The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 248
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Barker, and he printed them in the Austin Papers and used them in
his biography of Austin.2
The thread running through the letters is a pending lawsuit, in
which Thomas F. Leaming had power of attorney for the Austin
family, and the family relations of the Austin and Leaming families in
general. After ten years and the deaths of both the litigants-Jacob
Fox and Stephen F. Austin-this lawsuit against Fox for possession of
about four-sevenths of a farm (containing between 210 and 260 acres)
in Salem County, New Jersey, was finally lost in 1837. The farm had
once belonged to the family of Stephen F. Austin's mother, and the
Austin family seems to have had proof that the sale of land to Jacob
Fox was void and that the descendants of Abia Brown (the father
of Stephen F. Austin's mother) had legal rights to the land.3 The main
correspondence concerning the lawsuit passed directly between James
F. Perry and Thomas F. Leaming.4 The communication between
Stephen F. Austin and Leaming regards the settling of Texas and the
motives and opinions of Stephen F. Austin.
Although Stephen F. Austin and, to a lesser extent, James F. Perry,
his brother-in-law, are familiar to those acquainted with Texas history,
the name of Thomas F. Leaming is less well known. Leaming was born
in Philadelphia July 14, 1786; married Susan Murgatroyde; had one
son, Stevenson M. Leaming; and died in Philadelphia on June 23, 1839.
His ancestors can be traced back directly to John Howland of the
2Stephen F. Austin to Thomas F. Learning, June 14, 1830, Eugene C. Barker (ed.), The
Austin Papers (3 vols.; Vols. I, II, Washington, D.C., 1924-1928; Vol. III, Austin, 1927),
II, 413-419; Austin to Learning, July 23, 1831, ibid., 677-681. Two copies exist of both
of these letters. Of Austin's June 14, 183o, letter to Learning, both versions of which are
given in Barker, the first version is more personal and the second was apparently in-
tended for publication. Neither of these letters is in the Leaming collection. There are
also two Austin to Leaming letters dated July 23, 1831. The copy in the Learning Papers
appears to be the final draft of the one in the Austin Papers, since the former is much
longer, cleaner, and more complete.
The Learning collection now comprises fifty-seven documents of 147 pages. Two printed
documents are no longer part of the collection: a two-page "Announcement of Stephen
F. Austin's Death, 1836," is now in the Broadside Collection of the Eugene C. Barker
Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin, and an eleven-page 1832 pamphlet,
"Communication Forwarded from San Felipe de Austin Relative to Late Events in
Texas," is in the Barker Center's rare book collection See page to of the bound tran-
scripts of the collection, Thomas F. Leading Papers, Eugene C. Barker Texas History
Center (cited hereafter as BTHC).
BSee Thomas F. Learning to Samuel Perry, July 18, 1827, and Mar. 18, 1837, Learning
Papers; also "Memorandum of a Conversation with Mrs. Grace Bassett . . . on . .
13th June 1826 ...," ibid.
4See Thomas F. Learning to James F. Perry, Feb. 18, 1828, and Sept. 13, 1837, and
James F. Perry to Thomas F. Learning, Sept. 23, 1827, May 26, June 2, 1828, Mar. 22, Dec.
20, 1829, Feb. 23, 1830, Mar. 9, 1834, Feb. 1, June 4, 1837, and Apr. 21, 1838, ibid.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/296/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.