I found the following: (Don C. Marler, 1997)
The Ashworth family was living in Jefferson County when Texas became a Republic in 1836. William Ashworth had moved there from Louisiana in 1831, and many friends and relatives followed him. The Ashworths immigrated to Louisiana from South Carolina in 1799.40 During the Revolution against Mexico, William and Abner Ashworth paid Gipson Perkins and Elijah Thomas to take their places in the Texas Army.41 The Ashworths were classified as "free blacks" and were land and slave owners.
Judith Linsley and Ellen Rienstra state that , "There is considerable doubt, however, that they were of black origin, as their features were apparently Caucasian. Thomas Jefferson Russell, writing in 1910, suggested that they were of Portuguese-Moorish descent, and Ashworth family research has indicated that they were of French and English extraction."42 By 1850 Aaron Ashworth was the richest man in the (Jefferson) county. Several of the so called "mulattos," both men and women, married whites and were mostly unmolested for such marriages.43 However, tensions resulting from the execution in 1856 of Jack Bunch, a cousin of the Ashworths and the convicted murderer of a deputy sheriff, caused most of the family to leave the area shortly thereafter."44 The killing of the deputy and hanging of Bunch caused a feud between a group of whites known as Moderators and the "free blacks" who then organized as the Regulators. The Regulators included, among others, Sheriff Glover, Bennett Thomas, John C. Moore, Joel Brandon, and Burwell Alexander. Moore was caught counterfeiting money which did nothing to ease tensions. His reproduction of a St. Louis banknote was almost perfect.45
Of the 63 free blacks living in Jefferson County in 1850, 38 were Ashworths. The Republic of Texas passed, in February, 1840, a law which ordered all free blacks to leave the state or be sold into slavery. Three petitions were submitted to the Texas Congress by local whites protesting the removal of the Ashworths. Petitions were also submitted supporting Elisha Thomas and William Goyens. Other petitions from around the state were submitted. The result was passage of the Ashworth Act in December, 1840 which allowed all free blacks who had been in Texas when the Declaration of Independence was made to remain in the state and it exempted from expulsion David and Abner Ashworth who had immigrated after the Declaration.46
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