Search billions of records on

Back to Main Page



(Transcribed by Dorman Holub)


    On the 4th day of February, 1841, the Texan Congress passed an act to attract attention, and be an inducement to emigrants to come and populate this then uncivilized country.
   We give the act in fall to show the eagerness and liberality shown to get the interest of emigrants:


    "Be it enacted, etc., That every head of a family who has emigrated to this republic since the first of January, one thousand eight hundred and forty, or who may emigrate before the first of January, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two, with his family, and who is a free white person, shall be entitled to six hundred and forty acres of land; provided, he settle and actually reside on the same for the term of three years, and cultivate an amount of the same not less than ten acres-, and further, provided, he shall have his land surveyed and plainly marked, so as to include his improvements.
   SEC. 2-That each single man over the age of seventeen, who has or may emigrate as provided in the first section of this act, shall be entitled to three hundred and twenty acres of land, upon the same conditions and restrictions as the heads of families.
   SEC. 3-That in no instance shall a patent be issued under the provisions of this act unless the party produce the official certificate of the chief justice of the city where he may reside, that he, the said applicant, have proven by two respectable and creditable witnesses, that he has resided on the land for which he wishes to receive a patent, and that he has cultivated the quantum of land required by this act for the term of three years, and that he, has done and performed all the duties required of other citizens; and that he has taken the oath of allegiance to this republic, provided always, the applicant shall be required to make oath or affirmation that he has complied with the requisitions of this act; which oath or affirmation shall be properly authenticated.
   SEC. 4-That the president of the republic be and he is hereby authorized to make a contract with W. S. Peters, Daniel S. Carroll, Alexander McRed, Rowland Gibson, Robert Espie, William H. Oldmixon, Daniel Spillman, Robert Hume, John Salmon, W. C. Bansamen, John Peters, William Scott, Phineas J. Johnson, H. S. Peters, Timothy Cray, and Samuel Browning collectively, for the purpose of colonizing and settling a portion of the vacant and unappropriated lands of the republic, on the following conditions, to-wit: The said contractors, on their part, agree to introduce a number of families to be specified in the contract, within three years from the date of the contract, provided, however, they shall commence the settlement within one year from the date of said contract.
   SEC. 5-That the said contract shall be drawn up by the Secretary of State, setting forth such regulations and stipulations as shall not be contrary to the general principles of this law and the constitution, which contract shall be signed by the President and tile party or parties, and attested by the Secretary of State, who will also preserve a copy in his department.
   SEC. 6-That the President shall designate certain boundaries to be above the limits of the present settlements, within which the emigrants under the said contract must reside; provided, however, that all legal grants and surveys that may have been located within the boundaries so designated previously to the date of said contract shall be respected; and any locations or surveys made by the contractors or their emigrants on such grants and surveys, shall be null and void.
   SEC. 7-That not more than one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be located in a square, shall be given to any family comprehended in said contract nor more than three hundred and twenty acres to a single man over the age of seventeen years.
   SEC. 8-That no individual contract made between any contractor and the families or single persons which he may introduce, for a portion of the land to which respectively they may be entitled by way of recompense for passage, expense of transportation, removal or otherwise, shall be binding if such contract embrace more than one-half of the land, which he, she or they, may be entitled to under this law; nor shall any contract act as a lieu on any larger portion of such land; nor shall any emigrant be entitled to any land, or receive a title for such land until such person or persons shall have built a good and conformable cabin upon it, and shall keep in cultivation and under good fence at least fifteen acres on the tract which he may have received.
   SEC. 9.-That all the expenses attending the selection of the land, surveying title and other fees, shall be paid by the contractor to the persons respectively authorized to receive them; provided, however, that this provision shall not release the colonist from the obligation of remunerating the contractor in the amount of all such fees, so soon as it can be done without a sale of their land; and further, the President may donate to every settlement of one hundred families made under the provisions of this act one section of six hundred and forty acres of land to aid and assist the settlement in the erection of a building for religious public worship.
