The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942 Page: 287
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Letters and Documents
family at Natchitoches, Louisiana, which, after the purchase of
Louisiana by the United States in that same year, became the
furthest outpost of the United States facing Spanish domin-
ions.3 In March, 1803, he made a journey up Red River, keeping
a journal. He was a prolific journalist, with scholarly traits,
and a keen power of observation. Hence, he became an author-
ity on western Louisiana, the Indians of the Red River area,
and Spanish Texas.4
From the time of Sibley's arrival at Natchitoches he was a
man of many enterprises. From 1803 until his appointment as
an official on the Louisiana-Texas frontier, he was an informer
on Indian affairs and on the Louisiana boundary controversy
between Spain and the United States. For the information
furnished he was appointed contract surgeon to care for United
States soldiers at Fort Claiborne in Natchitoches, a position he
held until November, 1808. From 1805 to 1814 he served as
Indian agent, keeping the Indians as far west as Matagorda
Bay friendly to the United States. He supervised Indian trade
at the factory at Natchitoches. He managed his cattle ranches,
engaged in cotton farming, and sent his cotton to the New
Orleans market. He manufactured salt from the salt springs
near Natchitoches," which he shipped to Mississippi and Louisi-
ana. He acquired town property in Natchitoches, and fine farms
on both sides of the Red River. He kept up a voluminous cor-
respondence," writing to the Secretary of War of the United
States, to Governor William Charles Coe Claiborne of Orleans
Territory, later of the State of Louisiana,7 and to his four chil-
dren of previous marriages. In 1813, he had married a third
3G. P. Whittington, "Doctor John Sibley of Natchitoches, 1757-1837," The
Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XX, 469.
4For a critical analysis of Sibley's survey of the Indians of the Red River
area, see Charles Wilson Hackett, Pichardo's Treatise on the Limits of
Louisiana and Texas (Austin, University of Texas Press, 1931), II, passim.
"For an account of the salt springs, see ibid., II, 58-59.
6In addition to Sibley's journal kept of his Red River journey in 1803,
and the historical sketch of Indian tribes, he wrote many letters that are in
the collections of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Massa-
chusetts, the Missouri Historical Society, and Lindenwood College, St.
Charles, Missouri. Also, he kept a diary or journal which covered the years
1803-1837, a part of which has been edited by G. P. Whittington. For
details concerning the journal as well as the diary, see G. P. Whittington,
"Doctor John Sibley of Natchitoches," The Louisiana Historical Quarterly,
October, 1927, XX, 467-473.
7W. C. C. Claiborne, Official Letter Books, 1801-1816 (Jackson, Missis-
sippi, 1917, Rowland Dunbar, editor), II, III, passim. 33.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942, periodical, 1942; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/m1/321/?rotate=90: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.