[Eighteen Letters, 1853–1891 with Texas content, to and from or concerning Dr. Alexander B. Sloan of Yates County, New York; with Additional Items].
“Austin solicited me to go and settle on his grant, his offer would have made me rich….”
Eighteen letters, 12 written from Texas, to and from or concerning Alexander Black Sloan (1820–1900), physician, Texas land speculator and owner, and Yates County, New York resident. Content, albeit brief, regarding Stephen F. Austin, emigrants and prospectors, a man who finds out his wife to be a prostitute, and Texas cattle ranchers, enrich the collection.
Sloan appears to have lived in San Antonio from 1853 to 1855. In 1853, a letter from his father, John Sloan, informs Alexander that the local newspaper had botched printing correctly extracts from his son’s letters from Texas, adding: “Do not be discouraged with this fault of the Printer but continue to write as your letters may be published hereafter, be the more careful to write plain, and study the phraseology and sound of your sentences so as to be pleasing to the eye and the ear at a perusal in print…” Alexander’s father was an early founder and successful merchant in Penn Yan.
After his Texas stint, Sloan lived in Penn Yan and Bellona, New York. At some point Sloan became further interested in Texas and bought land. But as the correspondence shows, Sloan struggled to retain and realize profits on his real estate claims in Texas, far from his home in New York.
Much of the correspondence, captures his affairs in these land speculations. Three people involved in Sloan’s affairs were minor historical actors.
John James Giddings (who first attempted to disentangle the property deeds of Sloan’s lands) was a partner in one of the earliest overland express services, The San Antonio to San Diego Mail Company. Giddings reputedly met an early death at the hands of an Apache near Tucson.
After Giddings death, Sloan was helped with his real estate matters by Texans, Judge T.C. Barden and Rhoads Fisher. Barden, a Republican, gained quite the reputation supporting Reconstruction in Texas. Fisher was credited with having uncovered one of the largest land fraud cases to date when he served as Chief Clerk of the State of Texas General Land Office. The signatures of all these worthies appear on their respective correspondences.
You say that you and sisters family is all of the name in the state of Texas, but the time is not far distant as you judge “before more of the name will inhabit the fertile Planes [sic] of our adopted state &c.” I see in Mr. Giddings [letter] of the 6th of May “I could invest from 1, to 200,000 $ in lands that would yield from 100 to 200 per cent within one or two years, should any of your friends wish to use their money in connection with my services and judgment among some 20,000 acres &c. &c.” I hope it will not surprise you, if a company of a few corn crackers should call as the friends of your Father, as his friends are my friends and “his God my God.” Your description of the country is only a repetition of others, who have solicited me to visit the New State [of Texas]; some years ago Gen. [Steven F.] Austin solicited me to go and settle on his grant, his offer would have made me rich, also my family, it was then a Mexican province and the state of the times and situation of my family was such, that I could not see my way clear, but if one thousandth part of such an offer was now made, there would be no hesitancy on my part; and you may not be surprised to see us there soon as we can make proper arrangements, we are now doing well, have better health on my part, than I ever enjoyed in the vigor of manhood. —Uncle and aunt, James and Julia Ann Sloan, Sloans Mills Floyd’s Fork Shelby Co. Kentucky. to Dr. A.B. Sloan, San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas, July 30, 1853
Your favor of the 12th inst is duly at hand. Notifying me of the transfer of your Victoria [Texas] property to Dr. Alex B. Sloan, and to account to him for any Transfer or charges that I may have made by Virtue of the power of attorney sent me by you. ... Real estate lands is looking up but very few sales made as yet, but few emigrants locating in the coast counties, there is a good many passing through prospecting, and many strange faces in our little city now, our people has nothing to buy with & land to sell consequently land sales are slow and uncertain. But we are looking for a better time coming. I think there is a Day not far distant that store lots will be valuable it is only a matter of time. ... This is Christmas 11 o’clock am. Dull. No excitement. Business Dull. No noise except an occasional report of a few fire crackers by our little folks, no sickness no preaching no riots no drunkenness no mirth nor parties all things look like the Sabbath Day, not even a mail coach has or is expected to arrive to Day ... I would ask you the favor of a copy of the Express printed in your town, of date about the first or 7th of October last, it is the copy that contains the five column article written by T.C. Barden Judge of the 16th Judicial District of Texas, a part of which the Chronicle copied and made a few comments on. —J.A. Sloan, Victoria, Texas, writing to his uncle, December 25, 1872
Your favor of September 20, 72 was duly received by me, but just as I was leaving Victoria on my circuit and I was unable at the time to reply. ... I was then compelled to take a trip to Austin, and then another to Fortune County and I returned from the last named trip only last night when I found your letter of December 7 last registered awaiting me. In reply I will state that I will at once attend to the business which you have entrusted to me. I think I can attend to it all, if not I will just put it into other hands here retaining supervision over it. Reading your letter carefully there’s nothing required which I cannot do perfectly well and I will myself attend to the business for you. No fee required in advance. ... I am very glad George are survives his Greeley is him, that is more than Greeley himself did. Democracy killed him out right apparently his Constitution was unsuited to it. —Judge T.C. Barden, Victoria, Texas to Dr. A.B. Sloan, Bellona, New York, January 7, 1873
I should of answered your Letter long ago but my Brother James came back from Mexico and I handed all your letters to him. He said that he was your Agent so I had no more to say in the case. Now my Brother James has sold out and gone back to Mexico to stay and make that his home. I thought it best to let you know don’t know what he done about your lots while here. He was in trouble. His wife turned out to be a public prostitute and got bill of Divorce last court from her so he is free. So if you want me to see to your lots send me power of attorney to act and what you want done with them. It is no time to sell owing to hard times. James sold his farm for $450 per acre it’s all he could get. I bought his house and lot in town for $300 or had to taket [sic] it so he could leave. That land matter I will attend to as soon as you send me the power of attorney. James done nothing about it. I have one of the best lawyers in the West engaged. Send all the information you can. I have not your letter so I can’t do any thing about it and I must have papers of attorney first… —J[ohn]. W. Sloan, Victoria, Texas to his cousin, A.B. Sloan, September 23, 1877
We have had more trouble with your land on the frontier than ever before experienced. After getting the patent, we commenced a search for the land. The Giddings District extends over a large scope of Country and there are 3 of them. We finally settled down on McCulloch Co. as the one in which the land was situated .... The lands are on the frontier, in very sparsely settled counties, and the officials as a general thing are quite ignorant of their duties. We have advertised these lands in several newspapers near the frontier. If our Co. keeps going down as it has for the past 3 years I shall strike out for some of the counties receiving immigrants. We have not so many inhabitants now as we had ten years ago. The whole Co. is about surrendered to the stockmen who have it surrounded by fences. No one comes here and many leave here each month. —F.R. Pridham [Frank Roberts Pridham], Owner and Editor of The Victoria Advocate,Victoria, Texas, January 24, 1881.
A useful archive documenting the involvement of Alexander Black Sloan and his interest in Texas and its lands between at least the years 1853 to 1891.
Description: [Eighteen Letters, 1853–1891 with Texas content, to and from or concerning Dr. Alexander B. Sloan of Yates County, New York; with Additional Items].
[Various places in New York and (Victoria) Texas, 1853–1891]. Forty Items in All: 18 Autograph Letters Signed, approx.  pages in manuscript [with:] 1 Postcard with content [and with:] 21 Deeds, Receipts, Postcards, Envelopes, and a Pamphlet. Overall, Very Good save for the first and last letters which have condition issues.