Southwestern Historical Quarterly
NOTES ON THE COLONIZATION OF TEXAS1
EUGENE C. BARKER
The colonization of Texas began at an auspicious time. As
Professor Turner has so effectively described in his illuminating
studies,2 the current of population set westward with the estab-
lishment of the first English settlement on the Atlantic coast.
For a century and a half the movement was necessarily slow, up
the rivers beyond tidewater, into the Piedmont. The broad par-
allel ranges of the Appalachian Mountains served as a dam to
hold venturesome frontiersmen back from the country beyond.
By the beginning of the American Revolution, however, settlers
had begun to trickle across the barrier into Kentucky and Ten-
nessee, and the first census of the United States showed 277,000
people west of the mountains in 1790. The next, in 1800, found
386,000 spread over Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and
Mississippi. In 1810 the number just topped a million, and the
area of settlement had increased to include Michigan, Illinois,
Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. Ten years later there were
2,218,000 west of the mountains; all of the territory east of the
Mississippi and south of the lakes had been admitted to the
Union; and there were two states west of the great river.
The lure which drew the people to the west was, of course, the
cheap and fertile land that could be bought from the federal gov-
ernment on easy terms. From 1800 to 1820 the minimum price
in the public auctions was two dollars an acre, and land once
offered at auction could be bought in private sale at the same
price. Payment could be made, one-fourth cash with application
and the balance in two, three, and four years. Higher prices, but
with easier terms, were offered by land companies and individual
'While this study is for convenience confined to the ten years from 1821
to 1831, and to Austin's grants, I have not found the colonization move-
ment of this period characteristically different from that of the next five
years, nor the emigration to Austin's colonies different, except in volume,
from that to the grants of other empresarios.
This paper is published in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review,
2Frederick J. Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York,
1920), particularly "the Significance of the Frontier" and "The Old West."
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101086/. Accessed July 5, 2015.