Stephen F. Austin's Colony


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The History of Texas: Colonization of Texas

(Previous Section: Mexico Gets its Independence From Spain)

IF he who, by conquest, wins an empire, and receives the world's applause, how much more is due to those who, by unceasing toil, lay in the wilderness the foundation for an infant colony, and build thereon a vigorous and happy state! Surely there is not among men a more honorable destiny than to be the peaceful founder and builder of a new empire. Such was that of the younger Austin. His father, Moses Austin, was a native of Durham, Connecticut. His life, like that of his son, was one of enterprise. After marrying in Philadelphia, he engaged in business in the lead-mines of Wythe county, Virginia. His operations here proving unsuccessful, he removed to certain mines situated in Washington County, Missouri, then forming a part of Louisiana. It was about the beginning of the 1800's that he departed for that point, taking with him a small colony of emigrants and operatives.

The great expenses of his establishment, and the generosity of his disposition, again involved Austin in financial difficulties. As he had lived for the first three or four years in Missouri under the Spanish government, he had acquired a knowledge of the customs, laws, and perhaps the language, of that people, and had gained some information in regard to the province of Texas. He had long cherished the idea of making a settlement and bringing a colony to the country.

Accordingly, in 1820, he set out for the province, and in December of that year reached Bexar. Making known his object to the baron de Bastrop, with whom he had some previous acquaintance at New Orleans, he was introduced to Governor Martinez, to whom he explained his projected enterprise.

Death of Moses Austin

A suitable memorial was drawn up, and, after being approved by the local authorities, was forwarded to the commandant-general of the northeastern internal provinces. The memorial asked for permission to colonize three hundred families. The commandant-general, Don Joaquin Arredondo, then resided at Monterey, and the answer to the application would necessarily require some time. Austin, unable to await the result, left the baron de Bastrop to act as his agent in the affair, and set out on his return from Bexar in January, 1821. At that time the route from Bexar to the Sabine was an unsettled waste. In journeying over it, Austin was robbed and deserted by some who were traveling with him, and left to make his way, as best he could, to the Louisiana settlements. The exposure and fatigue were too much for him, but he reached home in the spring. A cold, however, thus contracted, produced a disease of the lungs, of which he died on the 10th of June, 1821. A few days before his death, however, he received the welcome news of the success of his application to plant a colony in Texas; and one of his last injunctions was, that his son, Stephen F. Austin, should consummate his enterprise.

Stephen F. Austin Takes Over the Mexican Grant

Considering that this application of Moses Austin was made while the Spanish authority was still predominant in Mexico, his success was rather surprising. But it will be remembered that it was after the revolution in Spain, when the cortes was reestablished, and a much more liberal system adopted.

This first grant to found a colony in Texas, dated on the 17th of January, 1821, provided that the colonists should be Roman catholics, or agree to become so before they entered the Spanish territory; that they should furnish undoubted evidence of good character and habits, and take an oath of fidelity to the king, to defend the government and political constitution of the Spanish monarchy. In addition, they were to be Louisianians.

Don Erasmo Seguin, who had been appointed by Governor Martinez to notify Austin of the grant, and to see that its conditions were executed, met Stephen F. Austin at Natchitoches, and on the 5th of July, 1821, they both set out for San Antonio. After consultation with the governor, Austin furnished him with a plan for the distribution of lands among the colonists. It proposed to give to each man, over twenty-one years old, six hundred and forty acres, with an addition of three hundred and twenty acres for the wife, one hundred and sixty acres for each child, and eighty acres for each slave. This plan received the sanction of the governor on the 19th of the following month. Colonel Austin next proceeded to explore the country watered by the Guadalupe, Colorado, and Brazos rivers, for the purpose of discovering a suitable location for his colony. He had a choice of the country, and the wisdom of his selection has been fully approved. Having satisfied himself on his point, he returned to New Orleans, and advertised for colonists upon the terms proposed in his contract.

The Lively Fitted to Take Colonists to Texas

Austin's means were limited; but he found a friend in New Orleans, by whose liberality he was greatly aided. Through J. L. Hawkins, the schooner Lively was fitted out with the necessary provisions and implements for a colony, and in November sailed for Matagorda bay with eighteen emigrants on board. Austin himself proceeded up Red river to Natchitoches; thence, with other colonists, he continued his course to the Brazos. They arrived at the old La Bahia crossing in December. Austin sought along the coast for the Lively, but she was never heard of more. The want of the provisions and implements on board this vessel reduced the colonists to great straits. In the meantime, James Austin, a brother of the empresario, had reached the colony; and the two brothers, with twenty others, set out for San Antonio, to make a report to the governor. They arrived there about the middle of March, 1822.

Pioneers Reach Texas

The news of Austin's intended colony had spread over the western country. The love of adventure, and the desire to find comfortable homes, excited quite a spirit of emigration. About the middle of June, 1821, and before Austin had made his selection, several families at Pecan point, in Arkansas, started for the Brazos, and on the first of January, 1822, encamped at the crossing of the old San Antonio road, two miles above the mouth of the Little Brazos. Here they found the families of Garrett and Higgins, who had reached the crossing a few days before them, and were engaged in erecting cabins.

Before this, however, on the western bank of the Colorado opposite the present town of La Grange, had settled Buckner and Powell. During the summer of 1822, among other emigrants to Austin's colony were Philip Dimmitt, Jesse Burnham, and Robert Kuykendall—names well known among the pioneers of Texas.

Austin's Journey to Mexico City

On reaching San Antonio, Austin was surprised to learn that, on account of the recent changes in Mexico, it would be necessary for him to proceed to the capital, to obtain from the Mexican Congress a confirmation of his contract, with instructions and details relative to the formation and government of his colony. However unprepared he might have been for this journey, yet such was his zeal for the consummation of his great object, that he immediately set out. Leaving the affairs of the colony in care of Josiah H. Bell, he started, in company with Dr. Robert Andrews and one other person, to perform this long journey by land, through a country infested with Indians and robbers. When two days out from San Antonio, they were attacked and robbed by the Comanche Indians; but after suitable explanations—the Indians learning that Austin was an American—their property was restored, and they were permitted to proceed. They reached the city of Mexico on the 29th of April, and found the political affairs of the nation in great confusion.

The plan of Iguala (of the 24th of February, 1821), and the treaty of Cordova (of the 24th of August following), guarantied protection to the Roman catholic religion, which satisfied the clergy; the independence of the kingdom, which satisfied the leading creole aristocracy; and the indissoluble union between the Europeans and Americans, which satisfied the Spaniards. But there was no guaranty for the liberty of the great masses. This the latter desired and expected; but Iturbide, the ruling spirit among them, had not the most distant idea of granting such a boon. It was manifest, then, that the form of government he had adopted could not stand the ordeal of deliberate public opinion, even in Mexico. Without reciting the details of occurrences which happened between the treaty of Cordova and the assembling of the first Congress—which latter event occurred on the 24th of February, 1822—it will suffice to say that Iturbide and the Congress quarreled. The majority of the representatives were in favor of a republic, and Iturbide desired a monarchy. It was, indeed, an unfavorable period to secure the attention of the government to the subject of founding colonies in a distant province; yet that attention was solicited and obtained.

Austin was not the only person in the Mexican capital seeking such contracts. Hayden Edwards, General James Wilkinson, Robert Lefwitch, and Green Dewitt, were also there. To these may be added the Cherokee chiefs Bolles, Nicollet, and Fields, who came, not to obtain a contract, but a grant of lands for their tribe, lately emigrated to eastern Texas.

