A Long Trail of History

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A week ago, I had the thrill of visiting the Gracy Title Company title plant in Austin. “Thrill,” you ask?  A buncha ole books ‘n’ stuff?

History, People, history! Gracy Title was established by the Gracy Brothers in Austin in 1873. They’ve got the goods. They have old records that go back long before 1873. If there is a land dispute, or title issue, these old books will help get to the bottom of it.

Gracy Abstract Book
Abstract book

And maps, the company has maps on the wall. Some are genuinely old, some are reproductions. They tell a lot about Austin and Texas history.You can click on pictures and enlarge them for better viewing.

Antique Texas map with tribes and grants

Texas Tribes and Land Grants

Travis County land grants

Travis County Land Owners

Original Austin plan circa 1840

The Austin Plan, circa 1840. Waterloo was a tiny settlement down by the river. Please notice the east branch of Shoal Creek- it is now completely underground, having been covered in 1917.

Austin grows 1891

Austin in 1891. The previous map encompasses the densely-packed area toward the center of this map.

Private sewer lines in Austin

And, oh yes, there are still occasionally issues downtown with the original privately-owned underground sewer system, necessitating use of this map of unused private sewer lines from the year 1.

Bastrop County 1861Here’s who owned land in Bastrop County in 1858. Land in Bastrop was easier to farm and water than land in Travis County, so it was a preferred location. We don’t need no stinkin’ views!!! We need to grow food!


Yep, the title examiners still refer to these ancient books regularly.

When you are buying property in and around Austin, the title company might insure the title, but with exceptions. Exceptions such as an easement for a oil pipeline that was granted by a rancher waaaaaaay out in the country, decades ago, and is now possibly running under your suburban house. Was a pipeline ever built? Maybe, maybe not.

If this worries you, there are real estate lawyers to look into the situation for you. Pay close attention to the time period you have agreed to in your contract for sale- this is the amount of time you have to satisfy yourself about the title to the property you are purchasing, or to object in writing.

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