Land Scrip

By: Manuel Guerra

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1995

When the Republic of Texas was established, it was rich in lands but low in funds. In an effort to convert the public domain into cash, an act of December 10, 1836, authorized the issuance of land scrip for sale in the United States at not less than fifty-five cents an acre, the proceeds of the sale to be applied to the public debt. The scrip was often called Toby Scrip, for Thomas Toby of the Toby and Brother Company of New Orleans, the chief scrip agent. During the republic era, 1,329,200 acres of public land was sold or used directly to retire debt.

Under the Confederate Soldier's Bill of April 5, 1881, wounded Confederate soldiers, their servants, or their widows were eligible to receive a 1,280-acre land certificate. Those having property valued at $1,000 or more were ineligible, and the applicant had to take two witnesses to the county court to attest to his or her eligibility. The county courts certified eligibility to the General Land Office, which in turn issued the certificates. Certificates could only be located on public domain, and for every plot of land located on a Confederate scrip certificate, a like amount of acreage had to be surveyed for the Permanent School Fund, since half the public domain had been reserved for the school fund. Though the objective of the bill was to help provide for Confederate veterans and their widows, most of those receiving the certificates sold them to others, for an average of $100 to $200 a certificate. One certificate went for $5. A total of 2,068 certificates for 2,647,040 acres were issued from July 5, 1881, to February 16, 1883. Of these, 1,726 certificates (1,979,852 acres) were properly surveyed and 342 certificates (437,760 acres) were rejected. The bill was repealed in 1883.

The state of Texas, in an effort to raise money and pay off debts, in 1879 offered for sale certain western lands at fifty cents an acre and in 1889 at two dollars an acre. Under these two acts the state sold 1,660,936 acres of land; the proceeds of the sales were pledged at one half to the public debt and one half to the Permanent School Fund. Land scrip was also the term used to describe certificates issued for internal improvements (see LAND GRANTS FOR INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS).

History of Texas Land (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1958). Thomas L. Miller, "Land Grants to Confederate Veterans and Widows," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (July 1965). Thomas L. Miller, The Public Lands of Texas, 1519–1970 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972).

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

Manuel Guerra, “Land Scrip,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995