Indigenous Populations. (See Specific Indian Encounters, Depredations and Tales)
Upper South Farmers--Hispanic Tejano Minority. Under the Spanish and Mexican empresario system of colonization about 26 million acres of Texas land was distributed to 4200 title holders that were registered in the Texas General Land Office. In 1821 there were 3334 inhabitants of Texas. Between 1825 to 1827 the population grew to 12000. By 1830 the number was 25000. The native-born Tejano population which centered around San Antonio and La Bahia (Goliad) remained constant from 1821 and by 1827 was in the minority accounting for about 25 percent of the population. For background on the Hispanic minority and their ethnic identity, see Tejano Origins by Andrés Tijerina and Italians and Spaniards in Texas by Alex Loya.
It is estimated that ninety percent of the immigrants to Texas from the east had previously been involved in pioneering one or more western frontiers. At the time of the revolution, it is estimated that 21% were from Alabama, 16.5% from Tennessee, 15.5% from Mississippi, 10% from the Arkansas Territory, 9% from Georgia and Louisiana Territories and 7% from Missouri. The remainder came from mostly Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and the Carolinas.
When the DeWitt Colony moved from Old Station to Gonzales in 1827 it consisted of forty persons. By 1828 the population increased to 72 at which time the only census of the colony was taken. From the Census of 1828, there were 35 adult males with average age 35. Eight were married and had families and 27 were single. There were nine married women and 28 children with median age 9.25 years. Of the total 55 of 61 single males or individuals who were heads of households whose origin can be verified that were in or involved with the colony according to the census and land records, 21 were from Missouri, 7 from Kentucky, 3 each from Alabama, New York and Pennsylvania, 2 each from Louisiana and Mississippi and 1 each from Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina. One colonists was from England, Scotland and Columbia. Four landholders were native born, but it is unclear if they ever lived in the colony. A majority of the colonists were from frontier regions of the Upper South of the United States which consisted of Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Missourians by far were the majority reflecting the home states of empresarios Austin and DeWitt who originally recruited primarily from that region. The Upper South consisted largely of slaveless farmers who relied on primarily corn and wheat crops. Heads from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi representing the Lower South Gulf and Atlantic coast states for which the slave-cotton farming system was more characteristic were in the minority. This distribution was characteristic of the DeWitt Colony until 1836 after which a larger influx of immigrants from the Lower South of the United States into the Republic created a balance between those from both regions of the South..
By the middle of 1829 the colony doubled to over 158 consisting of 30 families and 34 single men. In 1830 the population reached 377 and increased to 531 (189 families) during the first three months of 1831 after which there were no more recorded immigrants. According to Lukes DeWitt Colony of Texas, of the 34 adult males in the census of 1828, only 8 do not have records that indicated they were landholders in Texas. These were probably transient traders present at the time of the census. The files from the Texas Land Office indicate that 162 individuals registered titles to grants as DeWitt Colonists and 15 registered grants were received direct from the government.
Slavery. Being largely small farmers from the Upper South, DeWitt Colonists brought few slaves to Texas. Due to observance of the 10 league coastal reservation and its more westerly position relative to the Austin Colony on the coast and to the east, the DeWitt Colony was less attractive to the slave-supported plantation economy of the Deep South. As DeWitt Colonists expanded their initially small vegetable, grain and hog farms into larger horse, dairy and cattle ranches applying skills which they learned from the natives of their adopted country, slave manpower was not a factor and holdings were limited largely to a few household servants and farm and ranch hands until well into the last days of the Republic and statehood. Of the original colonists present in 1828, only James Kerr brought slaves, a total of seven. As far as can be determined, Kerr's bonded servants who came to Texas were among the first black Texian immigrants to Mexican Texas west of the Colorado. The entries of Kerr's servants in his family Bible as part of the family and the relationship of some of them with early DeWitt Colonist William Bracken gives special insight into the interrelationships between early black Texian immigrants who were slaves and the free "white" Anglo and Hispanic cultures. From the land title archives of the DeWitt Colony through 1832, it is estimated that only Caleb P. Alexander, Simon Bateman and Caleb Brock who listed the size of their families at 25, 38 and 15, respectively, and arrived about 1831 had significant slave holdings. During his general inspection of Texas for the Mexican government in 1834 described below, Colonel Juan Almonte estimated that there were 2000 Negro slaves, most of which are believed to have been in the southern and eastern parts of the Austin Colony in the departments of the Brazos and Nacogdoches (1000 each). No slaves were reported in the Bexar district.
Almonte's Statistical Report on Texas 1834. The only detailed official government report of development and economic activity in the DeWitt Colony between the census of 1828 and independence was the Almonte Report of summer 1834 which, although brief, gives an unbiased view with some specific numbers. The report listed a population of 900 for the municipality and town of Gonzales, 11.3% and 4.3% of the population of the department of the Brazos (8000) and the entire province (21000), respectively. Of the total "civilized" peoples in Texas estimated by Almonte, 2000 were Negro slaves with 1000 each partitioned between departments of the Brazos and Nacogdoches. Most historians believe that the total is an underestimate and the true number was nearer 30000 exclusive of native Hispanic Tejanos and the 2000 blacks. The native Tejano and Mexican-born population in the department of Bexar was estimated at 3400 and probably was not more than 4500 in all of Texas, or not more than 12% of the total population exclusive of Indians (15300: 10800 hostile; 4500 friendly). Overall the report was favorable to the empresario system as executed in the Austin and DeWitt Colonies pointing out the relative prosperity of the two colonies. The report was complimentary to the industriousness of the Anglo settlers and their potential for economic contribution to development of Mexico. The report listed the Department of the Brazos of which the DeWitt Colony was a part as 38% of the population and responsible for 42% of the total economic activity of Texas including contraband, an economic activity per capita of 5 and 1.4 times that of the departments of Bexar and Nacogdoches, respectively.