Robert Wescott to Stephen F Austin, 03-15-1830

Summary: Hard times in Missouri. Plans for removing to Texas. Asks information about government and other conditions.

Potosi 15 March 1830.

Col: Stephen F. Austin,

Dear Sir: When I reflect on the intimacy and friendly intercourse which in days long past happily subsisted between your late worthy father and my (then) family in Philadelphia, as well as myself, (all now with a single exception resting in their graves) and the uniform regard and esteem felt by Mrs. Wescott and self for your late excellent mother, my reluctance in troubling you with this communication is measurably diminished. For in appreciating your own disposition to oblige, and to promote the interests of those who are not unworthy, by that, which I know your deceased parents eminently possessed, I do believe, I but render to you a just tribute of estimation. Under this impression, I no longer hesitate to come to a general Development of my objects in addressing you. In the first place, excuse me for remarking that perhaps few men have suffered more severely than it has been my hard destiny to do, from the heavy blasts of adverse fortune. From Ease and affluence, I have been cruelly reduced for a series of past years to a state of comparative privation, which, personally, wd. have been the more easly endured had it not borne heavily upon the comforts, prospects, and fair expectations of an excellent wife and eight children, by which I have been compelled to suffer a state of intense feeling and anxiety, almost beyond the exertion of my strongest moral energies! This sad state of things, has resulted from a liberal but misplaced confidence in men of plausible exterior and reputed integrity, who have despoiled me of property to an amount, which wd. now render me and my family perfectly comfortable and independent. Such is the true but brief outline of our situation. In consequences of the kind, and well intended Invitation of my Brothers in law, Doctr Joseph and Sam1 P. Browne, to come on with my family to this place we were induced to undertake the long and arduous and expensive removal from Philda and arrived here in November last. But altho' received and treated by Mrs. W's Brothers with perfect kindness yet I soon discovered that we had made a fallacious estimate of the expected advantages, which such removal appeared to promise. In fact, this section of Missouri seems to me to be in a deplorable situation. The Staple commodity (Lead) is a mere Drug—its price so low as to discourage the most sanguine miner, and the chance of getting any profitable employment, almost hopeless, Long before I left Philada (my native city) I had turned my attention in the course of my reflections on the prospect of forwarding the interests of my family to your section of the globe and, more than twelve months ago, had felt a strong inclination to open a communication with you on this interesting subject. But, owing in a great measure to my unacquaintance with the proper mode of transmitting my letters, to your address, failed to do so, In truth, there is a strange ignorance on the sea board of the U. S. in relation to your topographical situation. Your excellent sister, Mrs. Perry has been kind enough to read to me certain parts of your letters in reference to your Region—and I feel a strong conviction that she, her husband and their family cannot fail in being essentially benefitted by locating themselves with you. I also believe, that an auspicious change might result from my being able to transplant my family there, and under this belief, I pray your excuse for making some additional remarks and propounding a few Enquiries.

