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Tennessee's Early Surveyors' Districts and 
District Boundary Documentation Compiled by Frederick Smoot (c) 1996, 1997. 
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Tennessee's Surveyors' Districts

This paper first appeared in the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History
Volume X, Number 3, Winter 1996~97
Reprinted here with the full cooperation of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
This online version has been slightly updated from the original.

To our knowledge, there is no extant original map of the overall system of Tennessee’s various early Surveyors’ Districts. Modern maps that show inaccurate boundary line location of those districts have been created and published. This paper is an attempt to document the real boundaries of those districts. To understand the bounds of the districts, we need to turn to Whitney’s Land Law of Tennessee, 1 and other reliable sources including some extant district maps.
... the United States, in Congress assembled, on the eighteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six, passed an act entitled ‘An act to authorize the State of Tennessee to issue grants and perfect titles to certain lands therein described, and to settle claims to the vacant and unappropriated lands within the same, ’...”2 Then that very year, the Tennessee State Assembly established the first seven of her Surveyors’ Districts. Two land offices or Register’s Offices were established, one in Nashville, West [now called Middle] Tennessee and one in East Tennessee. The East Tennessee land office was probably located at Knoxville. In 1825, a third land office or Register’s Office for Western Tennessee was established in Jackson, Madison County. In 1827, the Mountain District was added, complete with a Register’s Office. It is not clear if this new office had the same status as the three earlier land offices. Each District had a surveyor’s office and an entry-taker’s office, sometimes in the same building, possibly the same room. Occasionally, when a district was new, or in some instances when a district was old and running out of business, its office might be run from a private home. From the first seven districts formed in 1806, the number grew to seventeen by 1836. Some of the original district offices had been closed by 1836. Thirteen were numbered, four were named.
The districts were legal entities, answerable only to the State. Generally, their boundaries were not adjusted to the ever changing county lines. However, there were two exceptions, at least. In 1807, the line between the 5 th and 6 th Districts was altered to conform to certain county lines.3 [See 5th District]. The 1827 Mountain District was formed from parts of four districts, the 3 rd District being the major contributor. Here many county lines were followed. From time to time, many offices, including the register’s, surveyors’, and entry-taker’s, 4 were moved or closed. From the 1820’s on, we find the closing of some district land offices, their duties being shifted to various counties. Constant change was the rule.
Prior to 1806, all lands that had been granted in what was to be come Tennessee, had been surveyed with the “metes and bounds” system. That is to say, a system where a tract might be connected to a neighbor’s tract or the meanders of a creek or the spur of a mountain but not connected to surveyed system of predetermined section and range lines and townships. After ten years of negotiations with the Federal Government and North Carolina, Tennessee was finally able, in 1806, to establish her Surveyors’ Districts, and organize a system of survey, similar to that used by the Federal Government in Ohio [Northwest Territory].
The section and range lines in the area east and north of the Congressional Reservation were to be to surveyed six miles apart so as to create sections or townships that were six miles square. The 1806 Act of Congress required the use of six mile squares and within each square, 640 acres were to be set aside for the use of the schools. As far as we can tell, the 1st , 2nd and 3rd Districts ran their lines true to the meridian. Both the 6th and the Hiwassee Districts maps confirm that the range lines ran northerly and were probably true. In the Ocoee District, by law the lines were run to a base line, south 20 degrees west. or as we might say, roughly true to the Tennessee River. We have not yet been able to prove that the 4th District and the District south of the French Broad and Holston were surveyed with section and range lines as directed by the State Assembly. 5 However, as it was a legal requirement to do so, it is probable that all districts were surveyed with section and range lines, except the 1827 Mountain District.
The sections and range lines in the area that had been the Congressional Reservation were to be surveyed five miles apart so as to create sections or townships that were five miles square. This five mile square does not conform to the 1806 Act of Congress where the six mile square was established. The 7 th and 8th Districts ran their lines true to the meridian. 6 The 9 th through the 13th Districts seem to have run their lines slightly to the north east by about 3.5 degrees. This anomaly may have been caused by the original District Surveyors using the then current inaccurate Tennessee-Mississippi State boundary line for their reference. That old State line, referred to as the Winchester line, was off by about 3.5 degrees to the northwest. The 1865 Johnson’s Kentucky and Tennessee Map, 7 shows the section and range lines without numbers for Districts 9 through 13 and the Hiwassee and Ocoee Districts.
Ultimately, the district survey system failed. By 1850, most, if not all surveys were done with the “metes and bounds” system. The closing of Tennessee’s Land Office system occurred in 1903. Its records were sent to the Secretary of State in Nashville and then transferring to the State Archives. We would be hard pressed today to find a county official that even knew of the existence of the former Surveyors’ Districts and how the districts worked. Yet, the Surveyors’ Districts are of importance to historians, land researchers, environmental researchers and genealogists simply because of the very large, but unfortunately incomplete, collection of the Surveyors’ Districts records that are available.8 These records may contain early land records that precede existing county records. These records should be used in conjunction with the separate county records and land grant records. Because of importance of these records, a short history of the different relevant material follows.