Hayden Edwards, a wealthy and intelligent gentleman from Kentucky, having brought his family to Louisiana, left them there, and repaired, early in 1822, to the Mexican capital, to procure the concession of a large amount of lands in eastern Texas. He kept an open house, and used freely his ample means to forward the great object of founding a colony. General Wilkinson thought, no doubt, that his conduct in the affair of Burr would entitle his claims to consideration. In regard to the Cherokees, their wants were different. This powerful nation of Indians was once the owner of a territory embracing more than half of what is now the state of Tennessee, the southern part of Kentucky, the southwest corner of Virginia, a considerable portion of the two Carolinas, a large part of Georgia, and the northern region of Alabama! Between the period of the American Revolution and that of which we now write, the Cherokees had, by voluntary and forced sale, parted with the greater portion of their territory; and that which remained to them was claimed by the state of Georgia and other states: so that they found no other means of postponing their destruction than by a total abandonment of their haunts in the American Union. A large number of them, under the direction of the above-named chiefs, had come to find a home in Texas. It is due to truth and justice to declare that, during the 1800's, the Mexican people have treated the claims of the Indian with more respect and consideration than have been shown by the United States. Their motives for this we will not inquire into. The business of the Cherokees was soon adjusted. They had already entered into an agreement with Don Felix Trespalacios, by which they were permitted to enjoy the lands on which they had settled in common. The agreement was confirmed by Iturbide on the 27th of April, 1823, with the understanding that the Indians were to retire farther into the interior, and that no additional families of them should immigrate till the publication of the general colonization law.

The Mexican Colonization Law

So many applications induced the appointment of a committee, who reported in favor of a general colonization law. The bill before the Congress was about to receive the final sanction of that body, when, on the morning of the 31st of October, 1822, Iturbide (who had previously caused himself to be declared emperor) abruptly ejected and dispersed them. The emperor, after an apology to the Mexican people for this high-handed measure, called a congress, or junta, of forty-five members, nominated by himself. This body, in pursuance of the wishes of Iturbide, shortly afterward prepared and passed a new colonization law, which received the imperial sanction on the 4th of January, 1823. As this exhibits the general features and conditions of those subsequently enacted, they may be here properly referred to. The first step, being an abrogation of the royal exterminating order of Philip II. against foreigners, is an agreement to protect them in their liberty, property, and civil rights.

But, as a condition precedent, they must be such as profess the Roman catholic apostolic religion, the established religion of the empire.

To encourage the immigration of such, the government will distribute to them lands out of the vacant domain.

Not less than a labor, or one hundred and seventy-seven acres, will be given to each farmer; and not less than one league, or four thousand four hundred and twenty-eight acres, to each stock-raiser.

Immigrants could come on their own account, and receive their lands, or be introduced through an empresario.

As an inducement to immigrants, they were to be free for six years from the payment of all tithes, taxes, duties, &c.

There was to be no sale or purchase of slaves, and the children of slaves born in the empire were to be free at fourteen years of age.

The empresarios, for each two hundred families they should introduce, were entitled to fifteen leagues and two labors, or sixty-six thousand seven hundred and seventy-four acres of land; but this premium could not exceed forty-five leagues and six labors, whatever number of families should be introduced. The empresario was, however, bound to have such lands peopled and cultivated within twelve years from the concession, and to sell or dispose of two thirds of it within twenty years.

Such were some of the inducements held out by this general law of Mexico to contractors and immigrants. The law having passed, Austin was desirous of having a special confirmation of his previous contract. In this respect, he found a useful friend in Herrera, the former commissioner of the Mexican patriots to the United States, and now minister of foreign and internal relations under Iturbide. The grant was accordingly confirmed on the 18th of February, 1823. While Austin was preparing to return to Texas, where his presence was greatly needed, another revolution occurred in Mexico, which caused him to postpone his journey.

