Freedmen's Bois d'Arc R.I.P.

Historical Period: Civil War (1861-1865)
Historical Topic: Civil War & Reconstruction
Species: Bois d'Arc (Maclura pomifera)
County: Brazoria
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

In the shade of two bois d’arc trees, which grew before the plantation home of John B. Sweeny Jr., masters and slaves from fourteen plantations in western Brazoria County assembled in 1865.

The meeting was called by the local agent of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands for the purpose of officially freeing the slaves and informing them of their rights and responsibilities as free men.

Purposes of the Bureau were to prevent the Southerners from reestablishing slavery, to extend relief to needy negroes and whites, and to take charge of all property confiscated during the War Between the States.

Each former slave was given an opportunity to continue working for his former master; however, he could leave and find work elsewhere provided he did not abandon his wife and children.

If a former slave chose to stay, the Bureau saw that his labor contract met minimum standards and that it was fulfilled by both the worker and his employer.

The last surviving Freedmen’s Bois d’Arc died in 2011. Its trunk serves as a monument to this memorable and historic event.