One of the Four Essential Documents for a Texas Immigrant

Early Texas Imprint

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

541. [TEXAS COLONIZATION: AUSTIN & WILLIAMS COLONY]. Sello Segundo: Doce Reales. Habilitado por el Estado de Coahuila y Texas para el Bienio de 1828 Y 29. Printed form accomplished in manuscript. [San Felipe de Austin: Baker and Bordens, 1835]. [2] pp. with conjugate blank. Folio (31 x 21.5 cm), on laid Italian paper watermarked Tomasso | Puppo. Signed with original signatures and dated in ink San Felipe de Austin, 22 October 1835, Robert Peebles, Gail Borden, and C. C. Givens. Validation extended in manuscript after title, “30. 31. 32. 33. 34 y 35 Por comision Givens.” Docketed on verso of second leaf, “One League of Land to John G. Conner.” Creased where formerly folded, lower right corner wrinkled, light stains along fold lines, otherwise a very good copy of a rare document and imprint.

     First edition. Not in Streeter. Cf. Jenkins, The Texas Revolution and Republic 110. Cf. Streeter 13 & 14. A land contract in Spanish deeding John G. Conner (b. Kentucky, d. 1860) one league of land in Stephen F. Austin and Samuel May Williams’ grant (later Robertson’s Colony), between the San Jacinto and Navasota Rivers. The grant had been surveyed by Francis W. Johnson. This is an example of one of the four basic documents that any immigrant was required to have to settle in Texas, more closely matching the one described in Streeter 14, with a statement that the copy agrees with the original deed and “Sello Segundo” at the head. Here Peebles is the granting commissioner rather than Juan Antonio Padilla. According to Streeter 9, four documents were required for an immigrant: (1) an admission petition; (2) certificate to be presented to a commissioner; (3) an original deed [the present document]; and (4) a promissory note. All copies of any of those documents are rare and mostly in institutional collections. On Robertson’s Colony, see [TEXAS COLONIZATION: ROBERTSON COLONY] herein.

     Empresario Peebles joined with Francis White Johnson and Samuel May Williams, whose colony had a troubled history, and was ultimately unsuccessful. In early 1835, during the state legislature session in Monclova (the capital of Coahuila y Tejas), Johnson, Peebles, and Williams were named empresarios for 400 leagues of land. The land was to be granted to settlers in return for a year of military service in a new company of Texas militia that was to provide protection against the Indians. The militia did not materialize, and the partners instead distributed the land in ten-league parcels among Texas settlers. Some grants were made in violation of a decree of the Consultation of November 1835 which ceased issuance of such land patents and closed all the land offices. In fact, the present grant was issued only weeks before the Texas Declaration of Independence. After the Revolution, most of the grants of this empresario contract were voided. See The Handbook of Texas Online (Gail Borden, Jr.; Francis White Johnson; Robert Peebles; Samuel May Williams).

     All signers of this document are interesting, but we single out Gail Borden, who played pivotal roles in Texas history, and beyond. He arrived the 1820s; surveyed for Stephen F. Austin; drew the first topographical map of Texas; founded the Telegraph and Texas Register (“the first newspaper in Texas to achieve a degree of permanence...the official organ of the Republic of Texas”-Handbook); actively participated in the Texas Revolutionary movement; printed the Texas Declaration of Independence and many other Texas imprints of note; helped lay out the city of Houston in 1836; assisted in the establishment of the first Baptist church in Galveston; constructed the first windmill on Galveston Island, etc. Gail created some of the earliest Texas imprints, served in the Convention of 1833; and helped develop Galveston through his post as secretary and agent for the Galveston City Company; invented the Meat Bisquit and Condensed Milk; and established the Borden Milk Company (yes, that Borden); etc., etc., etc.

     Surviving examples of any of the original deed forms are extremely scarce. An essential document for a collection of Texas history or Texas printing.


Sold. Hammer: $1,700.00; Price Realized: $2,082.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: