Texas Land Swindle, Part 2

My great-grandparents were one of the hundreds of families swindled back in the early 1900s when a "developer" was going to make a town called Dentonio or Denton Colony Subdivision in Dimmit County, Texas. Each family purchased a package that included a 10-acre tract outside the town for them to farm, plus a small tract in town for a home, and another small tract in town for a town-business.

The town never eventuated, but a lot of the families held on to the properties AND paid taxes for the next 100 years, like mine. It became split enough ways once it got to my generation, and my cousins sold me their portions because they did not want to continue paying property tax on it, and there was no legal way to enter the property, anyway. As the tax-assessor/collector once told me, "there's nothing out there but cactus and rattlesnakes." But then the oil industry perfected their technology, and the EagleFord oil boom happened.

I was contacted by Anadarko and given a lease on the 10-acre piece of property (oil companies were not interested in trying to form leases with 400 micro-acreages in the town plots). By the time production actually took place (about 2 years after the lease agreement), I heard back from Anadarko.

They had unearthed a "Final Judgement" from 1983 where a judge in Carrizo Springs had issued ownership of our 10-acre tract, and a number of others in a "trespass to try title" litigation. Memos say that owners of the property were alerted to the court proceedings.........with a classified ad in the local paper. Being that my cousins nor I resided in Carrizo Springs, we were never notified, and because we were a no-show, the judge issued a "Final Judgement" and gave the land to a Joe R. Brown. Brown's estate was eventually purchased by Dentonio-Rogers Ranch upon his death.

I have been diligently paying taxes on these properties, AND I hold the DEED. However, apparently this Final Judgement "trumps" the deed. When I called the Dimmit County Tax Assessor-Collector AND the Appraisal District said I was the rightful owner, because their files show the Deed is in my name and I have also been paying taxes.

Upon further research, however, they found the Final Judgement, and admitted they have been receiving property taxes from myself AND Dentonio-Rogers Ranch for all these years!

This smells just like the land swindle that took my great-grandparents' savings, AND it sounds like the unethical "adverse possession" issue.

This all happened AFTER I had already spent $10,000 with a law firm in Dallas in 2014 making a family LLC to include all the descendants of my great-grandparents, in my generation, to be fair and divide the royalties evenly.

The Dimmit County Tax Assessor-Collector said they would be able to refund my property taxes for a few years back, but I doubt they will refund me everything paid since 1983, when the Final Judgement was written and they started collecting DOUBLE the tax revenue on that property.

Any thoughts or ideas? I'm sure there are other families in this same situation, because there were about 30 families on that Final Judgement listed, whose properties were deeded to Joe R. Brown.

Thank you,

Jane North Lyon

Fort Worth, Texas

Upon first reading, my initial guess would be that the Trespass to Try Title action from 1983 may have been for adverse possession. Since no one was out there and it was full of "cactus and rattlesnakes", theoretically Joe R. Brown could have lived and claimed ownership of the property for long enough to satisfy the appropriate adverse possession statute. If that is the case, then you and everyone else are probably completely out of luck, but you would have to read the judgment to figure out why Joe R Brown won. However, the County should not have been collecting taxes from two "owners" and they have no right to keep it.

Patrick Murphy

Problem Solver



Thank you for your prompt reply, Patrick! I cannot imagine that Joe R. Brown had made any improvements to the property out there, with thousands and thousands of acres.


He doesn't have to have made improvements to claim title by Adverse Possession. See the Civil Practices and Remedies Code Sections 16.024 to 16.028 for the AP statutes of limitations as to how it could have happened (Link below). But then again, you will need to read the judgment to figure out if that is really what happened.


Here is a question I got from some research on this topic ... . did Joe R. Brown provide a reasonably certainty of the legal description to adverse possess your land?

Property Description

So you want to make an express adverse possession claim to the "West 40 acres north of the railroad tracks?" Not good enough, at least not if you will be utilizing an adverse possession affidavit. The location and boundaries of land claimed must be determinable with reasonably certainty, and that means there must be a proper legal description (lot and block or metes and bounds). This may necessitate a survey, especially in the case of rural property. One alternative is to obtain such a survey first and then file an affidavit of adverse possession with the survey attached as an exhibit; another option–if it is urgent to put an instrument on record immediately–is to file the affidavit with the property description as it is currently available and then later amend the affidavit to include the full metes and bounds.

Read the Judgment to find out.

Good luck,


Hate to say it, but those judgments are pretty much set in stone. Joe R. Brown maybe put up a fence or a windmill, and used that to claim adverse possession. If anything's gonna happen, it's definitely a job for a law firm that specializes in land. Good luck.

Yes, unfortunately, the legal description of the lot and block WERE included in the Final Judgement. Thank you for your help!


Thank you! I am actually thinking of seeing if a law firm would like to take this on, with the promise of a percentage of the revenue if they win the case.


Jane, check out Matt D. Doss. In my opinion, It won't be a waste of your time.

Matthew Doss
Youngkin & Doss, PLLC
Attorney at Law
3131 E. 29th Street
Bldg. D - Suite 200
Bryan, Texas 77802
Tel. (979) 776-1325
Fax (979) 776-1315

He was a tremendous help to me on a land issue. He goes the "extra mile," and, he wasn't out to "rape" my pocketbook.

Good luck,


My question is, how were they unable to locate any owners if you were paying property taxes? The tax assessor should have had a valid address to mail tax bills. ONLY posting a notice in the newspaper seems like a very, very poor attempt to "notify" all potential owners and parties to the property in question.

Besides that, the person claiming to "possess" the property, would have had NO record that he paid the taxes, or that taxes were delinquent. How does one "maintain, occupy, or improve" a property (for adverse possession) but the taxes were paid by the rightful owners? If the taxes were delinquent, and the adverse possessor paid them, I could understand their claim a little better.

Also, it sounds like the adverse possessor never filed a proper deed asserting ownership. There is only a judgement on record, awarding the property. Is that correct?

I would get an attorney. I would consider adding the appraisal district and tax office to any potential lawsuit, as they maintained their accounts showing that you owned the property (subject to taxes), and provided you no reason to believe otherwise. Their action or inaction related to your accounts only perpetuated the problem. You may not be able to correct the ownership and get the property back, but you still have reason to seek damages for what has occurred.

I think this article may clear up some questions.

Good luck,


1062-AdversePossessionJudonF.doc (155 KB)

I agree completely!! Landowners could have EASILY been contacted by mail with regard to the Trespass to Try Title proceedings. I think there must have been a good ole boy system going on with the judge, lawyer, and plaintiff to have done this so slyly.

Thank you for the recommendation! I appreciate it so much! And I am in Aggieland every so often to visit my daughters, so that would be handy.

We had a very similar situation covering approximately 10,000 acres in Dimmit County where a portion was known as the Bermuda Colony. My great grandfather owned the surface in the 1960, some of which was by general warrranty, some by special warranty and some by quit claim deeds. The ten acre tracts were owned by many individuals, often from out of state and some of whom died without Wills. When my great grandfather sold, he retained one half of the minerals he owned just prior to conveyance.

Years later, the lender foreclosed and at that time as land owner wanted to enter into an oil and gas lease. Negotiations took place and the lender agreed that they held 1/2 of the mineral and my great grandfather owned the other 1/2. The lender and others filed a document called a Stipulation of Ownership in Minerals that spelled out the ownership of those.

Fast forward to 2012, and the surface owner filed the Trespass to Try Title via notification by publication. The suit was broadly worded in that it said "...or any other party claiming and interst in tract..." I sincerely believe that had i not responded they would have received all my minerals and I further believe they could have located me directly rather than this roundabout way.

We responded, incurred fees and ultimately the judge granted an order benefiting the surface owner for surface and at times minerals claiming that the prior reservations were invalid.

The plaintiff attorney reportedly stated that they were never trying to claim my minerals, just those who did not respond. Well, if I had not responded, what does that mean?

I am already contemplating how to address this situation in future leases as the 29 ten acre tracts are not contiguous.


Kitchen, This is one of the best most intelligent answers I have seen on Mineral Rights Forum in the year's I have been on this. You hit the nail on the head with that answer.

The Judge in this case must have been a friend, family member and just plain crooked!

In a good court of law this would never stand! And probably not if it is appealed, especially with the the tax notices being sent every year! I would go for it if it was mine and try to get others that are effected this way join in and help with the expenses.

Awful. I am sorry to hear of your situation. Unfortunately, land theft is too common

in Texas, and it is so demoralizing to be a victim of theft. Who wants to be a victim?

The gentleman who owns the Austin Bulldog has unraveled some serious fraud. He is

not a lawyer, he is an investigative journalist. What a fellow. My short term memory is

not so good at present, he owns the paper, located in Austin. He unraveled a big problem

in Williamson County, and he writes clearly and quite well. Can't say he will be interested, if he is,

well, lucky you. Darn thieves.

Good questions!

Thank you SO much! Very good ideas, here, especially about naming the tax assessor office in the lawsuit. Problem is, I have already spent a wad.....I'm hoping a law firm will take it on a contingency basis (if they win, they get part of the proceeds).

Judges are wrong and some are crooked! Cases get over turned in Texas sometimes. Don't give up and quit! If the plaintiff did not make an honest effort to contact everyone by Certified Letters it wasn't legal. An honest effort is required in Texas. SINCE it was 10,000 acres or more I can't believe they would even try to do this kind of thing! I don't believe the Texas Court Of Appeals will let this stand because of it size. You probably have a case of them putting a "cloud" on your mineral and property title also!

They did not go after all acreage. What they did was go after individual 10 acre farm tracts. These were tracts that were sold in early 1900's to people from Arkansas and Missouri. Many went broke during the depression and were never heard from again, probably dieing without many assets and thus not leaving a Last Will and Testament.

My great grandfather acquired the entire 10,000 acres from a man that had assembled the acreage. The deeds varied by tract: some was conveyed via General Warranty, Some by Special Warranty and Some by Quit Claim.

These 10 acre tracts that were claimed by the surface owner, were under fence, had been for many years and rightfully it belongs to them.

The problem is when they claimed the minerals. I believe these tracts were the ones conveyed by Quit Claim Deeds.

Clearly my great grandfather had attempted to reserve for himself 1/2 of a 1/2 or 1/4. (he had a partner and they split the reserved 1/2 between themselves) In addition he had intended for the subsequent owner to have the other 1/2.

By the fact that lender had foreclosed the subsequent owner and had thus stepped in to their position as to surface and conveyed minerals and due to the fact that the lender who became the owner entered into a recorded docuement stipulating the owenrship in certain of these disputed tracts, the current owner was aware of what was of record and bought the land and certain minerals subject to that.

Now when they file the trespass to try title, they are in essence clearing the title on the surface but grabbing for minerals they were never entitled to. In my little simple mind, they were invalidating a prior reservation of minerals and if that is the case then my great grandfathers reservation should then step in over that disputed portion.

By my calculation the landowner received approximately 19 net acres from me and the same from my two brothres, that I believe rightfully belonged to me and them. A business decision forced me to walk away from what I believe was being taken from me.