Friday, June 22, 2012

Texas Land Records - An Education

I was SO excited when I received copies of land records in the name of William E. Probert from the Texas Land Office.  Understanding them was a whole different matter.

If you can believe it, anyone who served in the War for Texas Independence from Mexico was given 320 acres for every three months of service.  My ggg-grandfather was given 640 acres for his six-month participation as a "fife major."  If you look carefully at this certificate, William E. Probert was given 640 acres for his service by the REPUBLIC OF TEXAS (remember, Texas was its own country).  What's interesting about this certificate is that it was immediately "assigned" to Henry Kesler. In speaking to the fine people in the Texas General Land Office, I found out that the assignee was either someone William immediately sold the Bounty Grant to or an attorney representing his interests. He did not hire a survey or identify land he wanted. He did not keep the property.

So here is the procedure:

  1. Get a "certificate" issued by the government of the Republic or State of Texas. The certificate entitles the grantee to a certain number of acres of land in the unallocated public domain. These certificates could be sold or transferred.
  2. The second step was to hire a surveyor to identify the land that the certificate holder wanted to claim. After they survey was completed, the results of the survey would be submitted to the local land office to assure that there were no other claims on the land.  If not, on to Step 3.
  3. Pay a fee to get the land patented.  At this point the land is transferred from the government to the private sector. The whole process can take several years.
A representative of the Texas General Land Office told me that many grantees immediately turned around and sold the certificate.  At the time, land meant nothing.  One hundred dollars meant a lot.  Our William immediately "assigned" this certificate to Henry Kesler. Henry either purchased the certificate outright or was an attorney representing W. E.'s interests.

This certificate was issued in February of 1838 in Houston.  The land was granted for Trinity County and was finally patented January 21, 1842 -- a period of four years. No land for the Proberts.  But wait -- there's more . . .


  1. I believe it may have been a common practice for other wars and land granted for service. I have this (or what I believe is the same thing) in Virginia for service in the War of 1812.

    Neat stuff, LOVE your document. Document envy!

    1. Carol, Believe me -- I can't believe I have this document either! Too cool!

  2. I LOVE this!! I also have document envy; not just the document but the rare piece of history that it confirms. And I can't wait to hear about the 'more'...!

  3. Roman soldiers often received a plot of land after their retirement. This way the Romans were able to colonize the newly conquered lands (like Gaul).

  4. Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply excellent and i could assume you are an
    expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks
    a million and please carry on the rewarding work..

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I couldn't have written about any of this without the excellent assistance of people from the Texas Land Office.


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