CONNER, MARGARET (1801–1860). Margaret Conner, early Texas pioneer and landowner, daughter of James Conner and Polly (Barker) Conner, was born in South Carolina about 1801. Her father fought with a militia during the Revolutionary War. Margaret Conner left South Carolina to settle in Texas with three of her seven siblings in approximately 1835. She and her two brothers were Texas land grant recipients. Her brother William Reese Conner patented 640 acres, while Frederick and Margaret Conner received and patented 160 acres each. Conner did not marry, making her siblings’ children heirs to the Conner land.
Margaret Conner declared her rights to the acreage under several Texas laws. Similar to laws when the Mexican government ruled settlement in the area, the Republic of Texas offered land grants to men and single or widowed women settlers. According to General Land Office documents, Margaret Conner occupied land in Houston County beginning on May 1, 1855. In 1856 the dissolution of the block of land held for the Mississippi and Pacific Railroad made land available for claims by Conner and her brother Frederick. On June 1, 1860, she signed an affidavit of occupancy and, one month later, provided a survey (conducted on May 31, 1860) to demonstrate that she lived on the land for at least three years, giving her rights to it. In addition, she signed as a witness for her brother Frederick. Her paperwork was not processed by the time the Civil War began the following year, and her heirs filed additional petitions after her death in 1860 to obtain title of Conner’s land in the 1870s, pursuant to Texas land claim laws governing settlement. The process for land claims in Texas could take years, as evidenced by Conner’s General Land Office paperwork. Commissioners investigated and approved claims and finalized the title by approving the patent. Her heirs settled her claim in 1880.
Frederick Conner purchased additional land and raised several types of crops and livestock. The Conner family, along with the McKinney and Drennan families, was credited with founding the Plain Community in Texas, and they were commemorated in a Texas Historical Marker honoring the community. In addition, Margaret Conner’s family helped establish schools in nearby communities. She died in 1860 in Tadmor in Houston County and was buried in Conner Cemetery, located on the land of the Frederick Conner family, in Kennard, Houston County, Texas. The descendants of the four Texas Conner siblings owned and continued to cultivate much of the original land. The Conner farm was recognized in 1982 with a listing in the Texas Family Land Heritage Registry as part of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Family Land Heritage Program.
Mark M. Carroll, Homesteads Ungovernable: Families, Sex, Race, and the Law in Frontier Texas, 1823–1860 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001). Margaret Conner Papers, File No. 1171, Original Land Grant Collection, Archives and Records Division, Texas General Land Office, Austin. “Margaret Conner,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=conner&GSfn=margaret&GSby=1801&GSbyrel=in&GSdyrel=all&GSst=46&GScnty=2632&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=9070413&df=all&), accessed June 20, 2017. Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Family Land Heritage Registry, Volume 8, 1982 (Texas Department of Agriculture, 1982).
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