History of Texas: Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest, Vol. 1 - Buckley B. Paddock - ebook

History of Texas: Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest, Vol. 1 ebook

Buckley B. Paddock



Capt. B. B. Paddock was one of the most prolific authors on Texas history. His writings are probably the most complete and best balanced ones. This book covers the history of the Texas Northwest and especially the history of the Fort Worth Region. This is volume one out of two.

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History of Texas:

Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest


Vol. 1








History of Texas, Fort Worth 1, B. B. Paddock

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650179



[email protected]





























Probably the most complete and best balanced work on Texas history, particularly down to annexation, is a History of Texas and Texans, issued in 1914. This work, available to the publishers and editors of this edition, was revised and rearranged with a view to presenting a more straightforward and concise account without eliminating material required in a modern reference book on Texas history.

The editor of the former work, Dr. Eugene C. Barker, stated in his preface:

“For some years before his death in 1884 Colonel Frank W. Johnson occupied himself in collecting material for and writing a comprehensive history of Texas down to annexation. He left his manuscripts to several ‘literary executors,’ of whom Judge A. W. Terrell was the last to survive. In August of 1912 the American Historical Society of Chicago asked me to write for them a history of Texas. I was unable to undertake the task and suggested that they publish Johnson’s manuscript with editorial additions which would bring it down to date and give the results of research since Johnson’s time. They accepted the suggestion and Judge Terrell welcomed the opportunity to publish the book and consented to write a sketch of Johnson as an introduction. His sudden death two months later prevented his carrying out this intention. On examination I found Johnson’s work of value chiefly for the period from 1820 to 1836. His plan was to make the book a documentary history, letting the original documents, so far as possible, carry the narrative. Some of the documents that he used had already been printed in Kennedy, Foote and Yoakum, and since his death some additional ones have appeared in John Henry Brown’s ‘History of Texas,’ but some have never been published. The idea of a documentary history of this period is a good one, for the reason that the colonization of Texas by emigrants from the United States, and the subsequent revolution from Mexico, have generally been misrepresented as deliberate moves in a conspiracy of Southern slaveholders to wrest Texas from Mexico and annex it to the United States. No denial of this charge can be so effective as the contemporary documents themselves, which go far toward revealing the thoughts and feelings of the settlers. For this reason I have frequently added documents to which Johnson did not have access. These additions as well as occasional paragraphs and chapters which I have found it necessary to insert, are indicated in footnotes. The chapters on the period since annexation are written by Mr. E. W Winkler of the State Library.”



The history of Texas told in the following pages is mainly a narrative of events falling within the century from 1820 to 1920. Texans, like Missourians or Georgians, are “heirs to all the ages” and are affected by all the experiences of mankind, but in few cases have such influences originated within Texas beyond the century.

Geographical Texas became the meeting point of two civilizations. The first, in point of time, was the Spanish, spreading northward through soldier-priest-convert from the land of the Montezumas. The second was the English-speaking civilization developing on the Atlantic seaboard of North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and with each decade after the War for Independence pushing westward with unprecedented energy and of its own initiative until it touched the nominal frontier of Spain. A brief account of Spanish Texas may properly be preceded by a partial survey of this aggressive and overwhelming power concentrated in the United States of America and soon to submerge the older regime in Texas.

At the first census, 1790, approximately 4,000,000 persons were enumerated in the seventeen states and territories of Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. The westward impulse over the mountains had been directed chiefly into Kentucky and Tennessee, which, together, contained about 110,000 people, and a few years later were admitted as states.

In thirty years following, population had marched to the Mississippi and was pouring into the Louisiana Purchase beyond. The census of 1820, computed from twenty-six states and territories, gave a total of nearly 10,000,000, and there was a compact grouping of states from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi, while west of that river Louisiana had been a state since 1812, Missouri only awaited the “compromise” to be admitted, while Florida in 1819 had been purchased from Spain.

On the west bank of the Mississippi in Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri, the census had found about 250,000 residents. New Orleans (though only 27,000) was the fifth city in the nation and the great market of all the Middle West. Steamboat traffic had begun on the western rivers; canals and turnpikes were being planned, and while these and other instrumentalities were important in uniting the East and the West, more effective still was the national spirit of free initiative — a trait common to Americans of the pioneer epoch — in welding together all to a common ideal of enterprise and culture. While limited in other respects, an American community, though transplanted a thousand miles, becomes self-contained, self-sufficient; tries to get along without help “from home”; acts without orders from a central authority, yet maintains its typical Anglo-Saxon character without written models or instructions.

So much by way of preface before turning to the contrasting civilization that had gained such a feeble foothold west of the Sabine in spite of a century of intermittent effort. The following is a brief survey of Texas under the Spanish regime:

Indirectly Spain began to accumulate information concerning Texas in 1519, when Alvarez de Pineda sailed the Gulf from Florida to Tampico. Ten years later (1528) several survivors of the Narvaez expedition were cast on the shore of Texas, and, after six years of wandering along the coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi, Cabeza de Vaca and four others escaped from the Indians who had enslaved them and made their way to Mexico. De Vaca wrote an account of their experiences, which gives us our earliest source for conditions of the Texas interior. In 1540 members of the De Soto expedition, after the death of their leader, passed through East Texas on their way to Mexico; and the same year Coronado’s expedition, searching for Quivira, traversed a considerable portion of West Texas. The interior of Texas continued to be penetrated by occasional parties of Spanish explorers for the next 150 years. Until well past the middle of the seventeenth century these parties advanced eastward from New Mexico, which the Spaniards had early occupied; but at the same time settlement was slowly pushing toward Texas through northern Mexico, and the missionaries were already urging the occupation of the Tejas country when news reached the government that a French expedition was headed for the country.

