Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas General Land Office:

An Inventory of Copies of County and District Clerk Returns (Reports of Headright Certificates) at the Texas State Archives, 1857 (originals date from 1836 to 1855)



Overview

Creator: Texas. General Land Office.
Title: Copies of county and district clerk returns (reports of headright certificates)
Dates: 1857 (originals date from 1836 to 1855)
Abstract: Records present are copies of reports of headright certificates filed with the Texas General Land Office by the county Boards of Land Commissioners and the District Courts from 1836 to 1855. These copies were prepared by the General Land Office for the Court of Claims in 1857 and all copies are certified by either the Commissioner of the General Land Office or the Chief Clerk. The reports, called returns, had to be filed with the General Land Office on a quarterly basis by the county clerks and clerks of the District Courts. Typically, information found in these returns includes the numbers assigned to the conditional and the unconditional certificates, the name of the person to whom the headright certificate was issued, the county in which the conditional certificate was issued, quantity of land granted in acres, names of witnesses, and the date an unconditional certificate was issued. Some returns include emigration dates and marital status of recipients of certificates.
Quantity: 8.46 cubic ft.
Language English.

Agency History

Texas General Land Office

The General Land Office was established on December 22, 1836, by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas as an agency for disposing of the public lands and maintaining the records of those dispositions. The Land Office was charged with verifying Spanish and Mexican titles to determine which land was in the public domain and which was privately owned. On entering the Union in 1845, Texas' constitution charged the General Land Office with the supervision and management of the state's millions of acres of public lands. Its current responsibilities include housing and supporting the operations of the Veterans Land Board and the School Land Board. The office also established the Texas Natural Heritage Program in cooperation with the Texas Nature Conservancy to inventory rare and endangered plants, animals, and natural habitats in the state. The Resource Management Code System maintained at the Land Office provides a listing of environmental guidelines for developing submerged state tracts in Texas bays and the Gulf of Mexico. The Archives and Records Division of the Land Office remains the repository of all original land grants, patents, and other documents that form the basis of land title in the state of Texas.

Texas Court of Claims

The Texas Court of Claims was established on August 1, 1856 to handle claims against the Republic and the state, particularly land claims based upon military service. When the Court of Claims was established, the General Land Office was required to prepare copies of reports it received of headright certificates issued. These were used by the Court of Claims in reviewing the legitimacy of those land claims. After the Court of Claims was abolished in 1861 all of its records were transferred to the General Land Office.


Scope and Contents of the Records

Records present are copies of reports of headright certificates issued by the county Boards of Land Commissioners and the District Courts from 1836 to 1855. These copies were prepared by the Texas General Land Office for the Court of Claims in 1857 and all copies are certified by either the Commissioner of the General Land Office or the Chief Clerk. The reports, called returns, had to be filed with the General Land Office on a quarterly basis by the county clerks and clerks of the District Courts. Typically, information found in these returns includes the numbers assigned to specific conditional and unconditional headright certificates, the name of the person to whom the certificate was issued, the county in which the conditional certificate was issued, the quantity of land granted in acres, the names of witnesses, and the date an unconditional certificate was issued. Some returns specify emigration dates and marital status of recipients of certificates.

Several of the counties referred to in these files, namely Navasoto, Paschal and Spring Creek, have since been renamed (Navasoto to Brazos) or declared unconstitutional by the Texas Supreme Court.

Please note, lists of "Clerk Returns for Unconditional Certificates" found at the beginning of many of the county files have not been checked for accuracy or completeness. To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.


 

Arrangement of the Records

The copies maintain the same filing system as the originals. The files were divided by county, placed in chronological order according to the quarter for which the report was filed, and assigned a sequential number. Special reports were often made to report certificates issued in a particular quarter, but left out of the original report. These reports were filed according to the quarter in which the certificate was issued, not when the report was sent or received. Thus a special report would be filed immediately after the original report of that particular quarter and assigned a number such as 21 1/2.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

None.

Restrictions on Use

None.


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Corporate Names:
Texas. Court of Claims.
Subjects:
Land grants--Texas.
Document Types:
Reports--Texas--Land grants--1836-1855.

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas General Land Office, Austin, Texas
"The basic documents regarding individual land grants which may be found in the General Land Office Archives consist of land certificates, field notes and patents. In addition, other legal documents may be present, such as certificate transfers, duplicate certificates and powers of attorney. In certain cases, evidence had to be presented by an individual in order to prove their claim for a certificate. This evidence is often in the form of affidavits and depositions." (Quoted from http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/process.html)
Publications
See the Texas General Land Office (Austin, Texas) web site at http://www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/publicat.html

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item), Copies of county and district clerk returns (reports of headright certificates), Texas General Land Office. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 1991/156

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Archives and Records Division of the Texas General Land Office on May 16, 1991. These records are copies made in 1857 of returns filed in the General Land Office between 1836 and 1855. The copies were made for the Court of Claims, created in 1857 to handle claims against the Republic and state. When the court was abolished in 1861, the records were transferred to the General Land Office.

Processing Information

Lisa M. Hendricks, June 1992


Detailed Description of the Records

 

Copies of county and district clerk returns (reports of headright certificates), 1857 (originals date from 1836 to 1855),
8.46 cubic ft.

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1991/156-1 Anderson County
Angelina County
Austin County
[2 folders]
Bastrop County
[3 folders]
Bexar County
box
1991/156-2 Bexar County
[2 folders]
Bowie County
[3 folders]
Brazoria County
[2 folders]
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1991/156-3 Brazoria County
Brazos County
[3 folders]
See also Navasoto County
Burleson County
Burnet County
Calhoun County
Cameron County
Cass County
Cherokee County
Collin County
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1991/156-4 Colorado County
[3 folders]
Comal County
Dallas County
De Witt County
Ellis County
Fannin County
[2 folders]
Fayette County
box
1991/156-5 Fayette County
Galveston County
[4 folders]
Goliad County
Gonzales County
box
1991/156-6 Gonzales County
Grayson County
Grimes County
Guadalupe County
Harris County
[4 folders]
box
1991/156-7 Harris County
[3 folders]
Harrison County
[3 folders]
Henderson County
Hopkins County
Houston County
box
1991/156-8 Houston County
[3 folders]
Hunt County
Jackson County
[3 folders]
Jasper County
box
1991/156-9 Jasper County
Jefferson County
[3 folders]
Kaufman County
Lamar County
[3 folders]
box
1991/156-10 Lamar County
[2 folders]
Lavaca County
Leon County
[2 folders]
Liberty County
[4 folders]
box
1991/156-11 Limestone County
McLennan County
Madison County
Matagorda County
[4 folders]
Menard County
Milam County
[2 folders]
box
1991/156-12 Milam County
Montgomery County
[4 folders]
Nacogdoches County
[3 folders]
box
1991/156-13 Nacogdoches County
Navarro County
Navasoto County
See also Brazos County
Nueces County
Orange County
Panola County
[2 folders]
Paschal County
Polk County
Red River County
box
1991/156-14 Red River County
[3 folders]
Refugio County
Robertson County
[2 folders]
box
1991/156-15 Rusk County
[3 folders]
Sabine County
[4 folders]
box
1991/156-16 San Augustine County
[3 folders]
San Patricio County
Shelby County
[5 folders]
box
1991/156-17 Smith County
Spring Creek County
Titus County
Travis County
[3 folders]
Tyler County
Upshur County
Van Zandt County
Victoria County
box
1991/156-18 Victoria County
Walker County
[2 folders]
Washington County
[4 folders]
Wharton County
[2 folders]
Williamson County
Wood County