Henry Austin to Stephen F. Austin, 10-20-1826

Summary: Experiences in Mexico. Questions concerning trade with Texas. Demand for live oak.

New York 20 Oct 1826

Mr Stephen F Austin

My dear sir

There is so little intercourse between your country and this that it is almost as difficult to communicate with you as tho you were in the moon—I accidentally heard by a gentlemen in Vera Cruz who had been at your settlement that you were still alive and progressing well with your colony altho published dead several times not only in our papers but also in the Mexican Sol with an Obituary notice

I have been myself nearly two years in Alvarado, Vera Cruz and Nacotalpam—in the latter place I established a Cotton Gining Mill and press for cleaning Cotton at the place of growth and thereby relieving the manufacturers of the tripple expence of Carriage to puebla—but the Mexican Manufacturers would not spin cotton cleaned by machinery and the price for exportation would not pay which compelled me to abandon the experiment with a loss of 4000$ in a year and one half hard labor

I observed at Nacotalpam that the low land abounded with live Oak but the high price of labour and the difficultys thrown in the way of all operations attempted by strangers will not permit the cutting of it for exportation with advantage

This timber is now in request here and should the genuine live Oak be plenty on the banks of the rivers in your neighbourhood advantage might be drawn from it unless the Govt should interpose some impediment to its exportation Will you do me the favor to inform me whether it is to be had in your quarter, if so the quantity and size, the facilitys in obtaining it—the probable cost —whether men could be had there to cut it or must [it] be brought out—the duties and impositions which might be incurred etc

The present mode of obtaining it in florida is to send out strong parties with small vessels to transport it to the shipping place then purchase the privilege of cutting and do the work themselves—- The Mexicans of the bajos of Vera Cruz do not value this timber and appear to be ignorant of its durability—Care must be taken to distinguish between the Genuine live Oak and the bastard live Oak which is much like it but will not last—There are no doubt men with you perfectly well acquainted with it—

Should there be any opening for profitable operations of any sort in your quarter you will oblige me by giving the needful information I am now doing nothing—business of every kind is extremely dull and as I am poor with a large family to support I am perforce ready to embark in any operation which offers reasonable advantages and with fair prospects of success there will be no difficulty in raising sufficient capital

Cotton has revived a little in England by the last advices but will probably continue low through the year—Hides and pork and beef if to be had at your place might turn to acct as also bacon cured in the Mexican manner for the Havana market—The Black beans of Mexico called frijoles if raised in quantity would be an excellent article of export—

If there is any regular mode of communicating with the U S your place please inform me of it, as we shall always be happy to hear of your welfare and to acquaint you with ours My younger brother John P is established here as a commission Mercht under the firm of Austin and Tailer their correspondent in Orleans is Saml. T. Coit who will forward any letters sent to him

Cordially and Sincerely your friend and kinsman

Henry Austin [Rubric]

I took the liberty of braking the seal of this letter and was agreeably surprised.

Yr Brother ______ J E B Austin