France had begun to occupy Canada at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Fur traders and Jesuit missionaries moved rapidly westward, and in 1673 Louis Joliet and Father Marquette explored the Mississippi River from Wisconsin to Arkansas. Ten years later La Salle followed the Mississippi to its mouth, and then returned to France to beg permission from Louis XIV to settle a colony there. His plan was a strategic one. France already held the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, the Ohio and the Upper Mississippi, and a colony at the mouth of the great river would go far toward securing the possession of the whole valley. Moreover, it could be made the basis of operations against Mexico, in case France and Spain were involved in war. The king approved, and La Salle was generously fitted out with colonists and supplies. The colonists included some farmers, artisans and men of family, but too many of them were undesirable adventurers. In the West Indies one small vessel was captured by Spaniards, but the incident was not immediately reported to the viceroy and at the time, therefore, created no alarm in Spain. The remainder of the little fleet lost its bearings, and in February, 1685. entered Matagorda Bay and made a landing. A vessel was wrecked here — the Aimable, the supply ship— and many provisions and arms were lost. Beaujeu, the sailing master, returned to France in another ship, leaving La Salle one small vessel. This, too, was later wrecked. It soon became evident that the Mississippi did not enter Matagorda Bay, but La Salle could not believe that it was far away. A fort was built some miles inland on the Lavaca River, and a search for the Mississippi began.

The Indians, malaria and their own excesses soon brought the party to a desperate state. La Salle was stern, arbitrary and unsympathetic and incurred the hatred of some of the worst characters, who murdered him in 1687 near the present site of Navasota, while he was making his third expedition in search of the Mississippi. After La Salle’s death the settlement rapidly went to pieces. Some of the party eventually reached the Mississippi and made their way to Canada and France; many died of disease or were massacred by the Indians. When the Spaniards arrived in search of them in 1689 there were less than half a score of survivors scattered among the Indians.

The Spanish authorities had learned during the fall of 1684 of La Salle’s plan for a settlement on the Gulf, and between 1686 and 1689 four searching parties were sent by sea and five by land to find him. It was only the fifth of the land expeditions that succeeded. Capt. Alonso de Leon commanded this expedition in 1689 and with him was Father Damian Massanet, a devoted Franciscan missionary. They found the French settlement (Fort St. Louis) in ruins. Several dead lay unburied on the prairie. Clearly the danger of a French occupation for the present was over.

Learning that four Frenchmen were living among the Tejas Indians in East Texas, De Leon wrote to them inviting them to accompany him to Mexico. Two of them joined him, and with them came a chief of the Tejas. Missionaries and explorers had long been wishing to get in touch with these Indians, and Father Massanet exerted himself especially to win the friendship of this chief. He was successful, and parted from him with a promise to return the next year and establish a mission among the Tejas, the chief assuring him that the Spaniards would be welcome.

Spurred by the fear of French encroachment, the vice-royal government of Mexico approved the proposal of De Leon and Massanet for the establishment of a settlement among the Tejas, and in the spring of 1690 De Leon led a second expedition to the country. Marching first to La Salle’s deserted settlement, he destroyed it, so that it might not harbor other intruders, and then proceeded northward to the Tejas. On a small stream some ten miles west of the Neches and northeast of the present town of Crockett he built a rude log chapel and left three priests and three soldiers to win the region to Christianity and to Spain. At first the Tejas were peaceful and friendly, but pestilence and bad crops followed and they became ill-humored and troublesome. Next year priests and soldiers were reinforced from an expedition led by Governor Teran de los Rios, but in 1693 they abandoned Texas, and Spain made no further attempts to occupy the province until fear of the French again arose in 1716.

In 1699 a French settlement was founded at Mobile Bay, and in 1712 a French merchant, Antoine Crozat, received from the government a monopoly of the trade of Louisiana, which was regarded as including all the territory drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries. But this field was too restricted for Crozat’s ambition. He wished also to trade with the Spaniards in northern and northwestern Mexico. In view of the exclusive commercial policy of Spain, this could be done only by a system of smuggling with the connivance of the Spanish colonial authorities. A man of ability and address was needed to approach the Spanish officials, and Governor Cadillac of Louisiana selected Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, an experienced Indian trader and explorer. St. Denis led a party up Red River to the present site of Natchitoches, where he established headquarters for trade with the Hasinai or Tejas confederation of Indians in East Texas, and then pressed on across Texas to the Spanish presidio, a short distance southeast of the present Eagle Pass. In 1714 this post was commanded by Capt. Diego Ramon. To him St. Denis unfolded his proposal, but the captain referred the matter to the viceroy at Mexico and held St. Denis a prisoner. An interesting romance has woven itself around the young Frenchman’s sojourn here, but the thrilling details presented by Gayarre and Brown seem to have no other foundation than the fact that St. Denis later married Captain Ramon’s granddaughter. The viceroy was considerably alarmed by the French advances, and ordered St. Denis sent to the capital.

As the result of personal conferences with St. Denis the viceroy decided to reoccupy East Texas, a measure to which the missionaries had been urging him for years. St. Denis agreed to guide an expedition, and this, with priests, soldiers and settlers, got under way in 1716, commanded by Capt. Domingo Ramon. The Spaniards were welcomed by the Tejas Indians, who had missed the small gifts with which the missionaries had been in the habit of cultivating their friendship, and during the next few years a group of missions was established around the present towns of Nacogdoches and San Augustine. In 1718 San Antonio was founded and became the important Spanish stronghold in this outlying province. In the meantime the French post at Natchitoches grew stronger and in 1719 the Spaniards were compelled to flee to San Antonio for protection. Two years later, however, the Marquis De Aguayo re-established the settlements and strengthened the presidios, and further relations between the French and Spanish on this frontier were marked by little friction. In 1762 Louis XV ceded Louisiana to Spain, and the international boundary moved eastward to the Mississippi, across which faced the aggressive English instead of the easy-going French.

After the founding of San Antonio Spanish governors and missionaries made energetic efforts to colonize Texas and civilize the Indians. Aguayo established a post near the site of La Salle’s Fort St. Louis in 1721, which after being twice moved was finally fixed in 1749 at modern Goliad. The great mission buildings which constitute one of the most impressive historical monuments of the Southwest were constructed near San Antonio, and others of less pretentious character were scattered from Refugio and Liberty, near the coast, as far west as San Saba and Rockdale. Following the French cession of Louisiana the settlements in East Texas were abandoned, but many of the settlers who had known no other home were ill at ease in San Antonio, whither they were moved, and in 1779 Gil Ibarbo led a number of them back and founded Nacogdoches on the site of the old mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The permanent results of Spanish activities in Texas to the close of the eighteenth century were pitifully small, but the province was very remote and the Indians were peculiarly untractable. When measured by the results achieved by the United States with a convenient base and incomparably greater resources, Spain’s failure to civilize the Indians affords little cause for criticism or surprise.

