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Auction 6: Lots 91-97

The Future Alamo Commander Writes to the Future First President of Texas

Item 91, detail

91. TRAVIS, William Barret (1809-1836). Autograph letter, signed, addressed to David G. Burnet, Oakland, San Jacinto. San Felipe, February 6, 1835. 3 pp., 8vo, plus integral address and remains of wax seal. Some mild to moderate browning, a few short splits at folds, one short tear at margin of last page.

An excellent letter written on the eve of the Texas Revolution. Travis writes about his own legal affairs, news from Juan N. Almonte that Stephen F. Austin has been released from prison in Mexico, slavery (including his own slaves), immigration to Texas, events and politicians in Texas, specifically mentioning Almonte, Judge [William H?] Jack, Samuel May Williams, and Ben Milam. Travis makes an enigmatic reference to having read the "White Mustang" and its negative effect on the Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company, one of the most controversial of the Texas land speculation projects. Travis' comments include:

I mailed your letter to Almonte; but did not pay the postage — I do not know the custom on the subject; but presume Almonte enjoys the privilege of a frank

I recd a letter, a few days since from Nacogdoches, which says, that you will be strongly recommended from there for the office of Judge — Jack has been recommended by Brazoria & this place —

What has become of the recommendation of Liberty?

Williams has gone [to Monclova] — I reminded him of the power of atty — Don't know whether he took it with him or not. Milam is still here; but will set out on tomorrow. I will endeavor to get him to see that your petition is attended to ["In 1835 Milam went to Monclova, the capital of Coahuila and Texas, to urge the new governor, Augustín Viesca, to send a land commissioner to Texas to provide the settlers with land titles" (New Handbook IV:718)].

Austin has been admitted to Bail — Letters from him & Almonte say he will leave Mexico, entirely liberated, in a short time [Austin "remained a prisoner...until December 1834, when he was released on bond and limited to the area of the Federal District. He was freed by a general amnesty law in July 1835 and at the end of August returned to Texas by way of New Orleans (New Handbook I:296)].

The new election for Governor, V. Governor, & members of Congress, will take place here next Sunday —

I have read the "White Mustang" — It has certainly kicked hard against the N.Y. Company [Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company] —; & I fear your interest has taken a Stampillo [Spanish slang for "fleecing"] in consequence — It is a most pitiful production — a catch penny concern —

The Legislature meets on the first of March next —

J. W. Johnson & George Ewing are the judges — Quien sabe?

I have taken T W Nibbs [T. Willis Nibbs] into partnership for this year

I have sold my woman, Malinda (the hurt one) for $700 in Brazoria ["His first liaison in Texas may have been the washerwoman Malinda, for he mentions in his diary paying an 'M' for such services." (McDonald, William Barret Travis, p. 94)].

I have hired Joe for the year; & cannot now say, whether I will sell him or not —

Many Emigrants are coming into the country — A few negroes also, & indentured have been landed on the coast — But we disagree on this subject —

($20,000-30,000) $23,000.00

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92. [UNITED STATES. SUPREME COURT]. Group photograph in color of the Supreme Court Justices serving at the end of the Reagan administration, signed by all nine Justices on mat below photograph. [Washington, 1988 or 1989]. 26 x 34 cm. (10-1/4 x 13-3/8 inches). Matted, framed, and under glass. Very fine.

The photograph is of the members of the Court prior to the retirement of William J. Brennan. Signers are: John Paul Stevens, Sandra D. O'Connor, Harry A. Blackmun, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Byron R. White, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Antonin Scalia.
($1,000-1,500) $2,300.00

Item 93

93. [VILLA, FRANCISCO ("PANCHO")?]. Photographic album containing over 150 photographs (including a few photographic postcards) assembled by Dewbart Lee Bourland showing his hunting and fishing trips and other travels in the early decades of the 20th century. Oblong 8vo, dark brown cloth. Images very good to fine. Binding scruffy, a few pages and photographs loose.

