Henry Austin to Stephen F Austin, 03-20-1831

Summary: Cotton mills for Texas. Land. Plans for improvement of the country.

New Orleans, March 20, 1831

Col S F Austin

My dear Sir I have written you a long letter by this conveyance on the subject of Mr Wares propositions. I have since had further conversation with him and find he wishes to come to some conclusion on the subject before his departure for Philada if practicable.

In the absence of any advices from you I am some what at loss what to decide upon. Genl Terans officio to the Consul requesting him to facilitate by passports emigrants to your colony and also to Dewits and McMullens looks more favorable as does the advice from Brasoria that the collector sent by Bradburn had orders to respect indentures of servants. We are satisfied that Buy has no exclusive right and that the enterprise might be safely undertaken. Mr Ware is willing to embark in the matter immediately and take his chance for a grant of land, if I will take the direction of the business; This I would do if my solicitation were granted but were I to engage myself as director of this concern, and get no land for myself nor for the manufacturing concern it would be a bad move. I must therefore continue here in suspense until the eve of his departure in the hope that in the mean time something definitive on the subject of my solicitation may reach me.

I see that your contract for 500 families expires on the 20th May next consequently what ever is to be done under that grant must be done promptly I therefore give you our views that whatever may be needful to be done at Saltillo may be done whilst you are there so far as you may deem it expedient

1st It would be desirable to secure a good Mill seat in a good position. This we could not expect to do in vacant land and must purchase. It is said Houghs on the Bernard or peach creek is the best in the Colony and that he offered to sell his league and an half for 2000$ but the question arises, can he alienate with legal title, for not having cultivated in totality? It will not do to expend 40,000$ on land that may be taken away from us:— The same difficulty might arise were we to use steam power on a purchased tract.

Can this difficulty be obviated without legislative provision? 2° We cannot now give you the name in which to locate the grant for the encouragement of a cotton manufactory and may not be able to do it before the 20 May. Is there any mode by which you can get legal authority to grant a premium of 11 leagues to the proprietor of the Cotton Factory, being resident, on his putting in actual operation at least 1000 spindles if you think proper to do so? This would arm you for a contract with any other party should this one back out, but I should expect you to give us the preference if the thing be done.

My first intention was, in case my solicitation were granted to go to England with a small Brig to get my equipment and a stock of goods for the colony at first cost to make arrangements for a direct trade between the colony and England, procure English Artizans to erect my buildings and laborers under indentures for two or three years, and run out direct to Port Austin west end of Galveston in October or November next. At the same time I could ascertain whether a contract could be made for supplying the King's dockyard with live oak, rail road, etc—-but I cannot command funds enough to do it on my own acct, I do not chuse to engage in it for the benefit of others. The duty on foreign timber is too high in England for private contract there. From New York I learn that live oak cut promiscuously will not more than pay charges from Florida but large timber cut to moulds is valuable. Mr Echford who has the most knowledge of anybody on this subject is to send me all needful information and the best mode of making it available. I mentioned in my last Mrs Holleys desire to obtain a settlement grant for herself and son. She is fully determined to go to the Colony if she can get land for her son. In case you think proper to comply with her wish please enclose her the form of application for her to sign and send back. Her adress is—Mrs Mary Austin Holley care of Mr Hermogene La Branch New Orleans. She intends to pass the Summer here, her sons name is Horace Holley. Respectfully and cordially yours H Austin [Rubric]

I have this moment recd a letter from our cousin Charles Austin now Mayor of Tallahasse, Florida. He says Mr Morgan who has just returned from Texas, has set the people Texas mad and many say they shall go there this fall, he says good lands sell there at 5 or 6$ pr Acre 25$ pr acre has been offered for Lafayettes 22.000 acres. That country in general is wretchedly poor. His son Thomas Hopkins Austin is now here, a fine young man, I have placed him with Mr Bogert for the present. He wishd to visit Texas but is not yet experienced enough to trade in that country. Charles says he had been desired to call him home to join a young man of Capital in an adventure to Texas.

[Addressed:] Al Sor Coronel Estevan F Austin Leona Vicario ó Saltillo