Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986

The Land
Commissioners of Texas

A work exploring the evolution of one
of the state's most important offices, using
a series of short biographies to evoke the
spirit of the Commissioners, has for some
time been a wish of present Land Commissioner
Garry Mauro. The idea was
suggested, in part, by former U.S. Senator
Ralph Yarborough, shortly after Mr.
Mauro took his place as the twenty-fourth
Land Commissioner. Placed in an historical
context, this collection of sketches of
the Commissioners and a concise listing,
by number and kind, of Texas land patents,
illustrates the development of the
office through the achievements of the
men who held it.
This 9x6, 133 page paperback is printed
in brown ink on cream colored stock.
Each commissioner's biography is
enhanced by a full page portrait in sepia
tones. It is a readable introduction to the
twenty-four Commissioners who, for 150
years, have overseen the management of
Texas' most valuable asset-land.

The Land Commissioners of
50 Years of the Genera LaTnd Office

Please detach and enclose in an envelope and return along with your check or money order.

The Land Commissioners of Texas

Please send copy(s) @$8 .00 (check or money order only)
of The Land Commissioners of Texas to:
NAME
ADDRESS
CITY STATE

Make checks payable to Texas General La
tax and postage included
please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery

and between the fierceness of his glance
and softness of his speech, the disparity
was striking. As a conversationalist, he
was mild, placable, but altogether unjocular
and free from levity." Mrs. Long's
one criticism of Laffite was his "uncommunicativeness."

Laffite, who always claimed total loyalty
to the United States, yielded to the
government's demands and disbanded his
commune. He paid off his men and sent
them with their families away to their desired
destinations on various ships. (My
great-great-grandfather, Charles Tilton,
14

ZIP

nd Office Mail to:
Texas General Land Office
Archives and Records Divsion
1700 N. Congress
Austin, TX 78701

was among the evacuating pirates. He
and an unknown number of other men
sailed one of the vessels up the Trinity
River in Texas and into Lake Miller. The
sunken ship still lies there beneath the
mud near the Tilton homestead.)
While U.S. military officials remained
docked in the harbor observing his evacuation
on April 6, 1820, Laffite set fire
to the empty buildings of Campeche,
hoisted the sails of his ship, and glided
out of Galveston Bay. Contrary to popular
opinion, neither he nor his men were

chased by the U.S. vessels. Thus, Jean
Laffite left the shores of Texas forever.
This shrewd, intelligent buccaneer had
outsmarted the Spanish vice-consul at
New Orleans, the captain general of
Cuba, the king of Spain, the filibusterers,
and the Mexican republicans. He had
spied for Spain, sailed for Mexico with a
letter of marque to attack Spanish ships,
and aided the filibusterers while betraying
them to Spanish authorities. All the
while he claimed total loyalty to the
United States. Whom did this royal ruler
of racketeering actually serve? Perhaps
the obvious conclusion is that he served
himself. Another conclusion may be that
he had a definite impact and influence on
the Texas filibusterers. His presence on
the Texas coast, his rebellion against authority,
and his support lent courage to
the power seekers and freedom fighters in
Texas.
After Jean left Galveston, he and
Pierre sailed their ships to the Yucatan,
docking at Las Mujeres on March 9,
1821. They continued their buccaneering
activities against Spain in the Caribbean
from there. When Spain finally realized
that the Laffite brothers were traitors,
it was too late; for the waning nation
was being pushed out of the western
hemisphere.
Several popular stories compete concerning
Laffite's life after he moved his
privateering base to Mexico. Yoakum, a
Texas historian, believed that he died of
fever and was buried at Silan, Yucatan;
however, no proof has ever removed the
veil of mystery that surrounds his death.
Quite an interesting theory was brought
to light in 1952 when John A. Laffite,
Jean Laffite's great-grandson, claimed to
have found five small diaries in an old attic
trunk. He had them translated from
French into English and had the manuscript
paper authenticated by the Library
of Congress Manuscripts Division in
1956. In 1958, Vantage Press in New York
published The Journal of Jean Laffite.
According to the diaries, Jean and
Pierre continued their buccaneering activities
against Spain in the Caribbean for
five years, then decided to give up the
cause and divide their property on New
Year's Day in 1826. The United States had
driven all pirates from the Gulf by 1823,
and the Caribbean was becoming too
populated for the buccaneers to feel comfortable.
After fabricating Jean's death,
Continued on page 43

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45440/. Accessed December 24, 2014.