Against the Opposition of Power and Hewetson
to Settlement by Martin de Leon
June 3, 1831
Source: Papers of Msgr. William H. Oberste, Refugio County Public Library, Refugio, Texas
Office of the Jefe Politico
I commit to your
superior jurisdiction the enclosed petition of the illustrious
Ayuntamiento of this community, which requests that no obstacle be
interposed to prevent the Citizen Martin de Leon from legally
establishing the families included in his contract within the littoral
strip which lies between the Guadalupe River and the Lavaca Creek.
It is also requested that the Empresarios be compelled to respect the possessions acquired in good faith many years before their (Power and Hewetson) contract by many of these residents and that the lands of these abandoned mission be recognized as not colonizable by Empresarios; on these three points I believe that an investigation should be made in the interests of justice on which this petition is based.
The Empresario Martin de Leon entered into a contract with the Provincial Deputation of Texas for the establishment of a new community at the point where he has begun a settlement with the 41 families whom he offered to introduce and he was assured by that corporation in clause ___ of the contract that they would be given lands for labores and ranches; at that time no formal survey was made of the cardinal points in which this colony should be contained, because, although the Empresario de Leon later requested the Supreme Government for such survey, the Supreme Government of Your Excellency decreed in a superior order of October 6, 1825, that this operation should be performed by a commissioner to be appointed, for which purpose in the opinion of this Jefe Politico's office, there is no doubt that the citizen Fernando de Leon, who has been appointed for this purpose, should do this work, acting always in accordance with the petitions of this Empresario whose rights antedate those of the contract of the said Power and Hewetson.
By virtue of these possessions made in good faith by which these settlers hold their ranches and they lie within the boundaries marked off for said Empresario, considering the rights they have acquired being as first settlers, I venture to suggest to Your Excellency that under no pretext shall their uninterrupted possession be invaded after the lapse of so many years in which they have been transmitted from fathers to sons; that these families shall be counted in the Empresario's favor in estimating the number which he is obliged to introduce, especially to so reflect that one half of any such families must be Mexicans and as that has not been done in these years, and not one such family has been introduced then such an empresario grant will be null and void.
I believe it will be very just to grant the third request with which the petition of this Ayuntamiento concludes for the reasons which I presented to the superior jurisdiction of Your Execellency in my official letter No. 131, July 3, 1830, to the effect that the natives of the secularized Missions of Espiritu Santo and Refugio who are reduced to the greatest poverty and who are eager to cultivate their lands deserve the protection of the government if it is possible, in conformity with the facts which on this point I submitted to you by my official letter of June 6, 1830 and also because this community is isolated on the four sides by reason of the contracts of Empresarios, or by the missions, for there does not remain adjoining them one tract of public land for which these residents can legally apply.
Wherefore, I pray Your Excellency to command with your lofty consideration of the petition of this corporation and the preceding facts to which I have referred, that this request be disposed of with the impartial justice which you are accustomed to dispense. God &c. … of Goliad, June 3, 1831.
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