DescriptionFantastic Texas letter, a Stephen Austin letter written in the hand of Samuel May Williams, his colonial secretary: "I have the tomahawk that father had with him in his first trip to Texas...I wish it preserved and its history not forgotten - it blazed the way for North Americans to Texas. When Stephen F. Austin is of age I wish it given to him...I have also carried it in most of my exploring trips in this country in early times..." Letter signed, four pages, measuring 14" x 8.5". Dated April 20, 1833. Very fine condition.
Austin helped found present-day Texas. He began as a frontier lawyer and obtained permission to settle three hundred families in Texas. He was a very powerful executive and increased the number of people in Texas. He opposed annexation with America before the Texas revolution. He was defeated for the Presidency of Texas by Sam Houston and died a year later.
This is a transcribed letter in Samuel May Williams hand of a letter that Stephen F. Austin wrote to his brother in law James F. Perry just before Stephen Austin left for Mexico. He left San Felipe in April, arrived in Mexico City in July, and, after unavoidable delays, persuaded the government to repeal the Law of April 6, 1830, and to promise important reforms in Texas local government. He started home in December, reasonably satisfied with his work and convinced at least that he had left nothing undone; President Santa Anna simply would not approve state government for Texas. Austin was arrested at Saltillo in January, under suspicion of trying to incite insurrection in Texas, and taken back to Mexico City. No charges were made against him, no court would accept jurisdiction of his case, and he remained a prisoner, shifting from prison to prison, until December 1834, when he was released on bond and limited to the area of the Federal District. He was freed by a general amnesty law in July 1835 and at the end of August returned to Texas by way of New Orleans. Austin was thus absent from Texas for twenty-eight months. During that time Williams and Perry carried out his interests. James Franklin Perry 1790-1853, son of James and Hannah Perry, was born on September 19, 1790, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In 1808 he went down the Ohio River in a keelboat and settled at Potosi, Missouri, where he worked in the store of a kinsman, Samuel Perry, and became a partner in 1818. On September 23, 1824, he married Emily Austin Bryan, sister of Stephen F. Austin, whose influence was strong in bringing him to Texas. The couple had three children. After Perry had started on an inspection trip in 1830, Austin wrote that Perry had been granted eleven leagues of land by the Mexican government, provided he move his family to Texas before January 1, 1832. He arrived in Texas late in April and found Austin engaged in surveying this land on Galveston Bay. Much pleased with the country, Perry left to fetch his family and to set up a store in San Felipe. A plantation and sawmill were first projected on Chocolate Bayou, but by the end of 1831 the family had decided that Peach Point Plantation would be their permanent home and converted the land at San Felipe into a ranch. The store was sold in 1834, when Perry decided to put full time into his plantation. Perry's Landing, a community named for the family and developed to support the plantation, began three miles away on the Brazos. His loyalty to Austin was complete. Left in charge of his business, Perry took care of the papers and tried to collect some notes while Austin was in Mexico and took part in sending Peter W. Grayson and W. H. Jack to intercede for him. Following Austin's advice, Perry "steered totally clear of politics" until his return but thereafter became active for the revolution as a member of conventions and of the Committee of Safety. He drew up a plan for a line of forts on Galveston Island, the mouth of the Brazos, and Matagorda Bay. With the return of peace Perry settled down to plantation life but was soon called into service as the administrator of the Austin's estate. In 1839 he declined to become secretary of the treasury of the Republic of Texas but remained active in town and railroad building. He was one of the first to shift from cotton to sugar as a plantation product. Mrs. Perry died in 1851, and Perry took his daughter Eliza to Biloxi in 1853 for health reasons; his son Henry met them there on his way home from graduation at Trinity College, Connecticut. Both became victims of yellow fever, Henry on September 10 and James Franklin on September 13. He was buried in Biloxi. The letter reads, "April 20, 1833 --- J.F. Perry ---- of the three eleven league tracts, I mentioned one is located on the east side of Colorado at the foot of the mountains above Fannehill it was surveyed by S.P. Brown, has a good deal of rich land and fine pasture for sheep and horses and is well watered with springs, very healthy- it takes some rough montainland wild scenery, intended to keep this place permanently and make a mountain retreat and a large sheep farm of it. There is sign of mineral in it- ten leagues of one of the other tracts