• [Merchants War, Disputed Land Titles] Stephen Powers, R.C. Trimble Discuss Land Transactions During Texas's Early And Volatile Formation

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    Offering two ALSs, front and back, written by two early and important Texans – R.C. TRIMBLE and STEPHEN POWERS – on a land matter.


    R.C. TRIMBLE was a close acquaintance of Stephen Austin, known as the father of Texas. He had written to Austin at one point seeking a land grant.  In the mid 19th century, there was an attempt to establish a new state in Northern Mexico, free from Mexico and Texas.  American merchants had suffered financial losses from strict tariffs and confiscation of goods. The political instability enabled increasing incidents of American merchants being slaughtered by Mexican bandits. Many early merchants participated in the four merchant wars between 1850 and 1853. Civilians were often subjected to vicious attacks. The American government attempted to arrest and try members of these raids for violating the Neutrality Act. Trimble was one who participated in these raids. Trimble was one of many indicted for violating the neutrality laws of 1818. Trimble was also a land surveyor for Starr County, Texas.


    STEPHEN POWERS was born on June 1, 1814, in Damariscotta, Maine.  At one point, he moved to Buffalo, NY, where he taught school and studied law. He was admitted to the bar on June 1, 1835.  He and a partner founded a law firm and played a key role in merging civil and common law in establishing land titles in the disputed area between Nueces and the Rio Grand. He became acquainted with President Martin Van Buren, who appointed him United States consul to Basel, Switzerland. In 1847, President James Polk commissioned Powers a first lieutenant in the Tenth United States Infantry and assigned him duty with Gen. Zachary Taylor at Matamoros, Tamaulipas, as a member of the U.S. Military Commission for the Government of Occupied Territory. President Franklin Pierce appointed Powers as collector of customs for the District of Brazos Santiago in 1853. Powers served in the Texas state Senate and the House of Representatives. He played a key role in shaping South Texas.


    The letters are written on the same sheet front and back, 7 ¾ x 12.  Trimble writes to Powers asking him to inform Capt. F.H. Logan about a land survey.  Powers writes to Logan on the verso.


    Rio Grande, September 20th, 1852, Trimble writes: “Your note has just come to hand & I hasten to answer it. I would of done so by return mail but I was in the woods. I am truly glad to hear there is a legal area of legal Representative [for] Capt. F.H. Logan as he was a very particular friend of mine. I have acted in good faith. I have located a survey [with] claims in question. You can say to Mr. J.H. Logan he can communicate with me at his place as I have surv’d here & I can give him every satisfaction needful. I can forward the field notes to Austin with the claims attached in the proper way, all complete if he wishes, if he will arrange to transmit the fees as agreed on by his Brother for locating the survey. Please inform him I say to him though it has been a long time since I got the claims. They are safe & he shall be obeyed in his wishes.


    “Respectfully yours


    “R.C. Trimble”


    Powers writes to Logan.


    Brownsville, September 29, 1852, “Agreeable to your request upon receipt of your letter of 1st July, I addressed a letter to Capt. R.C. Trimble, who is the county surveyor for Starr County and [included] is his reply. I am glad that your interests are as safe as they appear to be…It not infrequently happens that papers of even more information get lost…




    “Your Obdt servant


    “Stephen Powers”


    Toning, folds. Paper loss at the top, not affecting the writing. Bleed through on verso.  A great piece of early Texas history by two important Texans.


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