Moses Austin to James Bryan, 12-04-1812

Summary: Business bad.

Mr James Bryan

Durham Hall, Decr 4, 1812.

Dr Sr I recd your letters from Philadelphia by yesterdays mail and noted the Contents, few events of my life has given me more unhappjness than the detention of my son Stephen with his Cargo in New Orleans his last letter gave me reason to suppose that he would soon leave the low Country and I hope to god he may have disposed of his Cargo, and be on his way for Philadelphia. Yesterday brought letters from Mrs Austin after her return from, New Haven but she had not seen you when she wrote She expressed great Desire to see you. I hope It may releive her mind when she has a Conversation with you—

Would to god I could give you something pleasing on the Subject of business, altho times was bad when you left this they are much more depressed at this moment—the Indian War first put a general stop to all business, by drawing of all the troops to the frontier. Since they returned the Weather has been most unfavourable to mining and little has been don[e]. Mine Shibboleth is nearly abandoned and what remain are doing little, to Collect is almost out of the question. I do not think any person about the Mines has Collected as much as to pay the expenees of a Ride after the Debtors, that has been the case with me and I know that its the same with Your Brother and William Bates, the truth is nothing is doing, and both money and Lead are equally difficult to obtain—and what makes the matter Still more distressing, is, that Lead when obtained will not command Money at more than 3/50 Cents, or—375. the reduced price has driven most of the hands from the mines, many have joined the companies of rangers and many inlisted under Capt Allen, that you may be assured, that little lead will be made this Winter. I have good prospects, in digging but the fall has been so rany that many of my best leads of mineral are under Water

I wrote you some weeks past respecting a discovery of Antimony. I have reced further information on that Subject, and have reason to believe that its of consequence and if a lease can be obtained that something great may be don[e] with it I hope to hear from you on this Subject— Salt Peter, is, I understand in demand and a good price. I will thank you to inform the price in Philadelphia

Dry goods are not plenty and a good assortment would sell immediately but how the payments could be made is the question. A good store at Herculaneum would do a good business, and command both Lead and provisions, the Articles in demand are Linens and Cotton goods Woolens, in general Country Linen— Iron and Steel, Crockery of all kinds but mostly plates Bowls and Dishes, Porter, and, Bar Sugar and Spices of all kinds, good Tea Chocolate and in short all kinds of articles in that way a general assortment, of Iron Articles such as large Kittls Poots Skillets Spiders Cart and Waggon Boxes.

I do not think a doz. plates can be had in Saint Louis and Saint Geneveive such things with a Constant supply of Salt would command the best Customers, and prompt pay Salt Iron Steel Porter Coffee Sugar command Cash and Lead much sooner then any Other Articles but to, sell, any kind of goods on Credit is absolute, ruin, I think I may make Sixty or Seventy thousand pounds of Lead between this and Spring. If my prospects continue and the Season is not over, rany, I think I have found a good Salt peter Cave, I shall Examin, it, and if it proves good shall work it With a few hands

My Dear famely are constantly in my mind and I can say nothing about a return—only I expect that Stephen in company with yourself will take Steps to bring then back.

As to News nothing of moment has taken place lately. Our War measures goe on badly I think General Hopkins has returned to Kentucky and Care[s] nothing what the spring may produce God only knows

M. Austin

[Addressed:] Mr. James Bryant Philadelphia