Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xxii     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

than joined the army under Sam Houston that sloshed its way to glory at San Jacinto -- neither did it make him credible as a patriot.  The fact that he went by "Colonel" and claimed citizenship but did not volunteer still rankles some readers of the diary.[24]

His varied political appointments yielded a few benefits for the legal practice and land agency Gray established in Houston in May 1837, with an office on Travis Street, as his ad stated, "near the Capitol."  In June of 1838 he received the minor favor of a presidential appointment as one of two notaries public for the city of Houston and Harris County.  He advertised such luminaries as Branch T. Archer, P. W. Grayson, and James Collinsworth as references.  Ashbel Smith recommended him for legal counsel, describing him as "a Gentleman of probity from Virginia," but there is no evidence that these connections produced a lucrative practice.[25]  The deliberate manner in which the government set up boards of land commissioners to process uncompleted claims from the Mexican period and grants given as payments for service to the Republic also slowed the pace of legal activity.  Not until the spring of 1838 did these boards begin to function.  Gray became associated with land locators such as Jesse Benton and also processed his own headright certificate in March and his loan scrip in June.[26]

Defending the interests of his business associate Thomas Green -- undoubtedly Gray's most important task in 1837-38 -- also achieved only marginal success.  On his 1837 trip to Texas, Gray, with Robert Triplett (Albert T. Burnley's uncle), had published in New Orleans a memorial arguing that the Texas government had to fulfill its promise to issue a bonus in scrip for additional lands to those who had extended loans to Texas during the winter of 1835-36.  Some politicians by 1837 argued that the government should renege on this agreement because it had been a bad bargain, but Gray asserted that the creditors had shown faith in Texas during its time of greatest crisis and that reductions in compensation would undermine faith in any contracts made by the government.  The creditors and politicians exchanged charges of bad faith.  Finally, in June 1837 and May 1838, Congress appropriated land to pay those loans, but Gray and his associates do not appear to have regarded the outcome as a triumph.[27]

Gray's other major legal activity involved a high-stakes contest over development of the city of Galveston.  In three deals constructed between April and June 1837, Gray and Thomas Green, along with Sterling Neblett, Robert Triplett, Levi Jones, and William R. Johnson, made agreements with Menard that resulted in establishment of a city corporation.  The issue concerned rights to the land on the island on which town lots were to be developed.  First, on April 11, Triplett, Gray, and Neblett surrendered their claim in exchange for


Go to Page | Index | Cont. | xxii     | Notes | Biblio. | Page- | Page+

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