Saturday, July 28, 2012

In His Own Words . . .

Sometimes the stars just align -- and that is what happened to me. Land records are not exactly part of my comfort zone, but they have proved to be invaluable.  Thanks to records from the Texas Archives, I learned my ggg-grandfather, William Probert, had earned 4000+ acres of Texas land following his service in the War for Texas Independence from Mexico. Due to his year-long service, he was awarded certificates entitling him to claim 1280 acres -- 320 acres for each 3-month period of service.  In addition, he was given a "First-Class Headright" (see League and Labor).  as the head of a family in Texas in 1836.

In attempting to find out what happened to the land, I was fortunate to obtain copies of correspondence between William and his wife Mary (Polly) from the Texas Archives.  I no longer have to speculate as to why William chose to leave his wife and four young children to go off to Texas. I now know it was a decision supported by William's wife in the hopes that their family would be better off following his service.  Here is part of his letter in his own words transcribed below:

Transcription: But when I consider on the fortune that I have made in Texas, it gives me some comfort. There are several men that have come to the country and have stayed a short time, taken their discharge and by the time they return home, they have nothing to show for their service.  But I came here for a fortune and a fortune I will have -- five thousand acres of first-rate land will come very near it. We are waiting the glad tidings of peace every day and then we shall all come home with flying colors.

In a separate letter, William reiterated his hopes for his family's future.
I hope the time will soon come that we may again enjoy ourselves and see better times than we have seen yet. I believe that by coming to Texas is the best thing I ever did in my life for it will be a fortune to us and our children if it’s well-managed as long as we live. Dear Polly, I have to inform you that my pay is still to the good.  We have not drawn any money since we came to Texas and I should have been able to send you some according to the promise I made you.

William concluded the letter with the following: Dear Polly, I cannot at this time tell you how long it may be until the Army is discharged. But it will not be long as the fighting business is at an end between Texas and Mexico.  Try and comfort yourself as well as you can and give my love to my Dear Children and to all my old acquaintances. No more at present from your affectionate husband until death.

How many of us can say that our ancestors from 1836 could read and write? It is with joy that I share a copy of William's signature with you.

Note: I have taken the liberty to change some of the punctuation and spelling from these letters to conform with current practice.



    1. Thanks, Carol. I'm loving this group of ancestors.

  2. How wonderful, Kathy. And there's something about seeing the signature...

  3. What a wonderful document to have found. I am sighing along with Carol. There is something about seeing William Probert's signature, not to mention the salutation, '...from your affectionate husband until death'. It is as though the passage of time is momentarily suspended. Sigh. :):)



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