The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Land Districts

General Entry

Land districts were surveying districts established for the General Land Office by a law of May 12, 1846, which defined the limits of the counties existing in 1845 as the boundaries of the various land districts. There were thirty-five original districts: Austin, Bexar, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Bowie, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Fannin, Goliad, Gonzales, Galveston, Harris, Houston, Harrison, Jasper, Jefferson, Jackson, Liberty, Lamar, Montgomery, Milam, Matagorda, Nacogdoches, Refugio, Robertson, Rusk, Red River, San Patricio, San Augustine, Shelby, Travis, Victoria, and Washington. One surveyor in each district was to function under the General Land Office. The 1846 law discouraged additional land districts, but as the large counties from before annexation were divided into smaller units, the legislature, upon recommendation of the land office, added several by 1856. These were Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Nueces, Presidio, El Paso, San Patricio, Cooke, Denton, and Karnes counties. As settlement advanced into central West Texas, the land office again recommended new districts to be formed from previously unorganized territory. In 1874 Palo Pinto, Jack, Clay, Young, and Eastland districts were added; in 1881 Baylor, Wheeler, and Oldham; in 1883 Mitchell, Howard, Donley, and Wilbarger; in 1885 Nolan, Webb (reestablished), and Hardeman; in 1887 Knox, Martin, Scurry, and Crosby; and in 1901, King. In 1853 provision was made for the election of district surveyors when two or more counties were involved. See PUBLIC LANDS.

Abstract of Land Claims (Galveston: Civilian Book Office, 1852). Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Land Districts,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 23, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.