On October 1, 1800, Spain re-ceded to France “the Colony or Province of Louisiana with the same extent that it now has in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it.” On April 30, 1803 — as the treaty is dated — France sold Louisiana, with the same limits, to the United States. What were the boundaries of Louisiana thus vaguely described? Napoleon had instructed General Victor to take possession of the Rio Grande, and on that ground, chiefly, President Jefferson and other prominent statesmen were inclined to claim Texas. But they were much more anxious to extend the eastern boundary over West Florida, a narrow strip along the coast from the Mississippi to the Perdido River, and expected to play the Texas claim against this coveted region. Historians are agreed that the claim to West Florida was baseless, but despite the accidental, temporary character of La Salle’s settlement and the deliberate, permanent occupation of the province by Spain from 1716 onward, the Texas question has not been so easily settled. In 1819 the United States surrendered by treaty all claims west of the Sabine, but many patriotic citizens believed that the government exceeded its constitutional power in alienating territory to which its title was good. It was this belief that made possible the demand for the “re-annexation” of Texas in the national Democratic platform of 1844.

Before the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States Anglo-Americans had already begun to penetrate Texas. For years Philip Nolan, a protégé of Gen. James Wilkinson, had been making occasional trips to San Antonio. In 1800 he led a small party into the province for the ostensible purpose of capturing wild horses. Whether that was his sole object is even yet not clear. Toward the end of March, 1801, he was overtaken by soldiers near the present city of Waco, and in the ensuing battle Nolan was killed. His men then surrendered, expecting to be sent home from Nacogdoches, but on the contrary they were marched to Mexico, where in the course of time all except Peter Ellis Bean elude the historical vision. Bean joined the revolutionists in 1810, and when Mexico gained its independence he was a colonel in the patriot army. During 1833-1835 he was stationed at Nacogdoches as a sort of Indian agent.

In 1812 Bernardo Gutierrez and Augustus Magee, lately a lieutenant in the United States army, invaded Texas with a considerable force of American adventurers, Spaniards and Indians. They took Nacogdoches in August and Goliad in October. Here Magee died. In the spring of 1813 they advanced on San Antonio and after defeating the Spanish governor in a terrible battle entered the town on April 1. Gutierrez’s brutality to the prisoners alienated many of the Americans, who now abandoned him. The others were decoyed into an ambush by General Arredondo near the Medina River in June and badly defeated. The avowed object of Gutierrez and Magee was to win Texas for the revolutionary party in Mexico. They undoubtedly expected to turn success to their personal profit, but in just what way does not clearly appear.

After the signature of the Florida treaty of 1819 by which the United States relinquished its claim to Texas, Dr. James Long of Natchez, Mississippi, led an expedition which for a brief time occupied Nacogdoches and proclaimed the independence of Texas. It is somewhat significant that Long, like Nolan, had a connection with Gen. James Wilkinson of the United States army, his wife being Wilkinson’s niece. At the time of Long’s invasion the royalist power had almost succeeded in stamping out the revolution in Mexico, and Texas was well defended. Troops advanced from San Antonio, and catching Long’s forces in scattered detachments easily defeated and expelled them. Long took advantage of the renewed revolutionary wave in 1820 to return to Texas, but was no more successful than before. In fact, he was taken prisoner and sent to Mexico City, and there a short time later was killed by a Mexican soldier.

In a sense Nolan, Magee and Long, with the men whom they led, were but the advance couriers of American expansion. In the first twenty years of the nineteenth century the United States pushed its settled frontier westward to the Mississippi, and crossed that line in Louisiana, which became a state in 1812, and in Missouri, which was admitted in 1820. The natural line of advance to further expansion was toward the southwest. That the adventurous pioneers entered Texas in organized bands rather than as peaceful trappers and settlers was probably due to the revolutionary condition of New Spain from 1810 to 1821, which suggested the pretext of marching in force to the relief of the local patriots. They served the purpose of spying out the country and of paving the way for the peaceful invasion of Moses and Stephen Austin and the “crowd of expresarios” who followed them. The opportune attainment of Mexican independence in 1821 undoubtedly furthered the colonization of Texas from the United States by creating a temporary glow of friendship for the republicans of the north, who had gone through much the same experience with England as had the Mexicans with Spain, and whose liberal institutions the Mexicans dreamed of emulating.


Virginia had her John Smith, Maryland her Calverts, Pennsylvania her Penns, but Texas had in Stephen F. Austin a type of colonizer and state builder greater than any of them. His personal fortune and his personal safety were both involved in his colonial enterprise; it was the work of his life. When he died he left the destiny of Texas permanently shaped. It is with good reason that historians have studied the character and activities of Austin as the chief source of a correct knowledge of Texas history in the colonial period.

Moses Austin was a native of Durham, in the State of Connecticut. He came of a highly respectable family, received a liberal education, and was regularly bred to the business of merchandise. He was a man of uncommon sagacity and of an enterprising character. He began life as a merchant, in the city of Philadelphia. He afterwards removed to the city of Richmond in Virginia, and subsequently purchased the lead mines, known as Chissel’s mines, on New River in Wythe County in that state. Here he engaged extensively in mining and in the manufacture of lead. He introduced artisans from England, and established the first manufactory of shot and sheet lead that was established in the United States. A little village grew up around him on New River, which was called Austinville, at which place Stephen F. Austin was born on the 3rd day of November, 1793.

In the year 1797, the enterprising disposition of Moses Austin led him to explore that portion of Upper Louisiana now embraced within the limits of the state of Missouri, which has since become so celebrated for its mines of lead. He procured a concession from the Spanish Government of a league of land, including what was called the Mine-a-Burton. In pursuance of his determination, he removed his family and a number of laborers to the Mine-a-Burton in the year 1799. There were no families residing near the mines. In fact, there were no families nearer than St. Genevieve. The Osage Indians were hostile, and Austin experienced, in his new home, all the vicissitudes of a frontier life. It was amidst such scenes as are always presented by a new settlement in the wilderness, surrounded by savage enemies, that the mind of Stephen F. Austin received its earliest permanent impression. It was in the midst of a thriving community of hardy and enterprising men, where industry was subduing the wilderness, and where civilization was beginning to diffuse its refinements, that his character was formed. It will be seen that he was trained in a school admirably suited to qualify him for the difficult part which it afterwards became his duty to perform.

