[Photo: From Huson's Refugio and Oberste's Texas Irish Empresarios] September 29, 1826, James Hewetson, describing himself as a Mexican citizen by law and an inhabitant of Monclova, applied to the Governor of Coahuila and Texas, on behalf of himself and James Power (described as a foreigner and a native of Ireland), for permission to colonize the ten littoral leagues of Texas between the Nueces river and Lavaca creek, and between the Trinity and the Sabine rivers, and also the twenty border leagues adjoining the United States, and extending forty leagues up the Sabine river. The applicants proposed to introduce within these areas four hundred families of good moral character and of the Catholic religion, half of whom should be native Mexicans and half natives of Ireland. [Hewetson to Governor, Application, September 29, 1826, Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office; also recorded Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]
It will be remembered that the General Colonization Law of Mexico provided that no lands lying within the area covered by said application could be colonized without previous approbation of the General Supreme Executive Power. [General Colonization Law, August 18, 1824 (Art. 4), G. L. I, 97-98; Colonization Law of Coatiuila and Texas, March 24, 1825, G. L. I, 99-106; Instructions to Commissioners, Decree No. 9, September 4, 1827 (Art. 5) G. L. I, I80-184]
At the time Hewetson presented his petition none of the littoral or border leagues had been permitted to be colonized by anyone, with the sole exception of Austin's first colony. Austin's colony included the littoral leagues between the Lavaca and the Trinity; however, it had been conceded several years prior to the enactment of the colonization laws in force in 1826. The reasons for the restriction of colonization in the littoral and border leagues are obvious. Mexico feared the encroachment of the Colossus of the North on her eastern border and was apprehensive of the coast failing into enemy hands. It followed that the power which controlled the coast controlled Texas. Yet Mexico was really desirous of developing Texas. The idea of a colony composed of native Mexicans and native Irish, whose devotion to the common religion could not be questioned and whose independence of American policies was taken for granted, was one quite likely to appeal to the Supreme Power of Mexico.
Although the only Irish colonies actually settled in Texas were those brought by Power and Hewetson and McMullen and McGloin, the idea of settling Texas with Irish Catholics was not original with those empresarios. As early as 1800 Father John Brady, a Carmelite, then residing in Louisiana, sought permission of the viceroy to move to Texas. His petition being supported by letters of recommendation from high sources, the request was granted. [Castaneda, Catholic Heritage, V, 228]
Whether he availed himself of the privilege is obscure, but in 1804 he and one Bernardo Martin Despallier, also of Louisiana, applied to the Spanish government for permission to settle 1,500 Catholic families in Texas and requested also that a port be opened for the proposed colony. Governor Elguezabel was favorable to the proposition and suggested to his superiors that such a colony might be suitably located on the Guadalupe river near the coast. The proposal was finally approved by the Spanish authorities, but Father Brady "withdrew from the enterprise," and his partner failed to put it through. [Castaneda, Catholic Heritage, V, 297-302; Lamer Papers IV, pt. 1, 283].
The colonists proposed to be introduced by Brady were to be French creoles of Louisiana, whom he represented as being dissatisfied with American rule. In 1822 Tadeo Oritz de Ayala presented to the Mexican government a plan for colonizing Texas with Irish and Canary Islanders. He obtained authority to make the experiment. He planted a colony on the Goatazocoalco river, with such success that he was thereafter considered an authority on the subject of colonization. [Kelly and Hatcher, Tadto Ortiz de Ayala a»d the Colonization of Texas, 1822-1833, 32 Q 74]
In later years he seemed to have changed his mind as to the desirability of Irish as colonists, as we shall presently see. From what has been said, the proposal of Power and Hewetson was as bold as it was pretentious and was one which required gravest reflection on the part of the Mexican officials. Nor was opposition from outside sources lacking. Stephen F. Austin, as has been said, had been apprized, no doubt, of the intention of the Irishmen to seek this rare concession; and he undertook to anticipate them. Accordingly, on June 5, 1826, he addressed the governor on the subject of the necessity of annexing additional portions of the littoral leagues to his pre-existing colonies. [Austin to Governor, June 5, 1826, Austin Papers, I, 1353].
