SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-1999, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
DeWitt Colony People & Demographics-Slavery

 

Correspondence regarding Slavery in Texas

.......am in good easy sircumstances with a good name among both white & collored people.....have 2 boys both about grown & both steady hard working boys......If you know the date of my birth please let me know. also whether my father is living & if he is where he is now living. Also when he was sold and to whom. My mother has been dead 13 years. all the children are dead also. Rember me to your children And always rember me as your boy (Signed) Morris Mitchel---Freed slave to former DeWitt Colony owner 1894

Receipt for Slave Richmond Jan 1821
Austin to Lovelace Nov 1822
Austin to Jared E. Groce Oct 1823
Nixon to Austin Nov 1823
San Felipe Regulations Jan 1824
Austin to Castleman Apr 1824
Randall Jones to Austin Jun 1824
Instructions to Deputy Jun 1824
Slavery Petition to Congress Jun 1824
Memorial to Legislature Dec 1824
Phelps to Austin Jan 1825
Nathaniel Cox to Austin Apr 1825
Westall to Austin Apr 1825
Bean to Austin Jul 1826
Thompson/Payton to Sproul Aug 1826
Austin to Emily M. Perry Aug 1826
JEB Austin to Austin Aug 1826
Austin to Saucedo Sep 1826
JEB Austin to Austin Sep 1826
Austin to Fullerton Oct 1826
JEB Austin to Austin Oct 1826
Rankin to Austin Dec 1826
Ellis to Austin Jan 1828
Pres. Guerrero's Edict 1829
Austin to Breedlove Oct 1829
Ellis to Austin Jan 1830
Austin to Ellis et al. Jun 1830
Austin to S. Rhoads Fisher Jun 1830
S. Rhoads Fisher to Austin Aug 1830
S. Rhoads Fisher to Austin Aug 1830
Austin to Wily Martin May 1833
B.J. White to Austin Oct 1835
Santa Anna to Tornel Feb 1836
Wm.Fisher to Smith Mar 1836
José María Tornel 1837
Diary of General José Urrea 1838
Cherokee Little Bean May 1839
Mitchell to Former Owner 1894
Tejano Support for Slavery

 

Receipt for Slave Richmond 22 Jan 1821 [Richmond accompanied S.F. Austin on his first trip to Bexar-WLM]
Received from Moses Austin a Negro man by the name of Richmond the property of Stephen Fuller Austin esqr who is now so diseased that he is not able to travel and who is placed under the care of Doct Rivers and in case of his Removal to be placed under some Other if Necessary, to be restored to health, now be it remembered. that so soon as said Negro man is in a situation to labour I agree to pay Twelve Dollars pr month for the hire of said Negro and which money so accruing-from the labour of said Negro is to be retained in my bands to discharge Doct Rivers bill and any other Docts Bill if any other is employed and also his board untill he commences labour, Unless the said expences are other wise discharged either by the said Stephen Fuller Austin or the said Austin or there order in which case I promis to deliver said Negro man Richmond to the said Austin or his son or there order Death and other Circumstances not with in the Control of the Undersignd (Excepted) Twelve Dollars is to be allowd pr month for the board of said Negro untill able to labour. but if I can hire out the said Negro man for more than Twelve Dollars pr month I am to do so and account to the said Austin for the same. Douglass Forsythe [Rubric] Jany 22th 1821 Joshua Parker [Witness?]
Sr Mr Hugh McGuffen has full authority to call for the within Named Negro man Richmond and Receive him on discharging his bills of expence Feby 10 1821
To Douglass Forsythe Esq Recd the within named negro from D. Forsythe July 15, 1821. S.F. Austin

