Gideon Blackburn to Stephen F Austin, 01-19-1830

Summary: Wants to establish a settlement of 50 or 100 families and promote "literature and religion." Inquiries concerning Texas.

Danville Jany 19 1830

Col. Austin

Sir Though I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance, yet perhaps my standing and character may not be entirely unknown to you. I am now in the fifty eighth year of my age, have been a minister of the Presbyterian denomination now more than 37 years and for the last three years have held the Presidency of Centre College at Danville. I give you the information to prepare the way for some inquiries I wish to make of you respecting the portions of country held by you, and by some other Americans in the region of Texas. My family are nearly grown and, including myself, we have in the connection five ministers and I am disposed to make a settlement some where that might bring together 40 or 50 or even 100 families and thus spend the evening of life amongst my friends in promoting the cause of literature and religion; and leave them with prospects of doing good in the world. I have thought of your country but am not in possession of sufficient information to enable me to make a fair conclusion and have therefore taken the liberty of troubling you with the following enquiries. 1st Is your title free from dispute. Also the other 2 or 3 American claims in your region;

2d Is there liberty of conscience and the free exercise of religion?

3d. Is the climate safe for constitutions formed in Kentucky and Tennessee?

4th What is the quality of the soil generally, is it timbered or naked. Will it admit a dense population or must the settlements be sparse?

5th What is the quality of the water, are springs numerous and wholesome— Are streams frequent and permanent, suited to manufacturing and commerce?

6th Is yours a region of mosquitoes and full of fevers?

7th Are you exposed to Indian ravages ?

8th What proportion of your settlement is French or Spanish?

9 What is the state of improvement in your society, in agriculture, commerce, education, and religion ?

10 Will the Mexican government seriously oppose the U. S. extending to the Del Norte?

11 Are the present settlers satisfied with the government which they are under. Can they enjoy to a good degree the right of self government?

12 What bounties would be granted to settlers especially to such a settlement as stated above? It would contain many literary characters and perhaps from 20 to 30 young men who have nearly finished a classical course. What is the usual price for land by purchase?

13 What are the ordinary expenses of living? Can the necessary and absolute conveniences of life be easily obtained ?

14 What is the best mode of approaching your settlement, whether by water by the mouth of the Brazos or by Red River if by the latter the point of debarcation and the distance by land from that point and also the practicability of the route?

15 What is the size of your grant? What of Milams, of Leftwich and do they lie contiguous ?

Should you be kind enough to favor me with information on this subject please direct your communications to Gideon Blackburn President of Centre College Danville Kenty and I will be happy to receive it as soon as you might find it convenient.

GiDn Blackburn

Col. Austin Commandant of Texas.