Item #7747 [Autograph letter, signed, by John L. Hanna to his brother, a year after settling in Lampasas, Texas.]. John L. Hanna.
[Autograph letter, signed, by John L. Hanna to his brother, a year after settling in Lampasas, Texas.]
[Autograph letter, signed, by John L. Hanna to his brother, a year after settling in Lampasas, Texas.]

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[Autograph letter, signed, by John L. Hanna to his brother, a year after settling in Lampasas, Texas.]

Lampasas, Texas, 16 June 1868. 4 pp. (10.375” x 8.25”) in ink. CONDITION: Very good, old folds.

A rich letter from a recent settler in Lampasas, Texas, written at the time of the first session of Texas’s Constitutional Convention and offering detailed accounts of agriculture, stock, and town, as well as military rule, political sentiment, population movement, and the spread of yellow fever.

Written the year after John L. Hanna and his sister Isabella bought property in the new town of Lampasas, Texas (formerly Burleson), this letter is addressed to their brother Samuel and provides an overview of their experience to date. The Hannas arrived in 1867, when many Texans, “disgusted with military rule” during the Reconstruction era, were deciding to “get away at any sacrifice,” and go “to callifornia.” Hanna reports that “There are some twenty familys leving this section of country All on the account of no law to protect person or property,” and segues into vitriolic commentary on the political situation:

The damn rads ruling it over them with a rod of iron with a heter at one end and sharpened at the other end. I hope the infernel hel houns wil have a stop put to their doings after the presidential election is over. This state is holdin convention at present to frame canstitution[.] To suit rads there are 9 white in convention 9 blacks and the balance white n—s of the lowest grade Taken this state over…

Hanna also notes that military posts along the frontier are being established as quickly as possible, and that “The Indians”—likely the Penateka band of Comanches—“make raids into this part of Texas occasional for the purposes of stealing stock they sometimes kil an individual They kiled two last winter 14 miles of this place. They have near taken all the horses out of this country.”

In addition to the socio-political scene, Hanna describes the “high an mountainous” landscape; his and Isabella’s work to “improve our new home so as to live comfortable”; the dominant occupation of the region (“this is nothing but a stock growing country an the people prefer doing nothing but attend to stock”); the going prices for livestock, and the reason he attributes to the “strange” similarity in prices “threw all parts of Texas.”

The Hanna property was “situated verry pleasantly” near the town, which Hanna also describes, and included several sulfur springs—later named Hanna Springs—as well as a hotel. Under his management, the springs became a popular health destination:

People ar coming to the sulpher spring at present there are five tents pitched at the upper springs an several individuals boarding in town The prospect is that their wil be quite anumber at the springs this sommer an fall if the yellow fever should brake out…It is rumered or reported that the yellow fever has made it[s] appearance in galveston all ready.

The sulfur spring land, however, which had been sold several times in spite of a disputed title, embroiled Hanna in a law suit involving its second owner, Elizabeth Scott, the daughter of the town’s founder, John Burleson. Scott, whom her family claimed suffered from painful physical abnormalities and mental distress, had been a frequent drug user; according to Hanna, Scott “alleges that she was not in her rite mind so brought suit against me to have her assignment set a side and recover the property.” After a long and dramatic legal battle, Scott ultimately failed to regain the title.

Hanna died in Illinois in 1878. The property was soon sold, and the next owners built the “Hanna Pavilion” (later called the Hanna Opera House), which in 1892 hosted the State Democratic Convention.

A rich letter describing the Texas scene during Reconstruction, written by the new owner of an increasingly popular health destination.

Item #7747

Price: $3,500.00

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