The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987

Notes and Documents
A Short History of the General Land Office Seals
JES(JS F. DE LA TEJA*
THE FOUNDERS OF THE TEXAS REPUBLIC, FACED WITH THE ORGANIZA-
tion of a national land system, quickly decided to establish a gen-
eral land office capable of managing the distribution of a public do-
main estimated to contain more than 2oo million acres. One of the
most important functions assigned to the commissioner of the General
Land Office was cosigning patents with the president and later with the
governor of Texas. Both the Republic and Land Office seals were to be
affixed to the patents for authentication.' Yet acquisition and use of a
seal by the Land Office did not prove as easy as legislators envisioned.
Financial problems, inexperience, and a Mexican invasion all affected
the early development of the Land Office seal, contributing to inter-
ruptions in the early issuance of patents.
John P. Borden's appointment as commissioner in June, 1837, came
six months after the original act creating the Land Office and only a
few days after new legislation requiring the agency to be operating on
October 1, 1837. Although Borden set about organizing the office as
circumstances would permit and began acquiring the various local land
archives, it was apparent by the end of September that the agency was
not ready to open. There were still archives uncollected, the prepara-
tion of connected plat maps of the counties had not begun, and the sta-
*Jes6s F. de la Teja is assistant archivist at the Texas General Land Office, where he is working
on the rearrangement and indexing of the Spanish Collection. He is also working on a disserta-
tion on social structure and land tenure in eighteenth-century San Antonio at the University of
Texas at Austin. His recent publications include "Bexar: Profile of a Tejano Community,
1820-1832," coauthored with John Wheat (July 1985 Quarterly) and a translation of Josefina
Zoraida Vzquez's article, "The Texas Question in Mexican Politics, 1836-1845" (January 1986
Quarterly).
'John P. Borden to Richard G. Dunlap, Feb. 19, 1839, Letters Sent, vol. 2 (Archives and
Records Division, Texas General Land Office [hereafter cited as GLO]); "An act to establish a
general land office for the Republic of Texas," Dec. 22, 1836, sec. 4, H. P. N. Gammel (comp.),
The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 ... (10o vols.; Austin, 1898), I, 1,276.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed August 27, 2014.