In the year 1804, being then in the eleventh year of his age, Stephen Austin was sent to Colchester Academy, in Connecticut, to pursue his academical studies. He remained in that institution, which was then in high repute, for one year. Thence he removed to an academy at New London, where he remained until 1808. He then returned to the West, and became a student of Transylvania University, at Lexington, Kentucky, where he devoted himself for two years to his studies, and was distinguished amongst his fellow-students for his intelligence and gentlemanly deportment. It was at Transylvania that he formed an intimate acquaintance with Joseph H. Hawkins, who afterwards resided in New Orleans, in the practice of law, and assisted Austin in his first enterprise of colonization.

In the year 1813, at the age of twenty, Stephen F. Austin was elected to the Territorial Legislature of Missouri from the county of Washington, and was regularly re-elected until the year 1819, when he ceased to reside in the territory. While he was a member of the Territorial Legislature he became acquainted with Thomas H. Benton, who was a member of the same body. Mr. Benton always respected him as a man of character and talents, and they maintained a friendly and political correspondence during Austin’s life.

During these years, from 1800 to 1817, Moses Austin had conducted an extensive and profitable business in mining and in the manufacture of shot and sheet lead. He had made very valuable improvements on his property, and had acquired an ample fortune. Misfortune suddenly came upon him in the ruin of the bank of St. Louis, in which he was a large stockholder. He was now in his fifty-fifth year. Instead of bowing before the stroke he retained a firm mind and a resolute heart. He sent for his son Stephen, and told him that he had determined to surrender the whole of his property to his creditors. He carried this determination into effect, and then proposed to his son the idea of forming a colony in Texas.

The title of Spain to the territory of Texas was about this time established by the treaty of the 22nd of February, 1819, between the government of Spain and that of the United States. In consequence of this treaty and the territorial rights secured to Spain by it, it became necessary for Moses Austin to apply to the government of Spain, or to the Spanish authority, for permission to colonize in Texas. He accordingly resolved to make the application in person. As a preparatory measure to the enterprise of colonization, Stephen Austin left Missouri in the month of April, 1819, and proceeded to a place known as Long Prairie, on Red River, in the territory of Arkansas. Here he commenced a small farm, intending to make that point the rendezvous of the settlers who were to be introduced into Texas, in the event that Moses Austin succeeded in his application for permission to plant a colony there. Stephen Austin remained in the territory of Arkansas during the greater part of the year 1819 and 1820. In the meantime he received the appointment of circuit judge in that territory.

In the autumn of the year 1820, Moses Austin left Missouri and proceeded to Little Rock, in Arkansas, where he was met by his son Stephen. It was then thought advisable to abandon the farming enterprise at Long Prairie, and that Stephen should go to New Orleans and co-operate with his father, as they might subsequently arrange, and as circumstances might require. Moses Austin proceeded, by the way of Nacogdoches, to visit the Spanish authorities at San Antonio de Bexar. After a very fatiguing and hazardous journey through a wilderness country he reached Bexar in the month of November, and proceeded with as little delay as possible to lay his business before the governor of the province, Don Antonio Martinez. The authority of Governor Martinez was limited, and extended only to the customary local administration of the province. He was subject to the orders of the commandant general of the Eastern internal provinces at Monterey, and this office was filled, at that time, by a man of ability and reputation, Don Joaquin de Arredondo. He was the same who, in the summer of 1813, destroyed the revolutionary force, composed partly of Americans, and commanded by Toledo, at the disastrous battle of Medina. Arredondo had given orders to Governor Martinez not to permit foreigners, and especially North Americans, to enter Texas. The governor and the commandant general were not personally on the most friendly terms, and Martinez was cautious not to expose himself to the charge of disobedience to his superior.

Moses Austin made his application in person to Governor Martinez, and was much surprised and disappointed to find that not only his proposals on the subject of colonization would not be considered, but that he was not received with that courtesy which is expected from a man in high standing to a petitioner. Martinez ordered him to leave the province, and even refused to look at papers which established the fact that Mr. Austin had formerly been a Spanish subject. To parry this blow Mr. Austin endeavored to engage the governor in a conversation more general, using the French language, of which he had acquired a knowledge in Missouri, and with which the governor was also acquainted. His attempt was unsuccessful. The governor’s manner was very ungracious, and he peremptorily repeated the order that Austin should leave the province without delay. Austin was not only disappointed, but incensed by the manner of his reception and dismissal. He retired from the government house, resolved to leave Bexar within the hour. As he crossed the plaza he accidentally met a gentleman with whom he had, many years before, spent a night at a country tavern in one of the Southern states. This gentleman was the Baron de Bastrop. When they had formerly met they had conversed freely, and had thus acquired some knowledge of each other, both being men of enterprise and much experience. Now, when they unexpectedly encountered in the plaza, their recognition of each other was instant. Indeed, it was said by those who knew him, that the Baron never forgot anyone, and he was himself of so distinguished a figure that it was not an easy matter for anyone to forget the Baron. The Baron de Bastrop was a native of Prussia, and had seen service in early youth under the banners of the great Frederick. He was now a Spanish subject and resided in San Antonio. He was a man of education and talents, and was very much respected by the inhabitants of Bexar. He was also initiated into all the mysteries of the government house, was on terms of personal friendship with Governor Martinez, and possessed much influence with all the authorities of the province.

Bastrop invited Austin to his house, where the latter, in a few words, explained to him the object of his visit to San Antonio, and informed him of his interview with the governor and of its consequences. The generous temper of the Baron at once inclined him to serve Austin if it were possible for him to do so, and he placed himself in the most earnest manner to make the effort. He repaired immediately to the governor’s house, and informed his excellency that Austin was his friend, and a man of high character and integrity, whose intentions, in coming into the province, were open and undisguised. He represented further to his excellency that Austin’s health was broken by recent exposure, that he was suffering from fever, and that he could not travel without danger to his life. He begged the governor, as a personal favor to himself, to revoke the order of Austin’s immediate departure. The governor listened with respect to the Baron’s representations, and granted his request in the most obliging manner. The Baron retired, very well satisfied with the result of his first interview with the governor in behalf of his friend Austin.

