PETERS COLONY

Peters (Peters') colony was the name commonly applied to a North Texas empresario   grant made in 1841 by the Republic of Texas   to twenty American and English investors led by William S. Peters, an English musician and businessman who immigrated to the United States in 1827 and settled in Blairsville and then Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Peters viewed the colony primarily as a business venture. But, influenced by his studies of the philanthropic ideas of William Godwin and Thomas Paine, he may also have envisioned the colony as providing new opportunities for the English industrial middle class. Half of the investors were residents of England, and the other half were residents of the United States. Of the Americans six were probably related to Peters-three sons and three sons-in-law. All of the original investors, except possibly one or two, were native Englishmen. The headquarters of the Peters colony was in Louisville, Kentucky, where Peters's son William C. operated a successful music store. From this music store W. S. Peters and Samuel Browning, Peters's son-in-law, departed in June 1839 to seek English support for the colony. This was the first of several trips Peters made to England and France on behalf of the colony. He returned from England in July 1841 with news from the London investors, and in Austin on August 30, 1841, Browning signed the first of four contracts with the Republic of Texas.   

The first contract established the boundaries of the colony as beginning on the Red River at the mouth of Big Mineral Creek (see Big Mineral Creek below), running south for sixty miles, then west for twenty-two miles, north to the Red River and then east with the river to the point of origin. According to the terms of the contract the empresarios had to recruit settlers from outside the republic at a rate of 200 families in three years. In return the colonists were to be granted 320 acres per single man and a maximum of 640 acres per family. The empresarios were allowed to retain up to one-half of a colonist's grant as payment for services rendered, including land surveys and title applications. The empresarios provided powder, shot, and seed and in some cases built settlers' cabins. The empresarios also received ten sections of premium land from the republic for each 100 families.

 

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