A year before the Alamo, San Felipe de Austin lawyer W. Barret Travis arranges the indentured servitude of a Mexican laborerW. Barret Travis Autograph Document Signed Twice "W. Barret Travis," two pages, 7.5" x 12.5", front and verso, March 25, 1835. In full, "In the Town of San Felipe de Austin on the 25th day of March 1835, before me, George Ewing Judge of the 1st instance of the jurisdiction of Austin, and the witnesses named at the end, appeared the Mexican Francisco Rosales - whom I know & to whose act I give faith; who declared: That in consideration of the sum of twenty five dollars & 25/100ths paid by John B. Johnson, of said Town to Anselmo Patiña in discharge of a debt which the said Francisco owed to the said Anselmo he the said Francisco binds & obligates himself the work for said Johnson in the capacity of a servant until he shall have paid said sum of money & all every other sum which he may or shall owe to said Johnson, at the rate of eight dollars per month for each month which he shall thus serve said Johnson. And he binds & obligated himself to submit himself to the government & direction of said Johnson as a good servant should do & to be subject to him & his orders according to the existing laws on the subjects until he shall have paid & satisfied said sum & all he may hereafter owe to him at the said rate of eight dollars per month & he binds & obligates himself not to quit the service of said Johnson without his express consent & approbation, under no pretext whatever until he shall have paid with his service the said debt & all other debts that may become due; & to pay to said Johnson the ordinary rates for all clothes which he may furnish him at his request & with his approbation & consent. He renounces all laws which might favor him & signed this instrument before me - W. Barret Travis & T.L. Hill - instrumental witnesses together with those of my assistance with whom I authenticate in conformity to law- Instrumental witnesses." Signed "W. Barret Travis," Francisco Rosales's "X," and an illegible signature. Assistant Witnesses signing: "John M. Allen" and "G. A. Powell." Also signed: "Geo. Ewing." The document is docketed in an unknown hand on the integral leaf, "Indenture/F. Rosales/to/John B. Johnson/1835." Born near Saluda, South Carolina, the first child (of 11) of farmer Mark and Jemima Travis, William Barret Travis moved with his family to Alabama when he was nine-years-old. He attended school in Claiborne, Alabama, and eventually was accepted as an apprentice to the town's leading attorney, James Dellet. In 1828, at the age of 19, Travis married Rosanna Caro and their son, Charles, was born the following year. By the time he was 21, W. Barret Travis founded the Claiborne Herald, becoming the publisher and editor. He had accepted a position as adjutant in the Alabama Militia and opened a law office. Possibly because his newspaper was not profitable and income from his law office was not enough to pay his debts, as well as an unhappy marriage, Travis abandoned his pregnant wife (Susan was born in 1831) and son and left for Texas in April 1831. Arriving in San Felipe de Austin, he obtained land from Stephen F. Austin on May 21, 1831, listing his marital status as "single." He established a legal practice in Anahuac on Galveston Bay. Travis traveled through Texas doing legal work, becoming associated with a group of militants who opposed the Law of April 6, 1830, designed to stop the flood of immigration from the United States to Texas and to encourage Mexican and European settlement. Eventually this group became known as the "War Party" as tension increased between the Mexican government and American settlers in Texas. After the Anahuac Disturbances of 1832, Travis moved his legal practice to San Felipe de Austin. In 1834, he was elected secretary to the ayuntamiento, the principal governing body.
By March of 1835 a huge rift had grown between "Peace Party" and "War Party" Texans as to what course of action should be pursued regarding centralism and states' rights. Elections for governor, vice-governor, and members of the legislature had recently taken place in Coahuila and Texas. Evidence of legislative corruption appeared in a decree passed on March 14, 1835, authorizing the governor to sell 400 leagues of land, over 1.7 million acres, at less than two cents per acre, without being subject to the provisions of the general colonization law of 1825. The lands were shortly disposed of to speculators. Texas wanted to separate from Coahuila. On March 15th, Stephen F. Austin wrote "The territorial question is dead. The advocates of that measure are now strongly in favor of a state government; and that measure is now before Congress. A call has been made upon the president [Santa Anna] for information on the subject; and I am assured the president will make his communication in a few days, and that it will be decidedly in favor of Texas and the state." Santa Anna was simply delaying until he could get Texas occupied with his troops.
It was at this time, ten days after Austin's letter, that 25-year-old lawyer William Barret Travis accomplished this document by which the $25.25 debt of Mexican Francisco Rosales to Anselmo Patiña has been paid by John B. Johnson and, in turn, Rosales agrees to be an indentured servant for Johnson at $8.00 per month until his debt was paid. John B. Johnson, later clerk of Austin County, was in charge of the commissary at San Felipe, issuing rations to companies passing through during the Texas Revolution. In 1839, John M. Allen was elected the first mayor of Galveston. He came to Texas in 1830 and joined the Tampico expedition in October 1835 but escaped imprisonment. Allen returned to Texas in December, enlisted in the revolutionary army, was appointed captain of infantry, and served as acting major at the battle of San Jacinto. The ayuntamiento of Austin had elected George Ewing judge of the second instance in 1834 and was shortly thereafter promoted. He resigned as judge of the first instance in November 1835 when he was appointed Judge by Texas Governor Henry Smith. Darkly penned in brown ink by Travis on each side of the page, there is light show-through. Browning and light soiling do not materially affect its fine appearance. The document is almost completely split at one of the horizontal folds, not through any of the signatures. The indenture and the integral leaf are also almost completely split. Overall, the document is in fine condition. From the collection of Darrel Brown.
Ex. William A. Philpott, Jr. Collection "TEXIANA"
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