At the end of a week Bastrop had succeeded, by the aid of other influential citizens whom he had enlisted in the cause, in removing the objections of Governor Martinez to the project of Austin, and in procuring for him from the ayuntamiento of Bexar, a promise to recommend Austin’s propositions for the settlement of 300 families within the limits of Texas", to the favorable consideration of the commandant general, Arredondo, and the provincial deputation of the eastern internal provinces; which latter was a body who held their sessions at Monterey, and shared, with the commandant general, the government of the eastern provinces of New Spain. After yielding his first opposition to Austin’s propositions. Governor Martinez entered very heartily into all his plans, and evinced a sincere interest in their future success. It seems that he formed a very favorable judgment of Austin as a man of integrity and of honorable purposes. Austin determined to leave San Antonio without waiting to hear the result of his application to the authorities at Monterey, and to return to Missouri to arrange some pressing matters of business. Governor Martinez promised to give him the earliest possible information of the fate of his application, and took leave of him, saying, “if you live to return, you may count on my assistance in every way that duty and circumstances will permit.”

On his return from San Antonio to Natchitoches, Austin was robbed and deserted by his companions, and was exposed to great suffering before he reached a hospitable roof on the Sabine, where he rested for a few days. His weak condition obliged him to rest again in Natchitoches. Here he recovered in some measure his strength, and after informing his son Stephen, by letters, of what had transpired, he pursued his journey to Missouri. Shortly after his return home, he had the pleasure of hearing officially from Governor Martinez that his propositions had been favorably received at Monterey, and that he was at liberty to commence his settlement in Texas immediately. About the same time he procured a settlement of his affairs with the Bank of St. Louis which was more satisfactory than he had anticipated, inasmuch as it left him the prospect of beginning his new settlement in Texas with means sufficient to provide the stores and mechanical and agricultural implements necessary to such an enterprise.

Moses Austin was now (in the spring of 1821) industriously engaged in making his preparations to return to Texas. He gave notice, by letters, to those whom he expected to accompany him that he would be in Natchitoches by the latter part of May, and that he did not wish to be delayed a single day in proceeding on his way to the Brazos and Colorado. But it was written in the hook of God’s Providence that the brave old man should be spared the trials and sufferings incident to the further prosecution of such an enterprise as he had conceived. He fell sick about the first of June, at the house of his daughter, Mrs. James Bryan, (later well known in Texas as Mrs. James F. Perry). He died in his daughter’s arms, on the 10th day of June, 1821, in the 57th year of his age. The family of Moses Austin consisted at the time of his death of his wife, who survived him about three years; of his daughter, Mrs. Bryan, above named; of his son, Stephen, who was then in New Orleans; and of a younger son, James Brown Austin, who was then at school in Kentucky, and who was afterwards well known in Texas. While on his death-bed, Moses Austin declared it to be his earnest desire that his son Stephen should endeavor to have himself recognized by the Spanish authorities in Texas as his representative, and that he should carry forward the enterprise of colonization.

In anticipation of his father’s return from San Antonio, and with the expectation of meeting him, Stephen had gone, about the first of February, from New Orleans to Natchitoches. Moses Austin had left that place a few days before for Missouri, and the father and son did not meet. Stephen Austin, however, saw several persons in Natchitoches who had already engaged to go to Texas with his father, provided his application succeeded; and from these persons he learned, as also from his father’s letters, the particulars of the trip to San Antonio, the contingencies upon which the further prosecution of the enterprise depended, and the plans that had been formed for the future. Stephen Austin returned from Natchitoches to New Orleans to await his father’s movements. His time in New Orleans was spent principally in the library of his friend Hawkins, where he devoted himself, with the greatest assiduity, to the study of law. In the month of June he heard from a friend in Natchitoches of the arrival of the commissioner whom Governor Martinez had sent to meet Moses Austin, to inform him of the confirmation of his grant by the authorities at Monterey, and to conduct him into the province of Texas. Stephen Austin deemed it best that he should hasten to Natchitoches to meet the commissioner, fearing that his father might be unexpectedly delayed. Accordingly he left New Orleans again on the 18th of June for Natchitoches, by the way of Red River. On reaching Natchitoches he received intelligence of his father’s death. This was a heavy blow to him, but he met it with the fortitude of mind which, though extremely sensitive, was of fine texture, and not easily subdued by discouragement. He was now in the twenty-eighth year of his age. He felt that the hopes of his family would center on himself. He resolved to accept the trust which his father, in his dying moments, had bequeathed to him, and to make for his dear and aged mother a new home under a milder sun, where, if she could not forget the pleasant years spent in the old hall at Mine-a-Burton, she might at least enjoy at the hands of an affectionate and dutiful son those comforts and observances with which it was once the pride of a tender husband to surround her.

The commissioner sent by Governor Martinez to meet Moses Austin at Natchitoches was Don Erasmo Seguin. He was accompanied by Don Juan Martin de Veramendi, who was afterwards lieutenant-governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas. Seguin and Veramendi were both gentlemen of character and experience. Stephen Austin waited on them, was kindly received by them, and had the gratification to hear them express the opinion that the Spanish authorities would interpose no objection to the assumption by him of the character of successor to his father in the enterprise of colonization. He immediately made his arrangements to proceed with them to San Antonio. The party, consisting of Don Erasmo Seguin and Don Juan Veramendi and their escort, and Austin and fourteen followers left Natchitoches about the fifth of July; and after considerable delays in getting fairly equipped for their journey they crossed the Sabine on the 16th and proceeded by way of Nacogdoches and along the old San Antonio road toward Bexar. The party reached the Guadalupe on the 10th of August. From this river three of the Mexicans who belonged to Don Erasmo Seguin’s escort left them and pushed on to San Antonio, to inform his family of his approach. On the morning of the 12th of August, while Seguin, Veramendi and Austin were eating breakfast, these three men returned, accompanied by several others, and announced the stirring news of the declaration of Mexican independence.

