Categories of Texas Land Grants
Contributed by
Thomas Richard Crump, P. C.
Seguin, Texas



     Headright and Similar Land Grants
     Empresario Colonies in the Republic of Texas
     Military Land Grants
     Loan Scrip
     Internal Improvement Scrip
     School Land


H E A D R I G H T S (Republic of Texas, 1836-1845)

     Headright grants were issued to indivuduals by Boards of Land
     Commissioners in each county.

First Class Headright
Issued to those who arrived before March 2, 1836. Heads of families
received one league (4,428 acres) and one labor (177.1 acres), while single
men received 1/3 league (1,476.1 acres).

Second Class Headright
Issued to those who arrived between March 2, 1836 and October 1, 1837.
Heads of families received 1,280 acres, while single men received 640

Third Class Headright
Issued to those who arrived between October 1, 1837 and January 1, 1840.
Heads of families received 640 acres, while single men received 320 acres.

Fourth Class Headright
Issued to those who arrived between January 1, 1840 and January 1, 1842.
The amounts issued were the same as for third class headrights, plus the
requirement of cultivation of 10 acres.

Pre-emption Grant
Similar to the headright grants, pre-emption grants were made after
statehood. From 1845 to 1854 homesteaders could claim 320 acres. From 1854
to 1856, and 1866 to 1898, up to 160 acres could be claimed. Homesteaders
were required to live on the land for three years and make improvements
(such as building a barn) in order to qualify for a pre-emption grant of
160 acres.


Four colonies were established under contracts with the Republic of Texas:

     Peters' Colony (1841), Fisher and Miller's Colony (1842),
     Castro's Colony (1842) and Mercer's Colony (1844).

Heads of families were eligible for land grants of 640 acres while single
men were eligible for 320 acres. Settlers were required to cultivate at
least fifteen acres in order to receive the patent.


Bounty Grant Grants for military service during the Texas Revolution were
provided by the Republic of Texas. Each three months of service provided
320 acres up to a maximum of 1,280 acres. Bounty grants for guarding the
frontier (1838-1842) were issued by the Republic of Texas. Soldiers were
issued certificates for 240 acres. 7,469 bounty grants were issued for
5,354,250 acres.

Donation Grant
Grants were issued by the Republic of Texas for participation in specific
battles of teh revolution. Soldiers who fought in the Siege of Bexar and
the battle of San Jacinto (including the baggage detail at Harrisburg), and
the heirs of those who fell at the Alamo and Goliad were eligible for 640
acres. 1,816 donation warrants were issued for 1,162,240 acres.

Military Headright Grant
Special headrights of one league were provided by the Republic of Texas to:

  1. soldiers who arrived in Texas between March 2 and August 1, 1836,
  2. the heirs of soldiers who fell with Fannin, Travis, Grant and Johnson,
  3. soldiers who were permanently disabled.

Republic Veterans Donation Grant:
A grant was provided by the state of Texas to veterans of the Texas
Revolution and signers of the Declaration of Independence. The veteran was
required to have received a bounty grant or to be eligiblefor one. A
donation law in 1879 provided 640 acres and required proof of indigence. A
donation law passed in 1881 provided 1,280 acres and dropped the indigency
requirement. This grant was repealed in 1887 with 1,278 certificates issued
for 1,377,920 acres.

Confederate Scrip
Certificates for 1280 acres were provided to confederate soldiers who were
permanently disabled or to the widows of confederate soldiers. Passed in
1881, it was repealed in 1883 with 2,068 certificates issued.


Loan scrip was a land certificate issued to provide for or repay loans made
to the government of Texas. Sales scrip was a land certificate directly
sold to raise money for Texas. Most of this scrip was issued to cover costs
of the war. The following is a list of the categories of scrip indicated
with the name by which they were known.

Bryan Scrip
Land scrip was issued to William Bryan equal to the amount of debts owed to
him for loans made during the war for independence. December 6, 1836.

Sam Houston Scrip
The president (Sam Houston) was authorized to negotiate a loan for $20,000
for the purpose of purchasing ammunition and munitions of war. To do this,
he was authorized to sell a sufficient amount of land scrip at a minimum of
$0.50 per acre to raise money for the loan. December 10, 1836.

