Texas General Land Office, Archives & Records

A Guide to the Boards of Land Commissioners Records, 1837-1841

County Boards and the Traveling Board



Overview

Creator: Texas. Board of Land Commissioners.
Title: Boards of Land Commissioners Records
Dates: 1837-1841
Abstract: County boards of land commissioners kept a record of their proceedings as they went about their business of issuing headright certificates to eligible applicants. The Traveling Board was created in 1840 to audit the certificates issued by the County Boards of Land Commissioners with a focus on disqualifying certificates found to be fraudulent. The records documenting the work of the County Boards of Land Commissioners contains four document boxes and five published volumes.
Identification: AR.36.BLC
Quantity: 2.2 Linear feet, (5 document boxes)
Location: File Vault
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Texas General Land Office, Archives & Records

Historical Note

County Boards of Land Commissioners

A legislative act of December 14, 1837 established county boards of land commissioners that would be composed of a commissioner who was president of the board and two associate commissioners, elected by a joint vote of congress, and a county clerk (1). A legislative act approved January 26, 1839 changed the composition of the board (2). The chief justice of the county was appointed president of the board and two associate justices and the county clerk made up the other members. These “new boards” were to receive “all the records and papers” from the previous boards. Land Commissioner John P. Borden wrote instructions to the thirty county boards on February 20, 1839, requiring them to “furnish this office with a complete transcript of the testimony had upon each certificate issued by the former board of Land Commissioners for your county” (3). Copies of the minutes and lists of certificates issued were sent to the GLO in response to Borden’s request.

County boards of land commissioners kept a record of their proceedings as they went about their business of issuing headright certificates to eligible applicants. The minutes of their meetings were recorded in the county. The minutes vary from county to county but usually contain the oath taken by the applicant, the names of the witnesses appearing with the applicant and in some cases, information that is pertinent to the individual claim.

Traveling or Examining Board of Land Commissioners

The Traveling Board was created in 1840 to audit the certificates issued by the County Boards of Land Commissioners with a focus on disqualifying certificates found to be fraudulent. The Traveling Board would create a list based on the certificates issued stating whether a certificate was genuine or fraudulent and why. These reports were then filed with the GLO (4).

Footnotes

(1) "Laws of Texas", Volume 1, p 1407

(2) "Laws of Texas", Volume 2, p 112

(3) "Letters Sent 1837 - 1841", Volume 2, p 197, Original Land Grant Collection, Archives and Records, Texas General Land Office, Austin

(4) "Laws of Texas", Volume 2, p 313


Scope and Contents of the Records

The records documenting the work of the County Boards of Land Commissioners contains four document boxes and five published volumes.

The records for Harris (formerly Harrisburg) County are unusual. The "Lost Book of Harris County" and the "Minutes of Harrisburg County" document the same County Board meetings, with the Minutes being handwritten copies that were then filed at the GLO.

For about 10 years the original Minutes went missing and were found again in 1850 missing about half the pages. When found, the legislature passed a law giving custody of the Lost Book to the General Land Office. The 2nd class headright certificates section was never found. The found documents comprised of the 1st class headright certificates section became the "Lost Book of Harris County."

In 1980 Gifford White produced a two volume set transcribing the certificates issued and providing some history to both the County Board and the Traveling Board (sometimes called the Examining Board) as they related to Harris County.

The GLO and other libraries hold the two volumes, "Board of Land Commissioners Harris County, Texas by Gifford White (1980)."

The County Board Official series contains correspondence and other records documenting the names of those who became county land commissioners as well as individuals who were recommended to the Commissioner of the General Land Office for service by members of the community.

The Traveling Board of Land Commissioners records contain four volumes contained withing two document boxes. Of the 23 counties documented, only Nacogdoches and Jasper counties have their own volume. The other 21 counties are listed together in two other volumes.


Arrangement

The Records are separated into 3 series:
Minutes of the County Boards of Land Commissioners are arranged alphabetically by County.
County Board Officials are arranged chronologically.
Traveling Board of Land Commissioners are arranged loosely alphabetical. Counties are listed alphabetically in the volumes that contain multiple counties. Within each volume the certificates are listed by certificate number in some counties and chronological in others.

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. 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.).

Use Restrictions

Unrestricted access.


Index Terms

Texas. Traveling Board of Land Commissioners.
Austin County (Tex.)
Bastrop County (Tex.)
Bexar County (Tex.)
Brazoria County (Tex.)
Clerk Return
Colorado County (Tex.)
Fannin County (Tex.)
Fayette County (Tex.)
Galveston County (Tex.)
Goliad County (Tex.)
Gonzales County (Tex.)
Harris County (Tex.)
Harrisburg County (Tex.)
Harrison County (Tex.)
Houston County (Tex.)
Jackson County (Tex.)
Jasper County (Tex.)
Jefferson County (Tex.)
Land Certificates
Land ownership--Texas
Legal documents
Liberty County (Tex.)
Matagorda County (Tex.)
Montgomery County (Tex.)
Nacogdoches County (Tex.)
Red River County (Tex.)
Republic and State Land Grant Programs
Robertson County (Tex.)
San Augustine County (Tex.)
Shelby County (Tex.)
Texas
Texas General Land Office

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Short title of Document], [Date: Day-Month-Year]. Box [#], Folder [#], p. [#]. County Boards of Land Commissioners Records (AR.36.BLC). Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Minutes of the County Boards of Land Commissioners, 1838-1841

Box Folder
G623 1 Index to Certificates issued, unknown county, 1838
2 Index to Certificates issued, Austin County, [incomplete A-M], 1838
3-8 Applications by affidavit for land, Austin County, 1838
9 Applications by affidavit for land, Bastrop County, undated
Box Folder
G624 1-2 Applications by affidavit for land, Fannin County, 1838-1840
12 Applications by affidavit for land, Goliad County, 1838
3-10 Applications by affidavit for land, Harrisburg [Harris] County, 1838
Box
G712 Applications by affidavit for land, Harrisburg [Harris] County, 1838
General note
Title reads, "Lost Book of Harris County."
Box Folder
G624 11 Applications by affidavit for land, Jefferson County, 1838
Box
G712 Applications by affidavit for land, Liberty County, 1839
(bound volume)



County Board Officials, 1837-1839

Box Folder
G625 14 Certificates of Appointment [to the County Board], 1837
1 Lists of officials elected to the County Boards of Land Commissioners, 1838
2-13 Letters to John P. Borden regarding official appointments and nominations of individuals to County Boards of Land Commissioners, January 1838- July 1839



Traveling Board of Land Commissioners Records, 1840-1841

Box
G712 Certificates examined, Jasper County, 1841
(bound volume)
Certificates examined, Nacogdoches County, 1840-1841
(bound volume)
General note
Title reads, "Report of Commissioners, 'To detect fraudulent claims' for Nagocdoches County."
Box
G713 Certificates examined for the following counties: Bexar, Bastrop, Brazoria, Colorado, Fannin, Fayette, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Harrison, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, 1840-1841
(bound volume)
Certificates examined for the following counties: Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Red River, Robertson, San Augustine, Shelby, 1840-1841