Dewbart Bourland travelled extensively in his work. He lived in Comfort, but maintained additional quarters in a lodging house in San Antonio. According to Bourland family tradition, when Pancho Villa visited San Antonio, he resided in the same establishment and wore disguises. Villa is said to have accompanied Bourland on recreational trips. The first group of photographs in the album documents a hunting trip to the Texas-Mexico borderlands, one of the excursions in which Villa is supposed to have been a participant. In several of the photos a man looking very much like Villa can be seen. Villa or not, the album is interesting, recording travels to recently completed Lake Medina near San Antonio, other sites in Texas, Yellowstone Park, and the Pacific Northwest. Subjects include hunters, family members, campsites and camping equipment, landscapes, and many animals.
($150-300) $172.50

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94. WARD, Thomas William ("Peg Leg", 1807-1872). Printed Republic of Texas land grant to Sefrin Eizer, completed in manuscript, signed by Ward, Clerk of Harrisburg County, and others. Dated in manuscript: Houston, August 3, 1838. [Printed at Houston?, 1837 or 1838]. 1 p., 8vo. Docketing and attests in manuscript on verso dated April 10, 1846. Split at folds, some waterstaining. Framed and under double-sided glass.

This land grant appears to be an early Houston imprint (possibly Harrisburg?)—needs research (see Streeter, p. 21). Sefrin Eislin is listed as a grantee, receiving 1,280 acres in Travis County (Miller, Bounty and Donation Land Grants of Texas, p. 248). Thomas Ward was an interesting early Texan, but somehow, his accomplishments always seem overshadowed by his afflictions. Ward lost a leg to a cannonball in 1835 at the Siege of Bexar. Even though he lost a leg in the battle, this did not prevent him from further service to his adopted country. In 1841 he lost his right arm when a canon misfired during the official celebration of San Jacinto Day. A native of Ireland, Ward was one of the organizers of the New Orleans Greys. During the Revolution, Burnet commissioned him as a colonel, and he served under Thomas Rusk. He was the general contractor for the Texas capitol building in Houston, and then moved to Austin in 1839 when the capital was relocated. In Austin, Ward served as clerk of the House, commissioner of the General Land Office, and three times as mayor of Austin. New Handbook VI:820-21.
($200-400) $862.50

Item 95, detail

95. WILLIAMS, Samuel May (1795-1858). Autograph letter, signed, to Edward C. Hanrick, Montgomery, Alabama. Brazoria, March 10, 1834. 1-1/2 pp., integral address with postal marks of New Orleans and Mobile. Splits at folds.

Williams (New Handbook VI:988) writes regarding the Alabama Company speculation in Texas lands. Williams responds to the vote of confidence the Alabama speculators have shown him:

I assure you I feel great pleasure in knowing that the Company are satisfied with my exertions and plans, as the most anxious desire of my heart has been and is to close the matter of this land speculation on the footing with which it was commenced and to their entire satisfaction.

He advises that he has begun raising funds for a new steamboat to be built in Louisville, which he contends will raise the value of the lands of the Alabama speculators. He then itemizes a statement for $3,555.92 balance due for the acquisition of 27 leagues of land, and concludes, "I hope ere long to have the pleasure of seeing you in Texas." The group of Alabama speculators were offered land in the Austin and Williams Upper Brazos Tract (which later became Robertson's Colony). Hanrick was their correspondent. Immigration restrictions, as well as financial difficulties, prevented completion of their arrangement. Only a few members actually came to Texas, but Williams still held some of their titles as late as 1840. See Henson, Samuel May Williams (pp. 48-54).