Toby Scrip
The president was authorized to issue scrip to the amount of five hundred
thousand acres of land. This scrip was to be transmitted to Thomas Toby of
New Orleans and sold at a minimum of $0.50 per acre. December 10, 1836.

White Scrip
An agency was established in the city of Mobile, and David White was
authorized as an agent of Texas to sell land scrip at a minimum rate of
$0.50 per acre for the benefit of the government. December 10, 1836.

James Erwin Scrip
On January 20, 1836, Stephen F. Austin, Branch T. Archer and William Warton
contracted with James Erwin and others in New Orleans for a loan of
$50,000. June 3, 1837.

First Loan Scrip
The president of the Republic was authorized to issue land scrip to the
stockholders as payment for the first loan to Texas " fulfill and carry
into effect the contract of compromise made on April 1, 1836 between (the
interim Texas government) and the stockholders in the first loan (for
$200,000) negotiated in New Orleans on January 11, 1836." May 24, 1838.

Funded Debt Scrip
Any holder of promissory notes, bonds, funded debt or any other liquidated
claims against the government could "surrender the same, and receive in
lieu thereof, land scrip." The scrip was issued at a rate equal to $2.00
per acre. February 5, 1841.

General Land Office Scrip
The Commissioner of the General Land Office was authorized to issue land
scrip at $0.50 per acre for the liquidation of the public debt of the late
Republic of Texas. February 11, 1850.

Sales Scrip
The Commissioner of the General Land Office was authorized to issue land
scrip in certificates of not less than 160 acres at $1.00 per acre for the
sale of the public domain. February 11, 1858.


Central National Road
Under a law passed in 1844, various amounts were issued to road
commissioners, surveyors and contractors for building a road from the Red
River to the Trinity River in what is now Dallas. Certificates were issued
for 27,716 acres.

Scrip for Building Steamboats, Steamships and Other Vessels
Certificates for 320 acres were issued for building a vessel of at least 50
tons, with 320 acres for each additional 25 tons. Sixteen ships were built
taking advantage of this 1854 law.

Railroad Scrip
Several laws were passed beginning in 1854. The exact provisions varied,
but generally an amount of land was offered for each mile of rail
constructed. The Constitution of 1876 provided 16 sections per mile.
Railroads were required to survey an equal amount of land to be set aside
for the public school fund. Certificates were issued for 35,777,038 acres.

Industry Scrip
For building factories. 320 acres were offered for each $1,000 valuation.
1863 law. Certificates were issued for 111,360 acres.

Navigation Scrip
Several acts were passed beginning in 1854 for building ship channels, and
improving rivers and harbors for navigation. Certificates were issued for
various amounts of land for each mile completed. (For example, 320
certificates for 640 acres each were issued for building a ship channel 8
feet deep and 100 feet wide across Mustang Island). Certificates were
issued for 4,261,760 acres.

Irrigation Canal Scrip:
Sections of land were provided based on the class of ditch as specified by
acts passed in 1874, 1875 and 1876. Certificates were issued for 584,000

All legislation authorizing internal improvement scrip was repealed in


Sale of the school lands began in 1874. Until 1905, the price, amount of
land available, method of purchase, and eligibility requirements varied
greatly. Legislation passed in 1905 required that the school lands be sold
through competitive bidding. Purchasers could buy a maximum of 4 sections
with residence required in most counties, or 8 sections with no residence
required in other designated (western) counties.

The End of the Unappropriated Public Domain:
In Hogue v. Baker, 1898, the Texas Supreme Court declared that there was no
more vacant and unappropriated land in Texas. As a result of the decision,
a complete audit was ordered by the Legislature. The audit determined that
the public school fund was short of the amount of land it should have had
by 5,009,478 acres.

In 1900 an act was passed "to define the permanent school fund of the State
of Texas, to partition the public lands between said fund and the State,
and to adjust the account between said fund and said state; to set apart
and appropriate to said school fund, the residue of the public domain..."
Thus, all of the remaining unappropriated land was set aside by the
legislature for the school fund.

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