Quieting Title to Spanish and Mexican Land
Grants in the Trans-Nueces:
The Bourland and Miller Commission,
GALEN D. GREASER AND JESS F. DE LA TEJA *
I have traced the [land] title back to the King of
Spain, who got it by right of discovery and con-
quest, and since he ruled by Divine Right, that
takes it back to God Almighty himself, and that
is as far as I can go.
-Attributed to the old abstractors of the Rio
THE HISTORY OF ALL NATIONS BEGINS WITH THE STORY OF HOW THE
land was explored, occupied, and tamed. In the Texas case, the
process lasted two hundred years, from the late seventeenth-century
Spanish explorations of central and eastern Texas, to the late nine-
teenth-century opening of the high plains to irrigated agriculture. As
the most valuable and exploitable natural resource during that span,
land became integral to Texas's development and, as with all valuable
natural resources, a principal object of cultural, economic, and political
contention. The story of these conflicts could fill volumes, yet much of
it remains untold.
*Galen D. Greaser holds an M.A. in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at
Austin. Since 1984 he has been Spanish translator in the Archives and Records Division of the
Texas General Land Office Among his research projects, he presented a paper titled "Survey-
mg in Mexican Texas" at the 1990 Texas Society of Professional Surveyors' annual short
course. Currently, he is working on a systematic translation of all Spanish-language Texas land
titles in the Land Office.
Jesus F de la Tela is assistant professor of history at Southwest Texas State University In
1991 he published A Revolution Remembered The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N.
Seguin and had two essays appear in Telano Ongns in Eighteenth-Centuy San Antonio, including
one that first appeared in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1985. He Is currently working
on a project titled "The Colonization and Independence of Texas" with Josefina Z Vizquez
and on revising his dissertation, "Land and Society in 8th-Century San Antonio de Bxar A
Community on New Spain's Northern Frontier," for publication
IMax Dreyer, "San Juan de Carrlcitos Land Grant as Given to Josc Narclso Cavosos," Las
Porciones Genealogical SoczetyJournal, II (Spring, 1987), 74.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed February 10, 2016.