The Colony Public Library

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Chapter 1: Early North Texas History

North Texas was one of the last areas of Texas to be settled.  When Spain owned Mexico it appeared to be more interested in settling south Texas.  Likewise, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821 it also did little to promote settlement in North Texas likely due to its distance from Mexico. (Harris 1)  

Prior to 1803 there is little permanent evidence of early travelers in North Texas. (J. Stambaugh and L. Stambaugh 20) Following the signing of the Louisiana Purchase a few Mexican explorers, Native Americans, and European traders are known to have traveled thru the area (Greene IIB).   It is also reported that few settlers had settled in the area prior to the establishment of the Republic of Texas in 1836 as only one land grant had been issued in Denton County prior to 1841. (Harris 2)    

When the Republic of Texas was formed in 1836 its’ population was estimated to be between 50,000-60,000 residents. During its first five years programs enacted by the legislature had proven successful in attracting settlers to the southern gulf coast, the eastern piney woods and the lower Colorado and Brazos river valleys in the central part of the Republic (PC Connor 2).  During 1840-41 the legislature, knowing it must continue to expand its tax base even more, began to consider additional programs to promote settlement in its vast and mostly vacant northern and western lands.   

The legislature considered two options.  Implement a land sale model used in the United States that sold land directly to individuals or copy an Empresario model used by Mexico. The Empresario model gave large tracks of land to an individual or group, who would then give the land for free to settlers who were recruited to move to and settle on the Texas land (Ogle 6).  

The 5th Congress of the Republic of Texas voted to adopt the Empresario model when it passed legislation authorizing the establishment of “The Land and Colonization Law” in 1841 (KY Connor 8).  The legislation authorized a group of Kentucky investors, listed by name in the legislation, to bring emigrants from foreign lands to settle in North Texas.  At this time Texas was an independent Republic, therefore including the United States in the definition of a foreign land.   

The legislation required settlers comply with the following requirements in order to be considered a Peters Colonist:

  •  be a settler new to Texas

  • be a married man or a single man 17 years or older

  • build a cabin on the land

  • cultivate 15 acres of the land received

  • pledge allegiance to the Republic of Texas

  • settle on Peters Colony land prior to July 1, 1848 (PC Connor 39)

Go to Chapter 2: Peters Colony Company History