Early Nacogdoches, Texas Land Document
Two Women Sell Their Land to John S. Roberts
Signed by Nicholas Adolphus Sterne, Prominent Figure in Early Texas and Financier of the Texas Revolution
A fascinating early Texas land sale document, recording the sale (in Spanish) of a town lot (un solar) in Nacogdoches by two women, María Tiburcia Ybarro and María Trinidad Ybarro, to John S. Roberts (here noted as "Juan S. Rover" and "Juan Es Rovert"). The two women had inherited the land from their late mother, María Beatrice Sanches Navarro, the widow of José Cayetano de Zepeda, a prominent early settler of Nacogdoches. This document brings together individuals of diverse backgrounds in an 1838 land transaction in the Texas borderlands: two women of Spanish or Mexican heritage sell land to an Anglo-American Texas pioneer, which transaction is attested by a notable European-born Texas official of Jewish heritage, Adolphus Sterne.
Partial transcription of the Spanish text here follows:
En el Pueblo de Nacogdoches a los veinte y seis dias del mes de septiembre del año mil ochocientos treinta y tres. Ante mi el ciudadano Adolfo Sterne primer Regidor constitucional y Alcalde enturno por enfermedad del propietario José Ignacio Ybarro; comparecieron presentes y con sus propias personas las ciudadanas María Tiburcia Ybarro y María Trinidad Ybarro de esta vecindad, y Juan S. Rover [i.e. John S. Roberts] y los dos primeros digeron que por la concideracion de cincuenta pesos que recivieron de la mano del citado Juan Es Rovert, le vendian y bendieron en venta judicial un solar de tierra que como herederas tienen de su difunta Madre Maria Beatris Sanches Navarro, misma que fue esposa del finado Jose Cayetano de Zepeda; Cuyo solar se haya y con? de las menzuras que esplica el documento que antesede, el cual lo obtenian en su poder como herederos de los dos finados Ma. Beatris y Jose Cayetano de Zepeda el cual documento presentaron y es adjunto a esta venta, y expresaron las bendedoras, que mas balga o balen [?] dicho solar... es irrobacable, que el ... con fe de lo cual, otorgaron la presente escritura que firmaron con una señal de cruz por no saver escribir, firmandolo yo el presente jues con los testigos de ... segun previene la ley de que doy fé.
Señales de cruz.
Adolpho Sterne [with flourish]
[signatures of witnesses, José Pineda and Vicente Cordova, followed by notarized entry:]
Republic of Texas
County of Nacogdoches
Personally appeared before me Charles S. Taylor, Chief Justice of said County... the above signed Adolphus Sterne, who acknowledged his signature to the foregoing Instrument as Alcalde enturno.
28 day of March 1838
Chas. S. Taylor
C. J. of the County
Nicholas Adolphus Sterne
Signed by Nicholas Adolphus Sterne (1801-1852) - here as Adolfo Sterne, Primer Regidor and substitute Alcalde of Nacogdoches. Sterne, born in Cologne to an Orthodox Jewish father and a Lutheran mother, was a significant Texas pioneer, financier of the Texas Revolution, and a friend of Sam Houston. He arrived in Nacogdoches in 1824 after a time in New Orleans, personally financed two companies of soliders for the Texas Revolution, known as the New Orleans Grays, and eventually represented Nacogdoches in the Texas House of Representatives. He built a house on the eastern edge of Nacogdoches, near the confluence of the La Nana Bayou and Bonita Creek, where he often entertained Sam Houston and other prominent Texas residents. In 1839 Sterne commanded a company of militia in the Battle of the Neches, helping to expel the Cherokees from East Texas. By 1840 it is estimated from the census of that year that he owned about 16,000 acres of land, yet he often complained in his diary that he did not have enough "monay." He served as an interpreter as he knew many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Yiddish, Portuguese, and Latin.
The online Handbook of Texas has an extensive illustrated biography of Sterne, detailing his exploits and role in early Texas history.
The Fiscal Stamp of Coahuila and Texas
The present document includes two examples of papel sellado with the handsome ink stamped seal of the Treasury of the State of Coahuila y Tejas - a very early and rare example of an official seal from Texas. The papel sellado was almost certainly stamped or printed locally, in the state capital of Monclova. Unlike the regular state seal for Coahuila y Tejas, which was essentially a slightly modified version of the Mexican national seal, the fiscal or treasury seal of Coahuila y Tejas is a unique design: the Mexican eagle's breast is surmounted with a large Eye of Providence within a pyramidal sunburst or halo. Two figures on either side of the eagle are almost definitely Native Americans, one with a bow and another with a quiver of arrows.
A fascinating land sale record involving two Tejana women selling to an American Texan, signed by an significant figure in early Texas history. Any original early document from the Texas borderlands town of Nacogdoches is rare in the market, especially one with historically interesting content.