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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course United States Migration Patterns by Beverly Whitaker, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Americans to Texas, 1820-1845
Texas history is complicated. After Spain acquired Louisiana, Americans were allowed to settle around St. Louis and later be considered for land grants in the northern province area called Texas. As early as 1803, Americans settled there. After the Mexican Revolution of 1824, the Mexican government needed settlers to protect it from foreign invasion, and they offered liberal land grants to anyone who would become citizens, accept the Catholic faith, and settle there.
There was considerable migration from Missouri to Texas in the 1820s, many of whom had ventured into that area from Tennessee, a not-surprising east to west movement, not unlike that which transported people from Ohio into Iowa and Nebraska. Stephen Austin arrived in Texas in 1821, the holder of a grant thousands of acres. Other American-born grant holders soon arrived, promoting land sales, but only about 3,500 Americans settled in Texas between 1825 and 1832. Meanwhile, squatters with no legal claim to land settled in East Texas.
Migration to Texas occurred during a period of slavery controversy, with many Americans concerned about the extension of slavery. Realistically, the extension of cotton culture into Texas was no more surprising than the creation of a wheat-growing empire in Minnesota and Dakota.
Increasingly, Mexicans were outnumbered in Texas by Americans. The Texas War of Independence in 1836 was preceded for several years with petitions and conventions during which time Texans demanded changes by the Mexican government. Santa Anna’s move against the Texans resulted in Texas independence. Texas quickly began to request annexation by the United States, which after years of controversy occurred; it became a state in December 1845.
From 1836 to 1845, the Republic of Texas adopted a liberal land policy, granting each family 1,280 acres. 135,000 settlers migrated to Texas. If you see the letters GTT written in tax books and deeds, know that it stands for “Gone to Texas.”
The early route to Texas was either via the Mississippi or overland along the Old San Antonio Road which left St. Louis, crossed the Arkansas River at Little Rock Ford, crossed the Red River, then on into Louisiana, entering Texas on the other side of the Sabine River.
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