Austin to Edward Lovelace [or Josiah Bell?] City of Mexico November 22nd 1822
Dr SIR When I arrived here Congress were sitting but progressing very slowly, the discord and jealousy manifested from the first day of the session of Congress against the Generalissimo Iturbide (now Emperor) was increasing daily and everything was at a stand There were three distinct parties in Congress, one for a Bourbon King, one for an Emperor from this country, and the other for a Republic, in this state of things the government was approximating towards Anarchy, when on the night of the 18 of May the army stationed in this city proclaimed Iturbide Emperor, the next day Congress elected him in due form and on the 21 he took the oath, these things put a stop to all business for some time - Agreeably to the Emperors Oath he could do nothing without the consent of Congress and this body moved most astonishingly slow and were more occupied in watching the Emperor than in attending to the interest of the country - On the 21 July the Emperor was crowned, and very soon after serious collisions began to arise between him and Congress, the latter wished to keep all power in their hands and things were getting worse every day all was at a dead stand, for Congress would do nothing for fear of granting a little power to the executive, and the Emperor could do nothing so long as Congress existed without its sanction - In this state of things it was in vain for an individual to urge his business, however important and inine with all other individual applications was laid on one sideMatters progressed in this manner from bad to worse and were again verging towards Anarchy; one dangerous conspiracy was discovered and quelled by the imprisonment of about 70, amongst whom were 20 members of Congress and at length finding that nothing but an extraordinary and desicive step could save the nation from the confusion and the established government from ruin, the Emperor desolved congress by a decree of his own on the 31 of October last and created a national Junta of his own choosing from amongst the members of Congress - since then things have gone on better and with more harmony - My business relative to the settlement is now, acting on and in less than 10 days I shall be dispatched with everything freely arranged. The principal difficulty is slavery, this they will not admit - as the law is all slaves are to be free in ten years, but I am trying to have it amended so as to make them slaves for life and their children free at 21 years - but do not think 1 shall succeed in this point, and that the law will pass as it now is, that is, that the slaves introduced by the settlers shall be free after 10 years - As regards all other matters there will be no difficulty, I will write you again from here after I get through and let you know the particulars. I am doubtful nothing can be done about getting land at or near Galveston, the government seems opposed to any settlement being formed so near the borders of the United States, when I return to Texas I will write you very fully - you must not be frightened at the name of an Imperial government, you like myself have lived under a Monarchy, when Louisiana belonged to Spain and I think we lived as happy then as under the government of the United States - The Emperor has his enemies and in the United States the Democrats will abuse him no doubt, but he is doing the best for his country. These people will not do for a Republic nothing but a Monarchy can save them from Anarchy Stephen F. Austin This is a true copy of the letter, recd from S. F. Austin. Received from Mrs. Bell and I presume was addressed to her husband Josiah H Bell. Guy M. Bryan

Austin to Jared E. Groce 19 Oct 1823
I have this day hired three negros from Jared E. Groce to wit a negro woman called Sally, a negroman called tame Jack and one called Kelly-the woman at eight dollars pr. Month and the Men at fifteen eaeh-the hire to commence on the first day of November next, and continue for one year from that date, and I hereby obligate myself to pay to said Groce the amt of said hire at the expiration of the year-A Boy called Fields is to be furnished to take care of Sally's child-The said negros are to be well treated by me, and the said Groce is to clothe them-Should they run a way or die the loss is to be Groces--sickness to be my loss Brazos River-October 19 [1823?] [STEPHEN F. AUSTIN] Octo 19th 1823 the negroes is to be returned when the hire ceases S. F. AUSTIN [Rubric]

George Nixon to Austin November 14th, 1823 Mobeel Alabama
DEAR SIR I have had the plesher to be acquanted with your Brother and am sorry that I am not acquanted with you as I intend to move to your settlement on the Colorade River, a few miles below Mr Cammons place improved by Mr. Snider I expect to be on in two or three months I have had the plesher to be come acquanted with Gen. D. Eugenio Cortes, who saled from Mexico lately and had to put in to this port in distress as the brig George sprang a leake, he wase bound to Phillidelephia, I think it my dutey to say to you that the general says to me that all negrow in the Provances of Mexico are free and that slavery will not be premited and that you have no author to grant land nor to in Vite settlers to the Provance he is acton a minestor from Maxaco to the united States from what I can learn he sayes the Maxico government has declared war against old Spane and france has dun the same-the Genral sceems to be much asstonished to see your publication in the papers. Your freaend and with respect George Nixon [Addressed:] Col. Stephen F. Austin Provance of Texas Colorado River Politness of Mr. Pack.

Hire of slave Austin to Castleman 12 Apr 1824
This is to witness that I have this day hired from Stephen F Austin judge of this Colony an African negro man named John belonging to the heirs of Richard Barret deeed for the term of three months for which I obligate myself to pay to said heirs or their representative twenty five bushels of corn to be delivered on the Brasos River next fall. St Felipe de Austin April 12, 1824 SYLVANUS CASTLEMAN

Randall Jones to Austin Fort Settlement 4th June 1824
DEAR SIR agreeable to the notice we received some of us agreed to have a meeting but I think we lack publick spirit. I would come up but our horses have been injurd by the flies so much that I could not come. My wish is that this country should populate fast and I think that nothing would facilitate that more than the admission of Slavery in this state. An act for the regestering of marks and brands also ought to claim the attention of the Legislature The increase of stock will cause difficulties. An act to prevent the killing of Deer and Wild horses for the Skins alone I think necessary also. An [act] to prevent persons from Setting the praria on fire near the Settlements would be necessary; at certain seasons if the praria was fird it would destroy our stocks. As a citizen wishing to conform to every request of my officers I have thought proper to communicate my sentiments in thiis way R. JONES [Addressed:] Col. Stephen F Austin St Felipe De Austin

