Texas does not use the Public Land Survey System. Texas has its own survey based on original Spanish Land Grants. Land grants from the State of Texas to railroad companies were often patented in blocks and sections. Some of the land transferred from the public domain by the state of Texas was surveyed and patented in units of square miles. The Texas General Land Office officially considers these units sections.
County patent survey lines from Texas General Land Office maps were interpreted as accurately as possible. In Texas, the highest level of land subdivision is the boundary of the state itself. The next level of subdivision is the Texas Railroad Districts which cover the entire state. These Spanish grants were surveyed on the metes and bounds system of measurement and are of irregular size and shape. Tracts are identified within a block by a unique number. Blocks and their associated tracts are not rectangular surveys but irregular metes and bounds surveys. Blocks do not conform to county boundaries and may span several counties since many were surveyed before county boundaries were established. Blocks are given the name of the person or institution that first conducted the survey. Labors can be subdivided into lots. These surveys are not always rectangular. Leagues can exist without labors but labors cannot exist without a league. Unlike the Congressional survey system that assigns a new abstract number each time a tract of land is sold in Texas the abstract number is assigned in perpetuity. Most of the Public School Lands are Leagues.
The Spanish encouraged ownership of the land as ameans of exploiting natural and human resources for the benefit of spreading Catholicism through the mission system. The early land grants were to native Americans with the understanding that they maintain the land under cultivation and production. The fact that Texas had its own national government and owned the public domain within its territory makes it different from any other state in the Union. The metes and bounds survey system made things more difficult.
The Texas General Land Office Abstracts Index shows the chronology of lands granted in each county.
Surveying Texas has resulted in numerous overlaps and unrecognized surveys. The GLO began to approve or disapprove the work done by surveyors via correspondence and issue land certificates to individuals qualifying under various acts. These individuals could locate onany vacant land within the State.
Examples of property descriptions and parcel plats are available. The user may turn on or off any level as required in a topographic file when it is used as a reference file.