it all beganů The Peters Colony
The Lake Cities Sun, July 2, 1975
They came in covered wagons, on horseback and
in some cases, on foot to settle this land ripe with virgin forests, streams and
Many years ago with Indians rampant in most of
all of Texas, it took a brave and adventurous soul to settle far from the
protection of other small communities. The seaport towns of south Texas received
the largest number of settlers first as many seemed happy to settle where they
Since the Republic of Texas, created in 1836,
was anxious to entice settlers to the financially troubled new state, the Texas
legislature passed a bill on February 4, 1841, granting impresario rights to the
men of the Peters Colony settlement, sometimes known as the Texan Land and
The men who organized this push for settlers
were staid businessmen and it is doubtful if many of them ever came to Texas or
even to the U.S. Eleven of the 20 original organizers of the Texan Land and
Emigration Company were from London and nine were from the U.S.
An even more unlikely prospect for a land
impresario was W.S. Peters who was recognized as the "organizing force
behind the settlement" of this area. Peters was a music publisher in
Louisville, Kentucky. He opened a music store there in the 1830s and it is
documented that he published the music of Stephen F. Foster.
It is not known now why he became interested in
the settlement of Texas, but he did and made several trips to London to organize
the company. Several of his brothers were also members of the company.
Peters and his brothers did make numerous trips
to Texas bringing families to settle here, but it is considered doubtful in
history books if the London partners ever left Europe.
The first contract between the Texan Land and
Emigration Company and the Republic of Texas was signed on August 10, 1841.
Additional contracts were signed later enlarging the area open to the Peters
Colony settlement to include all or part of 26 North Texas counties. The
original contract was for a wide strip of land along what is now the eastern
boundary of Denton County extending west to the area of Justin.
In this initial contract, Peters promised
"to introduce into Texas a colony of 600 families within three years."
The Republic of Texas agreed to grant 640 acres
of land to each family and 320 acres to each single man over 17 if they settled
within the prescribed boundaries of the contract. The agreement stipulated that
they "be of good moral character."
For the trouble and expense of organizing the
settlers, the Texan Land and Emigration Company was to receive a premium of ten
sections of land for every 100 families that settled here and five sections of
land for every 100 single men they introduced to the area.
Advertising extolling the virtues of the land
was seen as far away as France and England. The following ad was placed in the
Bonham weekly on February 25, 1842: "To Emigrants - Now within the Republic
of Texas, the undersigned agent of the Peters Colony takes this method to say
that to all families who proceed to the Colony, make their selection, build
their cabins and occupy same on or before the first day of June next, 640 acres
or one section of land will be given - and young men over 17 years, a half
section, or 320 acres.
"Mere visit and selection without improvement is indispensable. Temporary absence after settlement does not forfeit rights." To the land starved people of the already settled eastern states, this was a boon. They came from every direction. The first wave of settlers in 1844-45 consisted of a total of 822 colonists. The second wave in 1846-48 consisted of 1286 settlers, but very few settled in this immediate area.