Introduction to the Republic Claims
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About the Republic Claims
The Republic Claims series of Comptroller's records includes claims for payment, reimbursement, or restitution submitted by citizens to the Republic of Texas government from 1835 through 1846. It also includes records relating to Republic pensions and claims against the Republic submitted as public debt claims after 1846. The files include supporting documents such as vouchers, financial accounts, military records, receipts, notes, or letters.
These historic records from the Republic era have been microfilmed to preserve the highest image quality, and the entire series has been meticulously indexed by staff in the Archives and Information Services Division.
The records comprise four groups of payments made for services rendered during the period 1835-1846: Audited Claims, Republic Pensions, Public Debt Claims, and Unpaid Claims.
Because the actual Republic Claims are extremely fragile, access to the records is restricted. In addition to the digital images linked within the index, high-quality microfilmed copies of the documents are available. The database provides the Reel and Frame location of more than 48,500 indexed names. The microfilm reels are available through interlibrary loan and, to view in person, at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Microfilming and indexing for the Republic Claims project were made possible by two generous grants from the Summerlee Foundation.
The Republic Claims are made up of papers submitted to the Texas Comptroller or Treasurer to document or to verify goods or services provided to the government of the Republic of Texas in order to receive payment. Records in the claims include the following:
a. Documentation of attendance in an official capacity at any of the conventions, beginning with the Consultation in November 1835, the Convention of 1836, and the Annexation Convention of 1845.
b. Documentation of services as an elected or appointed national official or as an employee in the executive, legislative or judicial department-in other words, any government employee or office holder on the national level from a clerk to the president-between November 1835 and February 1846.
c. Documentation for military service or association with any military engagement during the period October 1835 through 1845.
d. Documentation concerning any goods or services (other than military) provided to the Republic government.
e. Documentation supporting pay for special services, such as acting as a witness in county court cases, and for payments authorized by special relief acts.
f. Documentation of specific services during the Republic period submitted in support of a Republic pension application.
Once a person's right to receive a payment for goods or services provided the government during the Republic period (1835-1846) was established by the Comptroller or the Treasurer, a voucher would be issued. The payment could be made to
a. The person who performed the service or provided the goods
b. That person's assignee-someone designated by the original claimant to receive the payment instead of himself. (Because the Republic government was usually broke, claimants would frequently sell their vouchers at a lower rate to a buyer who could supply immediate cash.)
c. That person's attorney.
d. That person's legal heir(s)
e. An entity rather than an individual. Vouchers were issued to the Steamer Savannah, the Tow Boat Daniel Webster, and the Richmond Telescope.
The Republic Claims are divided into four series: Audited Claims, Public Debt Claims, Republic Pensions, and Unpaid and Miscellaneous Claims.
Audited Claims (1835-1846)
Claims that were submitted to the Comptroller or Treasurer of the Republic, that were audited and approved (or allowed) and paid by that government during the Republic Period are considered Audited Claims. The series includes both civil and military claims. The services and the payments for these services date between 1835 and 1846. Republic-era claims that were not paid until after Annexation are included in Public Debt Claims described below. More information about the requirements for submitting claims to the Republic government may be found on the Laws About Republic Claims page.
Public Debt Claims (1848-ca. 1860)
Claims for services or goods provided between 1835 and 1846 that could not be paid before Annexation in 1845 were eventually paid as Public Debt Claims, mainly from the 1850 Boundary Compromise money awarded Texas in exchange for the territory it lost. The chief difference-apart from the payment date-between the Audited and Public Debt Claims is that many of the claims were settled by issuing one voucher to cover the separate claims of a large number of persons who had performed the same service. For example, Public Debt voucher 1634 covers payment for "Balance of Pay for Service as Minute Man in 1841." The voucher pays the debt described in certificates #3396 (John Anderson) through #3569 (Patrick Quinn)--173 certificates. The voucher and the entry in the Public Debt Warrant Register are in the name of the first certificate issued: John Anderson. All the information regarding the 173 men and their service as Minute Men, as well as documentation of attorneys and heirs, will be found in this one record. Additional information on the laws relating to Public Debt may be found on the Laws About Republic Claims page.
Republic Pensions (1870-ca. 1900)
Pensions for service to the Republic were not generally awarded before the 1870s, although the congress or the legislature might, in an act passed during a legislative session, authorize a special pension for an individual. At first pensions were confined to "Each and every surviving veteran of the revolution which separated Texas and Mexico, including the Mier prisoners," Beginning in 1874, pension acts added later military services that would qualify pension applicants, but these acts required that the pensioner be indigent to qualify. Information on the pension laws and their different requirements and payments may be found on the Laws About Republic Claims page.
Unpaid and Miscellaneous Claims
Although claims submitted to the government that were not audited or allowed may be found in the Unpaid and Miscellaneous Claims, the "unpaid" designation in this series usually refers to the absence in the file of any record of the final disposition of the claim or the inquiry. The series also includes records that do not fit into the Audited, Public Debt, or Pension Claims series. The most noteworthy of these are letters received by the Commissioner/Court of Claims between 1856 and 1861.
An Audited Claim file can contain any or all of the following:
Official authorization of services or purchases
War Department Pay Certificate
Assignment of benefits
Power of Attorney
Potentially, these documents can provide such information as the name of the claimant; amount of claim; dates filed, approved, and issued; authorizing official; type of materials or services provided; rank, company and company commander; dates of service; date enlisted and date discharged. Some files have only the endorsement wrapper showing the number of the voucher, the type and amount of the claim, the date approved, the date paid, the authorizing government official, and the signature of the person receiving the warrant.
