Auction Date:2012 May 16 @ 18:00 (UTC-5 : EST/CDT)
Location:5 Rt 101A Suite 5, Amherst, New Hampshire, 03031, United States
Twice-signed manuscript DS, in Spanish, signed “Estevan F. Austin,” and “Austin,” one page both sides, 7.75 x 12.25, October 28, 1824. A bill of sale for property in Austin’s first colony, written by his secretary Samuel May Williams. Headed at the top (translated): “2nd Seal. 12 reals. Validated by the Mexican Nation for the year 1824,” and signed underneath by Austin, “Austin.” In full (translated): “Be it known, by this writ, that I, William Roberts, an inhabitant on the east bank of the Brazos River, in the Providence of Texas, and one of the Colonists established in the colonial establishment permitted to Empresario Don Stephen F. Austin by the Mexican Nation in the said Province, have sold, and by the present act do hereby sell, to Andrew Roberts, my son and to his heirs and successors, the lower half of the league of land which the Mexican Government sold to me, situated on the east bank of the Brazos River. The said half league thus sold to my son has the following lines and boundaries: to wit, from the marker erected at the lower corner of the aforesaid league which the Mexican Government sold to me, as the point of beginning, and thence to the east, to the southeast corner of my said league, and from thence, to the north, nine hundred and eighteen varas, to the southeast corner of the half league which I sold to Cornelius Smith and thence, to the west, thirteen thousand eight hundred and ninety five varas, to the said Brazos River, to the marker erected at the lower corner of the said half league which I sold to my son-in-law, the said Cornelius Smith, and thence, following the meanders of the river, down stream, to the point where the first line began, containing the half of my said league, more or less, bordering on the west with the Brazos River, on the north with the land that I sold to the said Smith, on the south with the leagues of J. B. Bailey and C. Smith.
I sold the said land to Andrew Roberts, my son, and to his heirs and successors, for the consideration of one hundred and twenty-seven pesos, one and one-half reals, which he, the said Andrew Roberts, my son, paid to me, all of which I have received from him. Therefore, accompanied by, and in the presence of Empresario Stephen F. Austin, a judge commissioned by this colony, and the witness John Austin, William Stafford, and David McCormick, I placed the said Andrew Roberts, my son, in full and complete possession of the land, for him, his heirs, and successors, with all its uses, customs, houses, and belongings, and by these presents I do hereby grant him all the title and right which I, the said William Roberts, my heirs, and successors have, or might have obtained by the said concession or in consequence of having settled and cultivated the said land, all of which I hereby state and declare of my own will accordingly to the right which I have, and after having received a clear explanation of the contents of this act, in my own language, before the witnesses hereintofore mentioned, and in order that it may be made a matter of record, I signed it in the presence of said witnesses, all of which I certify.
William Roberts—Attending Witnesses—John Austin—Wm. Stafford—David McCormick—Stephen F. Austin, Empresario for establishing a new colony in the Province of Texas, Judge Commissioned by the same Colony. I certify that the above mentioned William Roberts, accompanied by the witnesses John Austin, William Stafford, and David McCormick, in my present, he placed his son, Andrew Roberts, in possession of the land mentioned deed of sale, which he signed, with his own hand after having received an explanation of same in his own language, before said witnesses, and, in witness thereof, I signed it I, the said Empresario Stephen F. Austin, and, in order that this title of sale may have its due effect, I certify and declare that the said William Roberts has actually cultivated and settled, with his family, the above mentioned league of land that was sold to him by Commissioner Baron de Bastrop and Empresario Stephen F. Austin in the name of the Mexican Government, and that consequently the said William Roberts has complied with that condition of the law, which I certify.
Stephen F. Austin, Judge commissioned for the New Colony on the Brazos and Colorado Rivers. Do hereby certify that the foregoing title of sale by William Roberts to Andrew Roberts is literally taken from the original in the archives of said Colony under my supervision, and that it was compared, corrected, and amended in the presence of the witnesses.” Signed at the conclusion in full by Austin, who also adds his last name to the the upper right corner of the front, “Austin.” Document is also endorsed in another hand, in Spanish, in the upper left of the front by Sylvenus Castleman, one of Stephen Austin’s ‘Old Three Hundred.’
In very good condition, with three horizontal folds, old tape repairs to right edge, not affecting legibility, scattered toning and soiling, a bit heavier along folds, a bit of light damp staining, and small portions of text a shade or two light, but completely legible, otherwise very good condition.
This scarce, historically-significant document offers vital details about how Austin settled the first 300 families in his colony during Texas’ formative years. Signed a mere 24 days after the ratification of the Constitution of 1824, it suggests that a level of stability had been achieved by the newly-independent nation. For years, Austin’s plans had been curtailed by the unrest and uncertainty that characterized Mexican politics following the overthrow of Spanish rule in 1821. With a relatively stable government now in place, he was able to begin his colonial endeavor in earnest.
Interestingly, the Father of Texas was himself a reluctant empressario who undertook the colonialization out of a sense of duty to his own father. It was actually Moses Austin, aided by Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop, who was awarded the original land grant in 1821. Meanwhile, his son was investing in land that would eventually become Little Rock, Arkansas, a venture he was enthusiastic about. After his father’s death in 1821, the future empressario was persuaded to pick up where his father left off by a letter his mother wrote two days before Moses Austin died. With the help of the pro-immigration colonization commissioner Baron de Bastrop, Austin successfully attracted his first 300 families including those headed up by William Roberts, Andrew Roberts, Sylvanus Castleman, William Stafford, and David McCormick who are mentioned in this document. An intimate glimpse into Texas’ formative years. The Robert Davis Collection.