Colonel Austin at that time stood in high favor with Mexican officialdom, and any wish of his was given preferred consideration. Then, too, Martin de Leon exerted great influence in governmental circles, and he was opposed on principle to the extension of Nordic colonization in Texas. Furthermore, the interests of De Leon were directly involved in the proposal, as he contended that his colony projected into the littoral leagues.
The application of Power and Hewetson, together with the detailed report and recommendations of the state authorities, were in due time transmitted to the Supreme Executive Power for determination. There the matter remained until April 22, 1828, when the application was approved insofar as it related to the littoral leagues between the Lavaca and Nueces rivers. [Canedo to Secretary of State and Home Affairs, April 22, 1828, Tr. Emp. Cont. Gs Land Office, Retugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]
The record was then referred back to the Coahuiltexian authorities for such action as they might choose to take within the limits of the Federal approbation. The state authorities at this stage appear to have become more conservative, as the contract which they agreed upon would indicate.
On June 11, 1828, the State of Coahuila and Texas, acting by Governor José María Viesca, and James Power and James Hewetson, acting by their agent, Victor Blanco, entered into the following contract, which restricted the area to be colonized, to that lying between the Guadalupe and Lavaca rivers:
City of Leona Vicario, this eleventh day of the month of June of the year One thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight. The citizen Victor Blanco, having presented himself with the foregoing power of attorney, the original of which, is hereunto annexed, to contract with the Government, in the name of his principal, the conditions and manner upon which the Colony he solicits, may be established, a contract was entered upon the terms and stipulations expressed in the following articles.
Art. 1st. Taking for granted the approval of the Supreme Government, for the establishment of this enterprise, as appears by a resolution passed April 22d, last past. This Government, admits the project offered by Mr. James Hewetson, and Mr. James Power, so far as it is in accordance with the colonization law of the State, of 24th March, 1825, and hereby designated the Territory, within which they are to colonize, by the following boundaries. Beginning on the left bank of the river Guadalupes at the angular point, where it empties into the sea. Thence following the line of the Sea coast Eastwards, to the mouth LaVaca Creek; thence with the right bank of this creek, precise distance of Ten Leagues; Thence a line shall be Westwards, parallel with the Coast, on a border of Ten leagues until it meets the river Guadalupe, and thence downwards, the left bank of this river, to the place of beginning.
Art. 2d. The Empresarios are bound to introduce, at their own expense, into the Territory and settle upon the land, above described, Two hundred families, in lieu of the four hundred, they have offered, and it is an express condition, that one half of this Colony, must be composed of Mexican families, and the other half foreigners from Ireland.
Art. 3rd. All possessors with legal titles, which may be found within the limits designated in Art. 1st, shall be respected by the Colonists, of this Contract, and it is obligatory on the Empresarios to see this duty executed and fulfilled.
Art. 4th. It is an express condition, that where any lands may by their locality, and other circumstances, be useful or advantageous for the Construction of Forts, Wharves, or Warehouses, for the defense of the Port, or other public purpose,, the Empresarios shall have no right to prevent the occupation of any such desirable points, which may be adaptable to public use, either as above mentioned, or not herein expressed.
Art. 5th. In conformity with the law of 24th March, 1825, the Empresarios are bound to introduce, and establish, the two hundred families, spoken of in Art. 2d, within the term of six years, from this date, under the penalty of forfeiting the rights and privileges granted to them by said law.
Art. 6th. The families besides being Catholics, as required by law, must be of good moral habits, accrediting the same, by certificates from the Authorities of the place from whence they emigrate.
Art. 7th. It is obligatory on the Empresarios neither to introduce, or permit in their Colony, Criminals, Vagrants, or men of bad character. They will cause all such as may be found, under any of these circumstances to leave this district, and in case of resistance, eject them by force of arms.
Art. 8th. For this purpose and whenever there may be a sufficient number of men, the National local Militia shall be formed, in strict conformity with the regulations provided by law.
