William A. Sheldon to Stephen F. Austin, 10-15-1825

Summary: Asks information concerning terms of settlement, conditions of cotton culture, etc. Some cotton trade already between Texas and New Orleans.

New Orleans October 15th 1825

Stephen Austin Esqr

Respected Sir,— You will have the goodness to pardon the self-introduction of an individual whose only object is to obtain information of your section of the country. For some years past I have been located in this city, and permanently established as a Druggist in society with Mr. Saml D. Dixon under the firm of Sheldon and Dixon. It is possible that our house may not be unknown to some of the settlers in your neighbourhood, who will assure you that my inquiries do not arise out of iddle curiosity— Public report holds out many inducements to persons discontented with their localities, to emigrate to Texas, and 'tis not unfrequently in my travels in the western states that I have questions asked me, I am unable to reply to, particularly as regards the grants of yourself and Mr. Edwards.— The information I receive, is vague and unsatisfactory, and in many instances contradictory, but generally favourable to your settlement— It would be highly gratifying to impart information to others by authority emanating directly from yourself.—

I have been frequently solicited by Col. Charles Morgan, of the parish of Point Coupée, a rich and respectable Planter, to address you on the subject of the culture of cotton in Texas, and whether any experiments have come under your own observation, where the transplanting of the seed to prevent Rot has been successful.— a letter from him last mail induced me, to open a correspondence with you, submitting to your option its continuence—

I am under the impression that a small Parcel of Texican cotton was gin'd here last year, and the seed is in our present crop. It is generally admitted that a change of Seed affords the best preventive known, against a premature decay of the Cotton Plant and the Southern seed by experiments of Col. Morgan and Ledoux is, by them supposed to be far preferable to that generally planted from the importations from Kentucky, Alabama etc. It is also thought by them that seed from Texas might be obtained with more facility, and that the staple of Louisiana's cotton would be improved in a ratio to compensate planters in incurring the small additional expense of reshipping it from hence to their plantations.—It may not be unknown to you that The Rot annually increases throughout the States of Louisiana Georgia Missippi and all Florida; this year complaints are heavy, and a remedy must be soon afforded to prevent the recurrence of a really national evil.—

Permit me to inquire on what kind of soil, with you, does the cotton plant best flourish? and whether there is much, or any dif ference in the texture or length of staple of the cotton raised near the sea coast or in the interior—on the high or low lands, or the Prairais or waving surface? and whether the natural plains afford rich soil for cultivation or if there is a necessity for clearing land for a plantation? and is the timber heavy, of difficult clearing, and of what species generally bordering on the sea coast?

The particular inquiries I desire are the terms on which lands are now disposed of, by yourself, either to families or individual settlers? do you distinguish in purchasers, men of family, from young and single farmers, and is the quantity of land specified in any general law or custom, beyond which an individual cannot contract for? have settlers the privilege of selecting their lands as regards situation, and on purchasing have they the power to dispose of any part, or the whole of it again? Is it necessary that purchased land should be occupied ?

Mrss. Dewey and Sabin, sole proprietors of the patent for the corn and cob mills, for this and the state of Missippi desires me to ask you whether any encouragement would be given among your settlers for the running of a few pair of stones, and also the mill for grinding the corn and cob, with, or without them for cattle's food? are there advantageous cities for mill seats on streams? Saw and grist mills, and at convenient distances for the country settlers ?—

Perhaps I have, too long, intruded on your patience with a long letter of inquiries, but any information you may afford me will be welcomed with thanks, and reciprocated if you do me the pleasure of requiring it—

William A. Sheldon [Rubric]

Address—Sheldon & Dixon Druggists and Commission Merchants New Orleans