The Historical Marker for George Webster Smith was erected in 20016, and is located at 403 W Lafayette St, in Jefferson, Texas.
403 W Lafayette St, corner of Lafayette and Marshall Streets
The text reads:
George Webster Smith was a former union soldier whose beliefs set off a chain of dramatic events in the tense atmosphere of post-Civil War Texas. Born in New York in 1841, Smith moved to Michigan early in his life. When the Civil War started, he joined his uncles in the 123rd Regiment of the New York Infantry. After the Civil War, Smith moved with an uncle to Jefferson, where he acquired a reputation as an ardent Republican and became heavily involved in local Reconstruction efforts. Smith became active in politics, serving as a member of the voter registration board for Marion County, which was responsible for disenfranchising former confederates. He was also elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1868, as well as the state Republican convention the same year. It was in 1868 that Smith became embroiled in an argument with Colonel R.P. Crump. This dispute led to a shooting incident in which two members of Crump’s party were wounded. Smith surrendered and was placed at this site in the Calaboose, the city jail which opened in 1867. The mayor assured him he would be protected by guards, but on the evening of October 4, a group of about 70 disguised men disarmed the guards and assassinated Smith, as well as two freedmen. Because of the murders, the city of Jefferson came under martial law, and some officials, including the mayor, were replaced. Twenty-three men were brought to trial in 1869, with three convicted of murder and sentenced to life terms, and other convicted of lesser charges. Smith’s death was noteworthy as a symbol of the deep and often violent racial divide in Texas after the Civil War, and as the event that marked both the beginning of federal troop withdrawal from Jefferson and the end of the terror brought about by the Knights of the Rising Sun, the organization to which many of the accused belonged. (2006)