Art. 9th. Whenever One hundred families at least may have been introduced, the Empresarios will notify the Government of the fact, in order that a commissioner may be sent, to the Colonists, to give them possession of their lands, and to establish the Towns according to law, and to the instructions which will be given him.
Art. 10th. The individual applications of the New Colonists for lands, and the premium lands granted to the Empresarios being completed, those lands remaining, can only be disposed of by the Government, as provided by law.
Art. 11th. The official communications with the Government and with the State authorities, and all public acts and instruments of writing must be written in the Spanish language.
Art. 12th. In all matter not expressed in the foregoing articles of contract, the Empresarios and the New Colony shall be subject to the constitution and general laws of the General Government, and to the constitution and laws of the State.
And His Excellency the Governor and the Attorney for and in the name of the Empresarios, having mutually agreed to all and each one of the articles of this present contract, they reciprocally bound themselves to the punctual fulfillment of the same, before me, the Secretary of State, signing the same in testimony thereof, and the original documents remaining in the Archives of this office, a certified copy of all of them was ordered to be given to the parties interested for their security. Leona Vicario, 11th June, 1828. José María Viesca Victor Blanco Juan Antonio Padilla Secretary of State of the State of Coahuila & Texas. [Empresario Contract with Power and Hemetson, June 11, 1828, Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office, Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]
Not only was the area of the empresa reduced to a small fraction of what the empresarios had confidently expected to receive, but the contract immediately provoked bitter controversy and outspoken denunciation. Martin de Leon protested that the concession infringed his prior rights. The public criticism and denunciations made by outstanding Mexican leaders threatened not only to extinguish the two Irish colonies before they became actualities, but to extinguish all other Nordic colonies (with exception of Austin's and DeWitt's) as well. On March 10, 1828, General Manuel Mier y Teran arrived in Bexar en route to the Sabine, where he was to adjust boundary disputes with the United States. This eminent Mexican had been secretly commissioned by his government to observe conditions in Texas and make confidential reports thereon. He remained in Texas for a year, returning through La Bahia to Matamoros. He explored or inspected most of the important sites in Texas and probably visited Refugio Mission and Live Oak Point. Upon his return to Mexico he recommended that Texas be garrisoned with convict-soldiers, and that new forts be erected at strategic places, including Lipantitlan, on the Nueces, La Bahia, Victoria, and Aranzazu, on Live Oak Point. As a result of his report the famous decree of April 6, 1830, was enacted by the Mexican Congress. In 1829 Teran was appointed Commandante of the Eastern Internal Province of Mexico (including Texas) and moved his troops into Texas in 1830. [Wharton, Texas Under Many Flags, Vol. I, pp. 181-188 (excellent); Barker, Texas and Mexico 1821-1835, 52-64; Howren, Causes and Origin of the Decree of April 6, 1830, 16 Q. 378; For biography of General Teran, see Morton, Life of General Don Manuel de Mier y Teran, 46 Q. 22]
He strengthened the garrison at La Bahia and built the mud fort at Lipantitlan and for a time maintained a garrison at Aranzazu and possibly one at the south end of St. Joseph's Island. Bancroft says
In 1830 Tadeo Ortiz de Ayala (who had proposed an Irish Colony in 1822) submitted to the Mexican government a plan to settle the 20 border leagues adjoining the United States and "all of the sea shore from Bahia de Sabinas to the Rio Grande" (the 10 littoral leagues) with Swiss and Germans. In 1832 he appears to have visited Texas. On February 2, 1833, he transmitted to the Secretary of Relaciones an extensive report on Texas and recommendations as to colonization and internal administration. Of the two Irish colonies he has to say"
