TIP 1026 – NAMES MENTIONED IN THE CERTIFICATE BOOK OF THE VIRGINIA LAND COMMISSION, 1779-1780.
In these records are contained names of some of the earliest settlers of Kentucky. They are a series of entries that perhaps every pioneer who actually settled in Kentucky prior to 13 Oct 1779 is cited. The Virginia Land Commission met at St. Asaphs (Stanford) Harrodsburg, Bryant’s Station, Boonesborough and the Falls of the Ohio. Every settler had the opportunity at these sessions to establish their claims to land in what was to become the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
This was a time of confusion for the settlers when it came to receiving title to their lands. They knew that they had to build a cabin, raise a crop of corn and then most returned to Virginia to wait. When he came back, he brought his family with him. However, another settler might have come to the same spot and not known of the first settler’s intention to return and settle on the same land but likely not in the same area as he would have noted the cabin and the growing crop. Pioneers were seeking the best land – and that usually included a nearby waterway or a spring. It soon became more and more complicated as more people came in and many settled in previously claimed land. Virginia had to do something to straighten this all out.
The Legislature of Virginia met in 1779 and passed an act authorizing the Governor of the state to appoint a special commission. He traveled to what is now Kentucky and sat as a Court. Here he heard proof and settled many titles by issuing certificates to the rightful claimants. The Act itself, very long, appointed four Commissioners who could not be a resident of Kentucky County. They sat at Court and heard the proof of claims. They had the authority to issue a certificate for 400 acres if approved. It could also include a preemption right of 1000 additional acres and adjoining the 400 acres. The fee per claim was 10 shillings for each 100 acres. An additional 10 shillings was charged as a fee for the clerk who issued the certificates.
Most of the claimants were successful, but some were not when the settler exercised rare modest and declined to accept the preemption right. He was content with just the 400 acres. And, there were some instances when the claimant was only entitled to his preemption right and not to an actual settlement right. When this happened the certificate gave him a preemption right only.
A few of the names of the original commission members included William Fleming, Edmund Lyne and James Barbour (sometimes spelled Barber in error). Then Stephen Trigg is cited who served “in room of” (instead of) James Steptoe.
The list of names included in these record show almost every early settler of Kentucky. Other names of note included Boone, Kenton, Calloway, Harrod, Todd, Shelby, McGary, Logan, McAfee, Whitley, Clark, Floyd, Crockett, Whitley, Fields, Meriweather, Combs, Davis, Slaughter …. names well know in our early days.
The entries showed a notion of the number of acres claimed, how the fees were paid, the issuance of the certificate and most often, the name of the person.
For the next few weeks, and with the help of records kept by the Kentucky Historical Society, I will be listing brief information on the entries contained in the Commission’s report.
Thomas Barton – 1400 acres as heir of law of William Barton, deceased. No date or location.
Daniel Hawkings – 1400 acres, St. Asaphs or Logan Fort, 15 Oct 1779.
Hugh Leaper – 1400 acres
Philip Tramell, 400 acres, Waters of Paint Lick Creek, settled 1 June 1778.
Thomas Lovell, 10 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, settled 1 Jan 1778, cites Hanging fork of Dicks River.
Robert Todd, 10 Oct 1779, 1400 on Hickmans Creek adjoining lands of Col. John Todd and lands of Lt.
Collins, Walter Overton. Improved the land in 1776.
James Harrod, 19 Oct 1779, acted as guardian of James McDonald (infant). He heir of Patrick McDonald,
improved land in 1776, Gilberts Creek, branch of Dicks River. Patrick was sick at home & died.
Charles Cameron, 19 Oct 1779, an assignee of Henry Pawling who was assignee of James Dorchester,
waters of Dicks Creek. Improvement by Dorchester in 1775.
James Corbun, 19 Oct 1779, heir at law to Samuel Coburn (deceased), 1400 acres, on Mulberry Creek, adjoining
lands of Squire Boone, improved in 1775.
William Phelp, 19 Oct 1779, 400 acres, north of the Main North Branch of Green River, about 50 miles above the
mouth of Barren River. Actual settlement Feb 1779.
Hugh McGary, 19 Oct 1779, assignee of Ralph Williams, 400 acres, Paint Lick Creek, north of the land claimed by
John Kennedy. Made corn there in 1775.
William Phelps, Jr, 19 Oct 1779, 400 acres, north side of the main north branch of Green River, about 50 miles
North of Barren River; actual settlement Feb 1779.
Nicholas Phelps, 19 Oct 1779, 400 acres, same area, 2 miles below the land claimed by Wm. Phelps, Jr.
Julius Sanders, 19 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, Head of Boons Mill Creek, 4 miles from Dicks River, improved land in 1776.
James Combs, 20 Oct 1779, 1000 acres, Howard’s Creek (about eight miles above Boonesborough), built a cabin May 1775.
Cuthbert Combs, 20 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, at an Indian town on north side of Kentucky between Lulbegrud Creek & Howards Creek. Made corn in 1775.
Benj. Pettitt, 20 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, on waters of the Hanging Fork, a branch of Dicks River & Green River. Improved 1775 and resided there 12 months.
John Logan, 20 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, mouth of St. Asaphs Spring; raised corn in 1776.
William Logan, 20 Oct 1779, 1000 acres, raised a crop of corn in 1776 and lived there 12 months.
Benj. Logan, 20 Oct 1779, 1000 acres, St. Asaphs, waters of Dicks Creek. Settled and raised corn in 1775.
David Barton, 26 Oct 1779, 1400 acres – postponed until meeting at Boonesborough.
Azariah Davis, 26 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, Salt River, one mile from Harrodsburg, includes a spring, a large house that he built, he raised corn in 1775. George McAfee appeared then and contested this claim. Davis has a right to the land.
Thos. Barton/Baston, 26 Oct 1779, Barton’s Creek (branch of Salt River). Improved the land and raised a crop of corn in 1776. Was ¼ mile from McAfee Station.
Robt. McAfee, 26 Oct 1779, 1000 acres, Town Fork of Salt River which included his upper station. Raised corn at Boonsborough and improved land in 1775. Henry Wilson appeared and contested the claim since he had built a cabin on the same land in 1775 prior to McAfees’ improvement. Testimony given by many; decided that Henry Wilson is entitled to the land. Henry Wilson agreed that the inhabitants of McAfees Station would have peaceable possession of 100 acres of land and could reside there for seven years. They can use the timber for building cabins and enclosing the land & water for use of the garrison.
Wm. McAfee, 26 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, Salt River adjoining where Harrodsburg is built. Raised a crop of corn in 1776. Azariah Davis appeared and contested the claim; witnesses sworn; Wm. McAfee has the right to the land.
James McCowan, 26 Oct 1779, 1400 acres, Salt River between the lands claimed by George & James McAfee. Raided a crop of corn in 1776.
To be continued next week.