Stephen F Austin to Elias R Wightman, 03-12-1830

Summary: Surveying, school, instructions for obtaining Land titles.

Matagorda Friday March 12 1830

Dr Sir

I have been here and at the old landing opposite this, since last Monday week, and am compelled to leave for Brazoria without seeing you, which is a very serious disappointment.

It was my original intention that you should have the surveying of all the vacant lands on this river below H. H. League and Betts, and all Trespalacios, Prairie, and Cany Creek below Curtis, and I fully expected you at San Felipe when the Commissioner was there. But you did not come, and I heard you had engaged in a school which I of course supposed would occupy all your time and as I heard nothing from you, was left to conclude that you did not wish for any surveying. Notwithstanding this, however, when Selkerk came over I wrote you, and stated that this job had been intended for you, and if you wished it, to go on with it, or if not to let Selkerk have your compass so that he might do it, or for you and him to do it jointly, or make any arrangement with him on the subject you thought proper and could make. My object was to get the work done without delay. About 18 days after Selkerk left me to come over here, I went to the mouth of Karankaway on the east side and along the bay in sight of the timber of Trespalacios, and thence up that Creek on the west side in search of you or Selkerk, but seeing no smokes in that direction, I could not but conclude from the time that had elapsed, that something had prevented either of you from starting, and that you had abandoned the job, I was alone and on a borrowed mule, and thought it very doubtfull wheither I could get over at this place, and therefore struck a north course for Alleys. On my arrival there I met Burnham, who informed me you was to start from here in a few days. I only remained three days at home, and then proceeded to the head of Trespalacios send followed it down untill I found Selkerk and Cook and directed them to stop at the west point of Trespalacios Bay, for I had left orders for Ingram to finish the east side of Karankaway. I expected to find you here, and that the whole meandering could be ploted in two or three days and the tracts all laid off on the map, after which they could have been run, but your absence has totally deranged all my calculations, and compelled me to make new arrangements, for I must be at Brazoria on Sunday or Monday next

I wish you to make a connected plot of all the meanderings on a scale of 2000 varas to the inch, which is the scale used in all the work, and I will try and return here sometime in May or June, or if you can send the plot up to the office I can there lay oil the tracts as they are taken, for there is to be some quarters and some Leagues intermixed, I shall be at Brazoria about 10 days, from there to Galveston bay, by way of San Felipe, and thence up the Colorado above the San Antonio road, so that you see I have work chalked for myself until June at least, and it is in fact quite doubtful whether I can be here again before next fall or winter.

Another matter The families who came with you to the country have never been to the office. I know not where they all want their land, ever since the 20 of Novr last they were informed by my advertisement what they ought to do. they have neglected their own affairs and if they suffer for so doing, they can blame no one buf themselves. I wrote you that all their business should be done without advancing one cent except the stamp paper which is fifty cents for each, so that they have no excuse,

I will once more inform what they must do. They must each of them, (that is the heads of families) go in person to the office and there enter their names and a list of their families and each one must take the oath prescribed by law and procure a certificate of reception as settlers in my colony, and they must each of them state where they want their land and have an entry made of it. When this is done it can be surveyed and not before. This is too important a matter to be neglected any longer. If they take money to pay the stamp paper they can have their petitions made out in Spanish by Williams and sign it, and then they need not return to San Felipe any more untill they go after their titles. Will you do those families the favor to attend to this matter and inform them what they must do. Williams will be at the office if I am not and can do all that is necessary.

The object of the certificate of reception is to place a legal document in the hands of each one, that he was recd, as a settler by me under my contract with gvt. and as such is entitled in virtue of my contracts and the law to a certain portion of land. I have adopted this plan for the safety of the emigrants in case of my death before they get their titles in full, for should I die at this time what legal proof have any of the families who came with you that they form a part of my settlers ? they have none for there can be no legal register of their names untill they have taken the oath. I wish this matter attended to, for it is becoming rather dangerous to calculate too much on my life. My health is greatly impaired and is getting worse, and I have reason to fear that in case of my death, the emigrants would have to wait a long time before they get their titles. I therefore again repeat: neglect this matter no longer.

It was my wish to come to some final plan as to this place—but your absence has defeated that, and it must be defered to some other period. There is in human affairs a certain time, a point when the iron is hot, which ought never to be neglected—that point in your affairs was when the commissioner was at my house. You could then have had all your affairs arranged, and now I fear there will be some difficulty to get a tract for you as the heirs of your deed, father, but all that can be done by me shall he done. A petition in Spanish must be drawn up on stamp paper and signed by you and the other heirs, and I will then manage it to the best advantage for you, but untill I get that petition with the signatures to it I can do nothing for you.

S. F. Austin [Rubric]