is on the west of Colorado opposite to the above and runs from onion creek up- surveyed by Borden, the other 11 league tract is to be, or has been located by Frank Johnson in the upper colony- I make these memorandums for you in case I never return- as to the notes due by the settlers- if I can raise enough out of them to clear off all my debts and pay my expenses so as not to sell any land for those purposes, it is as much as I ever expected, the land that Williams & Henry Austin & H. Chrisman have closed out is not any of it to be collected from them, that is none of that part of the payments that is coming to me, if anything is left out of those notes I intended it for a school on my league in Coles settlement on the plan of an academy- I have a settlement to make at Bexar with the executor of sancedg on a/c of fees of the baron de Bastrop as commissioner and shall owe him considerable in that business I expect the Hawkins business is all settled and finally done with. I made an arrangement with John Austin & Williams as to the upper colony above the San Antonio road, and what is made out of that colony is to be equally divided between us three. Williams is to attend to the business but nothing is to be done contrary to law or to the true interests of the country. What is there is to be no kind of wild speculation, my object in this is more to have the business attended to and that wilderness country settled than to make a speculation. -1 think I shall get back in about four months and I hope sooner and I shall then close all my affairs and settle myself and get a wife & be a farmer. I should like to save and realize enough to found an academy up in Coles settlement and intend to do so if I can. But unless land sells high, I shall not have the means. My expenses are so much more than any one thinks, they are and there is so great a sacrifice on the most of the payments that I get from the settlers, that I am always hard run & without money or means that can be used- I with you to spare no pains/ or care in having little Stephen my brother's son well educated, there will be enough out of my property to educate him & guy -in the best manner possible. I wish them to have a finished education and to study law so as to take care of the future interest of the family. There are so many sharpers in this world that every large family who have much property ought to have at least one lawyer - they must learn Spanish and French and send all the children to dancing school. Joel ought to be brought up for a planter and Austin for a merchant. Your Stephen & Henry are too young yet to say what they are best calculated for - all this is in case I never return, for I calculate to attend to all these things myself in person- I shall owe h. Chrisman for surveying and I wish you to settle his claim on account of what he owes on the books of Perry and hunter - he is to select and survey a five league tract for me up on the waters of the yeagua - coles settlement is now the most populous in the colony and land is rising very fast and will be worth as much there as in any part of the colony, for that country will be thicker settled than any I know of. Your two leagues there are very superior in point of soil, timber and water, and salt in quantities can be made on the back part of your mound league & the adjoining tracts north of the yeagua. You have no idea of the value of that land of yours up there, and if we get a state government, as I have no doubt we shall this fall, land will rise at once very high. Land as the rates if can be had now is better property than debts scattered over the country - it has taken all I can raise for my expenses to Mexico and I cannot arrange to settle Chrisman's surveying account in any other way than in payment of the debt he owes you, I will pay it to you in land that will yield a better interest than the money would- I have also agreed to aid h. Austin in paying his surveying a/c to Chrisman - Henry is in distress and needs aid. A few years - or I think one year more will set everything right and give value to our lands so that we can put everything easy and settle ourselves on farms without having much to do with the hustle of business- I have the tomahawk that father had with him in his first trip to Texas in my trunk. I wish it preserved and its history not forgotten - it blazed the way for North Americans to Texas. When Stephen F. Austin is of age I wish it given to him with an explanation I have also carried it in most of my exploring trips in this country in early times. The recollections connected with it are very interesting to me ~ chambers has agreed to pay the within order to you. He ought to do it as it is money lent I have just heard of the cholera at the mouth of the river & that there have been 5 deaths - dreadful indeed. How I tremble for you all, pray be careful and make all possible precautions if you were over on the bayou, you would be safer I think. I leave my will in my writing desk- S.F. Austin.
A truly marvelous Texas letter! Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.
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