Joseph Bell Chance

J. B. Chance, pioneer surveyor and soldier in the war for Texas independence, son of William Alexander and Nancy Chance, was born near Nashville, Tennessee, on July 4, 1800. He married Nancy Braden on November 14, 1820, in Wilson County, Tennessee. They had four children. Chance came to Texas on January 7, 1830, and took the oath on February 27, 1830, swearing to "subject himself to the Constitution of the United Mexican States." He and his family settled on a league and a labor of land granted by the Mexican government in Stephen F. Austin's second colony in an area that is now part of Washington and Burleson counties. Chance served as a delegate from the Hidalgo District to the Convention of 1833. In early 1835 his name appeared on a petition to the Mexican government to establish Washington Municipality. His surveying office was located on Ferry Street in that town. Chance was a subscriber to the first effort to raise money for a Protestant minister in Texas. Mrs. Chance was also a frequent contributor to the Protestant ministry. She received a grant for twenty-four labores of land located adjacent to Belton on August 13, 1835.

Chance served in the Washington Company of volunteers under Capt. James G. Swisher from October 7 to December 3, 1835, and was a participant in the Grass Fight. On April 7, 1836, he raised a company of volunteers, the Washington Guards, and was elected their captain. He did not participate in the battle of San Jacinto but was detached to guard the baggage at the camp near Harrisburg on April 21, 1836. For his army service from March 20 to June 1, 1836, he received 640 acres of land now in Ellis County. Chance described his personal situation after San Jacinto: "Our greate distress in having to run from our homes, together with sickness and campaign after campaign ever since last fall has so exhausted my funds that I am well nigh ruined."

Chance was appointed deputy surveyor of District 2, Robertson County, and by July 1838 advertised plans "to run two or three compasses during the season...for gentlemen wishing to select lands in those parts." He surveyed 67,000 acres of land in the virgin wilderness that became parts of the present Bosque, Hill, McLennan, and Robertson counties. He died shortly after May 23, 1839, in Washington County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924-28). Joseph E. Chance, Joseph Bell Chance and His Family (1979). Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1974-76; Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1977-92). Worth Stickley Ray, Austin Colony Pioneers (Austin: Jenkins, 1949; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton, 1970). Telegraph and Texas Register, July 23, 1838. Homer S. Thrall, History of Methodism in Texas (Houston: Cushing, 1872; rpt., n.p.: Walsworth, 1976).