   SEC. 10-That the president may allow the contractors a compensation for their services, and in recompense of their labor and expense attendant on the introduction and settlement of the families introduced by him, ten sections for every hundred families, and in the same ratio of half sections for every hundred Single men introduced and settled; it being understood that no fractional number less than one hundred will be allowed any premium.
   SEC. 11.-That the premium lands must be selected from the vacant lands within the territorial limits defined in the contract; and further, all fees incidental to the issue of patents for lands acquired under the provisions of this law shall be paid to the commissioner of the general land office, for the use and benefit of the public treasury.
   SEC. 12.-That a failure on the part of the contractors and a forfeiture of their contract, shall not be prejudicial to the rights of such families and single persons as they may introduce, who shall be entitled to their respective quotas of land agreeable to the provision of this law.
   SEC. 13-That the contractors shall be required to have one-third of the whole number of the families and single persons for which they contract, within the limits of the Republic before the expiration of one year from the date of the contract, under the penalty of a forfeiture of the same; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, forthwith, after the expiration of such term and failure on the part of the contractors to comply with the provision, to publish and declare said forfeiture, unless the President, for good, sufficient reasons, shall extend the term six months, which he can do; and all substitutions of families living within the limits of the Republic by the contractors shall not entitle them to any premiums for such families, nor shall it operate in favor of them for the number of families which they are bound to introduce; and this act shall take effect from and after its passage."
   Advertisement of this act was extensively made in all the other States, and thereby much attention was attracted to Texas. But few, however, had the courage to come and remain as settlers.
   Under this act a contract was made between Sam Houston, then President of Texas, and Samuel Browning, attorney for a company composed of Joseph Carroll, Henry Peters, et at , on the 30th day of August, 1841, in which it was agreed that a colony, to be called Peters' Colony, should locate in the northern portion of the State. It covered a large sec-tion of territory, reaching from the southern border of the Red river to a line so far south as to include a large portion of what is now Ellis county. - The east border of this colony survey took its beginning at the mouth of Big Mineral creek on Red river, and coming south it cut into the territory now occupied by Dallas county, about ten miles east of the city of Dallas. Accordingly the section of territory now known as Dallas county was included entirely in this colony, with the exception of a small strip on the east about three miles in width.
   There were many disputes, resulting almost in serious difficulties, between some of the settlers and the colonists as to the rights of the settlers in this colony, and especially the amount of land each family should have allotted to it; also the amount each single man should be allowed. Finally, the laws of the State stepped in and put a quietus to this wrangle by setting aside for each family what was then and is now called a section, comprising 640 acres, and to a single man a half section, being of course 320 acres.
   The headquarters of the originators of this colony were located at Louisville, Kentucky, and the advertisement of the many advantages of this colony in the way of rich lands, delightful climate, etc., caught the attention of many, especially in Kentucky; and that brave, noble and true-hearted Kentuckian, John Neely Bryan, made tip his mind to brave the dangers and endure the hardships of this wild country. So be came and located near Dallas, in 1841, and is known as the first settler of Dallas county. Others came from his State and from Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee, and most of them settled in this section, comprising Dallas county, at least it received a liberal proportion of the immigrants. Up to 1846, all of Dallas county east of the Trinity river, belonged to Nacogdoches county, and all of Dallas west of the Trinity river belonged to what was then known as Robertson county. So for four years there earlier settlers were compelled in attending their courts to go the distance of about two hundred miles to Nacogdoches, then the county seat, and the settlers across the Trinity, almost in hollering distance, yet the citizens residing in that section of country now occupied by the beautiful suburban little city, Oak Cliff, had then to go to the rather important and proud village of the frontier, old Franklin, about one hundred and fifty miles from Houston. Frequently these pioneers had to go to their courts to serve as jurors by processes of court or to transact legal business. What more striking example of fortitude, sacrifice and devotion could be found showing a determination to build up and acquire homes for themselves than was exhibited by these faithful and patient pioneers! Thus, the real settlement of Dallas county began with these pioneers about 1842.

(Transcribed by Dorman Holub from John Henry Brown's Memorial & Biographical History of Dallas County, Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago,, 1892. Permission to reproduce this transcription must be obtained from Dorman Holub)