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    The original contract between Galveston Bay & Texas Land Company and "Empresarios" David G. Burnet and Lorenzo de Zavala

    David G. Burnet and Lorenzo de Zavala Document Signed Partially printed and completed in manuscript, 3pp.,[New York]: December 10, 1830. One of the original contract copies between the officers of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company and the original empresarios given land grants by the Mexican government to develop their lands in Texas. This document is of the greatest importance in Texas history and heretofore unknown, unrecorded by Streeter or any other bibliographers. It comes from the papers of Anthony Dey, one of the officers of the Company.

    In 1826 and 1828, the Mexican government granted large land grants north of Galveston Bay to three separate individuals: Lorenzo de Zavala, Joseph Vehlein and David G. Burnet. The grants required each grantee, or empresario, to settle a certain number of families on the land in return for the grant. The grants covered a vast tract of land in East Texas east of the San Jacinto River and south of a line running twenty leagues north of Nacogdoches, comprising approximately 3,743,163 acres.

    In 1830 the three empresarios banded together and contracted with the newly formed Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company to exploit their land holdings. The Company was run by three eastern attorneys with histories as land speculators: Anthony Dey and George Curtis of New York, and William H. Sumner of Boston. The company was essentially a real-estate promotion firm with agents, land counselors, surveyors, and salesmen. It did not own land itself but sold scrip that allowed settlers simply to move into the area. Once there, the settlers had to comply with all requirements of the Mexican colonization law before they could obtain title to land. The company sold its scrip to individuals and to such companies as Prentiss's Union Land Company and the Trinity Land Company; it also sold shares to subscribers.

    There is an inserted clause about the three officers of the Company being granted permission to act on the basis of powers of attorney printed on a separate sheet. Signed by David G. Burnet, Lorenza de Zavala, and again by Zavala as the attorney for Joseph Vehlein. The second separate sheet is signed by William H. Sumner. Evidently multiple copies were made of these contracts, but they were held at Dey's offices in New York.

    A document of extraordinary importance, and a printed piece of colonization-period Texana hitherto unknown. Separated at fold with numerous sections of paper loss at edges; all have been professionally silked. Moderate age toning. Contemporary red half-leather case, gilt lettering. From the collection of Darrel Brown.

    Provenance: Papers of Anthony Dey, president of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. Not found in Streeter.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st-3rd Saturday-Monday
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