Grimes County White Man’s Union Association (WMUA)
The following information was taken from the book “Early History of Grimes County” by E. L. Blair.
The political campaign of 1900 is one of importance in the history of Grimes county for it was in this year that the White Man's Union first submitted a ticket. In the election of 1876 the Populist party combined with the Republicans, which was then composed mostly of negroes, and defeated the Democratic ticket. A similar campaign in 1898 resulted in a controversy. The Democrats contested the election. While the contest was pending, the election returns were taken from the office of the county clerk, C. B. Nichols, and it is thought that they were burned. At any rate they were never found and the Populist-Republican combination claimed the victory. With a few exceptions their candidates held the offices until 1900.
In the Spring of 1899 a small group of men met secretly in the office of Judge J. G. McDonald to discuss plans for the organization of a White Man's Union. Five men are known to have been present at this meeting, namely: John Wickry, of Anderson ; Will Edwards, of Prairie Plains ; Sam Isbell, of Bedias; Jim Ogg, of Plantersville; and J. G. McDonald, of Anderson. It was decided to delay the actual organization until the public attitude could be sounded.
A few months after this meeting a white boy was killed by a negro in the Roan's Prairie community and the negro was hung by a mob of white men. About ten days later a white church building in the Erwin community was burned and a negro was suspected. When a group of white men called at this negro's home, he refused to come out of the house, and in the subsequent fight, two white men were slightly wounded. The negro was taken and immediately hanged. The organization of the White Man's Union quickly followed. Membership was open to all white men upon application, but such applications were subject to blackball. In the actual election, however, any white man could vote the ticket, even though he was not a member of the Union.
The candidates on the White Man's Union Ticket for 1900 were as follows:
County Judge - J. G. McDonald
County Attorney - Haynes Shannon
County Clerk - J. T. Prestwood
District Clerk - Billie Wilcox
County Sheriff - J. C. Baker
County Tax-collector - Bob H. Oliphant
County Tax-assessor - W. S. Stampley
County Treasurer - L. M. Bragg
Representative - J. M. Ackerman
Senator - Floyd Edwards
Commissioners - J. M. Barron, J. L. Gillespie, R. M. West, and Will Ashe.
The Union was successful at the polls without exception, and no White Man's Union candidate has been defeated in Grimes County since that date. The Union made it a rule that no officer could hold office for more than two terms, and it has become almost an Un-written law in Grimes county that a candidate for a second term would have no opposition. Since there were eight voting precincts in the county, and it being the policy of the Union to allow each precinct representation in the county government the custom of allowing each precinct to draw an office for which they were to submit candidates was established. The offices drawn for were as follows: judge, attorney, clerk, tax-collector, tax-assessor, treasurer, sheriff, and district clerk. Slips for each of these offices were placed in a bucket and members of the executive committee (one from each precinct) drew one slip and for the office thus drawn his precinct, and only his, could nominate candidates. In actual practice, however, precincts often exchange candidates. This allows a precinct to secure an office for which they have a suitable candidate. Candidates for the offices of senator, representative, surveyor, and county school superintendent were nominated at large. [J. G. McDonald to E. L. Blair July 10, 1928.]
Courtesy of the Star of the Republic Museum and the University of North Texas