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    Travis endorsed land grant as the secretary of the San Felipe ayuntamiento

    William Barret Travis Autograph Endorsement Signed "W. Barret Travis / Srio" as secretary to the ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin. Two pages of a bifolium in Spanish, 8" x 12.5", "Habilitado por el Estado de Coahuila y Texas," May 13, 1834. Travis' signature certifies that the document is a true copy of a deed issued to Isaac E. Robertson earlier on May 6, 1834. The document states that the ayuntamiento, by authority of "the laws and by the concessions made by the Supreme Mexican Government on July 1, 1824," is granting land to Robertson in the "Villa of San Felipe de Austin." The document reads in part: "[T]his Ayuntamiento has sol to Isaac E. Robertson un solar de huerta in this villa, and that said Robertson has paid the value and price of said land as appraised." Docketed on page four, "Deed to Isaac E. Robertson Lot No. 11. Copy." Lightly age-toned paper with flattened folds; tiny pin holes at the few fold intersections not affecting any text.

    Travis (1809-1836), fleeing an order for his arrest for debt, arrived in Texas in 1831 and set up a law practice in Anahuac, but moved south to San Felipe following his participation in the Anahuac Disturbances of 1832. While there, he resumed his legal career. Earlier in 1834, while his career was becoming financially successful, Travis was elected secretary to the ayuntamiento. In addition to this land grant from the Mexican government, Isaac E. Robertson also owned a league of land in Matagorda on the Gulf Coast (just seventy miles south of San Felipe) since 1832.

    The reference to the ayuntamiento's authority by "the laws and by the concessions made by the Supreme Mexican Government on July 1, 1824" likely refers to Mexico's Federal Constitution of 1824, even though the constitution was not ratified until October 1824. With its emphasis on granting power to the individual Mexican states rather than the federal government, the Mexican Constitution of 1824 provided only a vague outline for the role of localized ayuntamientos. Laws clarifying the role of the ayuntamiento had to wait until the 1827 state constitution of Coahuila and Texas. The ayuntamiento functioned as a city commission with numerous duties, including advising authority about land grants, such as this one signed by Travis.

    The town of San Felipe de Austin was formed in 1823 and recognized by its name of San Felipe, but Austin formerly established the town, located in modern-day Austin County, as his colony's unofficial capital in July 1824. It soon became the colony's first urban center. When Travis signed this document in 1834, the town boasted a population over 600 and was a thriving commercial center, second in Texas at the time only to San Antonio. The two conventions of 1832 and 1833 had been held there, and, later in November 1835, the Consultation would meet there. The first election for the town's ayuntamiento was held in 1828, the first election of Anglo-Americans under a constitution in Texas.

    Along with seventy other stockholders who comprised the Texas Association in 1822, Sterling Robertson (no known relation to Isaac E. Robertson in this document) of Tennessee signed a request to the Mexican government asking for permission to settle in Texas. He received permission, and in 1830, Sterling Robertson, along with other stockholders in the Texas Association, brought families to settle in their Texas colony. Upon their arrival, however, they were prevented from settling in their colony by the recently passed Mexican Law of April 6, 1830, which prohibited any more Anglo-American settlement in Mexico. The group, now under Sterling Robertson's leadership, was diverted to Stephen F. Austin's colony, where they were allowed to settle. Coincidentally, Austin at that very time was preparing to travel to Saltillo, the Coahuila and Texas Mexican state capital, so Sterling Robertson asked the empresario to press the state government on the Texas Association's behalf to allow them to settle their colony. Austin promised to do so, but after arriving at the capital, he won the grant for himself and Samuel Williams in February 1831. Sterling Robertson felt betrayed, though Austin subsequently repeatedly said, as Eugene Barker writes in The Life of Stephen F. Austin, "and there is no reason to doubt his statement, that he besought both the [Mexican] secretary of state and the governor to admit Robertson and reinstate his contract; that they declared this impossible, and were impatient with him for suggesting such a violation of the law of April 6, 1830 [346]." It wasn't until May 22, 1834-just eighteen days after Travis signed this true copy of a land grant for Isaac E. Robertson in San Felipe-that the governor cancelled Austin and William's contract, replacing it with a new one awarded to Sterling Robertson. The new colony was called Robertson's Colony and was comprised of thirty modern-day counties in central Texas (it is often referred to as the "upper colony"). Sterling Robertson served as empresario from 1834-1835.

    Reference: Eugene Barker, The Life of Stephen F. Austin, Founder of Texas, 1793-1836, (New York: De Capo Press, 1968), 346.


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    Auction Dates
    March, 2016
    12th Saturday
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