Ortiz was eventually appointed National Colonization Commissioner and in 1883 began his work by going to the United States. He died at New Orleans of cholera on October 18. It is interesting to note that on August 14, 1833, he petitioned the government to grant him ten leagues of land along the gulf coast as well as the island of Bergantine, off Matagorda Bay, or Saint Joseph's, in Aransas Bay, "so that he might not be a burden upon the nation in his old age." Kelly & Hatcher, Tadeo Ortiz de Ayala and the Colonization of Texas, 1822-1833, 32 Q. 74, 152, 222, 311 (337); Kelly & Hatcher, Tadeo Ortiz de Ayala, 32 Q. 338, 343]
Almost a year had elapsed since their empresa had been conceded to them, and Power and Hewetson saw that, with De Leon's controversy confronting them, they could make no progress. Therefore, on March 13, 1829, Hewetson represented to the governor that the area which had been granted theretofore was too small a one within which to settle 400 families and entreated that he and his partner be granted an augmentation to include the littoral leagues from the Guadalupe to the limits of the State of Tamaulipas (Nueces river). [Hewetson to Governor, Memorial, March 13, 1829. Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office. Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp 637-647]
In order to strengthen their position, Power had become a naturalized Mexican citizen on February 6, 1829. [Decree No. 75, Naturalization of Power, February 6, 1829. G. L. 1, 223]
The memorial was granted; and on April 2, 1829, a contract was made augmenting the concession of June 11, 1828,15 in the following form and manner [Contract of Augmentation, April 2, 1829, Tr. Emp. Coat. General Land Office, Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]:
The choice morsel was soon discovered to contain bitter with the sweet. The augmentation immediately involved the empresarios in a triangular difficulty, which eventually made the venture a loss to the contractors. The points of the controversial triangle were (1) the irrascible Martin de Leon, who this time had a just cause of grievance, inasmuch as a part of his town of Victoria fell within the augmentation; (2) the ayuntamiento of Goliad, which was apprehensive that the concession invaded its ancient territorial jurisdiction and infringed the rights of numerous of its citizens who, had either already received, or were hoping to receive, grants of land then in their possession; and (3) the claimants and occupants of lands which had theretofore appertained to the extinguished Goliad and Refugio missions. Most of the claimants or occupants of the mission lands were Spanish and Mexican residents of the Goliad-Refugio-Victoria area, some of whom claimed to have been in possession since 1810. [Cases in which Refugio Mission lands or prior grants involved: White v. Holliday, 11 Tex. 606, 20 Tex. 679; Hamilton v. Menefee, 11 Tex. 718, 32 Tex. 495; Musquiz v. Blake, 24 Tex. 461; Word v. McKinney, Adm. 25 Tex. 258; Holliday v. Cromwell, 26 Tex. 188 34 Tex. 464; Luter v. Mayfield, 26 Tex. 325; Teal v. Sevier, 26 Tex. 516, 33 Tex. 78; Sabriego v. White, 30 Tex. 576; Galan v. Town of Goliad, 32 Tex. 776; Weir v. Van Bibber, 34 Tex. 227; Holliday v. Harvey, 39 Tex. 671; Blow & Morris v. de la Garza Heirs, 42 Tex. 232; Teal v. Terrell, 48 Tex. 491; Bass v. Sevier, 55 Tex. 561. See also rentals m colonial grants in Refugio and Goliad counties with regard to prior possession and efforts to obtain titles before the Power and Hewetson colony].
However, some of the lands were claimed by outsiders, among them being Juan Martin Veramendi, of Bexar, who the next year was appointed lieutenant-governor of Coahuila and Texas and who, upon the death of Letona, in 1832, became governor of the state. Veramendi is of interest to Texas histrophiles as being one of the commissioners who met Stephen F. Austin in 1821 and as being the father-in-law of James Bowie. [Chabot. With the Makers of San Antonio, 242-244].
Veramendi had received title in 1822 or 1823 to six leagues of the Refugio mission lands, in a distribution made at Bexar of lands belonging to secularized or extinguished missions. José Antonio Navarro was commissioner who assisted in the distribution. [Navarro's testimony, McMullen v. Hodge, 5 Tex. 33; see McGehee v. Dwyer, 22 Tex. 436]
The ayuntamiento of Goliad had itself undertaken to make grants to its citizens or amigotes of mission and other public lands. [Refugio and Goliad Deed Records show many titles attempted to be issued by the ayuntamicnto of Goliad between 1826 and 1834].
