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town, of which I was not apprized until today, which I much regret, as I am desirous of seeing life in Texas in all its varieties.  The Mexicans hold their fandangoes at the Monte, or gambling house, of Miguel Cortenoz.[ 5]

Friday, February 5, 1836

It continued wet and cold all the forenoon.  Had a long conversation with Major George Anthony Nixon, or Don Jorge Antonio Nixon, the Commissioner for giving land titles.  He professes great disinterestedness and candor.  I rather suspect he has neither.  Showed me the arrangement of his office.  The deeds to land are merely folded up, labelled and laid in numerical order in the pigeonhole of a wooden box, in the garret of an old wooden building, perfectly combustible.  A spark would consume the fabric in a few minutes.  There is no secure fastenings to the windows.  I could enter it any night and bear off the whole of the titles.  And these are the originals, and the only record that is kept -- no book in which the deeds are recorded, as with us.  The plan is to leave the original in the office and give the grantee a certified copy, which has the validity of the original.  When another sale is made a similar deposit is made and a new copy issued.  If the copy is lost a duplicate may issue, or a triplicate.  The whole proceeding seems to be loose and insufficient, and opens the door for fraud, much of which has been practiced.  The operations of this office are now suspended, and some hundreds of deeds are now lying here incomplete, waiting for some formalities and the payment of fees.[ 6]  Nixon expected to be removed or to have his duties superseded, and he has had the shrewdness to certify all the incomplete deeds, prior to a certain date, so that when the purchaser comes for his deed he will find it ready as far as the Commissioner can make it so.  He showed me titles to a large quantity of land in his name, which he said he wished to sell in a body; he offered the whole at sixty-two and one-half cents per acre.  Of course, in his opinion, it was worth a great deal more, twenty or thirty dollars per acre.  The impression on the whole was unfavorable to the manner of giving and securing land titles and to the Commissioner.[ 7]

I was desirous of obtaining from Major Nixon copies of the late laws passed by the Congress, respecting lands, but he would not give me a sight of them.  Mr. W. S. Allen very kindly lent me a book containing all the Colonization Laws, Constitutions, etc., and many other documents, which I am to return when we meet again.  He came here as agent for the New York Company, but finding his vocation gone, he is about to return.

Mr. Jno. K. Allen showed me a charter for a bank in Spanish, which was read to me in English by Dr. Cameron.  The charter was obtained at Monclova last February 7.  The principal provisions were:  Capital, ----- million; a mother bank and a branch; 10 per cent. to be paid in on subscribing, and the balance secured

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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas