The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969 Page: 441
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Notes and Documents
To Judge Irvin'
By your request I make the following statement. Sometime in the year
1834 in the early part of the month of March I was on a schooner from
New Orleans bound for Lavaca Bay. We made the Pass Cavallo in the
evening and had to anchor being to [sic] late to get over the bar
by day light. Sometime in the night we had to leave in consequence
of a voilent [sic] Norther. We were driven out to sea and got back to
the pass in about the 3rd day. The day before we got back we came
to a part of the Gulf that was covered for acres and as far as we [could
see] around us with a species of oil which had the strong smell of
Asphalterra, so strong that it became disagreeable. The captain and pas-
sengers had various notions in regard to where the oil came from and
and someone proposed to see if it would burn. To this I objected by
saying that if it would burn we might be the sufferers as it would in
all probability set the vessel on fire. We did not try the experiment.
The sea was quite smooth, hardly a ripple on the water. The wind
[was] quite still the vessel not making over 3 knots if that much. We
were a considerable time surrounded with it. It was in the afternoon
sometime about 5 O'clock [that] a fine breeze sprang up and we got
out of it. There is no doubt that this oil comes from the bottom of
the Gulf and after it has gone through some process of nature it is
found in cakes on the gulf shore from ten to 30 or more pounds weight
and when boiled with tar and rosin it makes a lasting pitch for vessels
"David Irvin, a Virginia-born lawyer, enjoyed the patronage of Andrew Jackson for
many years as a territorial judge in the Wisconsin Territory. Irvin, a staunch secessionist,
settled on the Guadalupe River in DeWitt County in 1853. He had speculated widely in
the Northwest. Land, minerals, steam power, and money-lending made him a fortune,
which he lost following the Civil War. Irvin's interests extended to Lavaca Bay, and
Linn's letter to the judge was probably in reply to an inquiry about that region. Irvin
Papers (Callender House, Victoria, Texas); "David Irvin," State Bar of Wisconsin (Madi-
son, 1881), 48; Wisconsin State Journal, September lo, 1922; Moses M. Strong, History
of the Territory of Wisconsin, r836-1848 (Madison, 1885), 163; "David Irvin," Bench
and Bar of Wisconsin (Madison, 1898), I, 78.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969, periodical, 1969; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/m1/275/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.