Texas Planter to the Freedmen's Bureau Subassistant Commissioner at Richmond, Texas

Sugar Land [Tex.], July, 30th 186[6]

Sir,  I have to trouble you again with reporting very unfavorably on my Freedmen, and if you can render any assistance it will be greatfully received   Some of the hands do nothing at all; And if I say anything to them regarding it; they are very impudent and say I hav'n't any thing to do with them; that they are free and can do as they please.  It creates a great disturbance to get them to feed & water the Mules.  Last Sunday (29th) evening I utterly failed in getting them to feed them.

The boy Bob when spoken to will not give me a civil answer if possible to avoid it.  One of the women (Matilda) I carried over to your office; has lost forty six (46) days; and when in the field does not do any thing but idle away her time.  Some of the rest are nearly as bad as she.  They destroy every-thing they possibly can before them   Some of them take their Guns in the field with them their motive for doing so I cannot conjecture–  The hands that did very well at first (seeing the others idleing away their time) have grown negligent.  They think they all are to fare alike in the devission of the crop work or no work.  Please explain how it will be to Peables so that he will understand it if possible.  I cannot give out any more rations until they do better than they now are doing.

A short distance from my Residence I have a few more freedmen employed in cultivating a small field, And positively I donot believe they have done three (3) days work in three (3) weeks.  One of them went off and was absent one (1) week without even condescending to inform me of the pleasure trip he intended taking.  I thought of sending him to you for correction; but he being an African and very hard for him to understand any-thing; concluded it would be almost useless to undertake it   If you donot discharge them please do all in your power for me until I get my crop gathered and you will always be greatfully remembered By Your Obt Servt

F. G. Secrest

Let me hear from you at your earliest convenience

F. G. Secrest to Capt Sloan, 30 July 1866, Letters Received, series 3758, Richmond TX Subassistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. An undated notation on the reverse reads “The within named plantation has been visited.”

Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, pp. 437–38.