Mexican Revolution of 1823

The castle of San Juan d'Ulloa had still remained in the possession of Spain. Iturbide was desirous of securing the fortress by treaty. For this purpose he proceeded to Jalapa, and requested the Spanish commandant of the castle to meet him there. This the latter refused. They then agreed on the appointment of commissioners, who met at Vera Cruz, but without coming to any conclusion.

General Echavarri was at that time commander of the southern division of the empire, including Vera Cruz, and Santa Anna was in command of the town. These two officers quarreled, and Echavarri preferred charges against Santa Anna. The latter, who had been a great friend to Iturbide, and had aided him in the revolution, immediately repaired to the court of the emperor, at Jalapa, to answer the charges of Echavarri. To his surprise, Iturbide treated him harshly, and dismissed him from his command at Vera Cruz. This fatal step ruined the emperor. Santa Anna suddenly departed for Vera Cruz, and reached there before the news of his dismissal. He paraded his troops, denounced the emperor, and raised the standard of revolt. The people and troops, wearied with the oppression of the usurper, and disgusted with his treachery, soon joined in the insurrection. Guadalupe Victoria, Guerrero, and Bravo, all distinguished in the wars of the revolution, took their places as leaders of the populace. Iturbide, alarmed, and seeing the army and people all arrayed against him, returned to the city of Mexico, and on the 8th of March, 1823, called together as many as he could of the old Congress, and tendered his resignation as emperor; but a quorum of that body not being present, they refused to act. At length, on the 19th of March, seeing himself totally abandoned, Iturbide sent in a letter of abdication to the Congress, and retired to Tulancingo. The Congress, which by this time had assembled, refused to accept his resignation (as that would legalize his usurpation), but permitted him to leave the country, upon an annual allowance of twenty-five thousand dollars. He accordingly embarked, with his family, for Leghorn, and thus left the republicans of Mexico to manage the government of their country as they chose.

The old Congress immediately established a provisional government, and appointed Bravo, Victoria; and Negrete, to act as the executive for the time being. A new Congress, known as the Constituent Congress, was called, which assembled in August, 1823. They proceeded, among other things, to declare the acts of the late emperor void. This decree rendered it necessary to enact another colonization law. But, in the meantime, Austin, unwilling to wait for this action of the republican Congress, made an application to the executive for a confirmation of his former grant. This confirmation was had on the 14th of April, 1823, and the empresario returned to his colony.

 The Mexican revolution produced some alterations in the internal organization of the country, to which it may be well to refer. Previous to the revolution, the geographical divisions of New Spain consisted of eleven intendencies and three provinces; but, by a decree of the sovereign junta, passed in January, 1822, the empire was divided into six captaincies-general. The federal constitution of 1824, however, produced an entirely different organization, which will be noticed hereafter.

Mexican Constitution of 1824

The Constituent Congress were engaged, not only in reenacting a general or national colonization law, but also in maturing a constitution. The former was passed on the 18th of August, 1824, and differed little from that of Iturbide, except that it provided for the passage of special colonization laws by the legislatures of the several Mexican states, and was quite general and liberal in its terms. As a restraint upon speculation, and to prevent a monopoly of the public lands, it was provided by the twelfth section that there should not be united in the same hands more than one league suitable for irrigation, four leagues of arable land not irrigable, and six leagues of grazing-land.

The federal constitution was not proclaimed till the 4th of October, 1824. Before directing our attention to this celebrated instrument, it will be well that we should notice the progress of the settlement of Texas.

Early Indian Troubles for the Texas Colonists

After the promulgation of the treaty of Cordova, the old citizens of the towns of Nacogdoches and San Antonio, who had fled for safety to Louisiana, gradually returned. In the latter part of 1821, the town of Nacogdoches already contained a hundred inhabitants; they were a mixed population of Spaniards, French, Americans, and free negroes. Captain Dill was their worthy commandant. The population of the place was gradually increased by immigrants, even before it had become the center of a colony; and many of the immigrants for Austin's colony, from one cause or another, were induced to stop at this point and settle.

