Thomas F. McKinny to Stephen F Austin, 03-11-1828

Summary: Efforts of a disgruntled vagabond to disturb the country. High-handed proceedings of the military commandant, Piedras.

Nacodoches March 14 1828

Dier sir

yours of the 29th of Jany has been over looked in the post office until this morning otherwise I should have immediately complied with your request I do assure you I am at all times ready to check when in my power any thing like perturbattion of the inhabitants not only of your Colony but any other part of the Country my sincere disire is that the Country prospers and any thing which would have a contrary effect would be repugnant to my feelings

That Dayton has made an attempt to raise a party there is no doubt though from the best information we can get on the subject there has not more than eight or ten men been so base as to join him—Dayton's respectability in your Colony is much more extensive than in any part of this country and the general opinon is that the only revenge he seeks is to practise villiany be it of whatsoever nature or at whatsoever place that opportunity may serve a few men have been provoked to connive at his attempt from the treatment they have received in this country because that Dayton declared he would commit outrages upon this country would bring down the Indians upon them and other threats to that purport.

In December last there was a [daj] designated for the inhabitants [to meet for the] purpose of swearing allegiance [to the State Constitution?] Burril Thompson and Demi . . . ed and Burrel mani- fested [some reluctance to] take the necessary oath and ... his hand to assign his name a[nd] ... the day when Piedras who w[as presiding?] . . . snatched the list from his [hand. Piedras ordered?] him and Hase to march forthwith for the uni-?]ted States without any charfges being made] against them? or any oportunity [given them for any] kind of defence it is unnecessary to say to you that such a course was productive of displeasure among the inhabitants and until this day the cause of their banishment is unknown. The Alcalde who accompanied Piedras for the purpose of cooperating in his measures was applied to in order to ascertain the motives or the crime of which those men were charged his reply was that he was not consulted in the matter nor was the cause made known to him and he himself disapproved of the course.

Piedras has persued an arbitrary course during his time here and the civil authorities of the place have hitherto been no obstacle in his progressions though the extreme weakness of the individuals in whom those authorities are reposed serve in some measure as an apology for his doing so provided he proceeded correctly himself. For some imprudent conduct of the Coles and others to Elisha Roberts and family which conduct amounted to nothing more than hooping and howling as aparcel of blackguards frequently do and killing a dog of Roberts's they were arrested by the Military put in strings conducted to Nacogdoches commited to prison bail refused without a trial for something like ten days when the trial commenced by the Military and the prisoners asked [for] permission to interogate the witnesses who replied in [a harsh and?] haughty manner that he would proceed ... or custom of the country and during their [trial] frequently was heard say that it seemed [to him that] americans were accustomed to treat the [officers? with] disrespect though he had brought [a guard with?] him and would sustain him self that . . . had acted cowardly in consequence of . . . was now in disrepute and many other . . . vincing that he wished to awe or [intimidate the] inhabitants into obedience . . . kind were productive of nothing good . . . Ahumado is still venerated among us and he could effect more here with his walking staff than Piedras with all his bayonets. It is to be regreted that Piedras brought with him to this place prejudices against the American inhabts which will be difficult to remove.

Another circumstance which produced considerable excitement was two men engaged in a combat when an old gambler by the name of ward interfered in order to make peace at which time a soldier arrived with his bayonet in his hand and observing a pocket knife in Wards hand and he engauged peremptorily ordered him to put the knife in his pocket Ward did not understand only from his manner which was menacing and did not obey the order until spoken by an American who explained to him what the soldier had said Ward immediately put the knife in his pocket though by this time the combatants had retired the soldier proceeded to call a guard who arrived Ward was pointed out by the insulted soldier to the guard who without any thing like an inquiry proceeded to beat Ward with their muskets in a beastly manner broke his arm in two places in that situation conducted him to prison. Piedras observed he would make a fit subject for sweeping the streets for the next six months and it was with difficulty that he could be prevailed upon after being informed of the circumstances to let Ward out of prison these circumstances I witnessed myself and if Ward had been a respectable m[an] . . . the excitement which prefvailed] . . . would have been serious ... He is now punishing a citizen . . . ducting from this place . . . giving him a certain num[ber] . . . making him carry a chai[n] . . . man deserves punishmen[t] ... to do so the truth of . . . There is nothing like money . . . inhabitants Piedras has been borrowing on the faith of the Gov1 for some time past and his paper is in circulation for the amount of several thousand dollars still the inhabitants are satisfied that he has a quantity of money on hand and are at a loss to know his motive for retaining it some of us are rather suspicious of his principles and rather doubt his attachment to the Govt though we may not be justifiable in so doing it is a thing which we by no means make publick

I should be glad to hear from you relative to your trip to the interior the probable success of our Ayish Byou petición when we may hope for relief of those who are in suspence in this quarter

Thomas F McKinney [Rubric]

Col. S. F. Austin