The Walker Line Conflict

An early imperfect Tennessee-Kentucky State Line survey taken in 1779, caused the Walker Line Conflict. This, in turn, caused many problems regarding land surveys along that State Line in both East and Middle Tennessee. Some individual tracts in Districts 1 through 6 and near that State Line that ought to be recorded in the Surveyors’ Districts records may be recorded in Kentucky records. 9 The U. S. Congressional Reservation
In 1806, the Congress of the United States created U. S. Congressional Reservation as Indian land. Non-Indian settlement on the reservation was forbidden . “Beginning at the place where the eastern or main branch of Elk River shall intersect the [southern] boundary line of the State of Tennessee; from thence running due north, until said line shall intersect the northern or main branch of Duck River; thence down the waters of Duck River, to the military boundary line, as established by the seventh section of an act of the State of North Carolina...thence with the military boundary line, west, to a place where it intersects the Tennessee River; thence down the waters of the Tennessee, to a place where the same intersects the northern boundary line of the State of Tennessee.” 10 From this land, Districts 7 through 13 were formed in 1819.

The 1806 West { Middle } Tennessee Districts.

The 1st District, formerly the North Carolina Military Reservation

Located in north Middle Tennessee. The 1 st District enjoyed the exact same metes and bounds as the old North Carolina Military Reservation. This district “...to be bound by the lines described in the seventh section of an act of North Carolina, passed on the seventeenth day of May, in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty three, entitled, ‘An act to amend an act, entitled, an act for the relief of the officers and soldiers in the continental line, ’-- which shall compose a district, and shall be known and distinguished by the name of the First District. ”11 The Military Reservation lines were: “...beginning on the Virginia [now Kentucky] line, where the Cumberland River intersects the same; thence south fifty-five miles; thence west, to the Tennessee River; thence down the Tennessee to the Virginia [Kentucky] line; thence with the said Virginia [Kentucky] line east, to the beginning. ” 12, 13
Certain parts of the old Military Reservation were not legally open for settlement until 1806 and later. In 1805 the Chickasaw Nation 14 and the Cherokee Nation 15 ceded land that was in the Military Reservation. Two new areas in the Reservation opened in 1806. One, a narrow but long strip of land, bound on the north by the 28 November 1785 Hopewell Treaty Line 16 and on the south by the Duck River. The second, the area south east of Livingston’'s line in the south east corner of the district. 17, 18 Although the Reservation became the 1st District in 1806, the area in the southwest corner of the district, in the Buffalo River area, was not opened until 1816.19
The 1st District’s Office was established in Nashville, Davidson Co. 20 A very large original map of the 1st District is located at the Tennessee State Library & Archives, Nashville. The southwest corner of the map is torn off and missing. (TSLA map #401)


The southern boundary line of the 1st District was generally known as the Military Line. Here are a few clues to its location. The western end of the southern Military Line of the Military Reservation can be placed as being in Perry County, just at north side of the mouth of Toms Creek on the Tennessee River. This area is now flooded. This is shown on the 8 th District map, TSLA map #403. Running eastward with the north boundary of the 8th District we come to the Duck River and here a detailed map, TSLA map #2543,21 shows the exact location of that line north of Columbia, and the Duck River, in Maury County. Incidentally, this map also shows Gen. Nathaniel Greene's grant, the placement of the Natchez Trace crossing Duck River, the grave site of Meriwether Lewis, some section and range lines of the 7 th and 8 th Districts, and more. Now, we change maps and move much eastward with the southern line of the 1st District map, TSLA #401, we come into Warren County. Here we see in the 1 st District, the mouth of the Collins River [Rock Island] on the Caney Fork River. Here we leave the map and use some extant 3 rd District surveys to refine the Line’s location. Up river from Rock Island, on the Collins River, we find the mouth of Mountain Creek. From this mouth, we have located four adjoining surveys along Mountain Creek, the northern most line of the northern most survey being the Military Line. 22 We have plotted these surveys and our results tell us that our Military Line would today cross through the cemetery of Concord Church on Concord Road in Warren County. Now back to map #401, and we see the Rocky River on the Caney Fork a little farther east of Collins River. Up Rocky River [southward] and off of map #401 we have placed one survey at the mouth of Lorrel [Laurel] Creek on the Rocky River in the 3 rd District. We therefore conclude that the Military Line is slightly north of the mouth of Laurel Creek at Rocky River. 23 Then with the map again, we run almost six miles eastward from Rocky River through Van Buren County to the end of the southern line where it takes a 90 degree northerly turn, becomes the eastern line, and runs north to the junction of the Cumberland River and the north State Line. Many surveys indicate the old Military Line had “variations”, or, in other words, it was not straight and true.

