Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kentucky's Revolutionary Land Grants - Part I

Part I - J. Mark Lowe

All land in Kentucky should follow a pedigree back to a governmental grant, generally Kentucky or Virginia. This process is called land patenting. Once a part of the commonwealth of Virginia, the land of Kentucky began to be granted after the King’s Proclamation of 1763 stating that land would be granted in lieu of cash to the veterans of the French & Indian War. The Land Law of 1779 expanded the granting of land to the state’s Revolutionary War veterans. John Filson discussed the land grant process in his 1784 publication.

“The proprietors of the Kentucke lands obtain their patents from Virginia, and their rights are of three kinds, viz. Those which arise from military service, from settlement and pre-emption, or from warrants from the treasury. The military rights are held by officers, or their representatives, as a reward for services done in one of the two last wars. The Settlement and pre-emption rights arise from occupation. Every man who, before March, 1780, had remained in the country one year, or raised a crop of corn, was allowed to have a settlement of four hundred acres, and a pre-emption adjoining it of one thousand acres. Every man who had only built a cabbin, or made any improvement by himself or others, was entitled to a pre-emption of one thousand acres where such improvement was made.
In March, 1780, the settlement and pre-emption rights ceased, and treasury warrants were afterwards issued, authorizing their possessor to locate the quantity of land mentioned in them, wherever it could be found vacant in Virginia.
The mode of procedure in these affairs may be instructive to the reader. After the entry is made in the land-office, there being one in each county, the person making the entry takes out a copy of the location, and proceeds to survey when he pleases. The plot and certificate of such survey must be returned to the office within three months after the survey is made, there to be recorded; and a copy of the record must be taken out in twelve months, after the return of the survey, and produced to the assistant register of the land-office in Kentucke, where it must lie six months, that prior locators may have time and opportunity to enter a caveat, and prove their better right. If no caveat is entered in that time, the plot and certificate are sent to the land-office at Richmond, in Virginia, and three months more are allowed to have the patent returned to the owner.”

John Filson, The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucky: And an Essay Towards the Topography and Natural History of that Important Country....(Wilmington, 1784)p 36-38.

Kentucky's Military District over current county map