In 1811 Mexico declared its independence from Spain and established itself as a republic. The new government made contracts with Empresarios (contractors) to bring specific number of families into the State of Coahuila and Texas. Stephen Austin was the first and most successful of the Empresarios, and he began granting land to settlers in 1824.
Under the terms of a new colonization law of March 24, 1824, Empresarios had to record data on every settler, and this included the name, marital and family status, place of birth or last residence, and occupation. Until 1828 Austin himself provided the local government for his colonies. Apparently he and his secretary maintained their record book even after a full Mexican local government was established. The entries continued through February 1836, less than a week before the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The records, which prior to Mrs. Williams’ compilation were accessible only at the General Land Office in Austin, provide information on about 3,000 Anglo-American settlers of Mexican Texas