The Robertson Genealogy Exchange
Colonel Harlee's Notes on 12243 Sterling Clack Robertson (Part Two)
(From unpublished sketch, The Character and Growth of the Population of Texas, by Judge Z. T. Fulmore).
COLONIZATION OF TEXAS
(From John Henry Brown's History of Texas, Vol. 1, p. 110).
AGREEMENTS WITH COLONISTS
On 9 May 1830,  Sterling C. Robertson appears to have been in Giles Co., Tenn., contracting with colonists to go to "the Province of Texas." He had evidently associated Alexander Thomson with him in that enterprise.
The following copy of articles of agreement is from an original document among the papers preserved by Robertson's granddaughter, [122431C] Mrs. Johnson. The document is on a printed form. The written parts are shown in italics. Evidently when the form was printed,  Robertson had not become associated with Thomson whose name appears by interlinear insertion. A facsimile of this document is shown. The insertions and the signature "S. C. Robertson & A. Thomson" are in handwriting of Robertson.
Articles of Agreement
Later agreements were somewhat different. Among the papers of her grandfather, Robertson, preserved by [122431C] Mrs. Johnson, were two original agreements of 2 Dec 1830, signed by "S. C. Robertson" and "Alexr. Thomson," which indicate that they had then gone to Texas. These documents are entirely in manuscript and appear to be in the handwriting of the witness, J. M. Evans.
Agreement between Robertson & Thomson and Tandy Walker
Agreement with William W. Ford
The agreement with "William W. Ford of the County of Marengo and State of Alabama," on the same date, 2 Dec 1830, "Witnesseth: The said Robertson and Thomson agrees and binds themselves to convey unto the said Ford one hundred acres of land for each and every family that the said Ford may influence to immigrate, settle,. and remain in the Nashville grant in the State of Cohela and Texas" etc., and "to convey unto the said Ford one thousand acres of land provided he the said Ford settles a family by the 15th of April next" etc.
This document, as well as the one of same date previously mentioned, was witnessed by J. M. Evans. Both documents appear to be in handwriting of Evans.
Probably Ford was then prospecting in Texas and planning to return to his Alabama home and bring his family and other settlers to Texas.
Between 2 Dec 1830 and 15 Jan 1831, Robertson appears to have gone to Louisiana. The next document is in his handwriting and was signed by him for both himself and Alexander Thomson....
Agreement with Joseph Pevets
While Robertson was in Tennessee arranging for colonists to come to Texas, complications arose and difficulties beset him and his colonists when they reached Texas in 1830. The account of them in John Henry Brown's History of Texas, published in 1892, and now out of print and not generally readily accessible, is here included.
(From Brown's History of Texas, Vol. 1, p. 312 et seq.)
The first document, certified by Thomas Bassett, Alcalde, San Felipe, December 17, 1830, is a power of attorney from Samuel M. Williams to Stephen F. Austin, to represent him in getting a colonial grant above Austin's colony.
The second document, dated February 4, 1831, is the application of Austin, for himself and Williams, to settle eight hundred families within the following bounds, which included and swallowed up the colony of the Nashville company, or  Robertson's colony, viz.:
As before said, this vast territory embraced the lands of Robertson's colony,and hence arose the trouble. The special features of the grant need not be stated, except that exceptions, or exemptions, were made in regard to some prior local grants and it was not to attach to Robertson's grant till the assumed expiration of his contract on the 15th of the following April, two months later, which, however, Robertson disputed, as the State had most unjustly interferred with his efforts to fulfill his contract.
The next document, dated San Antonio, March 29, 1831, is an order from Ramon Musquez, Political Chief, for the expulsion across the Sabine of all families introduced by Robertson since Bustamente's tyrannical de. cree of April 6, 1830.
The next is an offer by Samuel M. Williams to receive these exiled families in Austin's colony. But why, if they came in violation of the tyrannical edict of Bustamente, should Austin any more than Robertson, be allowed to receive them?
The next is a power of attorney from H. H. League, empresario of the Leftwich, Nashville, or Robertson colony, appointing with full powers,  Sterling C. Robertson as agent of the colony, dated October 10th, 1830.
The next is an application by  Sterling C. Robertson to Walter C. White, acting Alcalde, to take testimony proving that he had complied with the law. His request was granted and the testimony (December 6, 1831) taken as follows: ...showing that in the aggregate, Robertson had introduced over two hundred families .