Instructions to Deputy in State Congress 5 Jun 1824
At a meeting of the Inhabitants of Austin's Colony held at the Town of San Felipe de Austin on Saturday the 5 day of June 1824- The following Resolutions were adopted
lst---Resolved that a Committee of 4 persons be appointed to draft a meml, to the sovereign Congress of the Nation praying them to Grant to this Province the Privilege of raising Tobacco and selling it to the Governt---on the same terms allowed to the Towns of Cordova Orizaba etc or on such terms as the Govt---may deem just and also the privilege of raising that Article for exportation
2dly. Resolved that said Committee draft a Meml to the State Legislature praying them to admit the Emigrants to this Province to bring their slaves with them, that is should there be no prohibitory clause in the National Constitution forbidding it, And also to pass such Laws as may be deemed just and necessary to secure to the actual settlers in this Colony the safe possession of their Slaves and their increase brought into this Country under the faith of the Governmt--guaranted to them in the Colonization Law
3dly, Resolved that said Committee be Authorised to sign said Petitions with name of the Inhabitants of this Colony and to send them on to the Deputy in the Legislature of this State with instruetions to forward on the One Addressed to the Congress, supported by the Legislature of the state if it is approved of by them And to use his best endeavours to support the other in the State Legislature.
4thly- Resolved that Colonel Stephen F Austin Colonel Coln James Cummins and Coln J E Groce do compose the said Committee to Act under the foregoing Resolutions The foregoing is a correct Minute of the Proceedings at the aforesd. Meeting Lauce Richd. Kenny Clke [Endorsed by Austin:] Resolutions at Genl meeting July 5 1821

Petition concerning Slavery 10 Jun 1824
Stephen F Austin, Jared E. Groce James Cummings and Jno P Coles a Committe Unanimously appointed at a general meeting held on the 5th June instant by the Inhabitants of the Colony formed in the Province of Texas by the empresario S F Austin in the name and in the behalf of said Inhabitants respectfully represent to your sovereignty that these Colonists emigrated to this establishment from Louisiana in Consequence of the Invitation of said Austin and many of them brought their negro slaves with them as also all their property intending to establish themselves permanantly in this Province. They have been much alarmed by the news Communicated through the public Gazette that your Sovereignty were about to pass a Law freeing all the Slaves that were introduced by the emigrants. These inhabitants respectfully represent to your sovereignty that the Slaves introduced into this establishment by the emigrants were not brought here for the purpose of Trade or speculation neither are they Africans but are the family servants of the emigrants and raised by them as such from their infancy and were intended to aid in clearing the Land and establishing their farms which these Colonists Could not have effected without them for this Province is entirely uninhabited and great Labor required in Opening farms and as the Law sanctioned the introduction of slaves into the Country the emigrants felt entirely safe in bringing them. These Inhabitants therefore respectfully solicit that your sovereignty will take into Consideration the right of property they have to their slaves that they brought them here As a necessary part of the Capital required by the desert State of the Country to establish their farms and R:anches and if freed the loss of their value added to the very heavy expences of removing such a distance and settling in an entire wilderness and suffering all the miseries of Hunger, exposed to the attack of Hostile Indians will complete their total ruin- Also these Inhabitants respectfully represent that some of their friends and Relations visited this Country last spring and winter and selected their Lands as a part of the Above named 300 families After building Cabins they returned to move out their families this summer and fall and are now on the Road bringing their Slaves with them relying on the faith of the Colonization Law under which Austin's establishment is formed- Article [30] of which Law Authorises the introduction of Slaves by the Colonists those emigrants therefore who are on the Road and are detained by the excessive heat and destructive drouth that now prevades this whole Country will be totally and forever ruined if on their arrival here after so much fatigue labor and expense in removing they are to loose their Slaves and besides that be liable to heavy punishment for bringing them These Inhabitants therefore respectfully pray that your sovereignty may take their Case into Consideration and declare that the slaves and their descendents of the 300 families who emigrate to the Establishment formed by the Emprasario Stephen F Austin in this province shall be slaves for Life and that the emancipation Law which we have been informed has lately passed shall not apply to the slaves of the said 300 families except so far as prohibits all trade or trafic of them and should this solicitation be incompatible with the intentions of your sovereignty these Inhabitants pray that the necessary time may be allowed them to remove their slaves back to the United States San Felipe do Austin June 10, 1824
Signed Estevan F. Austin Jared E. Groce Santiago Cummins Juan P. Coles [To Federal Congress or Executive.]

