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General Land Office opens


On this day in 1837, John P. Borden opened the General Land Office in Houston. John, with his brother Gail Borden Jr., had surveyed and laid out the town of Houston in 1836. As first commissioner of the new land office, John Borden faced the monumental job of compiling and preserving the many Spanish and Mexican land titles issued before the republic. He began with no funds or employees to assist him, yet by the end of 1837 he had successfully acquired documents from all over Texas. He also registered and surveyed new grants. In 1839 he moved the General Land Office to Austin and transported almost 5,000 pounds of documents by wagon. The military bounties, veteran donations, headrights, and homestead preemptions issued by Borden and successive commissioners amounted to more than 75 million acres granted to individuals.

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