entry, p. 25) Historical Sketch
Texas early in the nineteenth century, it was as if their only predecessors
had been the Karankawa Indians. MWith the coming of the colonists,
the history of present De Jfitt County actually begins.
In Mlay 1828, when Stephen F. Austin secured confirmation of his right
to inherit the colonization contract granted' earlier to his father, there
were in Mexico City other would-be empresarios seeking to have their contracts
confirmed. One of these was Green B. De Witt, IKentuckian by birth,
who had come to Mexico from Missouri as early as 1822. But before De Witt
could obtain his contract, the laws under which he had applied were
changed. A new national colonization law was passed in August 1824, and
a new colonization laJwT for the MJexican state of Coahuila and Texas followed
in March of the next year. Both of these laws affected the territory
in which De Witt hoped to found his colony. Austin, having made
friends with De WTitt while they were both waiting for their contracts,
kindly recommended him to Baron de Bastrop, then a member of the state
congress of Coahuila and Texas. This recommendation, no doubt, was instrumental
in securing for De Witt an early confirmation of his contract in
accordance with the new laws.7 The grant, which he finally secured in
1825, allowed him to introduce 400 families. Following are the boundaries
of thie De WM'itt grant:
Beginning on the right bank of the Arroyo de la Vaca, at a
distance of the reserved ten leagues from the coast, adjoining
the colony of Stephen Austin, the line shall go up this
arroyo as far as the Bejar-Nacogdoches road; it shall follow
this road toward the west until it reaches a point two leagues
west of the Guadalupe River; from there it shall run parallel
with the river south toward the coast until it reaches the
ten-league coast reservation; thence it shall run along the
inner edge of this reservation toward the east to the place
For every 100 families introduced, up to 800, De Witt was to receive
premium lands amounting to five sitios of grazing land, and five labors
of other lands, at least one-half non-irrigable.9 The empresario was
required to bring in at least 100 families to maintain the validity of
Even before his grant was finally confirmed, De Mlitt appointed James
Kerr, another Kentuckian, then a member of the Mvissouri Senate, as his
surveyor-general.11 Immediately upon receiving word of his appointment,
7. 1/7. B. Dewees, Letters from an Early Settler in Texas (Louisville,
1852) , 115; Rather, "DeWitt," 100T 101.
8. Rather, "DeWitt,; 174, citing Translations of Empresario Contracts,
9. A sitio is 4,428.4 acres; a labor, one twventy-fifth of a sitio.
10. Rather, "De!itt," 100, 101; Eugene C. Barker (ed.), Readings in Texas
Ilistory (Dallas, 1929), 75.
11. Rather, "IleWitt, t 102.
t _ _ __
Historical Records Survey. Texas. Inventory of the county archives of Texas : De Witt County, no. 62. San Antonio, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25252/. Accessed April 16, 2014.