The next translation is the testimony of William Pettus, then known throughout Texas as Colonel Buck Pettus, of San Felipe, who, on the 15th of December, 1831, before Horatio Chriesman, Alcalde, and Ira R. Lewis and John H. Money, attesting witnesses, in substance, testified that he was forty-six years old; that he was well acquainted with  Sterling C. Robertson and knew a good deal about the grant made by the government to the Nashville company of which he (Robertson) was a member; that said company in 1826 employed an agent to attend to organizing said colony and settling the colonists in the country, that quite a number of families did settle in the colony in 1826 and that they told him they had done so, bat that the said families afterwards joined the colony of Austin, as they told the affiant, by the persuasions of Stephen F. Austin. In 1830  Sterling C. Robertson came as agent of said colony, bringing with him a great number of families, and told him (Pettus) that he had contracted with about three hundred families, who would arrive here in a very short time, and he soon after saw a large number of families arrive, who informed him that they had come to establish themselves in that colony, but who afterwards settled in Austin's colony. Being asked what part Stephen F. Austin had taken in this busness, he replied, that being anxious to have said colony settled for greater protection against the Indians, he went with said Robertson to see Colonel Austin to solicit his assistance and kindly offices in procuring from the government an extension of time in which to settle the affairs of said colony; that Colonel Austin appeared to take great interest in the matter and promised to make every effort to assist in said colonization scheme. That Austin went to Saltillo, under authority (as a member of congress) and before his return word came back that Austin had secured said colony for himself. Pettus continued: "Your declarant, not believing that Austin would act so perfidiously, took the liberty of denying said rumor positively; and on his return, your declarant asked him if be had done so, which Austin denied and continued to deny till the following autumn, when he himself and his secretary (and in this affair his partner), Samuel M. Williams, published the truth from their office, stating that orders had arrived to expel said Robertson from the country. Your declarant went and inquired into the truth of this; but Colonel Austin pledged him his word that he would use every possible means to get said order revoked. Afterwards your declarant was informed that no such order had ever existed, but only to expel eight or ten families brought by Robertson during the following autumn. When Austin had made known the fact that said colony had been turned over to him, your declarant asked him why he had been denying it, and he said that there had been great difficulties produced by said Robertson, and be hoped that he would abandon the country and he (Austin) would then be able to better serve said families." Being asked how long he had been in the country and if he knew that Austin had brought any families into the country at his own expense, and if Austin had been in the habit of selling the land to the settlers, said Pettus answered: that he bad come to this country, when it was first established (i.e. 1822); that be had paid his own expenses; that he did not know a single settler whose expenses had been paid by Austin; and that he believed they all came at their own expense. "At the commencement" he testified, "they were charged a bit (12 1/2 cents) an acre and afterwards $550.00 for a league. Later the price was lessened and remained until now $60.00 a league, exclusive of surveyor's and commissioner's fees, and the price of making out the papers, seal, etc.; and often after receiving the money from the colonists for the land and promising them certain tracts of land, they had been swindled and the same land given to other parties who would also pay for the same. These facts can be proven by hundreds of persons.
"Sworn to before Horatio Chriesman, Alcalde, and Ira R. Lewis and John H. Money, attesting witnesses."
Under date of San Felipe, February 6th, 1834, the following official paper was sent:
"To His Excellency the Governor of Coahuila and Texas:
God and Liberty.
Robert M. Williamson, President.
"Petition directed by Sterling C. Robertson, member of the Nashville Company, and agent of Hosea H. League, manager of the same, to the Honorable Congress:
"Sterling C. Robertson, member of the Nashville Company, or Colonization Association of Texas, and agent of Hosea H. League, manager of said company, with the most profound respect, presents the enclosed petition to your Honorable Body. The Nashville Company has ever desired to introduce and establish in the department of Texas the colonists stipulated for, and to fulfill in every particular the contract concluded with the government of this State on October 15th, 1827, and to promote the in. terests of the country in agriculture, manufacturing enterprises, arts, etc., and to increase the population, and to make this the permanent home and country of its relatives and friends, and, under the beneficent and liberal laws of the Government born of this new Republic, has directed all its efforts and indefatigable energies to these laudable ends.
