Land Certificate of Samuel McCulloch, 1838

Free African American fought for Texas during the Revolution

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Sam McCulloch was awarded a land grant after being wounded in the Texas Revolution, but his property and residency in the Republic were at risk because of his race.

Sam McCulloch, Jr. (1810–1893), a free Black man from South Carolina, moved to Texas in May of 1835 and settled in what is now Jackson County on the Lavaca River. Shortly thereafter he volunteered to fight in the Texas Revolution. On October 9, 1835, McCulloch joined a Texan attack on the Mexican army garrison at Goliad and was wounded. He took a severe hit to his right shoulder from a musket ball. The ball was not removed until nearly a year later in July 1836 and left him permanently disabled.

After the Revolution, the Republic of Texas approved an act in 1837 that provided land grants to disabled veterans as a reward for their sacrifices. McCulloch was awarded a certificate for one league (4,428 acres) of land on April 12, 1838. Despite his service and this award, his right to actually reside in Texas was in doubt. Newly enacted laws, such as “An Act Concerning Free Persons of Color,” barred free Black people from living in or being full citizens of the Republic and were designed to force free persons of color out of Texas or face enslavement.

Supportive community residents circulated a petition to the Texas Congress requesting that McCulloch and his siblings be allowed to remain in Texas as free people. The Congress ruled in McCulloch’s favor on December 15, 1840. It wasn’t until 1850 that he chose a site for two-thirds of the league he was awarded on land southwest of San Antonio and sold the rights to the final third.

In 1881, more petitions were submitted on McCulloch’s behalf, which allowed him to apply for and receive approval to locate an additional 1,280 acres under another act that granted land to surviving soldiers of the Texas Revolution. McCulloch became a farmer and rancher on his property, where he lived the remainder of his life. He died in Von Ormy, Texas, in 1893.

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Land Certificate of Samuel McCulloch, 1838 Artifact from Austin, TX
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