Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 1, Number 1, Spring, 1989 Page: 6
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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A Surveyor's Saga
Warren Angus Ferris at the Three Forks
By Susanne Starling
XCEPT FOR AN ACCIDENT of geography,
some inside information, and the bite of a
dread mosquito, Dallas might have been called
"Warwick," and its founders would have been
New York surveyor Warren A. Ferris and
Mississippi land speculator William P. Kinginstead
of John Neely Bryan and the Beeman
Twenty-seven-year-old Warren Angus Ferris,
a native of Buffalo, had already led an adventurous
life before he arrived in Texas in 1837.
A mountain man with rare literary ability, Ferris
kept a journal of his six years in the
Yellowstone country, Life in the Rocky
Mountains', which, accompanied by a handdrawn
map, provides a unique and valuable picture
of trapper life in the hectic early 1830's.
In the year following the Texas Revolution,
Ferris came to Texas with his brother, Charles
Warren Ferris used a chain similar to this one
in surveying the Three Forks region of
D. Ferris, to claim land due Charles for military
service to the young republic. Aided by Charles's
former commander, Major Isaac W. Burton of
Nacogdoches, the Ferris brothers planned to go
into the surveying business. Charles was forced
to return to Buffalo on family business and found
himself delayed interminably; but in late 1837,
Warren Ferris, with the help of then Senator Burton,
was elected official surveyor of
Nacogdoches County, a vast area of East and
North Central Texas which included what is now
Fortune seemed to smile on surveyor Ferris
in early 1838. Business was booming as veterans
of the Texas Revolution were paid off in land,
and hordes of new immigrants all of whom had
the "certified copy" fever, entered the Republic.
On receiving a certificate, usually for a league
and a labor (4605 acres), the claimant hired a
surveyor to locate and survey appropriate land.
When the field notes were approved, the claimant
could file with the Land Office in Houston
(or later Austin) to receive his deed. Since
claimants did not have to live on the land, there
was a lively trade in the buying and selling of
certificates and field notes. Such land scrip, or
paper redeemable in land, was sought by
speculators who hoped to profit by accumulating
huge tracts. An official surveyor like Ferris was
in a key position to make money.
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 1, Number 1, Spring, 1989, periodical, 1989; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35122/m1/8/: accessed June 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.