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Peters Colony: 182 Years

The Peters Colony: 182 Years Ago

August 30th marks the 182nd birthday of the signing of contracts to give away land in Texas in an area that would be known as the Peters Colony.

Replica of the Peters Colony Land Office. Farmers Branch Historical Park

William Smalling Peters (1779-853), an English immigrant living in Kentucky, secured a contract with the Republic of Texas to attract colonists to settle in Texas.

The Republic of Texas was attempting to populate the new republic and establish a tax base to fund the fledgling government. A married man could receive up to 640 acres for immigrating to Texas, and a single man could receive 320. Peters, acting as an empresario, could keep up to one-half of a colonists grant as payment and receive an additional ten sections of land for every 100 families brought to Texas.

Peters, and later the Texas Emigration & Land Company, had difficulties fulfilling their obligations and legal battles over possession of colonists’ land eventually led to an armed confrontation, known as the Hedgcoxe War of 1852, in which the agent for the Land Company, Henry O. Hedgecoxe, was forced to flee from his office.

After nearly ten legislative actions, lawsuits, armed confrontation, and twenty years of arguing, the Peter’s Colony brought little profit to Peters and his original investors. The Graham brothers would pick up the right to act as empresarios in 1871 and would be much more successful and would bring many families to the Young County area and amass over 125,000 acres in personal holdings for their efforts.