TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the Houston County Field Notes Volume, Undated [ca. 1890]
First Class Headright Grants were issued to those who arrived in Texas before March 2, 1836 and did not leave the Republic to escape military service, or aid the enemy during the Revolution. Heads of families were eligible for one league and one labor of land (4605.5 acres), and single men were eligible for 1/3 league (1476.1). It is important to note the amount of land granted on the First Class Headright Certificate. If a 1st Class certificate was issued for an acreage different than those listed above, it is likely that the individual also received a land grant from Mexico.
Second Class Headrights were issued to those who arrived between March 2, 1836 and October 1, 1837. Heads of families were eligible for 1280 acres, and single men were eligible for 640 acres, provided that the grantees resided in Texas and performed all the duties required of citizens for three years. This 3-year residency requirement was essentially to ensure Texas provided land grants for people truly committed to settling in Texas and to deter land speculators from "immigrating" to Texas, receiving a land grant certificate and leaving. To prove fulfillment of these residency requirements, Second Class Headrights required a Conditional Certificate and an Unconditional Certificate to be issued. A conditional certificate was issued to the applicant, and once the grantee resided in Texas for three years, the grantee could apply for an unconditional certificate. The grantee could make a survey by virtue of the conditional certificate, but both certificates were required to be filed with the GLO before a patent could be issued. If the applicant resided in Texas three years before applying for a headright certificate, the grantee would be issued an unconditional certificate, having already met the three year residency requirement.
More information about the various land grant programs can be found in our publication, History of Texas Public Lands
The volume contains handwritten transcriptions of field notes for both Mexican titles, 1st and 2nd degree headright certificates issued in the Houston district. The volume appears to have been copied from another, older ledger book. The original volume may have been a chronological inventory, collecting field notes as they were done on the ground. Unfortuneately, many of the transcribed field notes in the book do not have dates associated with them. One item of speculation is the time period that the book was created, the 1890s: there are field notes for sections of land that, by the 1890s, were no longer in Houston County. The County was split to create Anderson to the north and Trinity County to the south. These changes happened in 1846 and 1850 respectively. If this book had been created from surveys in the field at the time the volume was written, again, possibly the 1890s, the field notes would not include lands now outside Houston County. Further, there are field notes for Houston County that are dated after 1850 (1868 in one case). These additions were likely made as surveys continued to be created in the county, without someone going back through the book and correcting or noting that the county had changed boundaries.
After a thorough analysis comparing the grantees in the volume with the records of the GLO, it cannot be determined why this volume was created and why it was not completed. There are numerous names of grantees that received land that are not represented in this book and there is no pattern that can be established with existing data. This volume of field notes will simply be another orphaned piece of esoterica on a shelf with other, similarly inscrutable items here at the GLO.
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. 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.).
[Short title of Document], [Date: Day-Month-Year]. Box [#], Folder [#], p. [#]. Houston County Field Notes Volume (HCFN). Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.