Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Changing The Rules in 1776

Virginia land laws had been in operation since the first "official" surveyor arrive to this colony in the early 1620s.  These laws had undergone a number of revisions, but were pretty much finalized in 1748 when some modifications were made.  It was under these "Virginia land laws" (regulations) that the settlement of the western lands took place.

Certain steps we necessary in order to secure a title, or patent, to a tract of vacant land.  Unless these steps were taken the claimant would eventually find himself dispossessed of his holdings.  These were the steps:

1) a definite tract of land needed to be selected [assumed to be vacant]

2) some marks showing the intended boundaries needed to be established
            designating natural objects: such as springs, forks of streams, points of hills, cliffs, or piles of  
            stones (or) the setting up of stakes, marking of trees, or planting stones

3) some improvement needed to be made to show signs of occupation

4) a report of intention needed to be made to the county surveyor, and an entry of the same made in his 
     entry book

5) the entry and quit-rent fees had to be paid by someone

6) the surveyor needed to make a survey of the land and record the survey with a plat

7) the surveyor's report needed to be filed with the secretary for the colony

8) the report needed to lie two years to see whether a conflicting claim would be made

9) the petition for the grant needed to be considered by the Governor and Council in executive session
    and a order made for the patent to be issued

10) the complete description in duplicate was then recorded in a patent book and a copy was 
      delivered  to the person named in the grant

Every tract of land (large or small) was a grant from the King, but the these rules where changed in 1776!

A very good discussion of these laws can be found in Kegley's Virginia Frontier, published by The Southwest Virginia Historical Society, 1938.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All Around The Town in 1774 - 1776

Finding springs, marking trees, planting corn, and building cabins were all part of the activities during the years 1774 to 1776.  The following map attempts to show the folks who found the land around the area that was to become Danville irresistible.  The surveys of these folks have been presented in previous posts.  The figure below is drawn to scale, and the approximate location of these surveys are drawn to scale.  North is to the top of the page, and the Dix River is drawn being on the eastern border of what is now Boyle County, KY.  A 1 mile marker line is given, and 1400 acres would be about a 2.2 miles by 1 mile rectangle.

The tiny square in the SW corner of John Crow's land [shown in green] would become the 76 acres of the "Town Lands" yet to be purchased.  A small matter of separation from the British Empire would slow things down after that declaration of July 4, 1776.

The land of James Brown [shown in blue] would be the southern border, and that of Thomas Harrod [shown in orange] would be western most border.  The lands of John Clark [shown in pink] would be to the south, and the lands of James Harrod [not colored] would be to the northwest.  "Boiling springs", "sinking spring", and the "town spring" would all play a role in the settlement of this area.

Clark's Run is shown in dark blue, and runs just south of the town lands.

So there you have it...all around what was to become, the "town lands" of Danville, in 1774 - 1776.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Fisher Fellows 1776

Adam, Barnard, and Stephen Fisher were all raising a crop of corn during the year 1776.  Their lands were located in what was to become the area around Danville, and Stephen Fisher would have his problems with the claims of John Crow.  Adam's lands were near the "Mouth of Howards" run [waters of Dicks River], and Barnard's were lying "on the Waters of Salt River".  Now Stephen's land recorded:

"Stephen Fisher this day claimed a settlem't & preemption to a tract of land in the district of Kentucky on account of raising a Crop of Corn in the Country in the year 1776 lying about 3/4 of a Mile East from Jones Settlement & adjoining the same to include his improvment Satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of Opinion that the s'd Fisher has a right to a settlement of 400 Acres of land to include the above location and the preemption of 1000 Acres adjoining & that a Cert. do not issue untill the further order of this Court-" [from court records held at Harrodsburg 28 Jan., 1780, pp. 150 - 151 Certificate Book of The Virginia Land Commission 1779-1780]

Now the "Jones Settlement" was that of John Gabriel Jones who ends up being my family! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Thomas Harrod 1776

It took a bit for the dust to settle after the decisive battle of Point Pleasant.  The summer of 1776 found a number of new folks settling the land around the area that was to become Danville.  Thomas Harrod [believed by most to be the brother of James Harrod] raised a crop of corn on the land lying on "sinking spring".  His certificate reads:

"Thomas Harrod by James Harrod this day claimed a right to a settlement and preemption to a tract of land lying on sinking spring joining the North West side of James Browns land by improving the same & raising a Crop of Corn in the year 1776 satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of Opinion that the said Thos. Harrod has a right to a settlement of 400 Acres of Land including the said Improvement & a preemption of 200 Acres of Land for the same, he declining to take the remainder of his preemption.-"

This "sinking spring" still runs today on what has become the campus of Centre College.  It can be seen just off Main Street and the junction of Saint Mildreds street.  Six hundred acres would be just less than a mile square area.  Thomas Harrod's land would become the land of Centre College!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Point Pleasant 1774

The summer of 1774 greeted a number of folks wandering about the wilderness of what was to become the town lands of Danville.  Those who made the surveys nearest the spot that contain the "town spring" have been presented in the previous posts titled 1774.  Little did these folks anticipate that only several months later the frontier would face the most decisive conflict that was to set the stage for this little area of the world.

The Ohio and the Great Kanawha Rivers joined on the southeastern shore at a place called "Point Pleasant".  For several Indian groups and a frontier militia, it became a defining point that was anything but pleasant.  On October 9th the battle took place that pitched the Shawnee and a Fincastle  militia that did not contain British regulars among the forces.  Those involved, and survived, were to become leading citizens of this new settlement area.

The figure above shows the location of Point Pleasant and its relationship to the waters that brought many folks to the area that was to become Danville.  It was the treaty of Camp Charlotte which contained the clause that the Shawnee acknowledged the white man's right to Kentucky.  These first settlers were now able to consider themselves the most western settlement of Virginia's Fincastle County.

A good discussion of this pivotal event can be found in: Forth to the Wilderness, The First American Frontier 1754 - 1774, by Dale Van Every.  [William Morrow and Co., NY, 1961.]

Friday, August 23, 2013

Azor Rees 1774

The transcription of the early "Certificate Book" by Lucas shows the record to be blurred leaving the name "....... Rees".  It has been felt by Collins to be "Azor Rees" who with a Joel Rees is the only other by this surname in the records.  At any rate, Azor Rees seems the most likely to have made a settlement lying dear the "Knob Lick".  It reads:

"------- Rees this day claimed a preemption of 1000 Acres of Land in the district of Kentucky on Acc't of Marking and improving the same in the year 1774 & 1775 lying near the Knob Lick Isaac Shelby having Obtained a Cert. for the------"

[ p. 260, Certificate Book of The Virginia Land Commission 1779 - 1780, published by The Kentucky Historical Society, 1981.]  Collins notes can be found in his Kentucky History, Vol. 2, p. 517.

Knob Lick was a distinctive land mark found on Filson's first map of 1784.  Isaac Shelby would certainly have something to say about this new land.  This land mark is just south of what was to become the town lands of Danville.

For this early map see post of December 13, 2012 which shows the central Kentucky area.  See if you can find this "Knob Lick".

Friday, August 2, 2013

James Brown 1774

Certificates continued to be issues by the court held at Harrodsburg October 28, 1779.   John Cowan in behalf of James Brown received the following:

"(Cert issued for 1400 fees &c pd. D.D. to John Cowan)

      John Cowan in behalf of James Brown this day claimed a right to a settlement and preemption to a tract of land lying on Clarks Run about 1 Mile or 1 and a half Miles above Clarks Station by improving the same in the year 1774 and raising a Crop of Corn on the premises in the year 1776 satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of the Opinion that the said Brown is entitled to a settlement of 400 Acres of land including said improvement & the preemption of 1000 Acres Adjoining and that a Certificate issue for the same."

[p. 22-23 Certificate Book of The Virginia Land Commission 1779 - 1780 , by The Kentucky Historical Society, 1923]

Let's see now... John Clark in 1774 claimed land on Clarks Run that contained a road leading from the Boiling Spring to the Knob Lick... and James Brown claimed land lying roughly 1 mile above (north) Clarks Station.  John Crow had established himself southwest from Fishers Garrison [known by Rees' Lottery Cabin] which became know as Crow's Station.  Wow....like working a giant puzzle...more pieces to come.

Friday, July 12, 2013

John Clark 1774

On the same day that John Crow had his settlement right certified [Oct. 28th 1779], a fellow named John Clark claimed his settlement right.   It reads:

"(Cert Issued for 1400 fees &c pd D.D.)

  John Clark this day claimed a right to a settlement and preemption to a tract of land lying on Clarks Run on the road leading from the Boiling Spring to the Knob Lick by improving the same in the year 1774 and residing in the country 12 Months since making the said improvement.  Satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of Opinion that the said Clark has a right to a settlement of 400 acres including the said improvement, & a preemption of 1000 Acres adjoining and that a certificate issue for the same."

