Sale 22BP01 | Lot 52

[TEXAS FRONTIER] Autograph letter signed from Benjamin Middleton to his brother Samuel Middleton of Terre Haute, Indiana, written January 21, 1839 from Burnet's Colony, Robinson County, Texas.

Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps
[TEXAS FRONTIER]  Autograph letter signed from Benjamin Middleton to his brother Samuel Middleton of Terre Haute, Indiana, written January 21, 1839 from Burnet's Colony, Robinson County, Texas.

Lot Details

Lot 52
[TEXAS FRONTIER] Autograph letter signed from Benjamin Middleton to his brother Samuel Middleton of Terre Haute, Indiana, written January 21, 1839 from Burnet's Colony, Robinson County, Texas.
4 pp. on a folded sheet, the addressed postal cover integral to the final page (with a New Orleans postmark), closely and legibly written in brown ink, traces of the original wax seal at the central fold and edge. Sheet size 13 1/8 x 16 inches (33.5 x 41 cm); 36 lines to the page, approximately 1500 words. Usual folds, a few small losses, apparently generally in sound condition but one side lightly silked for stability, encapsulated between two sheets of acrylic (and not examined out of encapsulation).

An extraordinary letter, in a rather elegant and eminently legible hand, recounting the hardships experienced by a settler six years before Texas's Annexation. Writing from the colony established by David G. Burnet, vice-President of the Republic of Texas (1839-1841), he tells his brother that he will "inform you we are all yet all alive, but if ever a set of people has had their measure of sickness filled to the brim it has been in the old and young ... we are all took sick last June." He goes on to write "The Indians has been with us all the time, stole the 2 best of our horses last August, & shooting Riley['s] cattle ... Out of 9 horses we have not a horse to our name, I have only one yoke of cattle, one waggon, 2 cows & calves, & a smart start of hogs, but bread and bacon plenty." He goes on to remark that "...money in this county is very plenty & almost every thing has [passed?] until lately almost every thing is disputed, silver, gold and U.S. paper will go twice as far, as any other money, except Texas money on the new plate." He goes on to discuss land prices and availability. On the second page he goes on to "...give you the sick report of our hospital in the City of Houston, the report of the last season is one dead and from 12 to 20 sick." He goes on to give a very interesting account of "our Indian depredations" including "many private murders" "a company of 23 surveyors ... was attacked by 170 Kickapoos about 12 in the day, & fought until 12 at night ... Our men was cut off and 17 of the 23 killed." After an extensive account of battles against the indians, on the next page he writes "Our Mexican news says that old Santa Ana in a combat with the French lost one of his legs." (this was in a melee in 1838). He goes on to remark "If we do run, it will be to Linleys or Lake Creek settlements within 30 or 40 miles of the City of Houston." This is the briefest precis of an extraordinarily compelling account; such first-hand vernacular history of the early days of the Republic of Texas is exceptionally uncommon. We trace the recipient of the letter, Samuel Middleton, as a pioneer settler of Vigo County in Indiana (Middleton claimed to have plowed the first furrow in that region), though the writer, his brother Benjamin, has left little trace.


Estimate: $800 - $1,200
Sold for $8,820 (includes buyer's premium)

Additional Notes & Condition Report

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Estimate: $800 - $1,200
Sold for $8,820 (includes buyer's premium)

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Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Tue, Mar 22, 2022 at 10am EDT