NEW GUIDE TO SPANISH AND MEXICAN LAND GRANTS IN SOUTH TEXAS. Author and Compiler, Galen D. Greaser. Austin: General Land Office, Archives and Records, 2009. 3rd edition
343 Pgs., 8 &1/2 x 11, paperback.
In the 1970's Virginia Taylor compiled the Index to Spanish and Mexican Land Grants as a "quick reference" to trans-Nueces lands, and she revised it in the 1980's as Guide to Spanish and Mexcian Land Grants in South Texas. Greaser, the much valued Translator and Curator of the GLO Spanish Collection, here offers a revised and significantly expanded version of that title.
Therein he corrects and augments Taylor's entries, and he adds a substantial historical essay of 149 pages. He also adds some appendices. He also adds a glossary, a FAQ list, and a bibliography. Some figures, maps, and illustration are new. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson relates in his foreword "The purpose of this 'New Guide' is to provide to all ready access to pertinent facts about the rich history of early land settlement in South Texas, yet another piece of the diverse mosaic of Texas land."
Each of the 363 grant entries is arranged by name of the recipient and usually described by its place, size, county, and abstract citation. Following such are the nature of the title, a place of its common citation, its more recent confirmation, governmental patent of transferral, GLO file number, and occasionally other sources and notes.
Readers new to the topic will readily recognize via Greaser's historical essay that some background information is essential to commanding the field of knowledge, including his own essay. The essay covers the Villas del Norte, the porcion grants relaled to the Visita General of 1767 (including Laredo, Hacienda de Dolores, Revilla, Lugar de Mier, Camargo, and Reynosa), the larger land grants of 1777-1800, Royal policy reforms of 1802-1812, the troubled times of the revolution years of 1810-1821, the stance of independent Mexico, the laws and grants of Tamaulipas, the troubles following the Texas Revolution and the Mexican American War, and certain confirmations. All of which is deeply documented. Readers should be patient with pencil and paper at hand.
The appendices cover topics including Andres Bautista, Jose Manuel Pereda, Jose Francisco Balli, salt and mineral rights, and certain points of Mexican law.
The glossary is particularly useful. For example, a "Porcion" is an "Allotment of land; long-lot tracts of land, most along the river, granted to settlers of the towns established by Jose de Escandon...."
Public inquiry into this field will certainly increase over the years as Spanish land heritage becomes more popular. This volume should be very widely available in libraries and historians' offices across the state.
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