The 2nd District

Located in south Middle Tennessee. Most of the area of this district had been closed for legal settlement prior to 1806 because of Indian claims. This district “...to begin eighteen miles west of the south-east corner of the last mentioned district [1st ], to run south to the true meridian, to the southern boundary of the State, for its eastern boundary, and to be bounded on the west and south, by the Congressional Reservation, and on the north and south, by the first district and the boundary of the State, and shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Second District.”24
This district was surveyed in 1807 and errors occurred in the placement of Tennessee-Alabama State Line and the Congressional Reservation Line. The State Assembly rejected James Bright’s survey and the lines were re-surveyed by Thomas Freeman and others. The State Line was repositioned about 2 and 3/4 miles to the south of Bright’s Line while the Congressional Line was repositioned westward. 25 Also the area in the most southeast portion of this district was not legally settled until Indian claims could be extinguished. 26
The District Office of the was established at Jefferson, [Rutherford County, in the 1st District], later moving to Shelbyville, Bedford Co. 27 This office was probably closed in 1827 but was definitely closed by 1829. 28
On the northwest corner of the otherwise rectangular district is an additional small triangle tract of land. This tract is north of the Duck River, and Columbia, Maury County, and south of the Military Line. An 1851 map, TSLA #2543, shows this tract. There is no extant original map of the 2 nd District. Original survey notes for some of the section and range line surveys, still exist. 29

The 3rd District

Located in eastern part of Middle Tennessee. This “... district to begin on the northern boundary of the State, at a point which shall divide by six without a fraction, and which shall be nearest to a point due north of the Flat Rock 30 on the turnpike road leading from South-West Point [Kingston] to Nashville, thence south according to the true meridian to the southern boundary of the State, which shall be its eastern boundary, thence west to be bound by the first two districts, inclusively,...and shall be known...by the name of the Third District; and the three districts as above, shall be attached to the land office of West Tennessee. ”31
This district was generally closed to legal settlement prior to 1806, however an extant map of the district shows that some land speculators and others may have had tracts in the area. Some land in the very northwest part of what was to become the 3 rd District was also northwest of Livingston ’s Line. While that land was not Indian land, it was not in the Military Reservation. The extant map also indicates that in 1807 when the district was surveyed, it was not fully surveyed. This un-surveyed area was the southern quarter of the land mass of the district and much of that land would fall into today's Marion County. Indian claims precluded the surveying of that area. The Indian line ran east-west across the southern portion of the district until 1817-1819. 32 The eastern boundary was to run to the southern State Line. However, the Tennessee River blocked access to that line. In 1819 the State Assembly required “...the Principal surveyor of the Third District to extend the eastern and western boundary of his district, to the southern boundary of the State, or the north bank of the Tennessee River.” 33 Even after 1819, the south side of the Tennessee River was blocked by Indian lands and that part remained in Cherokee hands until 1836 and the formation of the Ocoee District.
The district office was originally located at “Alexander’s.” 34, 35 The office of the Surveyor General of the 3 rd District was closed in 1827. The entry-taker of White County assumed much of the district’s business. 36 Then the Mountain District was formed.
TSLA map #399. This large map indicates the southern limit of the first survey; it did not reach the southern State Line.

1806 East Tennessee Districts.

The 4th District

Located in the western part of East Tennessee. This district “...to begin at the north east corner of the last mentioned [3 rd ] district, to run east with the north boundary of the State, fifty-four miles, thence south to the southern boundary of the State, or the district south of French Broad and Holston ( as the case may be ) which, inclusively, shall compose one other district, and shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Forth District. ”37 District Office was located at Kingston. 38 ~ There is no extant original map of the 4 th District.