On his arrival in San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin was welcomed by Governor Martinez as the proper representative of his deceased father; and he accordingly made arrangements for the immediate exploration of the country, and the selection of a suitable section for his colony. Moses Austin had formed the opinion that the country near the Gulf coast and watered by the Brazos and Colorado, was the best suited to his purpose. After a minute and careful examination, Stephen Austin came to the same conclusion, and determined to plant his colony on those rivers. Austin now returned, as speedily as was possible, to New Orleans, and began his operations for the introduction of families into the Province of Texas. Governor Martinez had given him instructions as to the quantity of land which should be promised to each settler. Austin had formerly agreed with his early friend, Joseph Hawkins, that he would divide with him, in an equitable manner, whatever lands he might subsequently acquire in Texas, if Hawkins would assist him in setting his enterprise fairly on foot. Hawkins was a generous and sanguine man, and now entered heartily into Austin’s views in regard to the settlement which the latter was about to perform in Texas. Unfortunately, however, Hawkins began, about this time, to feel the pressure of pecuniary embarrassment, and was not able to render to Austin that efficient aid which the latter so much needed. By their joint efforts, however, they fitted out a small schooner, called “The Lively.” She sailed from New Orleans about the 20th of November, 1821, having on board eighteen men, with all necessary provisions, arms, ammunition, and farming utensils. They had directions to enter Matagorda Bay and to ascend the Colorado River until they found a suitable place, where they were directed to build cabins, to plant corn and to erect necessary defenses against the attacks of hostile Indians.

Austin left New Orleans the next day after “The Lively” sailed; he proceeded by land to the Bay of Matagorda, where he expected to meet those who passed over on the schooner. As he passed through Natchitoches, he collected a party of ten men to accompany him. He had already made publications in the newspapers setting forth the outlines of the enterprise on which he had entered, and inviting colonists to join him. In these publications the terms on which colonists would be received, the amount of land that would be granted to them, and all other necessary particulars, were fully set forth. The fame of Austin’s enterprise had thus gone forth throughout the Southwestern States, and many persons were already approaching the frontier of Texas with the intention to offer themselves as colonists. By means of agents, Austin caused all such persons to be informed how they should enter the Province of Texas and conduct themselves until they could be formally received as settlers and put into possession of their lands. With this small company, Austin pushed on to meet the passengers of “The Lively”; but when he reached the mouth of the Colorado River, no traces were to be seen of the schooner or of any of those who sailed on her. Austin remained near the mouth of the Colorado for about three months, occasionally searching the neighboring shores of the bay and gulf for the long-expected schooner, until he despaired of seeing her, when he took his course up the Colorado. Reaching the La Bahia crossing, he had the happiness to meet his brother, James Brown Austin, who had come to join him. Together they proceeded with about twenty men to San Antonio, which place they reached about the 15th of March, 1822. Another vessel was soon after fitted out by Hawkins with supplies and emigrants for the new colony; but the navigation of the gulf coast was then little understood, and this second vessel was obliged to land her cargo on the beach, where it was plundered by the Carancawa Indians. These first attempts to introduce emigrants and supplies by the way of the gulf were comparatively fruitless.

It was on the 21st of February, 1821. that the independence of Mexico was declared by Iturbide and confirmed by the Mexican Cortes, and Governor Martinez was in doubt whether the new government would sanction his acts in relation to Austin’s colony, and he therefore now advised Austin to proceed at once to Mexico and procure the recognition of his rights and privileges for a colony. He therefore set out with two or three companions, in March, 1822, on horseback, to perform the perilous journey of some 1,000 miles to the capital of Mexico, which place he reached, after a variety of adventures, about the last of April. He found the government distracted with factions, the result of which was that Iturbide was proclaimed emperor on the 18th of May.

For more than a year, during the turbulent period of Iturbide’s reign, Austin was detained in the capital seeking a comfirmation of his father’s contract. On account of the presence of other petitioners, the government chose to draw up a general law for colonization instead of confirming Austin’s individual contract. The first congress was at work on such a law when Iturbide usurped the government as emperor, and the work had to be done all over again by his council. The law was finally drafted and received the approval of the emperor and his junta on January 4, 1823. Under the provisions of this law, Austin’s contract w-as submitted to the government, and an imperial decree of February 18, 1823, confirmed the original contract with Moses Austin. His mission accomplished, Stephen Austin was preparing to return when the imperial government was overthrown and all its acts annulled. With admirable persistence, Austin now presented his cause before the provisional government. The colonization law of January 4th was suspended, but on April 14, 1823, the supreme executive power confirmed and sustained the imperial concession to Austin of date of February 18th. There seemed satisfactory assurance that the congress, when it assembled would confirm this act of the provisional government, so Austin felt that at last his colony had legal sanction.

Austin may be said to have obtained a special charter for his first colony, all other empresario contracts having been undertaken under the general colonization laws of the republic and the state. Under this special contract, the local government was committed to him until government could be otherwise organized on constitutional lines. This provisional government of the colony w-as not superseded until February 1, 1828.

The original plan of Austin for the distribution of land to the settlers was based on the American system of sections of 640 acres. But the decree confirming his contract declared that he was not authorized to assign the quantity of land to be given to each settler. It fixed the quantity to be given to each head of family as one labor or one league, the former quantity to the colonist whose purpose was solely agriculture, and the latter to the colonist who intended to engage in stock-raising, but it was also provided that to the colonist who followed both occupations there might be granted “a league and a labor.”

The decree also provided that Austin, as contractor or empresario of the colony, should receive a premium of fifteen leagues and two labores for every 200 families introduced. Each colonist had to cultivate or use his land within two years under penalty of forfeit, but when this condition was complied with his title to the land was clear and absolute.

Another distinctive feature of Austin’s original colony is that the colonists were not restricted to definite limits in their settlement. Each of the 300 families belonged to the colony wherever its lands were located. The result was that these original settlers were dispersed from the east bank of the Lavaca to the east side of the San Jacinto, and from the coast to the San Antonio road. In this area all the lands not occupied by the 300 colonists belonged to the government. This wide distribution of the immigrants, while it exposed them to Indian attacks, eventually proved advantageous in the development of the country, since those that came later were better served with supplies by means of these scattered settlements than they could have been from one central point.