Memorial to State Legislature 22 Dec 1824
[7 articles unrelated to slavery]
Eighth-I have received a number of Letters from respectable and wealthy people from the States of Louisiana and Mississippi asking for information whether they would be allowed to remove and settle in this Province and to bring such property as they needed for their own use particularly their Slaves-I answered them that I could not inform them on the subject but would represent to the Government and accordingly sent on a petition some time since praying for authority to settle Three hundred families more on the Trinity ,River and round the Bay of Galveston-I respectfully request information relative to my petitions that I may inform those applicants what they have to expect-their reason for wishing to move here is the unhealthiness of that Country and the inundations of the Mississippi they are all men of honor industry and property and Would greatly promote the prosperity of this Country
Ninth-As we are near the frontiers of Louisiana some Negro Slaves of that state may run away from their owners and Come to this Colony-What am I authorised to do in such a Case? If the runaway remains here, he is a nuisance to the Country-if his owner claims him and he is not given up it will destroy all harmony between the Citizens of that State and this-Also if a free man steals'a, Neo,ro from that State and brings him here how is the Crime to be punished? This is certainly a very high Crime and I think that Justice requires it should be punished to the utmost extent-and that those who bring stolen Negroes into this State ought to be chastised by Whipping heavy fine and imprisonment to hard Labour but I submit the subject to the Consideration of the Government and solicit their instructions.
Tenth-Our Proximity to Louisiana also makes the Bank paper of that state Current to a small extent here and we may therefore be greatly imposed on by Counterfeiters how am I authorized to punish a Man Who brings a quantity of Counterfeit Bank paper into the Country to defraud the innocent Inhabitants who are not a judge of such money I have made provisional regulations relative to some of these subjects which have as yet fully protected us-but it would be more proper and satisfactory to receive the orders of [that] GovernmentAlso I respectfully wish to know whether I am authorised to make any more temporary or provisional municipal regulations for the preservation of good order and good government in the Colony in Cases where We have not received the Laws and are unable to procure them with translations Villa de San Felipe Austin 22 de Deciembre de 1824 ESTEVAN F. AuSTIN [Rubric]

James A.E. Phelps to Austin Pinckneyville Mi. Jan 16th 1825
Col. Stephen F. Austin
DR. SIR Agreeable to mutual promise I have the pleasure of now addressing you by mail, and of informing you that after a journey of 18 days from St Felipe De Austin I arrived safe home: with the exception of some bad weather, and some high water, a pleasant journey. The emigrating, or Texas lever prevails to an extent that your wishes would no more than anticipate-It has pervaded all classes of the citizens of this state and the adjoining; from the men with capital, to the man that wishes to acquire a liveing-Nothing appears at present, to prevent a portion of our wealthy planters from emigrating immediately to the province of Texas but the uncertainty now prevailing with regard to the subject of slavery-There has been a parragraph that has gone the round of Nuse paper publication in the Middle States, perporting to be an extract from a Mexican paper; which precludes the introduction of negro property into the Mexican Republick, without exception: Subjecting the persons so offending to the severest penalties, and also an immediate emancipation of thos slaves now belonging to the citizens of the province of Texas; and fredom to the slave that touches the soil of Mexico If this be a fact it will check the tide of emigrating spirits at once: and indeed it has had its influence already-I have pledged myself to my friends to ascertain the fact if possible; and I know of no other way to satisfy the publick mind on the subject, but by application to yourself for a copy of the new constitution, and a promulgation of the same so soon as practicable-I have ventured to contradict so much of the report and publication as relates to your colony, upon the authority of your self, so far, as garranteeing the right of that species of property under consideration-That portion of the Mexican Republick is becoming every day more and more an object of interest with this portion of the United States There is not a day passes that I am not calld on to give (the superficial) information that I am in possession of as regards your country: and have to regret that I am not able to satisfy the eager, yet not idle curiosity of my friends-If slavery is tolerated by the new constitntion I could wish, for the benefit of your self, and others that you would petition the government for exterision of territory, and colonial location, so as to comprise the Trinity and its waters: Three Hundred familys more can be settled in less than two years A very considerable number of Gentlemen of fortune will visit the colony this Spring, from this section of Country-with a view of becoming citizens-I will inform you further on the subject in due time The death of my Father in Law during my absence has deranged my calculations in some degree, as it may cause some delay in the moving of my family but it is more than probable that the whole family of Col Kirby will move when I do-Please give my best respect to Capt Austin and Mr Williams. Tell the latter that I am anxious to hear from him, and likewise to receive a map of the colony, which he promised Be so good as to designate the bounds of my Labours an the Deed so soon as surveyed, and send me a coppy James A E Phelps

