J. Erwin to Stephen F. Austin, 09-30-1825

Summary: Character of Jared E. Groce, and the business of Erwin, Groce & Co. in the United States.

S F Austin Eqr. Shelbyville Sept. 30 1825

Sir Altho I have not the pleasure of your personal acquaintance, I take the liberty of writing you, the object is more to reply to your letter of Feby 18th to my father, than to make any explanations of our former business with Mr. Groce for whom you express so lively an interest—how he has created that feeling I am unable to say. I am too conversant with your character, too well enformed of your capacity and descrimination, for a moment to believe that you can be deceived in the man. Three days of acquaintance to a man of intelligence, will show, Groce to be a vain foolish Gasconading Bragadocia a man of considerable energy or rather industry, acute and subtle in small matters, ready to see and take an advantage, ambitious, and vain, the latter two qualities so predominate as to expose him readily to an observer, he is entirely void of the high and honorable feelings of a gentleman, destitute of principles, and without the least pretensions to credit for veracity or integrity of character, all this can not have escaped your attention, and if so how can you give attention to Statements made by him affecting the character and standing of men of Reputation Why hesitate about the opinions you seem at a loss to form about transactions between such men and a Renegade like Groce—What evidence have you to create a doubt—Whatever Groce may tell you to the contrary, I now tell you I can substantiate by Groce's own hand writing that up to the last transaction of business that ever took place between us in any shape whatever, that there was no difficulty or complaint and that I have his rects in full up to the latest transaction signed and sealed by him acknowledging that all was satisfactorily settled from the beginning of the world to that date, it was then and on that very day—in order to bring the entire business of A Erwin Groce and Co to a close that we agreed to divide amongst us individually the remaining out debts which were all in the hands of Col. McKenni of Augusta Geo. and amounted to $30,000—it was at the earnest intreaty of Groce, himself—that McKenni divided this amt into three equal sums say $10,000—and took Groce's individual notes for $10,000, my note for $10,000 and my father's note also for $10,000—I refused to give my note at first until Groce begged me to do so, urged the object of a final settlement—his rect in full— and finally agreed to assist me who was then void of means to pay my note, he gave his note payt at such time as would allow two crops of cotton to intervene and promised McKenni on his Honor, that his note would be punctually paid—what was the result, my father paid his note, I paid mine, and Groce runaway—and Left his endorser to pay that note has fallen in my hands—the individual note of J E Groce—2 notes of $5000 each which I did expect to have collected thro your assistance as I learned you intended to pursue a course of policy, not calculated to encourage flying renegade debtors who contract debts in this country and fly to your colony— I had heard that you as alcalde would enforce contracts—and I accordingly sent my claim to Maj Thomas for that purpose—If it is contrary to your regulations of course I have no course of complaint—If its only justice and truth you wish to arrive at I have ample Means—to establish all I wish by testimony that would outweigh the verbal statements of Groce—The fact is Groce and myself quarrelled But not about our business—at our last meeting to his face I gave him the same character, I now give you of him, which he patiently heard. If I had injured him why not then assert his wrongs he had acted ungentlemanly and I told him so—he felt it—he left this part of the country and the next news I heard he had runaway I remained firm at my post—I have settled up the old business of A E G & CoGroce complains of suits—I have been sued too But I have successfully defended those suits-—and so might Groce have done. But he chose to fly his country as the safest and most glorious mode of settling matters—he pretends to you and to the world that he thot I had an agency in having him sued he knew better, and now knows better, I have tendered my assistance in defending—How could I suffer him made liable without becoming so—you say My Brotherinlaw was selected as the channel—that is also false—Mr Crawford the partner of my Brotherinlaw Brot the suits, he was selected by the other parties because he is the most eminent Lawyer in that State, and better able to conduct a Bad cause—If Groce had remained at his post he could have easily defeated as I have done the claim-

But there is one claim he can not defeat that is his individual notes given to McKenni—Now in the hands of Thomas—those he must and shall pay—or remain exiled from his native Country he can not pretend to have any offsets against this claim. If my eye was upon him he could not have the assurance to deny this to you I know he will tell Some other tale, he will say anything that best suits his purpose; and I have myself seen him voluntarily Subscribe to an oath—which made me shudder—which I can any day produce— these things are only mentioned to give you more particular information of his character and standing while in the U States— and altho you have a much better opportunity of observing his course in Texas—than me, I can not help remarking that even there he gives you some small cause at least to suspect if all I hear be true, that he is not very particular in his conduct—or select in his associates and coadjuters

The last remark Brings to my mind his Celebrated letter written to my father last year by the assistance of his friend and Secty Mr Williams who acted also as a certificate man and certified that all Groce wrote was true, which he must have been well qualified to do— as it related to transactions with men, the fellow—had never seen— But who is Mr. Williams—a Renegade also—who fled to avoid capital punishment—his friend also and the inmate of his House from Missouri whose name I do not recollect—who fled for murder—Doct Keep—quite as well known—these are his associates his men of business—what can you expect from such a man—and is this the same Mr Groce—who is to be so powerful in a chancery suit—who is to publish a Book—and demolish by a stroke of his pen all the Erwins— Unfortunately for this Hero, who is mightiest when far off—the word Renegade, would present itself in large letters in every page and obliterate all he could say—to which might be added some equally strong and true—I must now Sir—in justice to my own feelings apologize to you for the tenor of this letter, and all I can say, is that I feel I am writing to J E Groce, and not to S F Austin—and I also feel that I am replying to J E Groce and not to S F Austin— Because I have with much pleasure read other productions from you to my father and others and I know that this now in question is not your own legitimate offspring Groce may Borrow what plumage he will, yet he will be Groce still—I know as well as if I had been at your elbow—when you wrote that letter, that you did so by the importunity of Groce and that you were reluctantly urged to convey ideas repugnant to your feelings—I write this with freedom and frankness not to offend you, But to let you know I understand the man, I know his object—he wants under pretence of settling old disputes to make friends—But he can not be depended on, and there is no use in reciving the acknowlegmt of so low minded a fellow—I have only one word for him, that is I want the $10,000 and int—that he owes me—and untill that is paid he may exert all his cunning for I will reach him before I have done trying—thro some source or other, and I should be much obliged by your reply at Orleans—saying whether a just claim can be made under your regulations, that is due to a Resident of the U States

If he will pay me this claim I have then done with him, as to any suits vs. him now in alabama it only requires atention to set them aside that are hot against him as one of the firm of A E Groce and Co —I have already sent him word that If he wants to see me, I am always in the winter to be found in N. Orleans—where I am ready—to defend a suit in chancery—render him personal satisfaction or receive $10,000 due me, and settle matters and let him alone—either alternative is always before him—

From the Friendly intercourse that took place and continued between you and my father, I had hoped soon to have had the pleasure of making your acquaintance—and that I might have some day been able to have established an acquaintance with you beneficial to both, which I yet hope may not be prevented by so unworthy an object as Groce

J. Erwin