Clarks Run is a branch of the Dick's River that flows through the southern part of what is now Danville.  Its name would suggest that the Clark family were the first to settle this area since they could name the creek.   By 1779 landmarks were "Boiling Spring" [James Harrod's settlement] and "Knob Lick" [what was to become Issac Shelby's settlement].  A "road" existed connecting both settlements which would be close to old 127 highway today which runs through the city of Danville.  More to come in the year 1774.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

John Crow 1774

The "Certificate Book of The Virginia Land Grant Commission 1779-1780" records the official decisions regarding who was on first.  The folks who thought they owned the land had to come before this commission to make their case regarding their "rights" to own the land.  The following is given on p. 305 of the book by The Kentucky Historical Society:

" (Cert issd for 1400)  John Crow this day claimed a settlement & preemption of 1400 Acres of Land in the district of Kentucky on Acc't of improving the same in the year 1774 & 1777 & Raising a crop of Corn in the year 1776 the s'd Crowe is to survey a half way between 2 Cabbins with a Square line that the s'd Crowe built in the year 1774 one Cabbin covered South West from Fishers Garrison Known by Rees' Lottery Cabbin the other N.E. from s'd Station and the s'd Fisher is not to go more than half way to another Cabbin that the s'd Crow built in the year Aforesaid which Cabbin lies North from s'd Station Satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of Opinion that the s'd Crow has a right to a settlement of 400 Acres of Land to include the above Location & the preempt'n of 1000 Acres of Land adjoining & that a Cert issue accordingly.-"

John Crow was certainly busy during the year 1774.  It would appear that he built two cabins.  In also seems apparent that by the 22nd day of April 1780, a "...s'd Station..." [ Crow's Station] was known to exist.  "Fishers Garrison" and "Rees' Lottery Cabbin" were used as landmarks to locate this survey right.  The land that was to become Danville has its start in this "settlement & preemption".

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Virginia Land Laws

The "Land Laws of Virginia" were the laws and customs under which new lands were settled and surveyed upon the western waters.  Understanding the process by which land was "taken up" helps one to realize the difficult environment surrounding the founding of Danville, Kentucky.

For those interested, these land laws have been presented and discussed in my blog "The Jones Genealogist".  The site of this information is:


The subject and dates are as follows:

      Virginia Land Laws: A Chronology (Part I)  Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part II) Important Rights  Monday, Dec. 20, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part III)  Treasury Rights  Tues., Dec. 21, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part IV)  Escheated Lands  Wed., Dec. 22, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part V)  The Processioning  Thur., Dec. 23, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part VI)  The Surveyors  Tues., Dec., 28, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws (Part VII) Surveyor's fees  Wed., Dec. 29, 2010
      Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part I)  Wed., Jan. 5, 2011
      Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part II)  Fri., Jan. 7, 2011
      Land Laws Virginia - Meritorious Service  Thur., Jan. 13, 2011
      Land By Rank - Virginia Land Laws 1763  Fri., Jan. 14, 2011
      Virginia Land Laws : Cabin Rights  Sat., Jan. 22, 2011

The last three posts deal with the context of military service.  It was following the French and Indian War that this became the major factor in the early settlement days of Danville, KY.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Names of 1774

The folks who managed to get their names into the survey books of 1774 were an extra special group of guys.  These were the  first to establish their claims to the land that was to become Danville, Kentucky.  The following is a list of these men who became "official" owners of the land.  This information has been abstracted from "Certificate Book of The Virginia Land Commission 1779-1780".

James Brown, Clark's Run, 1000 acres, p. 215

John Clark, Clark's Run,, 1400 acres, p.22

John Cowan, Clark's Run, 1400 acres, p. 22-23

John Crow, 1400 acres, p.305

Azor Rees, 1000 acres, p.260. [Isaac Shelby was to obtain this land on Knob Lick 1776, p.8]

As best as I can tell, these men were the first to claim Danville, KY.  On survey, 1400 acres would be contained in a 1 mile x 2.2 mile area.  These folks would have roughly a 6 mile square area of land.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Surveys of 1774

Folks got busy doing their survey work the summer of 1774.  An "official" survey office was finally organized and accepted under the colony of Virginia [Fincastle County].  Page 1, Plot Book A, states :

 "Warrants to Officers & Soldiers from the Earl of  Dunmore directed to the Surveyor of Fincastle County and by him recorded with the several assignments thereon".

The official directions were included in the very first survey recorded "28th day of February 1774".  In effect, having served as an officer or soldier in the years prior to 1763, you were "entitled" to land "...agreeable to His Majesty's proclamation in the year 1763...".  It went on to say, "...being desirous to locate the same in Fincastle County on any of the western waters if he can lay it on any vacant lands that have not been surveyed by order of council or patented since the above Proclamation...".  The surveyors were "...strictly authorised and required to survey the same."