"But, after having spent about $32,000 in this business, it finds that all its efforts have been interrupted 'and frustrated by an uninterrupted course of misfortunes and intrigues and unforeseen opposition and by the rascality and perfidy of agents and deceitful friends which this company could neither control nor direct.
"The troubles this company had with its first agent, Robt. Leftwich, are too well known to the Supreme Government to be referred to here. It suffices to state that they were great and costly. Afterwards, when Hosea H. League was appointed agent of this company and made manager of the same by the Government, the association, animated with renewed hopes, made great preparations to fulfill its contract with the government. But another misfortune soon befell it. The agent was accused, in Austin's colony, with being accomplice to a homicide and was imprisoned and guarded for the long space of sixteen months, suffering rigid and bitter persecution, until the people, outraged at the violation of the law and justice, and seeing no other remedy, presented the Alcalde with a petition of 600 or 700 signatures, asking his release from prison.
"This persecution was so bitter and unreasonable that the Alcalde could do no less than look upon it as a strange and unwarranted thing. Meanwhile the association, in the autumn of 1829, dispatched your humble servant to your Honorable Body with a number of families. On entering the country he encountered great difficulties, the Military Commandant at once demanding their passports, which unfortunately, some of the famines did not have, the Mexican colony being nearly three hundred leagues from the point from which they started. Others did not consider passports neces. sary, thinking our contract sufficient, having observed that a simple certificate from Colonel Austin sufficed to admit persons coming into his colony. And was it not natural to conclude that the laws of the country were open alike to all? I obtained a license from the Military Commandant of Tenox. titlan to remain on the boundary of our grant while I explored the coon. try and selected the most favorable point for a settlement, hoping to m ceive a resolution from His Excellency, General Teran, and from the Government, that I flattered myself would be favorable. On my return I found the response from the Government, stating that they hoped our colony would remain and that they were desirous of having it do so. Thus favored with the protection of the Government and the good-will of the Commandant at that point I arranged everything for the comfort of the families that I bad introduced into the country, and returned to the United States of North America in December of that year, 1829, in order to bring out other families. Early next year I introduced, directly, or indirectly, into the country, over three hundred families. I also contracted with our colony, so that if no impediment had been thrown in the way we would have established at our own cost and expense almost the total number of 800 families, being the number stipulated in our contract.
"But shortly before my arrival I received notice, for the first time, given in the law of April 6th, 1830. Many families had already arrived and all of them had sold their effects and disposed of their homes and left their friends and native land. What could they do? To return was ruinous. Confiding in the kindness and good faith of the Government, in the contract they had made with us and in the important principle in the con, stitution prohibiting the passage of a retroactive law violating the obligation of contracts, they came to this country with all their property and their hopes. It is difficult to express the surprise, confusion and despera. tion of these families, when, after arriving, they learned that they were expelled from the country and would not be permitted to settle in it. It was utterly incomprehensible to me. Having returned from Tennessee to bring out other families, assured by the authorities of the country of the protection of the Government, believing and knowing that we had a contract with it in almost exactly the same words as the one made with Colonel S. F. Austin and that settlers from the United States of North America were admitted almost daily into the colony of that gentleman, under the principle that the contract with him was made previous to the passage of the act of April 6th, 1830; and knowing also that ours was made prior to his and that we had commenced the settlement as early as 1826, I was confounded, and not until long afterwards, did I know that all this was occasioned by false information given to the Government in this business. In a visit made by me to His Excellency, General Teran, he informed me that notice had been given the Government that we had brought only eight families into the country (see the enclosed statements). Its falsity you will see from the statements accompanying this and the memorial from the illustrious council of San Felipe de Austin upon this matter. In this state of affairs, with such a great number of families introduced and denied the right of settlement in conformity with our contract, sustaining im. mense expenses, scattered and terrorized by false rumors, set afloat to induce the settlers or immigrants to deny that they were from Tennessee, I presented myself to Mr. Austin, soliciting his intervention and kindly offices with the Government in our favor, ignorant of the language of the country, and the fact that he was the cause of all our misfortunes.