When Austin returned to Texas in August, 1823, he found the colony almost dissipated, and immigration had entirely ceased. Many of the new settlers had stopped about Nacogdoches and in the vicinity of the Trinity River, and thus began the settlement of East Texas. But Austin’s success in obtaining a confirmation of his contract and his energetic prosecution of affairs soon turned the tide in his favor, and by the following year the stipulated number of 300 families had arrived. He was favored by the fact that, until after the general colonization law of the state of Coahuila-Texas was passed in March, 1825, Austin was the only empresario who had authority to settle families in Texas and secure them valid titles to their lands. This not only resulted in the rapid completion of the colony numbers, but also gave Austin opportunity to select his settlers and reject unworthy applicants. Austin’s management in this latter particular was no doubt an important factor in the subsequent welfare of all Texas.

The commissioner appointed by the governor to survey the lands was Baron de Bastrop, who had been so instrumental in the beginning of the colony. He was also instructed by the governor, in a letter of July 26, 1823. to lay out the capital town of the colony, to which the governor gave the name San Felipe de Austin.

Austin’s position was no sinecure, even after he had settled all the legal affairs of his colony. The government was practically in his hand'' for the next five years, and the tact, ability and patience with which he directed it confirm his right to the title of Father of Texas. His colonists were in the main independent, aggressive, vigorous Americans, abiding by the fundamental rules of law and society, but not submissive to any restraints and quick to suspect imposition. Although in enrolling themselves as settlers they had accepted the conditions which prescribed the payment to Austin of 12 ½ cents an acre for their land, when the time came to make payment the majority opposed the charge and burdened their leader with much unmerited abuse, forgetting the self-sacrificing hardships that Austin had undergone in the first stages of the enterprise. They claimed that he was speculating on their efforts, and furthermore that, when certain poorer settlers were given lands free, he was discriminating. The result was that he had to forego his claim to these fees, and from the sale of his premium lands received only a small share of his original investment. But when finally relieved of the active administration of the colony, after having borne with wonderful patience the cabalous and open dissatisfaction of the settlers, he had on the whole managed his enterprise with such wisdom that he retained the respect and gratitude of his own colony and remained to the close of his life the best loved man in Texas.



Mexico’s first national colonization law, which was promulgated by Iturbide on January 4, 1823, guaranteed the liberty, property, and civil rights of all immigrants who professed the Roman Catholic religion, and to encourage their settlement in the empire agreed to give them lands on very liberal terms. Colonists who engaged in farming were to receive not less than a labor (177 acres) of land, and those who engaged in stock raising received not less than a sitio, or league of land, containing 4,428 acres. Since most colonists would naturally follow both occupations, this provision was strikingly generous. Practically the only conditions imposed upon settlers were the religious qualification just mentioned and improvement of their lands within two years under pain of forfeiture.

The empresario system was recognized and empresarios, or contractors, who introduced 200 families into the empire were entitled to a premium of three haciendas and two labors of land. A hacienda was equivalent to five sitios or 22,140 acres; but no one might receive more than nine haciendas and six labors — some 200,000 acres — no matter how many families he might introduce. Moreover, empresarios were required to alienate two-thirds of their premium lands within twenty years.

Natives were to have the preference in the distribution of the public lands; particularly those citizens who had been enrolled in the army of the Three Guarantees — the army which won independence from Spain.

The overthrow of Iturbide and the annulment of all laws passed during his reign prevented this decree from going into operation. The sovereign constituent congress, while working on the constitution, framed a general colonization law which was promulgated on August 18, 1824. With a few restrictions, this authorized each state to adopt colonization laws, arranging details so as not to conflict with the national laws and constitution. The principal restrictions prescribed by this decree were: (1) That without the consent of the general government no colony should be settled within twenty leagues of a neighboring country, or within ten leagues of the coast; (2) that the general government should always have the right, with the approval of congress, to use any of such lands for arsenals, warehouses, or other public buildings; (3) that preference should be given in the distribution of the public lands to Mexican citizens; (4) that no one should retain title to more than eleven leagues of land, and that no transfers should be made in mortmain; (5) that no one residing outside the republic should hold lands acquired by this law; and (6) that the general government might take “such precautionary measures” as it deemed expedient “for the security of the confederation, as respects the foreigners who come to colonize,” but at the same time it was provided that congress should not have the power before 1840 to prohibit generally the entrance of foreign immigrants who came for this purpose. Congress might, however, if it were found desirable, prohibit the entrance for this purpose of foreigners from any particular nation. It was under authority of this article that congress passed the law of April 6, 1830, stopping the settlement of colonists from the United States in Texas. Empresario contracts not contrary to the laws were guaranteed.

The provisional congress of the state of Coahuila-Texas was organized in August, 1824, and while engaged in forming the state constitution passed the state colonization law under which Texas was settled. This law, dated March 24, 1825, was designed to augment “by all possible means the population” of the state. Its provisions conformed, of course, to the general rules imposed by the federal law above noted. All foreigners must become Mexican citizens and accept the national religion. The quantity of land to be assigned to each foreign settler was fixed by this law as follows: To each married man or head of family, one labor if an agriculturist, or one league if he combined agriculture and stock-raising; to each single man, one-fourth of this quantity, to be increased to the regular allotment when he married. Those who immigrated at their own expense and settled in a colony within six years after its establishment received, if a married man, an additional labor, or, if unmarried, a third instead of a fourth of the regular quantity. Out of this system resulted the various quantities of land comprised under the old Mexican titles, some titles covering a league and a labor, others a single league, a third of a league, a quarter league, down to a single labor and fractions thereof.

This law also provided for colonization by empresarios or contractors. Each empresario who undertook to introduce 100 or more families, on his proposal being approved by the government, should have a definite tract of vacant lands assigned for the settlement of his colonists. His premium for each 100 families that he colonized was fixed at five leagues and five labores.

