52 Documents in 52 Weeks #33: Early Texas Land Certificate Applications

Court minutes contain a huge variety of records. Thoughts that first come to mind include lawsuits and probates. Sometimes, these records are filed in their own collection, but, many times, they are embedded within the regular court minutes. Occasionally, these court minutes are not even indexed, so researchers might choose to skip over them.

I LOVE browsing through court records. More than once, I have come across an entry that was not indexed that pertains to one of my ancestors. Unindexed records present an opportunity for all kinds of treasures to be discovered.

If you have an ancestor who settled in Texas in its very early years – before 1850 or so – he might have applied for a Texas land certificate.

Texas Land Certificate Application
Kaufman County, Texas, 1856

It so happens that all of the entries on this page pertain to citizens versus (vs.) the State of Texas. They were settlers of the Mercer Colony and had to prove that they settled prior to 25 October 1848.

I am only going to transcribe the first entry, as it is the application of Zilpha Richardson, a female head of household. Zilpha was born c1796 in Tennessee and died on 6 August 1872 in Kaufman County, Texas. She appears on an 1846 census substitute for Texas.

In 1850, she is 57 years old, born in Tennessee and head of an unusual household in Kaufman County, Texas:

Malinda Richardson is 25, also born in Tennessee. Next, we find Elizabeth Peel, 21, born in Arkansas, (?) Nelson Daugherty, 20, born in Tennessee and John D. Pearson, 32, born in New Jersey.

Here is her application:

Tuesday, 11th November AD 1856

Zilpha Richardson     Application for Mercer Colony Land Certificate
The State of Texas

Now Comes the plaintiff and Comes the State of Texas by the District attorney and the said Zilpha Richardson having proved by her oath and by the Oaths of James E. Peel and James Daugherty that she emigrated to and settled in the Colony granted to Charles Fenton Mercer and his associates prior to the 25th day of October A.D. 1848, that she was the head of a family and performed the duties of a citizen of said Colony, and has never received any land from the Government of the Republic or state of Texas. It is therefore ordered adjudged and decreed by the Court that the said Zilpha Richardson do have and recover of the state of Texas Six hundred and forty acres of land find that a certificate issue therefor (sic) which may be located upon any vacant unappropriated lands within the limits of Mercers Colony.

Many state genealogical societies offer special memberships to those who can prove that their ancestor/s settled there prior to a predetermined date. If you are interested in joining such a society, check the court minutes for the time period in which your ancestor resided there. You might find certificates such as these recorded in the orders or minutes. The land deed books MIGHT or MIGHT NOT
contain copies of these applications or certificates.

2 thoughts on “52 Documents in 52 Weeks #33: Early Texas Land Certificate Applications”

  1. Just found your “52 DOCUMENTS IN 52 WEEKS #33: EARLY TEXAS LAND CERTIFICATE APPLICATIONS” site. Imagine my surprise when Zilpha (Daugherty) Richardson was the subject of the Land Certificate Applications. I am related through her brother John David Daugherty. Their parents were William & Sallie/Sarah (Bunch) Daugherty. I note that their were several Daugherty’s enrolled in the Mercer Colony. Where do these records reside? I definitely need to look at several more. Thx

    1. Also interested in this — and I’m also a descendant of Zilpha’s brother, John David Daugherty.

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