The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905 Page: 108
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Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
can neighbors, but more because of the suspicion on the part of
the authorities that this place was a seat of contraband trade.
The dispute with the Mexicans grew out of a conflict of land
claims. Upon De Witt's return from Mexico in 1825, he had
started up to Gonzales, where Kerr was at this time. On passing
through the country he was much surprised to find that the center
of his grant had been occupied by a Mexican empresario, Martin
de Le6n, who had already established a flourishing little town,
which he called Guadalupe Victoria. Investigation of the affair
revealed that, on April 13, 1824, De Le6n had received permission
to settle forty-one Mexican families on vacant lands in the state.
No boundaries for his colony had been designated, but it was un-
derstood by his colonists that they were to occupy all the land be-
tween the Lavaca and Guadalupe rivers, from the La Bahia-Nacog-
doches road to the ten coast border leagues, a territory which in-
cluded a large portion of De Witt's grant. When De Witt arrived,
twelve of the Mexican families, beside sixteen American families,
had already settled upon a portion of this territory, and had opened
their fields, planted their crops, and organized their town.' De
Witt's arrival threw everything into a state of confusion. Legally
the land was part of his grant, for it had been assigned to him by
the state authorities, and he had government papers to prove his
claims. And yet, the government had made an indefinite conces-
sion of land to De Len a year before De Witt's petition was
granted, and De Le6n had been occupying this particular section
more than six months when De Witt's boundaries were designated.
By his contract De Witt was required not to molest persons al-
ready legally in possession of land within his grant. Hie there-
fore wrote the governor2 asking permission to give to De Le6n
all the land south of the lower Atascosito road on both banks of
the Guadalupe, reserving for himself a strip two leagues in width
west of the Lavaca, but at the same time compensating himself by
extending his colony above on the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers
sufficiently to settle his four hundred families.' De Le6n seeing the
difficulty of the situation, concluded that the strength of his posi-
tion lay in the fact that he was a native Mexican. Claiming the
preference guaranteed to such by law' he presented a petition ask-
1Record of Translations of Empresario Contracts (MS.), 55-66. Gen-
eral Land Office.
2August 2, 1825 (Kerr to political chief, December 12, 1825. Appendix
to Empresario Contracts, II 177-180).
4 See above, p. 99.
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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/m1/110/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.