Stephen F. Austin State University

Some Original Land Grants of Chambers County (November 2013)

Some Original Land Grants of Chambers County
By Kevin Ladd

Filed away in the Texas General Land Office in Austin is a 1922 map that shows all of the original land grants and grantees of what is today Chambers County. Some of the names are as familiar to us as our own: the Barrow brothers, Henry Griffith, E.H.R. Wallis, James Taylor White, Joseph Lawrence, Charles Willcox and others. Scattered across the map, however, are a few names that are less well known. Some are largely forgotten today, known only to those who dabble in local land records. But each of these grantees, these founding fathers of Chambers County, left behind a story of their own. This issue will cover some of these individuals. These three were bachelors, which make them unusual founding fathers for Chambers County, Texas.

Shadrack Burney
Shadrack Burney was born about 1789 in North Carolina and is usually referred to as one of the earliest settlers of this area. A Shadrack Bur-ney appears in 1792 as the grandson of a Simon Burney, whose will was probated in Greene County, Georgia Most sources give his date of arrival as 1823. When the family of E. H. R. and Sarah (Barrow) Wallis settled at Wallis Hill in the winter of 1824-1825, they found only two bachelors living in that section. Family tradition holds that one of the two was Burney. The other was a Mr. Arnold, although no records have ever provided any more information about him. The 1826 census of the Atascosito District lists him as a farmer and stockraiser and also indicates he had previously resided in Louisiana before coming to Texas. His survey, located on the north side of Turtle Bay (Lake Anahuac) was bordered on the west by the E.H.R. Wallis Survey and on the north and east by the M. A. Carroll Survey. His title was dated April 24, 1831. His name does not appear in any local records after that date. One record refers to Burney as a former associate of the pirate/privateer Jean Laffite. The only landmark that links this early settler to the land is Burney Gully.

Green B. Jameson
Although some records incorrectly give the survey bearing his name the "Jamison" spelling, other records suggest that it was actually spelled Green B. Jameson. He was born in Kentucky about 1809. He went on to become the chief engineer of the Alamo. He was the son of a Benjamin Jameson of New Jesey and the grandson of John Jameson, one-time lieutenant governor of Virginia. By October 1830, Green was in San Felipe de Austin where he was practicing law. Historians say he may have moved briefly to Brazoria County some time before 1836. The young man eventually fell in with James Bowie and served the latter as an aide. He also is referred to as the chief engineer for the doomed Texian garrison at the Alamo. While at that famous bastion, Jameson supervised the remounting of the guns and the general strengthening of the garrison's defenses. He was killed along with the other defenders of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. The survey bearing his name in Chambers County was actually patented to his heirs, but this came several decades after his death. The State of Texas granted a donation certificate for 640 acres in 1851 to Jameson and his heirs for his having fallen in the Alamo. The tract was located in what is now Chambers County and was finally patented to the heirs on Dec. 17, 1873. Although he never lived here, Green B. Jameson's name will live forever in Texas history and makes a fascinating story. This survey was located along the north-eastern shore of Turtle Bay and was bordered on the northwest by Turtle Bayou.

Edward Dorr
Edward Dorr was born October 20, 1786 in the town of Mendon, Massa-chusetts. He was the youngest of eight children born to the Hon. Joseph Dorr and his wife Catherine Bucknam. He appeared before the Liberty County Board of Land Commissioners and indicated that he came to Texas in 1825 as a single man. He received a one-third league of land (1,476 acres), a tract that became known here for many years as Dorr's Island. Early tax rolls of Liberty County from the late 1830s and early 1840s suggest Dorr operated a small ranching and farming operation there. His herd of cattle generally consisted of around three hundred head, with horses numbering anywhere from ten to seventeen. A few other obscure records provide some additional information on this man's life. An interesting letter sent to Stephen F. Austin in 1829 included the signature of Dorr and a few other locals. The document testified to the impartiality of George Orr, who was then serving as the alcalde or judge for the Atascosito District. Entries in Dr. Nicholas D. Labadie's Day Book for September 6, 1837 show Dorr was one of twelve men selected to serve on a coroner's jury after the body of an unidentified man was found on the bay shore near the home of Jacob Freeland Winfree. Edward Dorr died in April 1847, apparently without issue. His property was later purchased by Joshua Jackson Mayes and years later was known as Mayes Island