FIRST SETTLEMENTS IN POWELL'S VALLEY FOLLOWED PURCHASE OF LAND BY HENDERSON AND COMPANY
By Dallas Bogan
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. This article was published in the LaFollette Press.
In this article we shall probe into the first land settlement in East Tennessee and its development through the purchases by the early settlers. This was not a complicated procedure, but it took several persons to set up the actual terms in which it was distributed.
Henderson and Company purchased land from the Overhill Cherokees at Sycamore Shoals on March 17, 1775. The Transylvania Land Company, the company name chosen for the transfer of the land, was to populate this land offering practical terms to settlers.
Provisions were that every person who would settle in Powell's (Powell) Valley within the purchased territory, and raise a crop in the year 1775, "was to be entitled to five hundred acres in his own right, and each taxable person in his family to two hundred and twenty acres." The company issued to the settler's adequate titles for the acreage in which they were entitled to.
The title of entry-maker was given to Joseph Martin. He was to receive and establish entries of the lands belonging to the company. Each land recipient was to pay the entry-maker $1.00 as his fee. Another charge was to pay the proprietors, on receiving a grant, the rate of twenty shilling sterling per hundred acres.
Richard Henderson gave Joseph Martin the power of attorney on March 31, 1775. This power authorized Martin to settle people in Powell's Valley, in compliance with information provided. Instructions to Martin stated that he was not to sell any land to persons, except that they should plant a corn crop in the valley that year. These persons were required to be an industrious and honest type, and were expected to promote the well being of the future communities.
Further instructions to Martin were that he was restricted from selling after that spring without additional orders, he being also authorized to decide all disputes between parties and their lands.
Martin arrived about the last of April 1775 in Powell's Valley where he opened an office to accept entries of the landowners.
John Williams, on November 18, 1775, who was one of the partners and agent for the remainder of the land, advertised for such persons who were entitled to lands by the terms of the declaration of the company to present themselves and make their entries, suitably located, so that surveys might be made and deeds discharged.
Williams gave Martin additional instructions, which specified on what terms lands should be sold in Transylvania until June 1, 1776. Later directives stated that no survey was permitted to contain more than 640 acres. Purchasers of the entries were required to pay for entry and survey, $2.00, and for surveying and plat, $4.00; for a deed with the plat annexed, $2.00; and to the proprietors at the time the title was completed, at the rate of 2 pounds 10 shillings for each hundred acres. Also included in the agreement was an annual rent of 2 shillings for each hundred acres, commencing in the year 1780.
All persons settling before June 1, 1776, were permitted to plot out 640 acres for themselves and 320 acres for any person paying taxes who belonged to his immediate family. Surveys were to be run to the appropriate points, unless rivers were directed to be not more than one-third longer than wide. On such watercourses they should extend two poles back for one in front, and surveys impending within eighty poles of each other. The company took all precautions concerning the support of their claim.
The land commissioners met in July, 1777 at Fort Patrick Henry, near Long Island (Kingsport) on the Holston River, to hold a peace treaty with the Overhill Cherokees concerning the legality of the land purchase. This document was dated and signed on June 18, 1777, by Richard Henderson, Thomas Hart, Nathaniel Hart, John Williams, William Johnston, John Luttrell, James Hogg, David Hart, and Leo Hen Bullock, who were all members of the company.
During the month of May 1783, the company presented an extensive verification to the Assembly of North Carolina concerning the same subject. This document contained the report of the committee, which allowed the North Carolina Assembly to pave the way for the acquisition of 200,000 acres of land in Powell's Valley. The land was to be laid off in one survey commencing with the following boundaries; beginning at the old Indian town in Powell's Valley, running down Powell's River not less than four miles in width on one or both sides, to the juncture of Powell and Clinch Rivers; then down Clinch River on one or both sides, not less than twelve miles in width, a total allocation of 200,000 acres.
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