Contract for hire of slaves Westall to Austin 1 Apr 1825
This Agreement entered into this first day of [August] 1824 between Thomas Westall one of the settlers in the new Colony formed by Stephen F Austin in the Province of Texas, and said S. F. Austin witnesses, that said Westall has this day hired to said Austin four negros to wit Lucy, Patsy, Elsy and Henry untill the first day of January Eighteen hundred and twenty Six, for which the said Austin agrees to pay to said Westall. at the rate of one hundred and Eighty Dollars pr year and to clothe and feed them and Lucys young child Catharine-The said Westall hereby pays over the said hire to said Austin towards the Expences on said Westalls land in the said new Colony formed by said Austin In witness of all which the parties have hereto Signed their names at the Town of San Felipe de Austin in the Province of Texas August 1, 1824. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN [Rubric] THOS WESTALL [Rubric] Thomas Westall took the negro woman Lucy into his service on the 1 day of April 1825 from which day her hire is to be deducted from the within agreement. THOS WESTALL

Ellis H. Bean to Austin Mexico July the 5th 1826
Dier Sir, I have not the honor of Being aquented with [you] But I think it my Duty to enform you as a friend that I Recivd a letter from Saltilla yesterday that states that the law will undoubtedly pess that all the Negros of the Provens of Texas and Quaguila will [be] set free in this case I spoke to the Presedent as he is an old frind of mine he states me the same But there is a way your Settlers can Stop it all But the sooner the Better that is to Gow in Presens of and Alealde stating that this nigro cost you so much and when he Pays it by labor Don you have no charge against him he Discounts so much a month as any other hirid Persons a small sum so that he will be the same to you as Before and it will be no more notised this you will comunicate to the citizens on the Ais bayo so that they can take the same Measurs with thers it is ennabatebel [inevitable] necesario as quick as Posibel---I have nothin in this worth your atension Please enform the widow long that it is imposibel that this government will alow hir any Penchen as hir husband was not nown as a General on this Plase nor had no comision from this Gverment---Ellis H. Bean [Rubric] Mr. Stephen f. Austin

Jesse Thompson and J. C. Payton to Sproul San Felipe de Austin 11th August 1826
DEAR FREND I fondly Employ my pen to let you know I am well though my family is not veary well they are on the mend theare, has not been any veary daingerous caises in my family hoping these few lines may find you and family Enjoying good health, Dear frend I have been Enjoying myself as well as any man on Earth could in my circumstances, until I have acquired the disagreeable information of the Government within the last Twelve Hours, relative to the prohibition of slavery within this Colony whitch information I have acquired from such sources as leaves no doubt on the subject upon whitch I Fell [feel] my self Entirely ruined from the moast flatering prospects. I feel as though I shall make every arangement so soon as is practicable to be in the United States with my property this I communicate for your information. at the same time I am compeled to injoin secracy on your part; I truely regret the change of prospects being highly pleased with the cuntery whitch is completely throne into dispear; I wish you to consult your interest and do accordingly as you may think best Theare is hardly any room for doubt on the subject of our having to relinquish the right of slavery. I shall conclude having nothing more to comunicate of importance; you may expect to see me shortly I am as ever your Frend and Obt. Servt. Jessee Thompson

DEAR FREND I beg leave to address you a fiew lines to let you know I am yet living and family all enjoying good health excepting my little son Alexander he having a attack of the Fever though he appears to be better, most fortunately praying those few lines may find you and Family Enjoying good health peace and prosperity I have nothing more to comunicate than is in the above whitch is reather unpleasant to me -who have a knowledge of the most.provable fact; on my own part I am undetermined what I shall do not being veary well satisfyed with the Tratement I have recd. from our Empresario; I must conclude by subscribing my self your true frend until death J. C. PAYTON

DEAR SIR I again Enjoin it on you as secracy not Let your best frends no it at least the negroes might get hold of it and you no the nature of a greate many people in hast yours Jesse Thompson [Addressed:] John Spowl. Esqr. deastrict Ayush Bayou

Austin to Emily M. Perry 21 Aug 1826
.....I think it probably that slavery will not be allowed in this country, tho the constitution will decide it, and as soon as I know the result I will write you....

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DeWitt Colony People & Demographics-Slavery
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-1999, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved