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Anthony Dey Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company records

Call Number: WA MSS S-1743

Scope and Contents

The Anthony Dey Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company Records consist of correspondence, documents, account books, case files, financial papers, and printed material which document the workings of one of the earliest Texas land companies. The collection spans the years 1828-1855, but the bulk of the material dates from the most active years of the company, 1830-1835.

The Records are organized into five series: Correspondence, Agreements, Grants and Proposals, Court Actions, Financial Papers, and Printed Material. Boxes 4-6 contain Oversize material.

Series I, Correspondence (1828-1855), contains letters addressed to either Anthony Dey or the Galveston Bay Company and letters from Dey, as well as a small group of third party correspondence. The series is arranged chronologically. The earliest correspondences date from the time that Lorenzo de Zavala obtained his grant; later letters concern the company's business, including correspondence with agents both in Texas and Europe, sending instructions and receiving news from Texas, Mexico City and various places in Europe. There are also inquiries in response to the Company's advertisements, letters from surveyors, and discussions of the advantages of to the United States if it were to purchase Texas from Mexico. Principal correspondents include John T. Mason, William H. Sumner, Jonathan Turnbull, G. H. Paulsen, and William S. Allen. There is a gap in the correspondence from January 1836 to June 1849. The letters from 1849-1851 are written by William H. Sumner to Anthony Dey and concern a memorial to President James K. Polk that Sumner was preparing. Five folders of correspondence fragments have been placed at the end of the series. One of these, folder number 18, contains correspondence, probably written to John T. Mason, discussing the merits of the United States owning Texas.

Series II, Agreements, Grants, and Proposals (1826-1835) contains documents related to the people and events discussed in the correspondence of Series I. The files include copies of the grants of the empresarios, agreements with agents, letters of attorney for agents to sell scrip, and proposals of surveyors. Series III, Court Actions (1832-1852), contains papers relating to four court cases in which the company or Dey was involved, which are arranged by case. The first, Anthony Dey, impleaded with George Curtis ads. Charles A. Carter concerns a dispute with a land agent over payment for services rendered. The second case, Anthony Dey ads. Peter Reinoudt and Stewart Newell concerns Anthony Dey's dispute with his agents Newell and Reinoudt over the allocation of the grant lands. The case of Galveston Bay Company vs. Federal Government of Mexico consists of Anthony Dey's claims against the government of Mexico for the expenses incurred and premiums not gained due to governmental interference. The case of Stephen Whitney et al. vs. Anthony Dey et al. concerns a complaint brought by Stephen Whitney and others who had been appointed directors of the Galveston Bay Company.

Anthony Dey's personal financial papers are included with Galveston Bay Company papers in Series IV, Financial Papers (1821-1837). A two volume, highly detailed, account book dating from 1821 to 1834 carries both personal and business accounts, from the payment of servants, and purchase of horses and bread to the sale of shares in the Galveston Bay Company. Also present is Anthony Dey's bankbook as trustee of the company, and eight printed scrip, one of which was printed in Germany. Series V, Printed Material, includes newspapers, pamphlets (one published in Germany), broadsides, and other printed ephemera. Several items in this series have been cataloged separately, but remain with the collection.

Oversize contains material from Series II, IV, and V, arranged in box order.


  • 1821 - 1855
  • Majority of material found within 1830 - 1835


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Anthony Dey Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company Records are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were purchased from High Ridge Books, Inc. in 1992-1993 on the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana.


5.87 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records consist of correspondence, documents, account books, case files, financial papers, and printed material which document one of the earliest Texas land companies. The correspondence concerns the company's business, dealing with agents, and receiving reports from Texas, Mexico City, and various places in Europe. Principal correspondents include John T. Mason, William H. Sumner, Jonathan Turnbull, G. H. Paulsen, and William S. Allen. Other papers in the collection include copies of grants, agreeements with agents, papers relating to court cases, highly detailed account books, printed scrip, and a small amount of printed material including newspapers, broadsides, and pamphlets.


The Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company was organized in New York on October 16, 1830 by Anthony Dey, George Curtis, and William H. Sumner. The company was to work as agents of empresarios Joseph Vehlein, David G. Burnet, and Lorenzo de Zavala, who had grants of land east of the San Jacinto River and south of Nacogdoches. Anthony Dey (1776-1859), a lawyer in New York, was the president of the company; the other trustees were George Curtis (1799-1884), also a lawyer in New York, and William H. Sumner (1780-1861), a lawyer in Boston.

The company was the first commercial effort in the United States to emulate Stephen Austin's plans to colonize Texas, and it published some of the earliest accounts of Texas printed in English. The company owned none of the land to be colonized but instead sold scrip which was a permit to settle. The company's American agents included Jose Antonio Mexia and John T. Mason; it also had several agents in Europe soliciting recruits. Once in Texas, the settlers would have to complete the requirements of the Mexican colonization law before they could obtain title to their land. Restrictions imposed by the government of Mexico frustrated the company's efforts, and it became a strong supporter of Texas independence.

In November 1835 the General Council of the provisional government of Texas closed the land office. At that time the company had not received the premium lands (three haciendas and two labors) the Mexican government had promised to empresarios for settling 200 families. When the Republic passed a law in June 1837 that permitted empresarios to institute suit to establish their claims so long as neither aliens nor assignees of aliens should benefit by the law, the company authorized Robert Rose, successor of John T. Mason, to enter a suit. In 1848 the courts ruled that the term aliens applied to assignees of the company and that Rose was not qualified to sue. With the failure of the suit, the company went out of business. Even after this time, however, Anthony Dey continued to pursue his claims against the Mexican government in court, and was sued by other members of the company.

Processing Information

When the collection arrived at the Beinecke Library, it required extensive conservation treatment. The papers were treated and encapsulated in mylar, but there is still much evidence of water damage, mildew, fading of ink, and incursions of insects affecting text.

Guide to the Anthony Dey Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company Records
by Diana M. Smith
September 1996
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.