Williams was one of the most important early Anglo settlers in Texas. He came to Texas in 1822, and beginning in 1823 served as private secretary and translator to Stephen F. Austin. A methodical bookkeeper and businessman, he was also a partner in one of Austin's colonization contracts. In 1835 Williams was one of the nine Texans proscribed by the Mexicans with a price on his head, and he worked very hard to assist with financial arrangements for the young Republic during the dark days of the Revolution. With Thomas F. McKinney, Williams established one of the first banks west of the Mississippi, a commission house which used its credit to raise funds and buy arms for the Revolution. In 1848 he opened the Commercial and Agricultural Bank of Galveston, based upon an 1835 charter from Coahuila y Tejas confirmed by the Republic. His early charter enabled the Bank to withstand attacks based upon the State's constitutional proscription of banks.
($600-1,000) $690.00

Signed by One of Three Mexican Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence

96. [ZAVALA, LORENZO DE (1788-1836)]. MEXICO (Republic). PRIMERA SECRETARÍA DE ESTADO. DEPARTAMENTO DE INTERIOR. [Printed decree appointing Lorenzo de Zavala as Secretary of the Treasury, commencing]: El Escmo. Sr. presidente ha tenido á bien nombrar para secretario del despacho de hacienda al Escmo. Sr. D. Lorenzo de Zavala.... Mexico, April 18, 1829. 1 p., 8vo. Signed in full by Zavala at left and with his rubric, rubric of José María Bocanegra below. Very fine. Matted, framed, and under glass.

This rare decree announces the appointment of Zavala as Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held from April to October of 1829. Zavala (New Handbook VI:1147-48), first Vice President of the Republic of Texas, began his active political career in 1822 in Mexico, where he was one of the leaders in the establishment of a republican form of government. He represented Yucatán in the Mexican Constituent congresses and in the Senate. In 1824 he was the first to sign and swear to support the federal constitution of Mexico. He served as governor of the state of Mexico as well as Secretary of the Treasury. When the Centralists gained power, he was placed under house arrest and forced into exile. In New York City during his exile he sought to capitalize on the Texas empresario grants he had received earlier and entered into a relationship with the Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company (see item 97 herein). In 1832 he returned to Mexico and re-entered political life, but resigned when Santa Anna became dictator. He removed to Texas, strongly supported independence, was one of three Mexican signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, and is buried at San Jacinto.

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With an Engraved Map of the Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company Holdings

Item 97, detail

97. [ ZAVALA, LORENZO DE (1788-1836)]. GALVESTON BAY & TEXAS LAND COMPANY. Ornately engraved land certificate with map, commencing: Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company No. [10891] This certifies, 177-136/1000 Acres, That the Subscribers as the Trustees and Attorneys of Lorenzo De Zavala, Joseph Vehlein, and David G. Burnet, have given and do hereby give to [Lorenzo de Zavala] and [his] legal representatives the bearer hereof, their consent to the location of, and holding in severalty, One Labor of Land within the Limits of Four Adjoining Tracts of Land in Texas.... New York, October 16, 1830. Signed by officers of the Company (Dey, Sumner, Curtis, and Willson) and endorsed on verso by bondholder Zavala. 1 p., folio. Printed on very thin, fragile onionskin paper (light marginal wear, neatly reinforced at top).

First edition. Streeter 1117: "According to Dr. Barker (Life of Austin, p. 298), the sale of scrip to finance a company promoting the sale of Texas land...was undoubtedly fraudulent." An unusual feature of this land certificate is its attractive map of southeast Texas and the Louisiana border, locating towns, roads, rivers, Austin's Colony, etc. One of the more interesting and controversial of the colonization companies, the Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company energetically promoted lands between the San Jacinto and Sabine Rivers. The Company did not own the land itself; the certificates were only scrip allowing colonists to move into the lands allotted to the three empresarios and there apply for a grant of land. But at five cents an acre, sales were brisk. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the colonists, Mexico had put into effect its disturbing Law of April 6, 1830, prohibiting further Anglo colonization in Texas. When the emigrants, who were mostly Europeans and not Americans, arrived in Texas, Mexican officials refused to let them settle. The colonists were permitted to build huts and plant gardens but were left on their own to try to acquire land holdings. See New Handbook III:53-54 and E. Williams, The Animating Pursuits of Speculation (1949).
($900-1,500) $1,380.00

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