The large number of troops stationed at San Antonio caused that place to flourish. In 1823, it is said that the population. amounted to five thousand. Yet the Comanche Indians visited the town at their pleasure, and when there, were masters of the place. They brought in dried buffalo-meat, deerskins, and buffalo-robes, which they exchanged for sugar, beads, &c. Their trading was carried on mostly with Americans, though they were on good terms with the Mexican population.

The immigrants to Austin's colony came in as fast as could be desired. In fact, it was difficult for those already there to raise a sufficiency of provisions to support the new-comers till they, in turn, could cultivate the soil. Their privations in this respect were great; and they were often reduced to the necessity of living on the proceeds of the chase alone, and to clothe themselves with skins.

The chief trouble of the colonists, however, for the first three or four years, was with the Carankawae Indians. This tribe, occupying the coast opposite the colony, had been greatly exasperated against the whites by the conduct of the Lafitte men. Again, in 1821, after the pirate-chief had left Galveston, some twenty persons, under the direction of Dr. Purnell, visited the island in search of supposed buried treasures. The company, failing to discover the treasure, found that a hundred of the Carankawae Indians were at the "Three Trees." It appears that a fine schooner had been run into the bay by pirates, and there abandoned. The party of whites ascertained that the Indians had visited the schooner, and had taken away the sails and stretched them as an awning at the Three Trees. They therefore concluded to attack them. Having made the necessary preparations, they set out in time to reach a bayou, running into the pass, just at dark. They landed, and found the Indians under the live oaks, dancing and singing. The company was divided into two platoons, and thus, marching up to within forty yards of the Indians, opened the fire by platoon. At the first discharge, the savages flew to their weapons, strung their bows, and sent a shower of arrows in the direction of the enemy. They soon, however, retreated into a, swamp of high grass, carrying off their dead and wounded. The Americans, with the exception of Purnell, escaped unhurt. He had an arrow shot through his cap and the skin of his head, which, it is said, he did not discover till the fight was over. The Americans carried off a young Indian as prisoner.

All these provocations rendered the Carankawaes hostile to the colonists; and they never failed, when the occasion offered, to take revenge upon the innocent and defenseless. They are described as being a very fierce and warlike tribe. They averaged over six feet in height, and were stoutly built. Their weapons were bows and arrows; each warrior carrying a bow of his own length, and so very strong, that but few Americans could string them. It was said that they could shoot their arrows with the accuracy of a rifle!

In the summer of 1823, three young men, named Loy, Alley, and Clark, went down the Colorado in a canoe for corn. The Carankawaes were at that time encamped at the mouth of Skull creek, and lay in ambush for the canoe as it returned. When it came near enough, they shot and killed Loy and Alley; and Clark leaped into the river, and endeavored to escape by swimming to the opposite shore. This he did, but received seven wounds from their arrows.

The same evening, Botherton, another colonist, coming down on horseback from the settlement, fifteen miles above, fell in among these Indians. Thinking them to be a friendly tribe, he was surprised, his horse and gun taken from him, and, as he attempted to fly, was slightly wounded with an arrow.

News of these outrages reaching the settlement, a party of fourteen men was raised that night, and they marched to the Indian camp and surrounded it before daylight. Here they lay till daybreak. When it became light enough for them to see, they opened a murderous fire upon the natives, and succeeded in killing nineteen out of twenty-one in the camp. The Indians were so completely surprised, that they did not return the fire.

