Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas Court of Claims:

An Inventory of Court of Claims Land Petitions at the Texas State Archives, 1836-1860, undated, bulk 1856-1857


Creator: Texas. Court of Claims.
Title: Court of Claims land petitions
Dates: 1836-1860, undated
Dates: bulk 1856-1857
Abstract: 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. The commissioner of claims evaluated documents submitted by a land petitioner to determine if the petitioner would be eligible to receive land under various Texas acts and laws. Records are petitions and associated documentation submitted to the Court of Claims for a headright certificate or a land bounty, dating 1836-1860 and undated, bulk 1856-1857.
Quantity: 2 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written predominately in English with scattered Spanish throughout.
Repository: Texas State Archives

Texas Court of Claims History

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 (Chapter XCIII, 6th Texas Legislature, Adjourned Session). A citizens who felt he or she was entitled to land had until September 1, 1858 to register these claims or the claim would be forfeited. Applications were to be made to the local district court or to the county court, and that court then forwarded the documentation to the Court of Claims. The Texas General Land Office was required to prepare copies of reports it received of headright certificates issued to assist the Court of Claims in reviewing the legitimacy of land claims.

The Court of Claims was headed by a commissioner of claims, who could reject claims believed to be fraudulent. Initially the commissioner of claims was elected by a joint vote of the two houses of the state legislature for a two-year term that would expire January 1, 1858. During this two-year term, the commissioner of claims was allowed to register land certificates of every description, with certain specified classes of certificates being exempt. Additionally, the commissioner of claims was charged to investigate claims for headrights and colonization grants, which had been the functions of a defunct special commission (1840-1842). The commissioner of claims' office also validated Mexican land grants (an act of March 20, 1848), granted land to heirs of soldiers of the Texas Revolution (an act of February 9, 1850), and allowed for compensation for services and supplies furnished to the Republic (an act of February 11, 1854). The commissioner of claims reported to the legislature with a list of applicants and the recommended action. Petitioners whose claims had been rejected had the right to bring suit in the District Court in the twelve months following the rejection. Legislation in January and February of 1858 further defined the duties of the commissioner, liberalized the bases for proof of claims, authorized a larger number of specified land certificates, and extended the commissioner of claims' term to September 1, 1859 to evaluate claims filed before the September 1, 1858 deadline. The commissioner of claims' term was allowed to expire, and the functions and papers of the Court of Claims was transferred to the comptroller. The comptroller became the exofficio commissioner of claims. The Court of Claims was reestablished by the legislature on February 13, 1860 and the functions and papers were returned to the agency (Chapter 137, 7th Legislature, Regular Session). The commissioner of claims' term of office was set to expire on January 1, 1862; however, the Court of Claims was abolished in 1861 and its functions were transferred to the General Land Office.

(Sources include: Gammel's Laws of Texas, vol. 4; "Texas Court of Claims," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 16, 2014; Texas Almanac, (1857-1861); and the records themselves.)

Texas General Land Office History

The Texas 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.

(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, 11th ed. (2001); and the agency's website (http://www.glo.texas.gov), accessed October 16, 2014.)

Scope and Contents of the Records

The Texas Court of Claims handled claims against the Republic and the state, particularly land claims based upon military service. The commissioner of claims, with reports generated from the Texas General Land Office, evaluated documents submitted by a land petitioner to determine if the petitioner would be eligible to receive land under various Texas acts and laws. Records are petitions and associated documentation submitted to the Court of Claims for a headright certificate or a land bounty. Contents of each file vary but typically include an oath or petition stating who is making the claim, information about the person who meets the requirements, relationship between the claimant and the person who meets the requirements if it is not the same person and description on how the person meets the requirements for the land claim; depositions and affidavits from individuals confirming the details outlined in the oath or petition; and a wrapper with the file number(s), petitioner's name, type of land certificate the petitioner is seeking, size of land associated with the claim, attorney handling the case and status of the claim. Records date 1836-1860 and undated with the bulk dating 1856-1857. Claims were filed in 1856 and 1857 with earlier documents submitted as evidence while records after these dates are updates to claims. Many of petitioners in these records claim land for rendering service or incurring property damage during the Texas Revolution. Other petitioners applied for a headright because they arrived in Texas prior to March 2, 1836. The majority of the petitions were rejected and the reason for the rejection is often noted on the wrapper.

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

Records are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the person who rendered a service to the Republic of Texas or lived in Texas prior to statehood. Claims by heirs are noted in the folder name and are interfiled with other claims.


Restrictions on Access

Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. 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.).

Technical Requirements


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. General Land Office.
Texas. Commissioner of Claims.
Land grants--Texas.
Document Types:
Affidavits--Texas--Land grants--1836-1860, undated.
Depositions--Texas--Land grants--1836-1860, undated.
Oaths--Texas--Land grants--1836-1860, undated.
Petitions--Texas--Land grants--1836-1860, undated.
Evaluating land petitions.
Administrating claims.

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 State Archives
Texas General Land Office copies of county and district clerk returns (reports of headright certificates), 1857 (originals date 1836-1855), 8.46 cubic ft.
Texas Comptroller's Office claims records, 1835-1990, undated, 966.81 cubic ft.
Texas Comptroller's Office index to Republic of Texas claims, 1835-1846 (database search)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item), Texas Court of Claims land petitions. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 2007/189

Provenance is uncertain. An accession number was assigned on June 27, 2007 for control purposes.

Processing Information

Processed by Anna M. Reznik, October 2014

Detailed Description of the Records


Court of Claims land petitions, 1836-1860, undated, bulk 1856-1857,
2 cubic ft.

2007/189-1 Alderete, Benito, heirs of
Alvardo, Francisco
Amador, Nazario
Arcia, Marcos
Arispe, José Ignacio
Armstrong, Alexander
Arnold, Benjamin, heirs of
Arocha, Ignacio, heirs of
Avila, Juan de
Baca, Antonio
Balderos, José
Balle, Antonio
Basquez, Esteban
[wrapper only]
Bela, Nazario, heirs of
Benavides, Cristobal, heirs of
Benavides, Jose de Jesus
Bernal, Agustin
Bernal, Maria Theresa, heirs of
Bontan, Benito
[wrapper only]
Boylan, J.D.
Bravo, Isidoro
Brown, William
Brownrigg, George B., heirs of
Burris, James
Burton, R. M., heirs of
[wrapper only]
Cabasos, Albino
Cano, Gertrudis Garcia
Cano, Lázaro, heirs of
Cantu, Martin
Cardenas, José-Asencio
Casanova, Leonicio
Casanova, Remijio
Cassillas, Juan, heirs of
Castanié, Justin
Castillo, Juan, heirs of
Castro, Timoteo
Cerbera, Enrique, heirs of
[wrapper only]
Cervantes, Agapito
Chacon, Carlos
Chacon, Ramon, heirs of
Chapa, Antonio
Charles, William T.
Charo, Doroteo, heirs of
Charo, Santa, heirs of
Chessen, Jackson
Coffee, George W., heirs of
Collins, G.T.W.
Combs, James B., heirs of
Cook, Joseph
Cordova, Manuela
[wrapper only]
Cortinas, Francisco
[wrapper only]
Cortinas, Rafael
Cox, James E.
Coy, Trinidad
Craig, John
Cueyer, Ignacio
Cummings, James
Damerall, Eli
Davis, William H., heirs of
De Leon Sr., Gervasio, heirs of
De Leon, Marcos
Delgado, Polonio, heirs of
Dewaltz, Napoleon
Dias, Emerigildo
Diaz, Andres
Dobbins, William T., heirs of
Dovalina, Augustín
Dovalina, Domingo, heirs of
Dovalina, Miguel
Dun, Thomas G.
[wrapper only]
Duncan, Albert
Elesa, Lucas
Epperson, Robert Glover, heirs of
Escamia, Martin, heirs of
Esparza, Bartolo
Esparza, Francisco
Espinosa, Ignacio
Farias, Antonio
Farias, Francisco, heirs of
Fielding, Neal
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Kohlhass, Thomas folder.]
Fisher, John
Flores, Alijo, heirs of
Flores, Joachim, heirs of
Flores, Rogue
Flores, Jesus, heirs of
2007/189-2 Frith, John, heirs of
Gaitan, Felipe
Galba, Teodoro
Galindo, Cesario
Gallardo, Luis
Gallardo, Manuel
Galvan, Argapita
Gant, Matthew
Gaona, Jose Antonio, heirs of
Gaona, Narciso
[wrapper only]
Garcia, Encarnacion
[wrapper only]
Garcia, Fernando, heirs of
Garcia, José Antonio
Garcia, Marcos, heirs of
Garcia, Mathias
Garcia, Nepamuceno, heirs of
Garcia, Refugio
Garcia, Teodoro
Garcia, Usevio
Garner, John
Garza, Eugenio
Garza, Jose Manuel de la, heirs of
Garza, José Maria de la
Garza, José-Miguel de la
Garza, Leandro
[wrapper only]
Garza, Melchor de la, heirs of
Garza, Paulino de la
Garza, Prudencio de la
Gilbert, Josiah
Gomez, Felix, heirs of
Gomez, Juan Jose, heirs of
Gomez, Tomas
Gonzales, Antonio de la, heirs of
[For Gonzales, Antonio de la, only the wrapper is present. Folder includes petition for Gonzales, Florentina, which may be misfiled.]
Gonzales, Jose M.
[wrapper only]
Gonzales, Leonardo
[wrapper only]
Gortaris, Fernando
[wrapper only]
Grando, Laverano, heirs of
[wrapper only]
Grandison, Isabella
Griego, Nicolas
[wrapper only]
Guerrero, Carlos, heirs of
