Handsomely Printed Texas Preemption Land Grant
An original 1857 Texas Land Grant, signed by Elisha M. Pease, Governor of Texas, after whom the Pease River was named. The Pease, a tributary of the Red River, was named in 1856 by the surveyor Jacob de Córdova of the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad Company. Pease Park in Austin was also named for Elisha M. Pease, who once owned the land that became the park.
The certificate, which is nicely printed on vellum - including the Lone Star at top - grants to William P. Mattison certain land on Dill Creek, 17 miles from Nacogdoches. The handwritten description of the land takes up nearly half of the document. It is notable for the continued use of the vara, a Spanish unit of distance, dating from the original Spanish and Mexican surveys and land grants in Texas. One vara was the equivalent to approximately thirty-three and one-third inches. Another interesting aspect of the land description is the mention of various trees to establish the boundaries of the land holding, including references to several pines, a blackjack oak, and a hickory:
In Nacogdoches County, near the waters of Dill's Creek, about 17 1/2 miles... from the town of Nacogdoches, by virtue of Preemption Certificate No. 10, issue by the County Clerk of Nacogdoches County on the 27th day of September, 1856. Beginning 499 Varas north of James W. Smith's NW corner, stake from which a pine 20 inch diamenter bears N. 75 1/2° 4 3/5 Varas...Thence west, 1029 Varas, a Pine, line tree; 1630 Varas, stake on C. Aguileras's E. line, from which a Blackjack 10 in. dia. bears North 7 4/5 Varas, a Red Oak, 12 in. dia... a stake from which a P. Oak 24 in. dia. bears S 35° E. 10 Varas, a Hickory 6 in. dia...
Preemption Land Grant
The Preemption land grant program allowed settlers to claim land in the public domain and provided a process through which settlers could title the land once they qualified for ownership.
The first preemption act was passed by the Republic of Texas in 1845 and allowed for the settlement of up to 320 acres of vacant public land. An 1854 act reduced the preemption amount to 160 acres and the first preemption program was canceled in 1856. Preemption grants of 160 acres were reinstated in 1866 and continued until 1898.
Such original Texas land documents signed by 19th century Texas governors are scarce in the market.