This it had done and was doing without a vestige of lawful authority. These ultra vires acts gave the holders of quondam titles thereunder basis for contention and argument, and a scintilla of claims to priority. Last but not least were the claims of the Indian families who had remained faithful to Refugio mission to the last and were still living on its former lands. A list of these families was attached to the orders pertaining to sale of the Mission's physical properties, discussed later; but this list has become lost. Father Oberste states that at the time of the secularization there were twelve Karankawas with their chief attached to Refugio and with them were eight Cocos, two of them pagans. [Oberste, History of Refugio Mission, 324]
The first angle to be disposed of was the right of the empresarios to the mission lands. On April 21, 1830, Power and Hewetson addressed the governor on the subject, requesting an adjudication of their rights in connection with lands of extinguished missions lying within their empresa. In the same petition they asked authority to establish the capital town of their colony at the site of the Mission of Refugio. [Power to Viesca, Petition, April 21, 1830. Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office; Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647. See letters of Power and Hewetson to Governor, dated June 6, and July 3, 1830. Tr. Emp. Cont.]
This memorial reads as follows:
On the same day Governor Viesca made the following order [Viesca to Power to Hewetson, Order, April 21, 1830, Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office, Refrgio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]:
Although the project of founding a pueblo at the site of Refugio Mission had thus received executive approval, it was thought that any doubt as to the Governor's authority should be removed by legislative enactment. [Power and Hewetson, to Governor, June 6, July 3, 1830. Tr. Emp. Coat].
Accordingly, on April 29, 1831, the state congress enacted a decree authorizing the executive to alienate the lands that pertained to the extinguished missions, conforming in so doing to the colonization law of 1825. The town property or securities that pertained to said missions were required to be sold at public auction according to law. [Decree No. 177, Coahuila and Texas, G. L. I, 292].
Governor Letona, on May 25, 1831, issued the following instructions with regard to the mission lands and properties [Letona, Order, May 25, 1831. Tr. Emp. Cont. General Land Office, Refdsio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647] :
Executive Department Free State of Coahuila and Texas. In view of the decree No. 177 of the Honorable Congress of the State, authorizing the disposal of the lands, and sale by auction, to the highest bidder, of the Town property belonging to the extinct Mission of Refugio, and in consideration of the solicitations made to the Government by the citizens James Power, and James Hewetson, and also of the reports which your Honor has made on the same subject, under date of the 6th June and 3rd July of the past year 1830, and of the documents on file in relation to this matter, I have thought proper, in order that the said law should be better understood, to issue the following instructions.
1st. Each of the families, or single persons, whose names appear on the annexed list, and belonging to the Mission of the Espiritu Santo, shall receive the quantity of lands, to which they are entitled, according to the provisions of Art. 14 and 15 of the Colonization law of the State, which land shall be given to them, within the area, which appertained to said Mission, and so apportioned to those families, and individuals, as to intermix them with the other settlers, giving them to understand that they are bound to cultivate it, in strict conformity with the law aforesaid.
2d. To each of the families or single persons above mentioned., a yoke of oxen, or bulls, with the necessary farming utensils, will be given to them gratis, by the citizens Power and Hewetson, who have voluntarily engaged so to do, as contractors for the Colony, the area of which embraces the land heretofore known as lands of the Mission of Refugio.
3d. The parties receiving the Oxen or bulls, shall not kill or sell them, and should they at any time alienate their lands, the animals- aforesaid, shall, if still in existence, be returned to the Empresarios, nevertheless understood, that, should they have died or have been lost in their service, they shall not be bound to replace them.
4th. The said Empresarios are obligated to receive into their Colony, all Mexican families, who may present themselves as settlers, provided they possess the necessary qualifications, and therefore, the inhabitants of Goliad, and others, who have applied to the Government for lands, at that point, can present themselves to the Empresarios, aforesaid, who shall receive them, as settlers, to be included in the number of families they have contracted for.
5th. As it appears by the information already referred to, that the point most eligible for the establishment of-the Town or City of the colony, of Power and Hewetson, is that which has been occupied by said Mission of Refugio, that place is designated, as the site for the town, provided no other spot should be found better adapted to the purpose, in conformity with the provisions of Article 34 of the colonization law, and therefore the Town property still existing, will be sold to the highest bidder, in the manner and on the terms prescribed by Article 2 of Decree 177, as aforesaid.
