The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926 Page: 86
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86 Southwestern Hislorical Quarterly
The Vara was the chief unit of linear measurement. It has a
derivation much like the English yard, which comes from Anglo-
Saxon gierd, meaning a rod or stick. Vara was often spelled
"bara," and meant originally precisely the same as yard, the English
cognate being bar. The vara was divided into three feet called
tercios, thirds, or pies geometricos, geometrical feet. The vara is
now defined by Texas statute as thirty-three and one-third inches.
The Legua, or league, was the linear unit for long distances. It
was the equivalent of 5,000 varas and hence about two and five-
eighths statute miles.
Areas were often expressed in square varas. However, since this
led to figures of astronomical proportions in describing even ordi-
nary tracts for those times other units of area grew into use.
A Labor was 100,000 varas or 177.1 acres. As the word implies
this quantity of land was considered sufficient for one family to
work. It was a farm.
A League, square, contained 25,000,000 square varas, or 4428.4
English statute acres.
A Sitio de ganado minor, that is a ranch for small stock, or
sheep and goats, was an area of 11,111,111 square varas.
A Sitio de ganado major, a ranch for cattle, was a square league.
An Hacienda, was an estate of five or more square leagues.
There were also primitive terms employed among the common
people for describing, though indefinitely, linear measurements and
bodies of land used for various purposes. Among such are the
Eslado meant the height of an average man. The word is found
in the diaries of explorers where descents to fords on rivers are
said to be so many estados down.
An Huebra of land was the extent of a day's plowing by a yoke
A Panega was the amount of land required for sowing a fanega,
about a bushel and a half, of grain.
A Suerte was a plot of land originally drawn by lot when farms
were parcelled among shareholders. A lottery was frequently the
method of apportioning land to be served by an irrigation ditch.
A Gaballeria is a very ancient land term of Spain. It meant
originally that part of the spoils of war in real estate allotted to a
cavalryman in the victorious armies of the king. In the frontier
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 29, July 1925 - April, 1926, periodical, 1926; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117141/m1/100/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.