Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 71
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
who lived on it had reduced the population of Colorado County to fewer than 100 "citizen
male freehold inhabitants," thereby making it smaller than the constitutionally mandated
size of new counties and making it impractical to raise a jury to conduct county business.
The petition further stated that a similar petition had been drafted and sent to the congress
before it had created Fayette County, but that, either accidentally or by the intervention of
sinister agents, it had never reached the proper parties, and recommended either that the
remainder of Colorado County be absorbed by the new Fayette County, or that all of the
land that had been given to Fayette County, or the part of it up to and just beyond Burnam's
Crossing, be returned to Colorado County. Their petition, however, was denied."
The same day that the congress created Fayette County, it passed an act which,
among other things, created boards of commissioners in every Texas county which were
"authorized and required" to issue certificates of entitlement to tracts of land to people who
demonstrated that they were entitled to such land by the constitution or other existing laws.
The Colorado County Board of Land Commissioners met for the first time on January 18,
1838, and remained in session until January 25. At their first meeting, they granted 37 land
certificates, all to settlers who demonstrated that they had resided in Texas before March
2, 1836. At their second meeting, which began just one week after the close of the first and
lasted three days, the board granted twelve more certificates. Over the next two years,
applicants came steadily, and the board steadily handed out certificates. The board granted
its last certificate, for 640 acres to John Ryan, on November 15, 1839. Most of the
certificates that had been granted by the board were unconditional, and thereby entitled their
holders to immediate land grants. Many selected and patented land in other counties. Some,
however, including William Bell, John Cheney, Richard Dowdy, Joseph Ehlinger, Joseph
Hyland, the heirs of Roland Thompson, Willard Wadham, and George W. Wright, all of
whom patented their lands in 1841, used their certificates to take title to vast quantities of
land in Colorado County.'6
The county court had been ordered by an act passed by the congress on
December 20, 1836 to "procure" both a courthouse and a jail. By 1838, however, they did
15 Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, vol. 1, pp. 1074, 1377-1378; Petition from the
Citizens of Colorado County, County Boundaries, May 10, 1838, Memorials and Petitions, Texas State Ar-
chives, Austin. Specifically, the new northwest border of Colorado County thereby became a line drawn from
the northernmost point of the Joel Ponton Survey on the Lavaca River through the northernmost point of the
Joseph Duty Survey on the Colorado River extended to the watershed of the Colorado and Brazos Rivers. The
creation of Fayette County was a consequence of the settlement of La Grange and the area around it, which had
developed much more rapidly than Columbus and its surrounding area (see Matagorda Bulletin, September 27,
1838, May 1, 1839, The [Houston] Morning Star, May 9, 1839).
16 Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, vol. 1, pp. 1409, 1417; Colorado County Book of
Land Certificates, pp. 13-59, 132-152; W. A. Glass and Eltea Armstrong, Colorado County [Land Grant Map]
(Austin: General Land Office, 1946).
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996, periodical, May 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151397/m1/11/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.