6th. The amount of the proceeds of sales of the Town property, aforesaid, whether in. specie, or in drafts payable at sight, will be delivered over to the Judge, whose jurisdiction it is to preside at the sale, so that it may be paid into the Treasury of the State, without delay. God and Liberty. Leona Vicario, 25th May 1831 (Signed) Letona (Signed) Santiago del Valle, Secretary
The empresarios satisfied the Indians of Refugio Mission, apparently by providing them with teams, carts and implements, and giving them exclusive use and possession of a considerable tract of land in the neighborhood of Goliad. The latter, of course, did not improve existing relations with the ayuntamiento of Goliad.
The claims of most of the local Spanish and Mexican settlers were satisfied without great difficulty or delay. Under the empresario contract these persons had the right to become colonists and obtain grants through the colonial commissioner. This most of them did. In a few instances the prior settlers purchased the lands desired by them direct from the state, which they had the privilege of doing. Some few of them adopted both methods and thus obtained larger quantities of land than they could have obtained as colonists only.
The Veramendi claim was not easily disposed of and remained pending until after 1833. The Veramendi heirs were attempting to reopen the matter as late as 1835. The origin of the Veramendi claim is interesting. In 1827 Veramendi, who was a native of Bexar, obtained a grant of eleven leagues at the junction of the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers. The grant was found to be in conflict with prior rights. On November 29, 1829, Veramendi petitioned for an exchange of six of these leagues to a more eligible location "on account of the hostility of the.Indians. On October 6 he was given permission to make the exchange. On June 2, 1831, he petitioned for the privilege of locating the six leagues on lands of the Mission of Refugio, located on Mission river and which were then claimed to be vacant. The petition was granted; and as Power and Hewetson were disputing his right to possession, Veramendi obtained an amparo (similar to injunction), allowing him to be placed in possession until a commissioner should be appointed to give him possession "in form." Veramendi went into possession under the amparo, constructed buildings and planted a community of ranch hands thereon, and stocked it with 1,000 head of cattle. He then applied to Vidaurri, the commissioner of Power and Hewetson colony, for grant and formal possession. This being refused, appeal was made to the Supreme Government, which sustained the decision of Vidaurri and the empresarios, and title was never issued. [McGehee r. Dwyer, 22 Tex. 436; see also McMullen v. Hodge, 5 Tex. 33]
The fact that Veramendi was governor of the state from November, 1832, to February 7, 1833, made the situation most delicate and difficult for the empresarios. The Veramendi claim seems to have been disposed of in 1833 or 1834. [Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio, 243-244. Lamar Paers, IV, pt. 1, 240-241].
The friction with Martin de Leon, which was an extension and intensification of the original controversy, proved the most serious obstacle to actual colonization. De Leon, as has been stated, disliked Americans and Nordics, and consistently opposed all colonization contracts to foreigners. When he conceived that his own private rights were being encroached upon, he grew even more bitter and militant. Upon learning of the first Power and Hewetson contract, of 1828, he and the ayuntamiento of Goliad, (which was dominated by his family) petitioned the governor to "declare the contract null and void and allow the lands to remain to be distributed to the individuals of Goliad, or for the benefit of De Leon." [Henderson, Minor Empresario Contracts, 32 Q. 9]
De Leon now claimed that he had obtained a contract with the revolutionary government at Bexar, in 1812, to settle the lands. There was no record of any such contract; and if such had been made, it would have been of doubtful validity. [Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 239-241]
But the contention served as a scintilla of a prior equity, which might give government officials in sympathy with his views, an excuse for a favorable decision. The governor in this instance was not sympathetic to De Leon's claims. He answered that "neither, law, reason, nor that decorum which should be observed by the executive, can justify the annulment of the contract made with the aforesaid Power and Hewetson merely to gratify the wishes of those individuals." [Henderson, Minor Empresario contracts, 32 Q. 9]
The augmentation having been granted about this time, De Leon, aided by Ramon Musquiz, the Jefe Politico at Bexar, took his protests and appeals to the Federal Executive direct. Musquiz, like De Leon did not favor colonization by foreigners and is said to have been personally interested in the matter. He claimed to own six leagues on the Lavaca river,31 the title to which like those of the others was "inchoate." [Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 239-241]
The Federal Executive referred the matter for report to General Manuel Mier y Teran, Commandante General of the Eastern Internal Provinces. [Henderson, Minor Empresario contracts, 32 Q. 9]
The views of General Teran on foreign colonization already have been noted. General Teran espoused de Leon's side of the controversy. He took the position that the law of April 6, 1830, had annulled Power and Hewetson's contract. He refused to listen to Power's argument that the law in question related only to North American colonists and not to Irish and native Mexicans. Teran arbitrarily ordered Power not to survey a single foot of ground anywhere within his concession on heavy penalties. The Irishmen could merely wait until Teran's reports were acted upon. [Henderson, Minor Empresario Contracts, 32 Q. I, see p. 9 Lemur Papers, Vol. 4 (pt 1) p. 240]
On December 23, 1831, the vice-president issued an order, as follows:
On receiving the foregoing order from the central government, the State government on March 10, 1832, issued its own order concurring. [Order of Governor, dated Leona Vicario, March 10, 1832]
However, the practical solution of the matter appears to have been left to the Political Chief at Bexar. This functionary went in person from Bexar to Victoria and conferred with de Leon and made his determination of the boundary between the two colonies. He established the Guadalupe to its junction with Coleto creek, thence up the creek to the limit of the ten littoral leagues, as the dividing line. He then went in person to Refugio and communicated his decision to Power. The latter agreed to abide thereby. [Philip Power, Memoirs Lamar Papers, Vol. 3, pp. 266-267; Bissell v. Haynes (1853) 9 Tex. 556]
This seems to have ended the disputes with de Leon, who died in the cholera epidemic of 1833. Just when the settlement was agreed to is not clear, as we have evidence of Samuel Addison White, surveyor for the Power Colony, surveying into the suburbs of Victoria as late as the summer of 1834. He testified that he was ordered to desist by Fernando de Leon. [Bissell v. Haynes (1853) 9 Tex. 556]
The ayuntamiento of Goliad, whose colorable contentions were disposed of by the settlement, never ceased to harass the Irish colony, and did so as late as the summer of 1835. The governor rebuked the ayuntamiento for its interference, and titles were finally issued in peace to the Irish colonies. [Henderson, Minor Empresario Contracts, 32 Q. 12]
Under the terms of the contract the empresarios had six years within which to introduce the required number of colonists. The Power and Hewetson contract was, therefore, due to expire June 11, 1834, and up to the spring of 1832, the empresarios had done little towards accomplishing the purpose of the contract; having been prevented thereunto by the endless disputes and controversies to which they had been subjected, as aforesaid. These disputes were not attributable to the fault of the contractors, and it seemed only equitable that they be given some additional time within which to perform. Therefore, on March 22, 1832, the state congress enacted Decree No. 184, granting Power and Hewetson a three-year additional term within which to fulfill their contract. [Decree No. 184, Coahuila-and Texas, dated March 22, 1832 G L Vol. I, pp 295-296]
Governor Letona died shortly after the passage of this decree. He was succeeded by vice-governor J. M. Veramendi, who had been at loggerheads with the empresarios but a few months before. Veramendi upon assuming office declared that the decree extending the time was in contravention of the 9th article of the General Colonization Law and procured the passage in April, 1833, of Decree No. 226, rescinding Decree No. 184. [Decree No. 226, Coahuila and Texas, dated April 3, 1833 G. L. Vol. 1, pp. 321-322]
It is said that he was induced to do this because he had made locations for himself within the empresa. At the time the extension was revoked, James Power had started on his way to Ireland, in ignorance of such adverse action [Lamar Papers, Vol. 4 (pt. 1) p. 239]
SONS OF DEWITT