otcs arTd DocuMltts
Some sarly Xctters of 64oses A stiN krYan
Edited by GERALD S. PIERCE
B ETWEEN MAY, 1884, AND NOVEMBER, 1836, YOUNG MOSES
Austin Bryan of Texas wrote a number of letters to Wil-
liam W. Hunter,2 his friend and a former partner at the
Perry and Hunter store in San Felipe de Austin, where Bryan
had clerked. Bryan was not yet seventeen years old when he first
wrote Hunter and was barely nineteen when he wrote what seems
to have been the last letter of their correspondence. The letters
1The six letters printed below are in the William W. Hunter Papers (Mississippi
Valley Collection, John Willard Brister Library, Memphis State University). Other
letters may have been written to Hunter by Bryan, but they are not now in the
Hunter Papers. The editor is indebted to Dewey F. Pruett, Curator of the Missis-
sippi Valley Collection, for his assistance in preparing the letters for publication.
'William W. Hunter, a resident of New Madrid, Missouri, when Bryan wrote
the letters given below, was born in Virginia in 1805 or 1806, the son of Andrew
and Jane Hunter. Probably as a child, he moved to Washington County, Missouri.
There he became acquainted with James F. Perry, who in 1824 married the
widowed sister of Stephen F. Austin and became the stepfather of Moses Austin
Bryan. In 183o, at Austin's urging, Perry decided to establish a merchandising con-
cern at San Felipe de Austin, Texas, taking William W. Hunter into partnership.
Stock was purchased and shipped to Texas from New York late in October, 1830.
In 1831 the Perry family and the unmarried Hunter moved to Texas. After a brief
stay in San Felipe, Perry moved to a plantation on Chocolate Bayou (and later
to Peach Point Plantation), leaving Hunter in charge of the store, assisted by
Moses Austin Bryan. The business continued under the direction of Hunter until
the summer of 1832, when the firm was dissolved because of Hunter's poor health.
However, he remained in Texas until March or April, 1833, attempting to collect
debts due Perry and Hunter. After his departure the task of collection was left
to Bryan, despite his youth. Upon leaving San Felipe, Hunter moved to New
Madrid, his home until his death on April 1, 1859. He was a successful merchant
in Missouri and died a wealthy man. Details concerning operations of the Perry
and Hunter store and Hunter's life after 1833 are in the Hunter Papers; Eugene
C. Barker (ed.), The Austin Papers (Vols. I and II, Annual Report of the Ameri-
can Historical Association for the Years 1919 and 1922, Washington, 1924, 1928;
Vol. III, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1926), II, 307, 522-523, 524, II, 54;
Walter P. Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas (2 vols.; Austin,
1952), II, 365. Brief references to Hunter's life are in William Rufus Jackson,
Missouri Democracy: A History of the Party and Its Representative Members . . .
(3 vols.; Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis, 1935), II, 535, 576.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed April 20, 2014.