Description1st Class Galveston County Headright Entitlement Certificate. Manuscript Document Signed "R[obert] D[abney] Johnson". 1 page, 7.25 x 11.5", Galveston, July 22, 1839. Reads in part: "This is to certify that Stewart Newell has appeared before us the Board Of Land Commissioners for the County of Galveston and proved according that he was a Citizen of the Republic of Texas prior to the Declaration of Independence..." The Republic of Texas issued many headright grants. These grants were given on condition that specified requirements be met by the grantees. Under the Republic's Constitution of 1836, each head of a family living in Texas as of March 4, 1836 (except Africans and Indians) were granted "first class" headrights of one league (4,428.4 acres) and one labor (177.1 acres) of land. This totals 4,605.5 acres. It is not clear why this particular certificate states 4,604 acres. As stated in this certificate, the recipient was to pay "seven dollars and fifty cents for each Labor of irrigable land, five dollars for each Labor of arable land and two dollars and fifty cents for each Labor of pasture land." At the highest rate this would be 4 cents per acre. Many times the recipient would sell his headright at approximately 50 cents per acre resulting in a substantial windfall for the time. A total of 36,876,492 acres over a ten year period was granted by the republic in headright certificates. Galveston County was formed in 1838 under the republic from Harrisburg, Liberty, and Brazoria counties and organized in 1839.
This manuscript document was one of the first headrights issued in the newly created Galveston County, being number 8 -- issued prior to officials having a printed form that would be the standard as of a few months later. Robert Dabney Johnson (1812-83) emigrated to Texas in 1837 and settled at Galveston. He was appointed notary public for Galveston on November 13, 1838. When the county was organized in 1839, he became county judge and in 1842 was appointed postmaster of Galveston. He held both posts for many years and had an extensive practice as an attorney. Stewart Newell was a Texas agent of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company in the early 1830's and then U. S. consul to the Republic of Texas.
Moderate toning, horizontal creases with bottom separated fold reattached, else very good. A great piece to display from the very beginning of Galveston! From the collection of Darrel Brown.
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