The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 205
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Surveying in Texas
measure, varied in length throughout the provinces. The decrees
of Philip II in 1573 and 1581 designated the Castilian vara as
the official Spanish standard, and in 18o0 Charles IV ordered its
use in all his overseas possessions." At that time the established
length of the vara was between 834 and 835 millimeters, or
slightly less than 32.9 inches.
In the vast unappropriated areas on the American continent
precise boundaries were not immediately necessary. The first land
grant made by the Crown in New Spain was the concession of a
marquisate to Hernin Cort6s on June 6, 1529. By way of delinea-
tion, it embraced the full extent of the valley of Oaxaca with "its
jurisdiction, revenues, and tribute" and the twenty-two towns
included therein.4 As ambitious governors pushed back the In-
dians and established new towns, both large and small estates
passed into the hands of individual owners. Definite surveys
became mandatory. In 1760, by several grants and purchases, the
Marquis San Miguel de Aguayo had acquired 800 leagues of land,
or a little more than 3,500,000 acres, covering almost the southern
half of the province of Coahuila. The original description of his
earliest grant, made in 1714, states that the surveyors made use of
the compass, but they could only estimate distances because of the
roughness of the terrain and the danger of attack by Indians.,
The surveyor who finally coordinated Aguayo's immense estate
was Fernando P6rez de Almazin. In 1722, after Aguayo had re-
stored the languishing missions of Texas and reinforced its neg-
lected garrisons, he left P6rez de AlmazAn as lieutenant governor
of the province and its first civil officer. At Aguayo's instigation
the Canary Islanders were brought to San Fernando de B6xar,
and the villa was established formally by order of the viceroy.,
The captain of the presidio, Don Juan Antonio Pdrez de
Almazin, surveyed the new townsite, the fields, pasture grounds,
and irrigable lands. He laid off the streets and blocks, the main
sRecopilacidn de leyes de las reynos de las Indias (Madrid, 1774), Book IV, Title
12, Law 22; Novissima Recopilacidn de las leyes de Espaia (Madrid, 1805-1829),
Book IX, Title 9, Law 5.
4Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Mexico (San Francisco, 1883), II, 309.
5Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la Epoca Colonial (Mexico City, 1938),
6Mattie Alice Austin, "The Municipal Government of San Fernando de Bxar,"
Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, VIII, 338.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/235/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.