The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The promoters of the T&P, led by John A. C. Gray of New York,
then convinced the French bondholders that the best way to recover
their investment was to redeem the bonds for land and establish a
land company. The primary reason behind this suggestion was the
desire of the operators of the Texas and Pacific to be relieved of the
obligations of Fr6mont's company by giving up some of the poorer
land to which the road held claim. The Franco-Texan Land Com-
pany, whose shares could be secured in exchange for Memphis, El
Paso, and Pacific shares, was chartered in 1876, holding title to 640,00ooo
acres in eleven counties west of Fort Worth.
While the company was owned almost exclusively by Frenchmen,
distance and loopholes in the charter (which the Americans had
drafted) enabled a handful of Texans who owned a minimum of stock
to maintain control. Operating from its headquarters in Weatherford,
the Franco-Texan Land Company sold and leased land, propagandized
in America and France to encourage colonists, aided in the estab-
lishment of new communities, and even built a plant at Sweetwater
to manufacture plaster of paris, in its attempts to turn a profit. A
great deal of money was made as a result of the existence of the
company, but little ever found its way into the hands of the French
owners. Nor did the company gain its objective of bringing large
numbers of Frenchmen to Texas, although a few did settle in almost
every new community from Weatherford to Sweetwater.
The records of the Franco-Texan Land Company, as had so much
of its cash, vanished after its final transaction in 1905. Virginia
Taylor, beginning with a handful of letters found in the Texas State
Land Office, has done a remarkable job of historical detective work,
piecing together this tale of fraud and scandal from court cases,
newspapers, and a wide scattering of documents in numerous manu-
script collections. Oh, that all historians had such tenacity.
Texas Technological University JAMES V. REESE
Paso de Aguila: A Chronicle of Frontier Days on the Texas Border
as Recorded in the Memoirs of Jesse Sumpter. Compiled by Harry
Warren. Edited and annotated by Ben E. Pingenot. (Austin: The
Encino Press, 1969. Pp. xxvi+ 154. Illustrations, end maps, notes,
bibliography, index. $7.50.)
Harry Warren, a country school teacher, and Jesse Sumpter, a
frontier soldier, saloonkeeper, lawman, customs agent, and rancher,

294

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed August 27, 2014.