A Letter From John J. Linn
EDITED BY ROBERT W. SHOOK*
COLONEL JOHN J. LINN PARTICIPATED IN MANY OF THE MAJOR EVENTS
leading to Texas independence. Born in Ireland in 1798, he estab-
lished, after spending many years in New York as a boy, a business in
New Orleans in 1822. His mercantile store at Linnville on Lavaca
Bay was removed to Victoria after the Indian raid of 1840. During
the decade preceding the destruction of Linnville, Juan Linn built a
unique reputation as a close friend of the leading Mexican families
of South Texas and as a revolutionary. He served in the Consultation
of 1835, the Convention of 1836, and supervised the evacuation of
Harrisburg in April, 1836, after participating in the Battle of Gon-
zales. It was Linn's report to the New Orleans Bee that first announced
the results of San Jacinto.
Linn supplied both the revolutionary army of Texas and the re-
treating Mexican forces; for this service as a Texian quartermaster he
received no compensation. When General Thomas J. Rusk, headquar-
tered at Victoria after San Jacinto, ordered the apprehension of po-
tential enemies of the Republic, Linn was placed under arrest along
with members of the De Leon and other prominent families of Vic-
toria. He was released, and in 1842 joined other leaders of the new
nation who pressured President Lamar to effect an alliance with the
Federalistas of Mexico."
A long career as the major mercantile agent of South Texas (he had
his own ship, The Opposition) equipped Linn with the talents of a
keen observer. Colonel Linn traveled from Matamoras to New Orleans
in 1833. In the spring of the following year he returned to Lavaca
Bay with a "stock of goods for the Mexican market."" It was undoubt-
edly on this voyage that the following observation was made of what
a century later became Texas' most valuable resource.
*Mr. Shook is a graduate student in history at North Texas State University.
'Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses (Austin, 1941), 125;
Walter P. Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas (2 vols.; Austin, 1952),
II, 60o; Hobart Huson, Refugio (Woodsboro, Texas, 1953), 215, 224, 255, 290, 390; J. W.
Petty, Jr. (ed.), A Republishing of the Book Most Often Known as Victor Rose's History
of Victoria (Victoria, Texas, 1961), 15.
2lIbid., 13; Huson, Refugio, 398, 446.
3John J. Linn, Reminiscences of Fifty Years in Texas (Austin, 1935), 11-13, 24.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/. Accessed July 10, 2014.