The 5th District

Located in the northern middle part of East Tennessee. This district “...to begin at the north east corner of the fourth district, to run east with the north boundary of the State forty-eight miles, thence south according to the true meridian, to the district south of the French Broad and Holston, which inclusively, shall compose one other district, and shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Fifth District.” 39
In 1807, the line between the 5th and 6 th Districts was changed to conform to certain, then current county lines. “...the eastern line of the fifth district, dividing said district from the sixth district, shall be the line of Jefferson County, dividing the same from Greene and Hawkins, and the line of Grainger County, dividing the same from Hawkins County and the line of Claiborne County, dividing the same from Hawkins, so as to include all the county of Jefferson, Grainger and Claiborne in said fifth district, and all of the county of Hawkins in the sixth district.” 40 This boundary change may have been an administration change rather than a change in any surveyed line. The Surveyors’ District Office was located at Knoxville. 41 There is no extant original map of the 5th District.

The 6th District

Located in the most northeastern part of Tennessee. This district “...to be bounded by the fifth district on the west, by Virginia on the north, and by the district south of French Broad and Holston, and the North Carolina line on the east and southeast, which shall compose one other district, and shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Sixth District., and the last mentioned districts; together with the district south of French Broad and Holston, shall be attached to the land office of East Tennessee.”
The District Office was located at Jonesborough. 42 In 1825, the business office of the 6th District was closed; the county register of Washington County received the district's books and assumed its business duties.43
There is a very large original map of the 6th District, TSLA map #400. That map reflects the original 1806 straight line boundary between the 5th and 6th Districts. [See 5th District.] The map shows section and range lines, however we find that these lines were seldom, if ever, recorded in actual surveys. The map does show the area south of the French Broad River, east of the Big Pigeon River and west of North Carolina as being in the 6th District. [This is correction made since the publication of the original paper.] Also we find 6th District surveys south of the French Broad. An even more important survey is for an island in the Big Pigeon. 44 Undoubtedly the bounds of the 6th District included that tract east of the Big Pigeon.

The District south of the French Broad & Holston

Located in East Tennessee. This district was formed on the bounds of the tract mentioned in the 1796 Tennessee State Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Section 31: “That the people residing south of the French Broad and Holston, between the rivers Tennessee and the Big Pigeon, are entitled to the right of pre-emption and occupancy in that tract.” 45 Even mentioned in the U. S. Congressional Act of 1806: “. . . the people residing in said State, south of French Broad and Holston, and west of the Big Pigeon Rivers provided for by the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, shall be secured in their respective rights of occupancy and pre-emption. . .” [See note 2.] Most of the boundary rivers, above, have gone through name changes since 1790’s. The river above Kingston but before Knoxville that was originally called the Holston, later became the Tennessee. The Big Pigeon became the Pigeon, and the then Tennessee is now the Little Tennessee. The southern line of this tract would cross over and into Cherokee lands. The dividing boundary was established in the 2 July 1791, Blount’s Treaty, also called the Treaty of Holston. 46 The southern area of Blount County reached past the treaty line. It was not unusual for the county lines or even the later Surveyors’ District lines to cross treaty lines, only later to be open to legal settlement. In 1797, the Hawkins’ Line was surveyed. That line ran east-southeast from Kingston to Blanket Mountain, later being extended to “Megis’ Post” near Clingman Dome on Iron Mountain. 47 In the Treaty of Tellico, 2 Oct 1798,48 the Cherokees ceded more land in the southwest of Blount County, south of the original Hawkin’s Line. Here the boundaries were extended southerly and also eastward to the Chilhowie Mountain area. At the conclusion of the treaty of Tellico a tract of land in southeast Blount County still remained in Cherokee hands.
When it was formed in 1806, the boundary description of the French Broad and Holston District was unspecific, according to Whitney. Here we need to return to the Section 31 of the State Declaration of Rights. The district's southern boundary would simply be “Tennessee” or Little Tennessee. However, it seems that the District did not completely adhere to the Little Tennessee as its southern boundary. Off limits to white settlement was a tract of Cherokee land in southeast Blount County. This tract actually was to fall into the 1819 Hiwassee District. Calhoun's Treaty of 1819 extinguished all Cherokee claims north of the Hiwassee River which, of course, included any Indian lands that remained north of the Little Tennessee, in Blount County. With the use of the 1851 Hiwassee District map, TSLA #408, we can determine the boundary between this District south of the French Broad and Holston and the Hiwassee the District.
There remains little of the District’s records to help us sort out boundary line or land location. Some land grant and county records remain. One can also find an occasional article that might prove helpful. 49
The District Office was located at Sevierville. 50 There is no extant original map of the District south of the French Broad and Holston.