Again, in 1824, several of the immigrants had been cut off, on their way from the mouth of the Brazos to the colony; and the bodies of white men were found in the prairie. This was correctly charged to the Carankawaes. To prevent a recurrence of such outrages, Colonel Austin ordered Captain Randal Jones, with a company of twenty-three men, to proceed down the Brazos, and along the coast as far as Matagorda bay; and should he learn that they had been concerned in those murders, or discover in them any hostile designs, he was commanded to attack them. Accordingly, in September, Captain Jones proceeded, with his company, by water, down to the mouth of the river. Here they were visited by some of the Indians, who, seeing their preparations, appeared quite friendly. At this point Captain Jones learned that about thirty of the tribe were encamped on Jones's creek, a tributary of the San Bernardo, and about seven miles distant; also that ten or twelve more had gone to Bailey's, higher up on the Brazos, to purchase ammunition. Jones, on receipt of this information, sent two of his company up the river, to raise additional force. These two, arriving at Bailey's, found eight or ten of the colonists already collected there to watch the motions of the Indians sent for ammunition. They perceived their designs to be so manifestly hostile, that they attacked them the following morning at daybreak, killed some, and drove the others away.

Captain Jones, not waiting for the additional forces for which he had sent, returned up the river, opposite to the Carankawae camp on Jones's creek, and disembarked with his company. Here they concealed themselves till evening, and sent out spies to discover the locality of the Indian camp. The spies, returning at midnight, did not give such description of the locality as to enable them to proceed. Jones remained quiet the next day, and just at sunset heard the howling and war-whoops of the savages at their camp. This had been caused by the return of their comrades, who had on that morning been defeated at Bailey's, and brought with them their killed and wounded.

Having thus ascertained the situation of the Indian camp, which was on the west bank of the creek, where it widens out into a lake, before emptying into the St. Bernard, Jones conducted his company across the creek, half a mile above their camp, and came down on the west side. Arrived within sixty yards of the enemy, the company halted to wait for daybreak. So soon as it was light enough to see the sights of their rifles, they discovered the Indian camp immediately on the margin of the creek, surrounded by reeds and tall grass. Captain Jones formed his men, and advanced rapidly to the attack. Upon the first discharge, the indians concealed themselves in the long grass, from which they returned the fire with balls and arrows. The whites, being exposed, and having one of their number killed and several wounded, retreated up the creek, recrossed it, and retired in the direction of the settlement. The Indians pursued them till they crossed the creek. Just at this time, Captain Jones, observing an Indian pointing an arrow at him, shot him down. Thus the engagement ended. The whites lost, in killed, young Bailey, Singer, and Spencer; the Indians had fifteen killed; and there were some wounded on both sides. The whites returned home, and the Indians retreated west across the St. Bernard.

About this period, another affair with the same tribe occured on the Colorado. An old man by the name of White, with two Mexicans, came round in a yawl from La Bahia to the mouth of the Colorado to procure corn. They were taken prisoners by the Indians at the mouth of the river. White, to save his life, promised to go up the stream, purchase corn, and come down to trade with them. Retaining the Mexicans and the yawl, they permitted him to depart alone, with the understanding that he should set the prairie on fire, two miles above the mouth of the river, on his return, that they might know where to find him. White proceeded up the river, and reported the facts in the settlement, when Captain Burnham raised a company of thirty men, and marched down nearly to the mouth of the river, where they found the two Mexicans and the yawl. The Mexicans reported that the Indians were either at the mouth of the river or on the peninsula across the bay. Captain Burnham divided his company, half remaining where they were, while the other half marched a mile farther, down. Those above gave the signal to the Indians by setting the prairie on fire. In a short time, a large canoe, full of Indians, was seen coming up the river. When it arrived opposite the lower half of the company, the indians were attacked, and ultimately all killed.

In a short time afterward, the Carankawaes, tired of this unprofitable warfare, in which their numbers were rapidly melting away before the rifles of Austin's colonists, sued for peace. They proposed to meet Colonel Austin at La Bahia, and make a treaty. The latter, collecting a hundred volunteers, met them at the creek four miles east of La Bahia. Peace was made, and the Indians obliged themselves not to come east of the San Antonio. This pledge they ever after observed.

