Empresario Colonies in the Republic of Texas

While most of us are familiar with "empresario colonies" being formed in Texas while under Mexican rule, the formation of colonies actually extended well into the Republic of Texas era. The folowing is contributed by Randy Leonard from information gleened from the Texas General Land Office web site.

Four contracts were made to designate "colonies" and bring immigrants to the Texas frontier. Contractors were to receive 10 sections of land for each 100 colonists introduced and up to half of the colonists' grants. Colonists were to receive grants similar in amount and requirements to fourth class headrights, with the requirement of placing 15 acres into cultivation.

Peters' Colony
Several contracts were made, beginning in 1841 -- taken over by the Texas Land and Emigration Company. Located in north Texas.
Fisher and Miller's Colony
Made in 1842, taken over by the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants, and later the German Immigration Company. Located in the hill country in the area of Fredericksburg.
Mercer's Colony
Made in 1842 and the subject of serious legal problems due to conflicts with Peter's Colony. The contract was held invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court, 1882.
Castro's Colony
Made in 1842. This as an Alsatian colony located south of San Antonio.

Types of Headrights

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 acres.
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 Grants
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.

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