he Z/otiids de la Vega leve-
eague fraHt o the Brazos
ROGER N. CONGER
MosT Waco lawyers, abstracters, and real estate agents are
aware that La Vega High School in the Bellmead sector
of East Waco was named for the "La Vega Grant," but
few residents are familiar with the drama of this tract of land, its
obscure grantee, and his much more prominent successors. The
cast of characters includes empresarios; men good and evil; both
Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston; United States Senator
Judah P. Benjamin of Louisiana; Juan Gonzales, an aging tanner
of Saltillo; and Federal Judge John C. Watrous of Galveston.
Actually, the most attention focused upon the La Vega grant
came as a result of the impeachment proceedings brought against
Judge Watrous in 1858 because of his participation in the traffick-
ing of the property. This account will attempt to strip the story
to its factual framework, without, however, sacrificing detail
sufficient to give it the color and historical perspective it so richly
The immense colonization project famed as the Austin and Wil-
liams Colony was still expanding in 1832 when Samuel May Wil-
liams, the confidant and right-hand man of Stephen F. Austin,
journeyed to Saltillo, Coahuila, where he obtained a power of
attorney and title to three eleven-league grants situated on the
Brazos River from the owners, Rafael and Josh Maria de Aguirre
and Tomas de la Vega.1 De la Vega, who was at that time a twenty-
two-year-old grocer, had received his "colonization grant" in Texas
on June 14, 1830.2 Williams secured duplicate copies of this testi-
monio, filed one with the clerk in Saltillo, and took the other
back to Texas.
During the tragic episode of Austin's mission to Mexico City
1House Reports of Committees, 35th Cong., ist Sess. (Serial No. 969), Report
No. 540, p. o201.
2lbid., 452, 453.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed May 4, 2015.