My son George, (our oldest child) was born at St. Louis in 1806 and is at present located in Wayne Co. Pennsylva where he has been practising Law about 18 mos My family therefore under my immediate charge consists of my wife and seven Daughters the latter, from 19 down to 2 years of age. The eldest Theodosia possesses sufficient capacity to undertake the tuition of young children in at least, the rudimental Principles of our Language and every disposition to exercise it as beneficially as possible. She also has an excellent command of her needle in which respect several of her sisters could, also, render themselves useful. Do you think encouragement of my Daughter wd, be probable in your Town in the particulars alluded to and to what extent? As to myself perhaps I may venture to say that altho pretty far advanced in the vale of Life (being now 60) shd, my health be continued I wd. feel competent to the faithful and zealous discharge of any employment connected with commercial superintendence or responsibility, and particularly that of conveyancing in its various branches. Do you think I wd. be likely to procure beneficial employment in these or other respects to wch. I might be competent? In desiring to locate myself and family in Texas however my paramount inducements are not embraced in the preceding queries. Those inducements are predicated on a prospective view, in my mind, of the probable—progressive, rapid advancement and prosperity of your country, arising from the well directed industry, enterprize and correct moral and political deportment of a respectable population of well qualified agriculturists and others (in addition to your present physical force) from different parts of the U S., especially from the N. Western States. That the U. S. continues to look with " a longing Eye " toward Texas there can be no doubt, and perhaps, a very slender (if it were at all plausible) pretext, may sooner or later, induce the Government to aim at its possession, "peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must." Be this as it may, I can hardly suppose that much danger need be apprehended in regard to an interruption or suspension of the progressive settlement and improvement of your particular region, in consequence of the fluctuations of Power and Parties or occasional changes of the Dynasty in the Mexican Government. Your own individual grant, has, I understand, been duly confirmed and consummated by that government, and therefore, in any event will be untouched by it as well as beyond the reach of danger even shd. the U. S. ever become possessed of Texas! With this general view of the subject I cannot but believe that the prosperity and interests of my wife and Daughters (as well as my own) might in all probability be best promoted by effecting a settlement there as soon as convenient. But, in such event a Grant of Land, promisingly situated, seems to me indispensable!

Thus then, My dear Sir, I come to the great prominent inducement by which, I am actuated, in imposing on you, the trouble of reading and reflecting upon, the subject matter of this communication. My great object is to be able to obtain a Grant of eligibly situated Land of good quality! and toward the fulfillment of that object I take the liberty of soliciting your aid, cooperation, and Influence. Will you therefore suffer me most earnestly to request an application for me to this effect as speedily as possible, consistently with the necessary previous reflection on your own part. The quantity and quality to be governed by your own Discretion and sense of Propriety? I again pray you to excuse the trouble I am imposing on you and to guard me, if possible, by timely application for a grant for me and my family, so that I may not be precluded by lapse of time. Mr. Perry, who kindly takes charge of this letter will be able to state more particularly my views and objects, and be assured that, whatever you may be pleased to do to carry them into operation, my gratitude for yr. services, will not be diminished by any possible failure, which the contingencies of the best concerted plans may sometimes occasion. I pray you to write me as soon as convenient with perfect freedom and frankness, as to my views and wishes, and to believe me, with the highest

Robt. Wescott

P. S. My Brother in Law Dr. Browne writes by this opportunity and I trust and hope that you will do all you can to forward and promote his objects. R.W. .

18 March—in continuation

My dear Sir,

In looking over the foregoing lettr. and as Mr. Perry will not set out today, I wish to append a few farther cursory remarks. Professing an unfortunate unacquaintance with the institutions under which the civil and municipal affairs of yr. promising Province are regulated, and, not having it in my power to remedy that defect, by any satisfactory sources of information here, I particularly request that you will be good enough to give me a brief, general statistical outline of the nature and powers of yr, constitution or form of Government, and modes of legislation. Also, the Products, of which yr. soil is particularly susceptible (the staples of which I suppose to be Cotton, perhaps sugar) the fruits and vegetables wch. wld. best flourish there, the most eligible market for yr. surplus commodities hereafter, and the facility or difficulty of procuring the necessary articles for human subsistence, their probable prices etc. I think yr. country, must be well adapted for grazing cattle and promoting their maturest growth. I find a newspaper Establishment is in operation in Austin, a good omen, for the diffusion of information etc! Be pleased also to inform me whether a young man of respectable professional acquirements and talents (for such I may say I consider my son to be) wd. be likely to succeed in the Practice of Law in Texas, as it wd. be exceedingly desirable in that case that George shd. be with or near us. In fine to avoid swelling the communication (already perhaps to prolix) to a most unreasonable size, I throw myself upon yr. kind indulgence when I conclude by desiring your best advice, information, and cooperation in forwarding my views and wishes as above indicated. Yr. reply to Dr. Browne will apprize me of the size population etc. of Austin as he particularly writes to you respecting them. Shd. I be enabled to remove there I have no doubt I could induce several very useful citizens of Philada to follow.

Robt. Wescott.