What does the General Land Office do, anyway?
Quite a lot!
The General Land Office is the oldest state agency in Texas, created in 1836 to figure out who owned what where after Texas won independence from Mexico to become an independent republic. Land grants and deeds had been measured in Spanish measurements and written down in Spanish contracts. After the revolution, all of that was transferred accurately into documents that could be read in English. “Cash poor,” the new republic also paid its soldiers with grants of land. There was a lot of work to do!
Nowadays, the General Land Office still provides benefits to Texas Veterans and manages state lands, as well as parks and the Alamo. The GLO manages the Texas coast by protecting the environment, managing erosion, cleaning up oil spills, and tracking hurricanes. If there’s a shipwreck, they oversee vessel removal. They also help Texans recover from natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey. Because land rights are closely tied to mineral resources–which include oil and gas–the General Land Office also helps fund Texas public education and public colleges through the Permanent School Fund which is funded by our state’s oil revenues.
Let’s take a look at some of the information you can pick up from their website:
- You can research land grants (Who’s owned the land where you live?)
- At “Texas Hidden History” you can get an interactive glimpse into the past of the great state of Texas
- There’s a place to buy maps or searched the digitized sketch database
- You’ll find resources for Texas History Teachers (definitely coming back to that one!)
- “Save Texas History!” is a website within a website. There’s some very cool stuff in there…including a student essay contest!
The Texas Land Commissioner holds a lot of power and controls a lot of money, but he often does so “incognito” since most people have no idea who he is or what he does.
If you don’t know who he is or what he does, you should definitely find out! 😉