"This gentleman, pursuing the same insidious policy that had ever characterized his nefarious and perfidious designs, received a with smiling countenance, and promised me upon his word of honor, before witnesses (see enclosed statements), to use 'all his influence to obtain from the Government permission for the settlement of said families in our colony, and a prolongation of the time in which to fulfill our contract, oc asioned by the difficulties we had before labored under with the Government and authorities of the country. Knowing that he had just been elected a deputy to the sovereign congress of the State, and informed of his great and almost infallible influence with the Government (a thing which made him so despotic with these unfortunate people), we consoled ourselves with the hope of being able to obtain the protection of the Government by means of his interposition. But what was his conduct after compromising his honor? Before the expiration of the time given for the fulfillment of our contract, he succeeded in engrafting our colony with the one he had obtained for himself. His friends denied this perfidy and he himself on his return also denied it until the fact was made public by the parties who had seen his contract with the Government. After this he confessed that he had denied it on account of the difficulties of the position in which he was placed and that he had hoped that I world meanwhile leave the country, disgusted with so many obstacles (see the declaration), using every artifice to cause me to flee the country, menacing me with disgrace and punishment from the Government, stating that he had an order for my expulsion; that if I went away he would provide for the necessities of the unfortunate families and receive them into his own colony (see the declaration).
"Thus has Mr. Austin ever advanced his own interests by the labor of others and prospered by their misfortunes. We had introduced about 300 families into the country within the time allowed by our contract commencing as early as the year 1826, undergoing immense expense and fulfilling both the spirit and letter of the colonization laws of 1824 and March, 1825. But we were not permitted to settle them in our own colony (see order No. 1 from the Political Chief), and we have had no reward whatever.
"Mr. Austin never introduced a single family into Texas at his own expense, and settled his colonies with families excluded from the contracts of the empresarios by article 16, of the aforesaid law, and with those in. troduced by us and other empresarios, thus failing to comply with articles 8 and 12 of the aforesaid law (see declaration No. 9). But it is notorious that Mr. Austin was allowed to receive families that we were prohibited from introducing as can be proven by letters seen by various persons written by General Teran about this matter.
"We have been at immense expense in complying with the law and been denied the privilege of settling our colony according to contract; while Mr. Austin, who has never spent a dollar in introducing families, but on the contrary has always sold the lands to settlers in his colonies (see declaration No. 9) has been made large grants of land.
"We have administered to the necessities of our colonists at our own expense, while Mr. Austin has sold the lands to his, and after receiving the money has taken the land from them and sold it to other parties at new prices (see declaration No. 9). We lost our colony and Mr. Austin acquired his from it. We complied with our contract before the expiration of the time agreed upon with the Government, and one month and eighteen days before the termination of our contract Mr. Austin had contracted with the Government for it. We made great efforts to fulfill the contact and increase the population of the country. Even before receiving the contract with the Government, Mr. Austin had made arrangements to make a private speculation with it and afterwards sold it for $6,000 (see declarations 8 and 10). He is still making a speculation of it, selling land grants at $50.0() a league to purchasers, giving the Government title to it (see declaration) instead of using the lands to get the country settled up, and enrich. ing himself at the expense of the State and its citizens and perverting the colonization laws and especially the additional article of instruction to the commissioner and its legitimate and generous intention, and disgracefully abusing the latter part of article 9 of his contract which he had inserted with his premeditated end in view. Is it just for us to lose our rights that he may secure his base ends? Does justice demand the sacrifice of all our labor, property and affairs in order that an interested party, through false and lying statements, may secure it all by his wicked practices? I will recapitulate to your Honors the established facts proven by documents I have the honor to present, which I vow and obligate myself to prove at any time and place it may be necessary.
