Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993 Page: 124
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the declaration of independence,"
March 2, 1836, were entitled to one league and one labor of land (about 4606 acres)
if they were the head of a family and one-third of a league (about 1476 acres) if they
were single men at least 17 years old. Citizens who already had received land were
entitled to only enough additional land to make up the difference between what they had
received and what they were entitled to by the new constitution.3
Three days earlier, the convention had agreed to provide land as compensa-
tion to volunteers in the revolutionary army who came from the United States. Such
volunteers were to receive 1280 acres if they were then in service and would continue
"faithfully during the war," 640 acres if they had served or would serve for at least six
months, 320 acres if they had served for three months, 960 acres if they entered service
before July 1, 1836 and served "faithfully during the war" provided the war lasted for
more than six months, 640 acres if they "were at the siege of Bejar," and a "quantity
proportioned to their services" if they entered the service after July 1, 1836. The
convention also awarded the heirs of volunteers who were killed in the conflict one
league and one labor if the volunteer had been the head of a family and one-third of a
league if a single man, in addition to the 640 acres that had been awarded to them by
a December 11, 1835 decree of the Council at San Felipe.4
These imprecise rules were further defined by laws passed on November 24,
1836, December 4, 1837, and December 14, 1837. The third of these acts was quite
comprehensive. Among other things, it called for the creation of boards of land
commissioners in every Texas county which were "authorized and required" to issue
certificates of entitlement to tracts of land to people who proved that they were entitled
to such land by the constitution or other existing laws. Such applicants were required
to prove, "by two or more good and creditable witnesses," that they were in Texas on
March 2, 1836, that they had remained in Texas, and that they were married if they
claimed to be. Further, they were required to recite an oath that they had not left Texas
to avoid participation in the war, that they had not refused to participate in the war, that
they had not assisted the enemy, and that they had not previously received the quantity
of land to which they were entitled. The law also provided that persons under the age
of 17 "who have volunteered in the service of their country, and who have received
honorable discharges" were entitled to the same amount of land they would be entitled
to if they were 21, and that single men who were in Texas on March 2, 1836 and were
entitled to one-third of a league of land by the constitution or other laws were entitled
to an additional two-thirds of a league and a labor if they had since married or if they were
to get married before December 14, 1838. Moreover, it entitled "every volunteer" who
arrived in Texas after March 2, 1836 but before August 1, 1836 to "the quantity of land
by this act secured to original colonists," and "every person ... who is a free white
person" who arrived in Texas after March 2, 1836 but before October 1, 1837 and who
was already married or had gotten married before October 1, 1837 to a conditional grant
of 1280 acres, and "all single free white men" who emigrated after March 2, 1836 but
before October 1, 1837 to a conditional grant of 640 acres. The grants were made on
condition that the "family shall remain and reside within this republic, and do and perform
all the duties required of otherlike citizens, for the term of three years."5
3 See Gammel, volume 1, pp. 1079-1080. These entitlements have come to be known as first class
4 See Gammel, volume 1, pp. 894-895, 982-983.
5 See Gammel, volume 1, pp. 1094, 1367-1368, 1404-1418. The 1280 acre and 640 acre
conditional grants have come to be known as second class headrights.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993, periodical, September 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151389/m1/16/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.