Land and Railroad Ledger Owned by Texas Business Magnate William E. Dodge Jr.
An important and unique ledger containing extensive mapping of and information on Texan land dealing in the late 1880s. Particular attention in the ledger is paid to land in Baylor county, though the ledger goes into detail regarding lands in Angelina, Coryell, Hardin, Jasper, Lampasas, McMullen, Montgomery, Navarro, Newton, Sabine, San Augustine, and Trinity counties as well. Included in the work are fifty-four hand-drawn maps of land documented in the ledger as well as one exceptionally rare early printed map of McMullen County.
Included in the work are substantial notes regarding plots, price, provenance, and ownership of vast tracts of land throughout Texas. Many of these deals concern early Texas railroads, including the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, and the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad. One assumes that these must relate to the lands owned by William E. Dodge Jr., an important Texas businessman of the 19th century whose name appears on the binding and who was involved with railroads.
In addition to the vast troves of information regarding Texan landownership and surveying, the work includes numerous other curiosities. Several newspaper clippings can be found throughout the work which provide historical and social information regarding the ledger and its author. These include short notes on important court decisions and stolen land deeds. Other clippings commemorate the visits of important personalities or friends of the author to Baylor County, and one notes that Baylor will become the most important counties in the Panhandle.
The handwritten dates in this book span from 1887 to 1889. Enclosed documents all appear to date from that period or slightly later.
Map of McMullen County
As noted, enclosed in the work is a loose survey map of McMullen County, Texas. The map shows the course of the two major rivers of the county, the Nueces and the Frio rivers. Tilden, the county seat, is labeled and surveyed parcels of land are demarked. Ownership of the land is well documented, with some parcels extending into the neighboring counties of Atascosa, Frio, La Salle, Encinal, Duval, and Live Oak.
Manuscript notation on the map focuses on land owned by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad Company. Parcels of land are marked sold, and this map may act as a transaction of sale. This land comprises thousands of acres in the central and southern Texas.
The map dates to 1889 and was produced by R. M. Hall, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. The map was lithographed in St. Louis. The Library of Congress holds an 1879 edition of a map of the county, off of which this present map was evidently inspired. We are unable to locate other examples of this map.
The binding displays "Estate of W. E. Dodge" in gilt lettering. This undoubtedly refers to William E. Dodge Jr., son of the important business magnate and a very important figure himself. While he specialized in copper mining, he also held vast interests in other industries throughout the South and Southwest, many inherited from his father. As a partner of the trading firm Phelps, Dodge and Co., Dodge became invested in Texan railroads, helping found the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. His business dealings would stretch across Texas, from Galveston to El Paso.
Two enclosed 1962 letters from a "Mark Aziz" to a Mr. Price Daniel Jr. are included, enquiring about the nature of the book. These request further information the book, and it becomes clear that the ledger was eventually sent to the recipient of the letter. This recipient is, of course, Price Daniel Jr., former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and heir to a political dynasty with a direct lineage to Sam Houston. He was currently attending school at Baylor, in Waco, where he had opened a rare book business and where these letters were addressed.