"On April 15th, 1825, there was a contract of colonization made by and between the Supreme Government of this State and Robert Leftwich for the Company of Nashville, to introduce 800 families into a colony the boundaries of which were marked out in said contract according to the colonisation law of March 24th 1825. Within six years from the date of the contract, which would terminate April 15th, 1831. (see the contract). And early in 1826 we had settled some families in our colony (see declaration). Before the passage of the law of April 6th, 1830, we had introduced over 100 families (see memorial of the illustrious Council of San Felipe). Before the expiration of our contract we had introduced into the country over 300 families (see declaration). The first families we introduced were expelled by the Mexican authorities, as I believe, through false information given by Messrs Austin and Williams (see the order from the Political Chief of Texas, from the office of Mr. Williams, to the Alcalde of San Felipe). Some of these same families were afterward incorporated with Mr. Austin's colony under a contract made by him with the govern. meat, almost at the same time ours was and by virtue of the same law (see declaration and official statement of Mr. Williams) . How could the law of April 6th, 1830, be construed against as and in Mr. Austin's favor at one and the same time? On February 25th, 1831, Austin, for himself and Mr. Williams, closed a new contract with the Government for the grant of an immense tract of land, including within its limits the whole of ours and the time for the expiration of ours did not come for one month and eigh. teen days after Mr. Austin closed this new contract with the Government. At the same time Mr. Austin was working to obtain this contract he had his word of honor pledged to the Nashville Company to ask for the appoint. ment of a commissioner and the extension of the time for fulfilling their contract, on account of the obstacles placed in oar way by the authorities (see declaration No. 9). These gentlemen procured this new contract with. out doubt by abusing the confidence of the Government and the false in. formation they gave it, since article two of the same explicity declared that it was made with the intention and understanding that the Nashville Company had absolutely failed to comply with any part of its contract.
"From these undeniable facts it appears to me that the following consequences incontestibly result: That the contract made with Austin and Williams February 25, 1831, is void as far as the lands of the Nashville Company are concerned, for two reasons; it was void ab initio, became it could not be made while there was another contract in existence at that time for the same lands. The Nashville Company could not lose its rights until its contract expired, because, although they might not have introduced a single family until the last day of their contract and then brought in the full 800, it would have been a complete fulfillment of their contract and none could be made with any one else till then.
"It was void also because it was made under a supposed mistake and error, which was that the Nashville Company had not complied with a single part of their contract (see art. 2nd of the contract). There is no doubt but what the Government was cheated by the false statement of these two gentlemen.
"It is a fact also that the Nashville Company have an unquestioned right to establish the 100 and more families which they introduced before the passage of the prohibitory law of April 6th, 1830, and with this exception I ask the Supreme Government to appoint a commissioner to place them in possession of the lands due them.
"And finally, it appears to me very unjust for the time to be counted against me while the Mexican authorities kept us from doing anything, being one year and nine days, and this while our families were coming in every day, and in consequence of it many of them had to hunt homes in other colonies and many were admitted into neighboring colonies by these same authorities. In consequence of all the foregoing, I ask your Honorable Body earnestly, without soliciting a prolongation of our contract, to assert our rights and to declare the contract of the partners, Austin and Williams, celebrated the 25th of February, 1831, null and void, so far as the lands granted our colony are concerned; that the families introduced by our Company before the expiration of our contract be settled in our colony, and, if you think it right and just, that your Honors extend the time for the termination of our contract for one year and nine days for the time which the Mexican authorities prevented us from entering on our lands. I believe that I have asked nothing of an extravagant nature nor anything more than pyre justice in my petition.
"I am well aware of the many instances, not only of rigorous justice, but also of great generosity, shown by your Honors in cases analogous to the present. We believe confidently that your Honors will not deny the justice of our cause, and that, not only our colonists, but all Texas will see that justice will be meted out alike to all.
"Therefore, I supplicate your Honors to grant my petition so that we may get justice.
"I further state: In case that you may not be able to decide upon matters during the present session on account of lack of time for investigation, that I trust your Honors will suspend the aforesaid contract of the partners, Austin and Williams, as far as the lands of the Nashville company are concerned until your reach a final decision, as this appears to me to be no more than is justly due us.
"Most Excellent Sirs:
"I entreat Your Excellency to grant my petition so that I may receive justice.
"Monclova, April 2, 1834.
"This is an exact copy of the original as it exists in the archives of the Government (Secretary's office) from which this copy was taken by request of Don Andres E. Carruthers, by order of the Citizen Governor. And, in order that the parties interested may secure the benefit desired to be procured by the archives or records.
"I hereby subscribe myself in Saltillo, capital of the State of Coahuila of Zaragosa on this the 29th day of September, 1869.
J. Sarapio Frayoso, Secretary."
(Then follow copies of documents from files of "Gobierno Supremo del Estado Libre de Coahuila y Tejas" (Supreme Government of the Free State of Coahuila and Texas): (1) Letter from Congress to Governor; (2) Governor's order; (3) Robertson Requests Appointment of Commissioner; (4) Commissioner Appointed. These are among the subjoined copies of documents. WCH).
Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2821-2835.
Last updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2004
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