USDA Rural Development
Lillian Salerno, State Director Federal Building, Suite 102
101 South Main Temple, TX 76501 Voice: (254) 742-9700
Beto O’Rourke for governor; Staci Childs for State Board of Education, District 4; Aicha Davis, District 13
The government of the new republic of Texas passed a law ordering free blacks to leave in 1840.
White neighbors aided the Ashworths with three petitions to the Texas Congress, requesting the family be exempt from the new law. The petitions stated that Abner and William Ashworth had contributed greatly to the revolution and that the Ashworths were exceptional citizens.
Those claims persuaded lawmakers to pass the Ashworth Act near the end of 1840. The act allowed the Ashworths and all free blacks who had lived in Texas, up to the Texas Declaration of Independence, to remain in the republic.
When Orange County was founded in 1852, William Ashworth was the wealthiest resident, owning more than 7,000 acres, 600 cattle and 35 horses.