Stephen F. Austin to His mother and Sister, 05-04-1824

Summary: Instructions for moving to Texas. Philosophy of life. Conditions in the colony.

St. Felipe de Austin May 4. 1824

Dr. Mother and Sister

After many delays and disappointments I am at length enabled to start brother to you, there are two modes of moving to this country one down the Mississippi to the mouth of Red River and up that to Nachitoches, and thence through by land a distance of about two hundred and fifty miles—the other route is to go to Orleans and thence round by sea to the mouth of the Brazos River, I am yet undecided which of these two routes will be the best—that by sea would be the shortest and cheapest if the wind was favorable—that by Nachitoches would be the longest and most fatiguing as well as expensive, as I should have to send in a Waggon and team from here to bring you out and you could not bring anything with you of consequence

If Several families will join, for instance Major Hawkins, the Bruffys, Aunt Austin etc and send their Horses through by land to Nachitoches and take their waggons and carts and other property down by water, I think you could get a good Keel boat and all come on together in her as far as Nachitoches, the boat will sell for as much in Nachitoches as you would have to give for her in St. Louis— you must not bring much of anything except beds and bedding and Castings and crockery ware for House use—as to furniture we must do without untill we get able to buy from Orleans, I like this plan better than any—if you come in a steam boat it will be uncertain whether you can get up Red River, as it will depend on the rise of that River in the fall, tho you must be governed in some measure by circumstances—if Honey should be going down with the Dolphin perhaps you might make an arrangement on good terms with him for your passage, and If I find that I can by any Means get a Vessel in Orleans I will do so and write to you both at Herculanium and NachezBrother must write to Mr. Thomas Allsberry in Hopkinsville K. Y. and to Martin Varner in Ohio and see when they will move and how and then decide on the best plan—

We have all had a good Schooling in the best School in the World, that of Adversity and I hope have profited by it—Our prospects now are beginning to look up, but we must still remember our past troubles and not forget that wealth is hard to acquire and easily lost—let our motto therefore be economy and plain living. It is my wish that nothing should be worn in the family but homespun, at least for several years it is the cheapest but what is of much more importance it will set an example to the rest of the Settlers that will have a very good effect—also I wish everything about the house to be plain and pritty much like the rest of my neighbors—we are all poor in this country and therefore all on an equality and so long as this continues we shall all go on well and harmoniously as regards good neighborship, and our industry will soon remidy our poverty if we have the proper econemy with it—The situation I am placed in here will cause all the acts of any of my family to be observed and it will require a uniform amble deportment to all, without regarding their appearance or poverty to prevent giving offences, the only distinction that must be shown here is between the good and the bad and that must be very marked and decisive—I make these observations that you may have a better idea of the course that will be necessary to adopt here from the beginning—for you know how easy it is to give offence to a certain class of mankind

I have written to Timothy Bryan relative to Sarah and her children and brother will tell you what must [be] done on that Subject— I requested Timothy to write to you and to me both and agreed to be responsible for the Money so you must bring them with you—

It is my wish that Aunt Austin and family should move with you if possible, all I can say is that if she comes I will provide well for her family in land and Settle her as near you as I can the land Shall cost her nothing, and I will lend her as much corn as She wants for her family the first year and do any thing else in my power to aid her—with George and her Sons She can Soon live well here and have a League of good land to divide amongst her children in fact I have picked out a league for her and Shall keep it reserved untill I hear from her, brother can discribe it to her—it is next to what I call my Spring tract on the East side of the Colorado River next above Jacksons it has the river on one side and a running creek and a large Prairie on the other and has about 30 acres that was well tended last year and will also be well tended in corn this year, but has no fence—my own opinion is that if she were to give away every thing she has in the world except her negros and by so doing could get here, that She would be worth more than double as much the day she arrived here as ever She was before in her life—but Still I do not advise her to move, what I have promised to do I will do if she comes—I refer her to Esquire John Andrews and Tommy Ally who will be on in the summer for a discription of the country and then she can decide for herself

Bring all your books and beds and beding The furniture and other heavy articles except castings, sell for pork flour Beans etc to use on the road for you must Start with provisions enough to last the whole journey, also try and bring a pair or two of Geese and tame ducks—also all kind of Gardin Seeds particularly Cabbage Lettice, beats, Sage—Summer Savory, horse reddish etc, etc, and at Nachez or lower down try and get some orange fig and grape roots—and be particular to make brother get some Nectarine and peach stones from E. Bates and a dozen young Pears, or the seeds, of his best Pears and apples, also some crab apple seeds, I want them to try and make a hedge also the cypress vine or any other vine for an arbor and some roots of the double Rose, all these can be brought in a small box and watered—

If you go to Orleans I now have no friend there to receive you— Hawkins is dead, you would have found a brother in him-—As to Kenner I wish to have nothing to do with him, perhaps he might befriend you and Mother but I shall never ask him for any favor, I may do him injustice but I do not like him—

I very much wish that Saml Perry would move here, he could not fail doing well—the cotton trade will soon be of great importance in this country and by coming now to start it he could always get the most of it, besides he could buy up large tracts of land on good terms—he will find a warm friend in me—

If you see any of my old Mine a Burton friends remember me to them, I said when I left there in March 1819 that I would return and see them in ten years So you may tell them that in five years more if alive I will pay them all a visit and in the mean time shall be happy to see any of them here—

Be particular to inform any who move with you that the Roman Catholic is the established Religion here to the absolute exclusion of all others

I recd. your letters relative to the Little Rock etc and have given brother a memorandum on the Subject how to act— Be care full of Mother and let us try and meet once more in this world perhaps this mild climate may prolong her precious live to us many years—

bring all the books you can, we shall want them to pass away the time—Your Piano have carfully put up and sent to New Orleans to the Care of Nathaniel Cox, that is if you wish to Keep it, and if not, sell it in Missouri and I will buy another in Orleans for you next year— If you can sell your furniture and Castings for any thing that would be of use here, do so for those things are very cheap in New Orleans—The family of negros you must bring with you at all hazards and I will settle with Bryan for them— All these arrangements you must make the best way you can, and be very particular to be as saving of every cent as possible—probably you can sell off many things for homeade Linsey or Cotton cloth or tow or flax linin, all those things sell high here— at Alexandria or Natchez lay in a good Supply of sugar and Coffee and tea and spices and Rice and bring with you from Missouri several barrels of beans or peas and hominy etc etc for the journey also dryed apples and peaches—they will sell at Nackitosh. have some good Bacon and Pickeld Pork, and Beef dried and pickeled, put up— if you have a large pair of good Steel yards bring them as I have none large— also get a good Steel Mill at Natchez you will want it on the road and it will always be usefull here, if Aunt comes She ought also to bring a Steel Mill— they cost about 12 dolls. She ought also to bring the best of her farming and other tools

Pray do not forget to bring Me a Copy of the Laws of Missouri, Gyers digest, or if there is a later one bring it, also the Constitutions of Missouri and Illinois do not forget this— You must have a good large tent for camping out and be particular to have every thing well arranged and so as to occupy as little bulk as possible May the great disposer of all things take you under his protection and bring us all together once more in this world Kiss your Sweet little ones for their uncle I will have a little poney for William to ride about with me on—

Your affectione

S. F. Austin