So there you have it.  Lands were to be in Fincastle County.  They were to be on water courses (western waters) were the land had not already been surveyed.  [Some land had already been surveyed in 1773, but the patents had been denied official recognition. ]  It was this summer, the summer of 1774, that the first surveys were made on the lands that were to become Danville, KY.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Summer of 1773

On December 12, 1771, John Murray (The Earl of Dunmore) arrive in Virginia.  One of his first activities was to create a new political jurisdiction west of the Alleghenies and south of the Ohio River.  His hand was being forced by the folks from Pennsylvania who had already opened a land patent office in this new territory.  Fincastle County it was called. (Some called it the District of West Augusta)  William Preston was appointed "surveyor".  Land warrants were being provided to those who had served during the French and Indian War.  Thomas Bullitt (Fauquier Co.), William Christian, John Floyd, Arthur Campbell, William Russell, and Evan Shelby were added to the list of individuals who were to aid in the survey of this new administrative jurisdiction. (At least from Virginia's point of view.)

Announcements of the plans to make surveys in this new territory were placed in papers being published in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Any folks who felt they had a right (or desire) to join the "official" survey crew were to join up at the mouth of the Kanawha River on May 29, 1773.  Thomas Bullitt with a survey party of some 30 men [including James Harrod and Hancock Taylor ] jumped the gun and started down the Ohio May 11, 1773.  These men were joined by James Robert, George McAfee, Samuel Adams, and James McCoun.

Following these guys down the Ohio about a month later (17 June 1773), a 20 year old named Isaac Hite and his crew had the idea (plans) to establish several towns along the Ohio River at regular intervals.  In his diary dated the 5th and 6th of August he writes:

                                              "Aug. 5th & 6th at the Town at the Falls".

By the end of the month of August he writes:

              "Friday 27th went & marked out lots in the Town & went up to the 1st Island".

It was this Issac Hite that was to become the business partner of one Walker Daniel.  In the summer of 1773, he began to open the doors to Danville.

Friday, January 25, 2013

North, South, East and West Which Branches are the Best

Getting to this land that was to become Danville needed an access route.  The Dick's River was a major branch of the Kentucky River, with head waters near the Wilderness Road from the southeast.  Coming down the Ohio would require you to paddle up stream on the Kentucky or the Salt River. [From the north or northwest.]  Which way proved the easiest and the safest  was open to discussion and your point of origin.

The following figure shows the relationship of the four main water routes into Danville.

Clark's Run seemed the branch of the Dick's River that ran the closest to the heart of Danville.  It would most likely be the source of the springs that were so necessary to early settlements.  Spear's Creek and Mock's Branch were north of the land that was to become Danville. [Clark's Run in orange, Spear's Creek green, and Mock's Branch in pink.]

The red marker outlines the flow of the Salt River.  This was a branch of the Ohio River, just below the falls.  It was the major route of those early surveyors that came to this area in 1774.  James Harrod and his group would have something to say about the land around these water routes.

Yes sir, north, south, east, and west...which branches are the best.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Safest Part of The Country

In "A Topographical Description of The Western Territory", p 315, [first published in 1792], Dick's River is described as:

"Dick's River runs through a great body of firft rate land, abounding everywhere with cane, and affords many excellent mill feats.  Many mills are already built on this ftream, and will have a plentiful fupply of water in the dryeft feafons.  The banks of this river, hear its mouth, are fimilar to the banks of Kentucky.  The feveral ftreams and branches of Salt river afford excellent mill feats.  Thefe roll themfelves through a great tract of excellent land; but the country from the junction of thefe waters, fome mile above towards the Ohio, which may be about 25 miles, is level and poor, and has abundance of ponds.  For a confiderable diftance from the head of this river, the land is of the firft quality, well fituated, and abounds with fine cane.  Upon this and Dick's river, the inhabitants are chiefly fettled, it being the fafeft part of the country from the incurfions of the Indians."
                      [remember "f" = "s" in reading the above quote ]  fettled = settled

The above figure shows the general outline of the Dick's (Dix) River.  It is the eastern border of present day Boyle County.  It flows into the Kentucky River, and has its origin in present day Lincoln County. It was at "Crab Orchard" that the Wilderness Road passed giving access to this river.

Mercer County lies to the northwest, and Garrard County to the east.  Lincoln county is to the south.  Of course, these counties did not exist as part of Kentucky, but as parts of Virginia, when Gilbert Imlay wrote his account of what was considered the "fafeft part of the country".

In 1784, Walker Daniel was instructed to find the "...proper and safe place..." to build a court house and jail for the new "District" of Kentucky.   It so happened that Danville was to become this place.

See: "KEN - TAH - THE", The Life and Times of Walker Daniel, Founder of the Town Lands of Danville, Kentucky, 18th Day of June 1784.  by Jerry E. Jones, MD, MS.  Published 2009, blurb.com, The Jones Genealogist.

Also: A Topographical Description of The Western Territory of North America, by Gilbert Imlay.  First published 1792, reprinted 1969, by Augustus M. Kelley, Publisher, New York, NY.