Texas Secretary of State Boundary Records:
An Inventory of Secretary of State Boundary Records at the Texas State Archives, 1837-1843, 1858-1860, 1873-1877, 1882, 1885-1887, 1911, undated
By a law approved June 12, 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas authorized the President to appoint a commissioner to act with a commissioner to be appointed by the United States to survey the eastern boundary of Texas. On October 4, 1838, the Congress ratified a Convention between the two nations providing for such a survey. Supplementary acts dated November 23, 1839; January 18, 1840; November 23 and 26, 1840; and February 4, 1841, authorized appropriations and additional personnel for the Texas representation on the boundary commission. Memucan Hunt was the first Texas Commissioner appointed; he served from 1839 until 1840, when he was dismissed from the post. He was succeeded by George W. Smyth, who served until June 1841, when the work of the Commission was completed.
By an act approved November 26, 1840, the Secretary of State was required to draw from the War Department funds appropriated to run a boundary line between the Republic of Texas and the United States.
Following annexation further boundary work was needed to define the Panhandle. On February 11, 1854, the Texas legislature agreed to cooperate with a United States Commission "in running and marking the boundary line between the State of Texas and the territories of the United States, from the point where it leaves Red River to the point where it intersects the Rio Grande." Field work was done in the Panhandle in 1859 and 1860. The Civil War stopped work and the question of the boundary, expecially Greer County, was not settled until a Supreme Court ruling of March 16, 1896.
The Secretary of State is a constitutional officer of the executive branch of state government, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for a term concurrent with the governor's (a two-year term at first, a four-year term since 1974). The office was first created by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836 (Article VI, Section 10), and has been continued by each succeeding Constitution. On May 9, 1846, the 1st Legislature approved an act "to define the duties of Secretary of State," which among other things required the Secretary of State to "arrange and preserve all books, maps, parchments, records, documents, deeds, conveyances, and other papers belonging to the State, that have been or may be properly deposited there."
An act of February 11, 1854, created a Board of Commissioners composed of the Secretary of State, the Comptroller, and the Attorney General, "to superintend the arranging and filing of the archives of the late Republic of Texas and of the State Legislature, and also the recording of the Journals of the said Congress and State Legislature . to be deposited in the General Land-office of the State." An act of December 14, 1863, made the Secretary of State "the custodian of the records of the Senate and House of Representatives." And an act of March 25, 1887, provided that "the entire archives of the late Republic of Texas, . together with the records, books, and journals of said Congress" would be "deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State," and "declared to be Archives of said office."
(Sources include: the Secretary of State Republic of Texas records appraisal report (December 1998); the survey report by Carolyn Majewski (January 1982); and the enabling legislation (1836-1887).)
In June 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas authorized the President to appoint a commissioner to act with a commissioner to be appointed by the United States to survey the eastern boundary of Texas. In October 1838, the Congress ratified a Convention between the two nations providing for such a survey. The boundary commission finished its work in June 1841. On February 11, 1854, the Texas legislature agreed to cooperate with a United States Commission to define the northern and western boundaries of Texas. These records consist of correspondence, reports, vouchers, and abstracts of account of the Texas Boundary Commissioners, of the United States Commissioners, of Presidents and Governors of Texas, and of other state and federal officials. Dates covered are 1837-1843, 1858-1860, 1873-1877, 1882, 1885-1887, 1911, undated. The Texas Boundary Commissioners filed reports of their progress with either the Secretary of State or the President/Governor of Texas. The correspondence was maintained by the Secretary of State. Reports concern relations with the U.S. Commissioner, progress of the survey, and routine supply and personnel matters.
Correspondents of the Republic reports and letters include Texas Boundary Commissioners Memucan Hunt and later George W. Smyth; United States Commissioner John H. Overton, President Mirabeau B. Lamar, and David G. Burnet. Also present are two journals of the Joint United States/Republic of Texas Boundary Commission. One dates from May 22, 1840 to July 10, 1841 and covers the running of the boundary from the mouth of the Sabine River to the Red River. The other journal, from May 18, 1840 to April 25, 1841, covers the running of the boundary from the Sabine River to the 32nd parallel.
Correspondents in 1859-1860 include William A. Bush (Secretary of the Boundary Commission), William H. Russell (Commissioner of the Boundary Survey), John H. Clark (U.S. Commissioner of the Boundary Survey), J. Thompson (U.S. Secretary of the Interior), Thomas F. Chapman (Secretary/Quartermaster/Commissary of the Boundary Commission), Governor H. R. Runnels, and Governor Sam Houston. Correspondence beginning 1873 is largely concerned with proving the Texas claim to Greer County. Correspondents include L. K. Lippincott (Acting U.S. General Land Office Commissioner) and Governor R. B. Hubbard. Correspondents in the 1880s include Governor John Ireland, William C. Endicott (U.S. Secretary of War), James Porter (Acting U.S. Secretary of State), U.S. Senator Samuel B. Maxey, J. Thomas Brackenridge (chairman, Texas Commissioners), and John S. Ford.
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Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Texas Secretary of State boundary records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1905/003 and unknown
These records were transferred to the Texas Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History (a predecessor of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) by the Texas Secretary of State on May 25, 1906. The provenance of the financial records is uncertain; they may have been transferred to the Texas State Library and Historical Commission by the Comptroller of Public Accounts on December 19, 1914.
Processed by State Archives staff, dates unknown
Records surveyed and described by Carolyn Majewski, January 1982, August 1982
Finding aid encoded by Tony Black in EAD Version 2002 as part of the TARO project, June 2010
Additional boundary records included, with corrections by Tony Black, October 2010
Authority name and other changes by Tony Black, February 2011
Additions to related material by Tony Black, August 2013
DACS compliance and other revisions to description and encoding by Tiffany Criswell, June 2020
Texas State Archives staff completed an appraisal of the Texas Secretary of State holdings already in the custody of the Texas State Archives in December 1998. Fifty-seven series of these holdings were determined to be archival, including records relating to the Joint United States/Republic of Texas Boundary Commission. The complete appraisal report (in two parts: Republic of Texas records, and non-Republic records) is available for consultation online at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/appraisal/sosrepublic.html and http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/appraisal/sosstate.html, and also in the search room of the Texas State Archives.
Detailed Description of the Records