From History of Milam County, Texas – Published in 1956
Transcribed by Sandy Baumer
One of the problems connected with education was that relating to the Milam County school lands providing for the endowment of public schools in the country. Under an act approved January 26, 1839, the county was entitled to three leagues (1) and under a subsequent act, approved February 5, 1840, to an additional league (2). The county was in no haste to take possession of the lands, for it was not until September 7, 1846, that the board of land commissioners, sitting at Nashville, issued a certificate to the county for four leagues. Two leagues were surveyed in what is now Somervell County, on June 14, 1847, by George Green, deputy surveyor, and two in what is now Hood County, on December 23, 1849, by William Armstrong, deputy surveyor. All the tracts were desirable, and the county seats of both Hood and Somervell counties were later laid out on Milam County school lands.
The trouble arose over one league in Hood County. Squatters occupied this league as early as 1855. In 1866, Milam County instituted suit for the recovery of the land and for $1,500 damages done to timber on the land, but it lost the suit. The county then took the case on appeal to the Supreme Court, and there in 1870 the county obtained judgment for the land, damages, and costs (3) . Seven years later an attempt was made to vacate the judgment, but it was unsuccessful (4). By an act approved July 21, 1870, however, the legislature authorized the issuance of patents to the pre-emptors (5).
In the following year the Milam County police court appointed John D. McCamant agent to collect rents from the lands in Hood County, to institute suits to force collections, and to obtain a patent from the land office for the league. (A patent to the other Hood County league had been issued on October 10, 1860.) In September, 1872, McCamant had the county’s patent cancelled and new ones issued to six pre-emptors and to himself, one for 640 acres as assignee of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad Company and the other for 1,280 acres as assignee of J.H. Davis. When the county authorities discovered what he had done, in February, 1873, the police court revoked McCamant’s authorization and protested the patents to McCamant, since they were an attempted fraud against the county. Milam County then instituted two suits for trespass and try title against those holding land under any of the eight patents. It lost the cases, but when it carried them on appeal the Supreme Court held that the patents were fraudulent and reversed the decisions of the lower court (6). On September 22, 1886, the county finally obtained two judgments against the parties claiming the land (7). The matter was settled in 1889, when the legislature appropriated $1,500 to reimburse pre-emptors for the sums they had paid into the state for the lands (8).
- Gammel, Laws, II, 134-36.
- Ibid., 320-22.
- Milam County v. R.P. Robertson and others, 33 Tex. 366.
- Milam County v. Rachel Robertson et al., 47 Tex. 222.
- Gammel, Laws, VI, 208-09.
- Milam County v. J.M. Bateman et al, 54 Tex. 153; Milam County v. C.M. Blake, 54 Tex. 169.
- Milam 1st Class, files 941, 1498, 1768, 1780. The last two files cover tracts to make up deficiencies in the four tracts for one league each.
- Gammel, Laws, IX, 1337.
History of Milam County, Texas by Lelia M. Batte. © 1956: The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas.