Letter describing Texas from the birthplace of the Texas Revolution as it was finally being resettled following its total destruction in 1836
Letter describing Texas from the birthplace of the Texas Revolution as it was finally being resettled following its total destruction in 1836

Letter describing Texas from the birthplace of the Texas Revolution as it was finally being resettled following its total destruction in 1836

Gonzales, Texas: 1840. Unbound. This four-page folded letter measures 15.5” x 10” unfolded. It was sent by Nathan Watkins from Gonzales, Republic of Texas on 6 December 1840 to Joseph Watkins at Pendleton, Anderson Des, South Carolina. It has a manuscript annotation in the lower left corner that reads, “Favor by Mr. Kingtomson to the United States” and a blue, circular New Orleans postmark dated “Dec 31.” There is a manuscript rate marking “29” (25 cents for delivery over 400 miles + 2 cents for ship’s letter + 2 cents possibly for carrier. Docketing on the reverse reads, “One day after I promised to pay to Wm Watkins for or David.” The letter is in nice shape with several tape reinforcements to mailing folds and a small chip where its wax seal was torn during opening. Doodling to the reverse, possibly while cutting a new quill. Transcript of letter included. Very good. Item #009242

In this letter, Nathan encourages Joseph (presumably his brother) to join him in Texas and to share his description of the country with all of his “connexions:”

“I am well please with this county . . . better than any county that I have ever seen . . . and too one of the easiest countries to live in . . . though you may think that this part of the world is nothing but a perfect grave and yet I must say to you that you are under a grand Mistake for I can say to you that it is as healthy a country as ever I have lived in . . . . The eastern part of Texas is a red stiff clay and growth is generally fine hickry blackjack and no oak black oak or white oak and the water is generally very good, and the land produce well and west and south west of the river Trinity the water is scarce but good and the growth on the upland is generally post oak Blackjack white oak and hickry and mesquite and on the water courses black walnut cottonwood sycamore red elf pecan boxelder and hackberry and mulberry and some few cypress and in the mountains there is a great deal of cedar and as for the face of the country it cannot be beat . . . and west of the river Trinity is generally prairie and too of as good a soil perhaps as you even saw and . . . . I guess you would like to come and shear some of our beauty we can cultivate the soil and raise anything that we wish and can raise our Oranges and lemons and figs to and own sugar and wheat and tobacco and cotton and almost anything that we chose. . . .”

Further to allay any apprehension that news reports may have caused Joseph, he additionally reports:

“As for the commanches Indians there is some little trouble with them at this time but we go in amongst them once and a while and give them a whipping and stop their vile career and as for the troubles with us and mexico it still growing . . . but if we should have the lord on our side there will be no difficulty in gaining the victory and if we should we will be the happiest and wealthiest people on earth we then will not like for anything we could wish. . . .”

And he predicts that financially, things will only get better:

“We are a trying to Monopolize the Santa Fe trade which if we succeed in so doing will be worth somewhere about 2 million of dollars a year and to about the distance of 6 or 700 miles which trade is now comes about the distance of 1600 miles by land carriage and through the mountains and a very dangerous road too . . . I have before stated that I have but 2 years in this government, I have a . . . pretty start to make a fortune in a few years if good luck should . . . continue on my side. . . . I think that I am worth 10000 dollars more than I would have been had I remained in the united states and I also think that if you wish to move that you would perhap as well come to this county as any. . . ."

Gonzales, which in 1835 became the first city to defy General Santa Anna after he had revoked Mexico’s Federalist Constitution of 1824, was burned to the ground the following year by Sam Houston to prevent anything of value from falling into the hands of the Mexican Army following the Texian’s defeat at the Alamo. The Comanche “whipping’ referenced by Watkins no doubt refers to the Battle of Plum Creek in August of 1840 where the Texas Rangers and a volunteer Texian army routed the Comanche horde that had swept through the Guadalupe valley on a murderous rampage and the subsequent decisive Battle at Red Fork after which the Comanches abandoned the Texian frontier. (See the online Texas State Historical Association article, “Gonzales, TX” and the Texas State Library and Archives article, “The Comanche War”

A fine example of a Texian’s attempt to encourage emigration into the independent republic.

Price: $1,000.00

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