Stephen F. Austin to Josiah H. Bell, 08-06-1823

Summary: His expenses in surveying land and issuing titles. Colonists must repay. Wants a secretary, blank books or writing paper, ink powder. Waco Indians.

Castlemans on the Colorado

Augt. 6 1823.

Dr Friend

Enclosed I send you sundry papers to be communicated to the Settlers— I rely greatly on your prudence and judgment in preserving harmony and content amongst the settlers it now depends altogether on my will to admit or reject who I please, and if there are any who are not worthy I must be informed of it that they may be ordered off, and if the order is not obeyed it will be enforced with rig[or] I think the enclosed letter ought to satisfy them all as regards the payments— I give up the right of axacting all the pay in hand and will receive any kind of property, that I shall not loose on— Surely there ought to be no difficulty on this subject— can any man doubt that in less than three or even two years he cannot sell a part of his land far cash at 50 cents or one dollar pr. acre? There are but few men in the world who would undergo what I have, and exact so little in proportion to the benefit conferred— I shall make the fortunes of all my followers for which I ask them to pay me but a very little more than the money this business will actually cost me the Govt. do not pay one cent of any kind of expense, I pay it all, besides this I have risked my life, my health, my property, my all in this enterprise— If there is any discontent as to the payments I think I shall have a right to complain after what I have done— And those who complain without reason may have cause to regret it— I shall treat the settlers as my children and Brothers but at the same time I shall exercise that firmness and energy which my duty to the Government of my adoption, to the common good of the Colony, and to my own family require.

I am told there is a man near you by the name of Eccleston, a schoolmaster, who is a good clerk and understands Spanish and French— if so and he is a man of confidence I wish to employ him to make out and record titles and do such other writing as may be necessary— inform yourself on this subject by the time I arrive, also if there are any good surveyors amongst you, let them come and see me at your house on my arrival— Also if any of the settlers have blank books, or writing paper or ink powder, I wish to get some of all those articles— A party of Indians supposed to be Wacos are now in this neighborhood and their conduct is rather suspicious. I wish Capt Robinson and you to collect all the information in your power relative to that nation, and if any person is going to their village charge them to try and sound the chiefs as to their disposition towards us— I hope the nation are not hostile, this party is a war party I expect, who were defeated a few days since by the Toncaways [on the] San Marcos We must be vigilent— I [wish] if possible to avoid an open rupture with them for six months longer at least, by that time we shall have more strength, but if they commit any more depradations the only alternative will be an expedition to distroy their village, but this I wish to avoid until next year if possible— If they appear amongst you and you can see them treat them friendly but tell them firmly the consequences of a war— I wish for peace, but am ready for war if it cannot be avoided. On this subject use all the prudence possible, my object is to keep them quiet for 6 or 8 months more.

I regret to hear that there is some sickness on the Brazos and that your family have suffered. We must not be discouraged at this, all new countries are sickly at first— we must let nothing discourage us.

I have an order from Hawkins' agent to receive any property notes, etc which may be on this river or the Brazos

I leave here on the 11th. for the mouth of the river expect to [be there] 12 days and shall then go direct to the [Brazos?]

S. F. Austin

N. B. Decide before my arrival on the way you wish your land run, you may take it all in one tract the smallest quantity allowed is 1000 yards square which may be increased without limit by myself and the commissioner. I presume you will want at least one League Square agree on the division lines between your neighbors I hope none of them will have difficulty on this subject I wish them to agree on their division lines themselves. I want a first rate horse suitable for an Indian expedition or a first rate riding mule. Am told Abner Keykendall has such a horse See if he will suit and his price to go towards his land— let me know when I arrive all the objections made by the settlers and what fault they find or what they want.

J. H. Bell