Guitron, Fernando
Gutierrez, Jesus
Gutierrez, Pedro Jaimes
Hendley, Joseph J.
Henley, Joseph I.
[wrapper only]
Hernandez, Edurado [wrapper only]
Hernandez, Jose, heirs of
Hernandez, Juan
Herrera, Jesus de, heirs of
Hill, Matilda
Himenes, Matias
Hobbs, Samuel B.
Holbert, Nathan
[wrapper only]
Humphreys, Parry W.
Inez, Rene
Jeffries, James, heirs of
Jimenes, Jesus
Jimenez, Gil
[wrapper only]
Jimenez, Juan
Jimenez, Pedro C., heirs of
Juarez, Feliz, heirs of
Kohlhass, Theodore; Smith, John.; et al.
[Includes documentation for Fielding, Neal; Shriver, Eli; White, James; and Reagan, William.]
Lambright, Isaac L.
2007/189-3 Laso, Tomas, heirs of
[wrapper only]
Lasos, Carlos
Leal, José Angel
Ledesma, Manuel
Liendo, Antonio
Lockhart, Levi P., heirs of
Lomeraña, Juan M.
Lopez, Francisco
Losolla, Juan
Losoya, Felix, heirs of
Love, John H.
Luna, Jose de, heirs of
Maginnis, John
Maldonado, Antonio
Maldonado, Juan José
Mansola, Clemente, heirs of
Martinez, Ambrosio, heirs of
Martinez, Incarnacion
Martinez, Isidro
Martinez, Jesus
Martinez, Joaquin
Martinez, Matias, heirs of
Marujo, Felipe
Medina, Maria Joseph
[wrapper only]
Mendiola, Salvador, heirs of
Mesa, Francisco, heirs of
Mesa, Jesus
Molina, Luis
Montalba, Manual
Monte de Huma, Esteban
Moody, Ayers
[wrapper only]
Moore, William Perry, heirs of
Morales, José Maria
Moreno, Domingo, heirs of
Moreno, Felipe, heirs of
Nava, José Maria
[wrapper only]
Navarete, Petra
Nesbitt, John, heirs of
[Includes documentation for Smith, John P.]
Northicutt, Will
Olguin, Navor
[wrapper only]
Olivares, Cirilo
Olivares, Jesus
Oliver, Lewis E.
Ortiz, Valentino, heirs of
Pace, Hardy
Peña, Isabel, heirs of
Peña, Lorenzo, heirs of
Peña, Maria Josefa
Perales, Juan Jose de Dios, heirs of
Perales, Santiago
Perez, Barnabe
Perez, Casimiro, heirs of
Perez, Pablo
Perez, Rumaldo, heirs of
Quiñones, Jose, heirs of
2007/189-4 Rainey, Robert R., heir of
Ramirez, Faustin, heirs of
Ramirez, José Maria, heirs of
Ramirez, Nemencio
Ramos, Juan, heirs of
Ramoz, Vicente, heirs of
Rangel, Onofre
Reagan, William
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Kohlhass, Theodore folder.]
Reyes, Anastasio
Reyes, Ildefanso
Reyes, Maria Rafaela
Riojas, Tomas
Rodriguez, Alejo
Rodriguez, Estavan, heirs of
Rodriguez, Francisco
Rodriguez, Hilario, heirs of
Rodriguez, Iginio
[wrapper only]
Rodriguez, Julian, heirs of
[2 folders]
Rodriguez, Lerndro, heirs of
Rodriguez, Narciso, heirs of
Rogers, James
Russell, E. B.
[wrapper only]
Salazar, Jose Antonio
Salazar, Juan Lorenzo
Salazar, Tjinio
Salinas, Eusebio, heirs of
Salinas, Rafael
Sanches, Inez, heirs of
Sanches, Jesus, heirs of
Sanches, Pedro
Sanches, Sairs, heirs of
[wrapper only]
Sanchez, Leonardo, heirs of
Sanchez, Margarito
Santos, Gertrudis de los, heirs of
Sartuche, Francisco
Sayers, John, heirs of
Sehon, Washington
Shriver, Eli
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Kohlhass, Theodore folder.]
Smith, John P.
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Kohlhass, Theodore and Trimmel, John C. folders.]
Smith, Jonathan
Soledad Gonzalez, Jose Antero de la, heirs of
Sosa, Felix
Sowell, William A.
Swarting, Jorgen
Theobald, William, heirs of
Tijeda de Gomez, Maria Antonio
Tijerina, Manuel
Toro, Miguel del
[wrapper only]
Torres, Andres, heirs of
Torres, Trinidad
Treviño, Leandro, heirs of
Treviño, Santiago, heirs of
Trimmel, John C.
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Nesbitt, John folder. Also includes documentation for Smith, John P.]
Uron, Juan Cayetano
Valdez, Francisco
Vasquez, Antolino
Villareal, Alejo
Villareal, Claudio, heirs of
Via, Zefirino
Walker, Daniel, heirs of
Westbrook, Stephen W.
White, James
[Additional documentation relating to this claim can be found in the Kohlhass, Theodore folder.]
Ybarra, Damaso, heirs of
Zapata, Juan