Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago Page: 29 of 58
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TEXAS AND TEXANS FIFTY YEARS AGO. 29
required that the person in whose name the certificate was applied
for should, if living, appear before the board of land commissioners
in person and swear to the facts that would entitle him to a certificate;
and also produce two witnesses before the board, who could
on oath corroborate the deposition of the applicant. When the
board was in the humor to make some certificates for its members
or their friends they made three mud men, one of which was named
for the applicant, the other two for his witnesses. To these dummies
the oath required by the law was administered, and the certificate
would be issued. The same man told the writer that this board,
by way of variety, issued a certificate for a third of a league of land
to a celebrated stallion of the neighborhood that went by the name
of Bordy Jolly. In this case the board had a live applicant, but as
to whom the stallion produced as witnesses the informant did not
In 1864 a certain land man came from east of the Trinity to
Centreville, for what purpose the writer does not know. He put up
at the hotel, was taken sick, and died there. The landlord after his
death looked into his saddle bags, and found a large bundle of land
certificates, and brought them to the writer for examination. There
were at least forty or fifty of them, on variously colored paper, purporting
to grant leagues and thirds of leagues of land, signed by the
boards of land commissioners of various counties, with signatures
of the clerks and bearing the county seals. Of course these certificates
were all fraudulent, and the incident is mentioned only to
illustrate those rude and early times, and the loose methods that
The early settlers of Texas were generous and hospitable. They
would share the last crust of bread or bushel of corn with a friend,
neighbor, or stranger. They kept open house, and the latch string
always hung on the outside of the door. They never turned away
from the shelter of their roof or camp the stranger or the wayfaring
man. They paid their debts, observed their contracts, and illustrated
the highest integrity. Perhaps some of them entertained
loose ideas in relation to the acquisition of land; but this, as already
stated, grew out of the feeling that they had fought for and
won it, and that they committed no wrong in taking their awn.
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Wood, William D. Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago, book, 1902; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth14387/m1/29/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .