James Kerr to Stephen F. Austin, 08-18-1826

Summary: Report on topography at mouth of Lavaca River.

18th August 1826—Early in the morning

On tide water of the Labacca.

Dear Sir

I am about 10 miles up the river, from where it emties into a large arm of the Bay —the river for three or four miles above that place, hugs or bluffs the main land on the N. E. side—the marsh I suppose to be about 4 miles wide. The river from the Tascosite road down is verry crooked tho in the main bears S. E.

Adjoining the main land on the west side there is generally fine large deep lakes that communicate with the river.

I have selected a Town cite near the head of tide—the river at that place appears deep, and is about 25 or 30 yards wide—at the upper end of the cite—at the Lower end, about from 40 to 60—and then widens to distance of about 300 yards.

Timber is rather scarce below the Town cite—tho the land is good to the arm of the bay, and the water not too salt for any kind of cooking except tea and coffee. I have concluded to survey all the land off in Labor tracts, and I believe they will settle whather they have timber or not—Some of which will have little or none. After the river Enters the arm of the bay the bank on the E. side bears nearly Southwest and terminates about 8 or 10 miles nearly S. from the shoulder of the main land on the W. side—I saw something resembling a very small Island from the shoulder it bears S. 16° E. the distance to it I made 22 miles 6/10

The Chicalet emties in about 4 miles below the road the mouth of the Navadad is yet unknown: I am of opinion there is more good land on the E side than on the west.

I should be very glad to get a piece from you, that is situated a few miles below wher I intend to lay off a Town.—

I am of the opinion that if this Town Could be Dispensed with by the Empresario, and the same be made by an individual it would be much better—it will require 6 miles on a right line front on the river if laid out under the law, and if by individual 2 or 3 would do—then there could be 9 or 10 Labors more etc—12 Oclock we are now at the Town cite and I have got four of the company to swim the river and hunt for the navadad,—we have for 3 days seen smoke in the direction they are going—I am now of the Opinion that the navadad enters the bay by a separate mouth— Two men of my Company told me They had been down the Chickolet to tide water and that tide flowed up it 3 or 4 miles above its junction with the Labacca—all this was false—they both stated that they had marked land in the forks of the same, and when we crossed the Chickolet it did not corispond with the statement they had made, and we presumed that it might be a spring branch,—so we neglected examining the labacca for several miles—following a course (as they said) would take us near the head of tide on the Chickolet, and ultimately found ourselves in the main Guadaloupe Prairie—I then changed my course and struck the river about 7 or 8 miles above the town site where I found fine ritch first bottom, some which however overflows— And most excellent second bottom and plenty of good timber— The timber here prevented me from seeing with any satisfaction the E side of the river, further than there appeared to be one continued bottom and well timbered near the river. It has been misting rain while I have been writing and our company is rather in confusion, and I have to fear what I have written will rather confuse then give the information I at first expected—nothing more until the boys return who have gone to hunt Navadad.—

6 Oclock men has returned and state that they traveled East about 4 miles came to a lively runing Creek, went down but a short distance to tide, fine timber on this creek— Good bottom and upland prairie between it and the Labacca—about 2 or 3 miles furder East they seen heavy bodys of timber and which they believe to be the timber of the Navadad say six or seven miles distant from this river and that the timber appeared to bear near a parallel course with the Labacca—this the more confirms me in the belief that this River and the navadad does not unite before they Get into the bay, and very probebly their mouths are 5, 6 or 7 miles apart—

I start for Gonzalez in the morning—-I will only add that no place on earth can exceed this for beauty-— The Elisian fields of the Mehometan Paradise never was so delightsome as the Prairies.—

James Kerr

[Addressed:] Colo. Stephen F Austin Sanfelipe De Austin Doctor G D Boyd