These were days of want and peril in the colony; yet its members continued to toil, and their numbers were increased by new immigrants. In April, 1822, the schooner Revenge, Captain Shires, brought upward of eighty colonists. They landed at Bolivar point, spent a night there, and looked at the remains of Fort Bolivar, lately occupied by the forces under Long. They then proceeded up the bay, and ran aground on Redfish bar. The passengers left the vessel, and went ashore on the west side of the bay. From this point they proceeded in search of homes. Two of them, Moses L. Choate and Colonel Pettis, went up the San Jacinto river some ten miles above its mouth, where they made, perhaps, the first improvement ever effected on that stream.

Austin Returns to Texas

Early in the summer of 1823, Austin returned to his colony. He stopped at Monterey, on his way back from the capitol, to ascertain from the captain-general of the northeastern internal provinces the extent of his authority, and to have the same defined. This was done, in the Spanish form; and Austin was declared to have full power to administer justice in the colony, to make defensive war against the Indians, and to command the militia with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In fact, he was clothed with legislative, executive, and judicial powers, being required to report his proceedings to the governor of the state, and being responsible to the captain-general of the provinces.

On his return to the colony, Austin proceeded to lay off a town on the Colorado, eight miles above the Atasca sita crossing; but, after surveying the lots, he concluded to change the location to the Brazos. Here, accordingly, he laid the foundations of San Felipe de Austin, as the colonial town.

The return of Colonel Austin infused new life into the colony. The news of the confirmation of his grant, of the overthrow of Iturbide, and of the prospect of a permanent republican form of government, caused the colonists to believe that they had homes—free homes—for themselves and their children. They went to work to select and survey their lands. Don Luciana Garcia, the governor of Texas, was friendly to their interests, and did all that he could to promote them. On the 17th of July, 1823, he appointed the baron de Bastrop commissioner to extend land-titles. Thus the governing system of the colony was completed.

Although Austin's powers were almost absolute, he governed with parental mildness. His soul was absorbed in the great business of the successful completion of his enterprise. He was esteemed by each colonist, not so much as a ruler, as a father and friend. By example and precept he inspired them with a love of order and industry. True, he was often annoyed by bad men, intruders in the colony; yet his forbearance, even in such cases, was great. When he found it necessary to use strong measures, and inflict wholesome lessons of punishment or restraint, he did it, but with regret.

To illustrate this; in 1823 and 1824, the colony began to be infested by robbers—men who had fled from justice in the United States, and came to the colony with the hope of committing their depredations with greater impunity. At first, they were pursued, the property reclaimed, and the robbers whipped and turned loose. It was found that this only exasperated them, and caused them to add murder to robbery, in order to prevent detection. Austin, on being appealed to, directed the application of a more efficient remedy. An opportunity soon offered. Corasco, a Mexican, with his servants, was driving a caballada of mules through Texas to Louisiana. After crossing the Colorado, they were attacked, and all murdered, with the exception of a Mexican servant, who escaped, badly wounded, to a settlement of the colonists. The robbers, with their booty, proceeded toward Louisiana. As they were crossing the Brazos, they were overtaken, and all instantly killed except one, who escaped. The head of one of the robbers was cut off and set on a pole, as a warning to like offenders.

These were rough times among the Texan pioneers. Yet they were engaged in a good work, and met and overcame difficulties with manly firmness. They had no other luxuries than such as were afforded in beholding the loveliest natural scenery, and in taking part in the stirring adventures of the chase. The common dress of the men and children was made of buckskin, and even the women were often obliged to wear a like dress. Rarely were they able to obtain from some strolling peddler a piece of " domestic," or calico, at the high price of seventy-five cents per yard.

Austin was anxious to fulfill his contract, and introduce the requisite number of families. As many young men and unmarried persons came into the colony, he suggested the propriety of their uniting in pairs, making one the head of the family, by which means the two would obtain a family headright, and the number of families be increased. This arrangement was made in many cases, and with a fortunate result to all concerned.

[Next Section of Texas History: Hayden Edwards and the Fredonian Revolution]




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