Bexar County Slave Catchers, Asa Mitchell, and John “Rip” Ford

September 10, 2019


According to historical records, San Antonio had slave catchers and patrols in the 1840s, 1850s and beyond, and were given official status as a result of the Texas legislature authorizing slave catchers on May 9, 1846.  There were at least 18 official catcher districts of human beings in the Bexar County area, and an untold number of racist vigilante slave catchers. Slave patrols were identified by districts, and were spelled out and the members of such racist patrols were recorded. In District 1, (Precinct No. 1), Captain James Vance and privates included, C. Denman, F. Gilbeau (Perhaps a connection to the street named Gilbeau Road), John G. Miller, Jas, R. Sweet, and SamHall. It is important to note that several of these men became political leaders and some streets and place names were given to them. In District No. 2, (Precinct No. 2), Captain H. A. Alsburyled this group of human traffickers and was accompanied by privates R. E. Clements, F. L. Paschal, Asa Mitchell, O. Evans, James Fisk, and other criminals. 


District No. 3 slave catchers, (Precinct No. 3), included Captain George M. Martin, along with privates S. G. Newton, J. H. Beck, C. D. Lytle, John S. McClellan, and S. C. Childress, while the District No. 4 slave patrol, (Precinct 4) from Devines to Groesbeck’s Ranch, including both sides of the Salado Creek was commanded by a Captain: J. A. Rodgers, who received help from privates James Comlin, Robert Davis, John L. Connor, and Joseph Beitle. Historic documents reveal that “Bexar County Slave patrols had the power to enter property and search without a warrant, arrest and punish slaves with lashes. They were empowered to arrest whites they believed associated withblacks, assisted or incited slaves.” 


Asa Mitchell’s name stands out as a racist and a human trafficker, and a person who “Acquired extensive ranch property near San Antonio in 1839 and moved to Bexar County in 1840. He engaged successfully in merchandising, interested himself in local political affairs, and on occasion substituted in the Methodist pulpit as a lay preacher.” Racists often saw religion only as a tradition and not as a moral compass to treat others. Asa Mitchell most likely would have recognized blacks as nothing more than animals.  S. G. Newton was a Mayor of San Antonio and a judge. This history has been hidden, while evil racist-minded men were made into heroes. 


Racist leader John “Rip” Ford would continually racially harass Mexicans until his death in San Antonio in 1897. John Ford would realize his racist dreams in Texas. Ford was able to dismember the Union forts on the Rio Grande River which would eventually lead to the surrender of the Union troops in San Antonio. Ford was a ruthless killer of Native Americans, and would run down whites that refused to fight for the slaver Confederate Army. Ford would be the scoundrel that would promote Texas as a slave state where slavery could flourish. Ford would create conditions that would allow racist ideas to flourish in Texas even to this day. He left behind a racist legacy that has soiled Texas ever since.


Texas history has honored some of the vilest racists. Texas history reveals a consistency in which the slavery and racism would never go completely away. John “Rip” Ford would be one of those that left the poison blot of white supremacy upon Texas soil. John “Rip” Ford and others had the distinction of doing all of these evil things, and should be remembered in the same light as Adolph Hitler and other criminals. 



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