Texas Land Grants, 1750–1900

A Documentary History


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About the Book

The Texas land grants were one of the largest public land distributions in American history. Induced by titles and estates, Spanish adventurers ventured into the frontier, followed by traders and artisans. West Texas was described as “Great Space of Land Unknown” and Spanish sovereigns wanted to fill that void. Gaining independence from Spain, Mexico launched a land grant program with contractors who recruited emigrants.
After the Texas Revolution in 1835, a system of Castilian edicts and English common law came into use. Lacking hard currency, land became the coin of the realm and the Republic gave generous grants to loyal first families and veterans. Through multiple homestead programs, more than 200 million acres had been deeded by the end of the 19th century. The author has relied on close examination of special acts, charters and litigation, including many previously overlooked documents.

About the Author(s)

John Martin Davis, Jr., is a retired Dallas tax attorney and CPA who lives in Fort Davis, Texas. An authority on Texas maps, he is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas for the Collection and Diffusion of Knowledge.

Bibliographic Details

John Martin Davis, Jr.
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: 117 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6549-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2530-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi

Foreword by Light Townsend Cummins  1

Introduction  3

I—Spanish Grants, 1750–1820  5

II—Mexican Empresario Grants, 1821–1829  10

III—Other Mexican Grants, 1830–1835  16

IV—Loan Scrip Certificates, 1836–1863  22

V—Military and Emigrant Headrights, 1836–1887  26

VI—Lot and Island Sales, 1836–1907  29

VII—Republic Empresario Grants, 1841–1844  32

VIII—Trans-Nueces and Trans-Pecos Grants, 1848–1858  36

IX—Homestead and Education Grants, 1845–1897  39

X—Internal Improvement Grants, 1836–1882  44

XI—Panhandle and Western Grants, 1879–1900  48

XII—Speculation  51

Conclusion  55

Illustrations  56

Chapter Notes  173

Bibliography  178

Index  181

Book Reviews & Awards

“this study of Texas land grants breaks new ground in expanding the historical understanding of land ownership as an integral component of the larger history of Texas”—The Neatline: A Newsletter of the Texas Map Society.