The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905 Page: 106
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106 Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
It will be remembered that the colonization law had provided
that only by special permission of the government might the ten
leagues bordering on the coast be occupied by any colonist. But
the coast was considered a valuable possession, since portions of
it were better protected than the interior from Indians.' It
was, moreover, a very convenient stopping place, for the favor-
ite route into Texas was by water down the Mississippi River
and across the Gulf of Mexico. The tendency among the colo-
nists, therefore, was to claim that the ten littoral leagues should
begin with the gulf itself, and thus, taking into consideration the
islands, peninsulas, and bays, the ten leagues would be almost cov-
ered by the time the shore was reached. When Kerr asked to be
allowed to occupy the Lavaca it never occurred to him that this sec-
tion was not open to colonization, and the Mexican officials at B6jar
seemed likewise to have overlooked this fact. The general under-
standing among all the De Witt colonists was that the government
had given them permission to settle up to the shore of Matagorda
Even though it was not originally their intention to locate here
permanently, the colonists, so long as they were not disturbed in
their occupation of the coast, gave little attention to their lands
further inland. De Witt began to regard the station on the Lavaca
as a place of "shelter and safety on landing in this vast wilder-
ness." 3 He engaged the services of a schooner, Dispatch, for a
term of four years to convey immigrants and their cargoes to the
colony. A small warehouse' in which to store their goods was
constructed at the mouth of the Lavaca.5 By August, 1826, there
were about forty men, women, and children collected here.6 Lands
were distributed, cabins erected, and James Norton was appointed
alcalde for the remainder of the year.7
I Kerr to Austin, July, 1826 (Austin Papers, class D, No. 24) ; De Witt
to Austin, September 3, 1826 (Austin Papers, class A, no. 22).
2 De Witt to political chief, September 13, 1827. Appendix to Empresa-
rio Contracts (MS.), II 182. General Land Office. De Witt's colony was
in this department till March 18, 1834, when it was made part of the
newly created department of the Brazos.
SDe Witt to Austin, Setpember 3, 1826. Austin Papers, class A,
SSee above, p. 105, note 4.
5 De Witt to Austin, September 3, 1826. Austin Papers, class A, no. 22.
O Kerr to Austin, August 8, 1826. Austin Papers, class D, no. 30.
'Political chief to De Witt, October 25, 1826. Bexar Archives.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905, periodical, 1905; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101033/m1/108/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.