The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917 Page: 5
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History of the Cattle Industry in the Southwest
the fences continued to be cut. There was no trespass law in
Texas, and when the question was taken to the courts the village
rose in arms and the case was mildly continued.12
So the merry game went on. The Legislature took up the
problem. As in all problems of great difficulty, the solution did
not come with the first attempt. April, 1879, a law was passed
charging twenty-five dollars yearly rent per section of public land
enclosed. No adequate machinery was provided to collect the
rent, so the law was largely inoperative. In the meantime capi-
talists and corporations were acquiring large areas of school lands
cheap. They secured the titles from railroads to odd numbered
sections, and by using names of wives, children and others as
many as seven sections could be secured for one person.
In 1883 the Legislature classified public lands. Some lands
were classified for sale and some for lease and some for either.
Pasture lands, not timbered, could be leased at four cents per
acre per annum. Land deemed fit for settling could be sold to
actual settlers in quantities not to exceed six hundred and forty
acres. The settler was required to live upon and fence the land.
If the land leased contained but one watered section, that section
could not be sold as long as the lease was effective. Money for
lease was refunded if it had been paid in advance, and then the
land was sold.18 Enclosures facing or crossing streams could not
be over four miles wide and a space of forty rods had to be left
between the fences.
In 1884 a law was passed making it an offense punishable
with fine or imprisonment for any person knowingly to fence,
allow to remain fenced, or herd his cattle on state land without
duly executing a lease. The rent was raised to eight cents per
In 1887 the laws were revised. Certain lands were classified
as grazing land to be leased for ten years. Stock turned on land
was limited to a certain number of head unless the lease was
fenced. A fence placed on land not leased was unlawful and
punishable with a large fine. No fence could be three miles long
in one direction without gates for passageway. Unleased public
"Hough, E., The Cowboy, II, 266-7.
"House Report, 58 Cong., 3 sess., no. 189, p. 356.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917, periodical, 1917; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101070/m1/11/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.