letter shows the work of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Hernando County.  There were few complaints regarding the freedmen in 1867 as they prepared for the first election, which included the freedmen, many tried to persuade the freedmen’s votes to their advantage because of the large number of votes they would be casting.