Immediately after the passage of this law, those who had been applicants during the pendency of this legislation presented their petitions for empresario grants, and they were followed in the course of a few years by others, until nearly all the available lands of Texas were assigned among the various contractors. It is necessary to explain here that the contractors had no proprietary rights in the lands thus assigned. A tract was set aside to them, for a definite period of years, during which they were privileged to introduce colonists, and the permission of the empresario was required before the government commissioner would survey or issue a certificate of title to the settler. But the title was issued by the government and not by the empresario, and the title of the individual settler was unaffected by the subsequent failure of the empresario to complete his contract with the state. The design of the law was that the sole advantage to the empresario should consist in the premium lands granted to him on condition that he introduce 100 or more families. Nevertheless, through lack of perfect understanding of the relations of the empresarios, some extensive frauds were committed in Europe and the United States. The empresarios were represented as actual owners of the lands, and “scrip” was sold to the extent of thousands of dollars to unsuspecting purchasers. This “scrip” was, of course, worthless, and on arriving in Texas its holders found that they could secure titles to land only from the government and according to the provisions of the laws above described.

Austin himself was one of the first to take advantage of the colonization laws to introduce another colony in addition to the 300 families whom he had settled by 1824. He forwarded his first petition to the general government in 1824, asking to introduce several hundred families through Galveston as port of entry. His petition as finally approved by the state government and signed by Austin on June 4, 1825, provided for the introduction of 500 families, who were to be located on the unoccupied lands within the limits of his first colony, the contract being limited to six years from the date of signing. As the limits of the first colony had never been officially designated, an order dated March 7, 1827, described the boundaries of the colony as follows: Beginning on the San Jacinto River, ten leagues from the coast, up the river to its source and thence in a line to the Nacogdoches-San Antonio road, this road being the northern boundary, and the western boundary was the Lavaca River and a line from its source to the above-named road.

On April 22, 1828, Austin was granted the right, by special consent of the president of the republic, to colonize with three hundred families the ten-league reserve on the coast, between the San Jacinto and Lavaca rivers. This extended Austin’s colonies from the San Antonio road to the coast, comprising what is now the most populous portion of Southeast Texas. Another contract undertaken by Austin. November 20. 1827. was for the settlement of one hundred families on the east side of the Colorado above the San Antonio road. A later contract, of Austin and Williams, covered a portion of the other grants south of the San Antonio road, and extended north of that road between the Colorado River and the dividing ridge between the Brazos and Trinity to a line above the present site of Waco.

One of the most important colonies outside of Austin’s was DeWitt’s. Green DeWitt was at Mexico seeking a contract in 1822, when Austin arrived at the capital. His application was delayed several years until the general laws were enacted, his contract being granted April 15, 1825. His assignment of lands lay on the southwest of Austin’s, extending from the ten-league coast reserve with the Lavaca as its northeast boundary, the San Antonio road on the northwest, and on the southwest a line two leagues beyond and parallel with the Guadalupe River. In the war for independence this colony was the most exposed to Mexican invasion, Gonzales, the capital of the colony, being the first to suffer the vengeance of Santa Anna after the fall of the Alamo.

DeWitt contracted to introduce four hundred families, but at the time his contract expired in 1831 only 166 titles had been issued, and the government refused to extend his contract.

Between DeWitt’s grant and the coast, along the Guadalupe, was the territory assigned to Martin de Leon, whose contract was made in 1825. Victoria was the principal center of this colony.

Haden Edwards had also been in Mexico at the time Austin was there, and on April 18, 1825, he was given a contract to introduce eight hundred families about Nacogdoches, his lands being comprised within the territory between Austin’s colony on the west, the ten-league coast reserve on the South, the twenty-league reserve on the East, and on the North was bounded by a line fifteen leagues north of the town of Nacogdoches.

Other empresario contracts that should be mentioned chiefly because of their relation to subsequent land litigation were:

Robert Leftwich obtained a contract April 15, 1825, for a tract on the Navasota River, between the San Antonio road and the Brazos and Colorado rivers. The contract was subsequently carried by Sterling C. Robertson and Alex. Thompson, and the colony was known as the Nashville or Robertson’s colony.

James Power and James Hewitson, from Ireland, contracted June 11, 1828, to colonize the vicinity of Aransas Bay; a second contract of 1830 covered a portion of the territory between the Nueces and Guadalupe rivers. The first colony marked the beginning of Refugio County.

John McMullen and Patrick McGloin, also Irishmen, August 17, 1828, contracted for a settlement on the Nueces River, their enterprises being commemorated in the present San Patricio County.

Lorenzo de Zavala was granted colonization rights, March 12, 1829, to lands lying west of the Sabine between Nacogdoches and the coast.

Joseph Vehlein’s contracts, dated December 22, 1826, and November 17, 1828, covered land in East Texas, lying partly in the Haden Edwards tract.

David G. Burnet’s contract, December 22, 1826, was for settlement along the Navasota and Trinity rivers and about the San Antonio road.

The last three mentioned contracts were assigned in 1830 to the “Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company,” a New York company who issued large quantities of worthless “scrip” against the lands.



The nineteenth century was the poor man’s golden age in the American West. The discontented wage worker had the knowledge that a hundred or a few hundred miles away lay the unlimited public domain, and with a minimum of capital and equipment he could be working for himself. With no great disparity between the living condition of the well-to-do and the newcomer, all shared the confidence that time and industry would bring security and independence. Physical toil and hardship, with a very modest degree of initiative and enterprise, were never better rewarded than in the settlement of the Western states.

In the new Texas colonies the years 1825 and 1826 passed off comparatively quietly. The tide of emigration continued to flow in, and the colonists were prosperous. A trade had recently opened between New Orleans and the colony, which enabled the colonists to obtain the long-wished luxury, coffee and sugar, on which they feasted to the full; they were also able to treat their wives and daughters to a calico dress and themselves and sons to a pair of shoes, a thing which they had not had for several years, and which were kept to wear on Sunday, or in attending a merry-making. Many of the noble dames still donned their buckskin skirts.

The same conditions that encouraged the aspirations of the industrious and law-abiding in their struggles also favored the unfit, the shiftless and the turbulent. Texas long had an undeserved reputation for general lawlessness and looseness, due to exaggeration of individual or specific incidents. However, it is important not to minimize such elements in the history of the period now under consideration.