The Public Debt files usually include one or more of the following:
Public Debt Certificates (1st, 2nd, or 3rd class)
Affidavits concerning service
Power of attorney
Petitions to Legislature
Acts for the relief of an individual
Partial or complete lists of soldiers for whom payment was being collected by a single individual--usually a company commander
These records, in turn, can give some or all of the following information: name, nature of service or type of debt, amount owed by Republic of Texas, amount allowed by State of Texas, endorsement (which could include supporting information concerning the claim or claimant), and amount of interest.
Where multiple claimants are paid with a single voucher, the typical file arrangement is
1) a muster roll, company list, list of claimants, etc., that gives all the names
associated with the claim.
Often these lists include the signature of the claimant or his attorney or his heir, indicating receipt of the person's money.
2) the Public Debt Certificates and related matter, arranged in the order of the
muster roll/list of claimants.
All documents relating to an individual (affidavits of service, powers of attorney, probate information, etc.) are filed immediately in front of his public debt certificate.
Some Public Debt files, because of their size, are filmed on two reels. File 1634, for example covers payment for "Balance of Pay for Service as Minute Man in 1841." The voucher includes certificates #3396 (John Anderson) through #3569 (Patrick Quinn)-173 certificates. The initial list of claimants is filmed on Reel 132 Frames 528-534. The entire claim includes Frames 527 - 718 on Reel 132 and Frames 7 - 141 on Reel 133.
Statements of military service found in these files are among the most detailed in the Republic records. Affidavits testifying to the applicant's worthiness also provide considerable personal information. The files can include
Affidavit of service (usually handwritten, detailed accounts)
Transcript of County Court ruling on validity of the claim
Certification of continuing indigence
Certified copies of muster rolls (occasional)
Powers of attorney
Oath of identity
Widow's Application (1883 or later)
These records can provide name of claimant, date filed, by whom filed, disposition, amount of pension, company commander, service information, age, residence, heir's name, husband's name (for widow's pension), date of death, widow's age, widow's residence (county). The fact that a person has a Republic Pension file does not guarantee that he or she received a Republic pension.
Unpaid and Miscellaneous Claims
This group of records contains a variety of documents.
Cover letters for inquiries addressed to the Court or Commissioner of Claims about
the validity of land certificates issued to veterans
Claims for compensation for Indian or Mexican depredations
Applications for a veteran's pension
Claims for military service pay
The letters to the Court or commissioner of Claims do not contain personal information: they note that certain numbered land scrip certificates were being forwarded to the Claims Court. Neither the land script certificates nor information about the outcome of these inquiries are in the holdings of the Texas State Library.
A few files have nothing in them but the "wrapper" once used to enclose documentation. When that occurs, the "Claim Number" field will show "Wrapper #xxx." The wrapper has only a name or names and a file number: it has little or no research value.
What names were indexed?
The names indexed as either Claimant Name or Name Mentioned include most, but not always all of the names found on documents in a claim file record. Normally, the indexed names include
Persons associated with the claim, either as claimants or as persons associated with the transaction (such as names found on a county court docket, names of persons who received the supplies purchased, etc.)
Person(s) certifying or affirming claimant's testimony
Plaintiffs and witnesses in court cases
Court officials, including judges and sheriffs
Texas auditor, comptroller, or treasurer when that official or those officials do more than the routine work associated with auditing a claim
Government officials associated with a claim
Ships or newspapers
Names were not indexed when they were for
Witnesses to signatures on a document
An official signing a pay warrant for routine salary claims from one of his departmental staff
An Adjutant General verifying a military claim
Spelling of names found in the documents
The spelling of a name in either the Claimant Name or the Name Mentioned column duplicates the actual spelling on the document with only two exceptions:
a. names of prominent Texas officeholders were entered fully, although they may have used a variant signature on the document itself. Therefore, signatures like "T.J. Rusk" or "S.F. Austin" have been spelled out as "Thomas Jefferson Rusk" and "Stephen Fuller Austin."
b. names of commanding officers have been reduced to a uniform spelling to allow a researcher to access all military references with a single search. John Chenoweth, then has entries under
Chenoweth, John (Capt.)
Chenoweth, John (Maj.)
However, where John Chenoweth's name is associated with a claim in a "civilian" capacity, it is left in the original spelling. So, he appears in other claims as
as well as "Chenoweth, John."
The name spelling in the Claimant Name column reflects the way recipient's name is spelled on the claim voucher. This version is not always the correct or even the most common way a person spelled his name-but it is the official "name" for the claim. Any variant spelling of the "voucher" name that appears in the file is indexed in the Name Mentioned column. Thus a Barrett may appear in the same record as Barret or even Barnet. Foreign names can have even more creative spellings: Thomas Chadoin's name is also spelled Shadoin and Shadowen. When checking for a name, be sure to check all possible variants.
The spellings used in the Name Mentioned column duplicate the name spellings found on the various documents that make up the file. If a name appears familiar, but a letter or an initial is incorrect, check that reference as well. Handwriting is often difficult to read and the condition of many of the documents is so poor that letters could only be guessed at. In general, the following groups of letters can easily be substituted for one another:
M or m for W or w
N for W or for H (and vice versa)
L for S
I for J
J for G
C for G
F for T
T for Y
i for e
u for n
a for o or u
r for v
r for n
Uriah Irwin Bullock's name has been frequently misidentified as W.J. Bullock because of the way the "U.I." initials look on a document.
Some claims are issued to persons with no surnames:
Catfish (an Indian)
Jack (a Delaware Indian)
Jane (a Mulatto)
Jose Maria (a Mexican)
Stephen ("a Black Man")
Where a name was only partially legible, the legible portion of the name is provided and a guess at the missing letters added, enclosed in brackets, e.g. Camp[bell?], Joseph. If you have not found the name in the regular sort, check also for such bracketed variants.