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Volume 6, Number 2 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 January 16, 2014
This article focuses on Texas since many have ancestors that migrated west at some point. This is just a short overview of the different eras in Texas history and it may help you in your genealogy quest. It is always good to know what was happening in a particular area since it might give you a clue as to other resources to search.As always, we love hearing your stories after each newsletter. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or questions.
James L. Douthat
Gone To Texas
A lot of researchers find that some of their ancestors end up in Texas. In the great migration westward, Texas was in the thoughts of many of our ancestors. Texas was a magnet to those looking for a new start, or to get away from the east for various reasons. We need to stop and take a look at what was drawing the migrations towards the State of Texas.
SPANISH ERA 1519-1685 and 1690-1821: The early period would have drawn few if any from the east to the area, but the latter time frame was attractive. During this time, Spain did not encourage migration into their lands.
FRENCH ERA 1685-1690: This was a very short period and confined primarily to the coast of Texas and especially as a backlash from the French settlements up the Mississippi River with some coming down the River to the coast.
MEXICAN ERA 1821-1836: Mexico overthrew Spain during this time period and began to look a little more favorable on migrants but when the Anglo settlers began to promote their own causes, the Mexicans began to back away from encouragement of more to come. Several empresarios who settled land disputes were Austin, Burnet, DeLeon, Dewitt, McMullin and McGloin, Milam, Robertson and Wavell. In the area around Nacogdoches from 1834-1835 Character Certificates were given and written in English.
TEXAS REVOLUTION 1836: This six months war was begun in October 1835 at Gonzales and ending at San Jacinto in April 1836. In this conflict, battles at Anahuac, Golilad and the Alamo pitted Sam Houston, commander of the Texas Army against Santa Anna. In November 1835, the land office closed and Santa Anna settled the conflict with the Treaty of Velasco which established the Rio Grande River as the border instead of the Nueces further north. For this action, the Mexican legislature refused to recognize the treaty.
THE REPUBLIC ERA 1836-1845: It was during this time period that many events took place that are importance to us such as the Cherokee seeking land for a State of their own. The Battle of Nueces expelled the rebellious Cherokee and they went into the Cherokee Territory in what is now Oklahoma. At this time, large land districts served as counties in the area. As they now encouraged migration, many colonies sprang up such as the Peters and Mercer Colonies from 1842-1848, the Castro Colony, the Fisher-Miller Grant and the German Hill Country settlements of 1845-1848. In 1837, a direct ad valorem tax was established, and county poll lists on males 21-55 were required. In many ways, this was a period of fast growth with many changes in the structure of the land use and growth of cities and counties.
MEXICAN WAR 1846: Mexico threatened war against the United States if the U.S. annexed Texas into the union. Congress declared war on Mexico in May and it was not settled until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago in February 1848 when land north of the Rio Grande was ceded to the U.S. This included the territory that became Arizona and New Mexico.
STATEHOOD ERA 1845-1861: To get release from a $10 million dollar debt Mexico incurred in the Mexican War, the land area given to the U.S. was over 67 million acres. However, during this time period Mexican incursions continued and complicated by the local tribes of Native Americans, especially the Comanche in western Texas. In this era, Texas established a Permanent School Fund and counties with a school system submitted Scholastic Censuses.
CONFEDERATE ERA 1861-1865: Entering one of the most destructive periods of time, Governor Sam Houston refused to take an oath of Allegiance to the Confederacy but Major General Twiggs, commander of the Federal forces surrendered the troops under him as well as the military posts. At this time, Texas was fighting on three fronts: the U.S. to the east, the Plains Indians to the west and the renegades at home. Texas was treated like all the other southern states following the war and amnesty.
RECONSTRUCTION ERA 1866-1870: At this time, thousands migrated to Texas to seek relief from the hardships imposed on the south by the radicals from the north. At the same time, it became a haven for outlaws. Check the Presidential Pardons for the results of the amnesty on those with special needs for pardons.
One important note for researchers of Tennesseans. Following the War of 1812, President Andrew Jackson prosecuted those Tennesseans that left the field of battle the night before The Battle of New Orleans. Three companies of men were involved. Following the Court Martial, many were too embarrassed to return home so they took their families and went to Texas and other points west.
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