The 1819 East Tennessee District

The Hiwassee District

Located in southern East Tennessee. “That said tract of country be laid off into one surveyors’ district, and shall be known by the name of the Hiwassee District...the Surveyor General...shall... survey the lands lately acquired by treaty from the Cherokee tribe of Indians, lying between the Hiwassee, Big Tennessee and Little Tennessee Rivers, and north of Little Tennessee...” 51 North of the Little Tennessee? This was the land in southeast Blount County that can found on various treaty boundary line maps and particularly TSLA map #408. [See note 18]
In 1833, it became lawful’to make entries...for any vacant and un-appropriated land lying in Blount County, within the Hiwassee District... ”52 Additionally, we have the Calhoun’s Treaty of 10 March 1819 where we find: beginning on the Tennessee River, at “...the mouth of the Hiwassee; thence along its main channel, to the first hill which closes in on said river, about two miles above Hiwassee Old Town, thence, along the ridge that divides the waters of the Hiwassee and Little Tellico, to the [Little] Tennessee River, at Tallassee; thence, along the main channel, to the junction of the Cowee and Nanteyalee: thence along the ridge in the fork of said river, to the top of the Blue Ridge; thence along Blue Ridge, to the Unicoy turnpike road; thence by a straight line, to the nearest main source of the Chestatee; thence along its main channel, to the Chatahouchee; thence to the Creek Boundary...” 53 Here the Cherokees still retain rights to a small strip of land along west side of the Blue Ridge, so when the Hiwassee District was created, its south east line would not have run to the North Carolina line.
In 1825, “another register...to be denominated the ‘Register of the Hiwassee District,’ who shall keep his office at Athens, in the county of M’Minn ...” 54 Also in that year, the register of the Hiwassee District was to copy any Hiwassee District record that was in the land office at Knoxville. 55 There is no extant original extant map of the Hiwassee District, however there is a TVA redrawing of an 1851 map. (TSLA map #408)

1819 West {Middle} & Western Tennessee Districts

In 1816 the Chickasaw Nation ceded their land north of the Tennessee River. 56, 57 This would include the area that was to become the 7 th and 8th Districts and the southwest part of the 1st District, the Buffalo River area. In 1818, the Chickasaws again ceded more land, this time south of the Tennessee River. This land included all of their holding in today’s West Tennessee. 58 This was referred to as the Western Purchase. Here the Congressional Reservation becomes history.
Tennessee had almost completed acquiring her land area by the end of 1818. The exception was the southeast portion of the State that was to become the 1836 Ocoee District. But now Tennessee had grown to the Mississippi River and her three distinctly different geographic regions were later to become known as the Three Grand Divisions of the State of Tennessee, East, Middle, and West. In 1825 we see the term “Western” applied to the area now called West, and “West”, still applied to the area now called Middle. By 1831, the term “Middle District” can be seen.
In 1819, the Tennessee Assembly establishes seven new Surveyors’ Districts, south and west of the Congressional Line.59 An 1832 map by Matthew Rhea60 shows the Section and Range numbers and lines of the Districts, 9 through 13, in today's West Tennessee.

The 7th District

Located in south west Middle Tennessee. The “...district beginning on the southern boundary of the State on the Congressional Reservation Line; thence north with the same, to a point equi-distant from said southern boundary line, to a point due east from the town of Columbia on said line, and from that point thus ascertained a due west course to the Tennessee River; thence up said river to the beginning: which shall be called the Seventh District. And the surveyor’s office shall be kept at Pulaski, in the County of Giles... ”61 (TSLA map #402)

The 8th District

Located in south west Middle Tennessee. The “...district shall consist of that tract of country, lying south and west of the Congressional Reservation Line, and north of the Seventh District, and east of the Tennessee River; which shall be called the Eighth District, and the surveyor’s office therefore shall be kept at Columbia in the County of Maury.” 62 The north boundary of this district is, for the most part, the Military Line, (TSLA map #403)

The 9th District

Located in West Tennessee. This “...district to begin thirty-five miles west of the Tennessee River, on the south boundary of the State; to run north according to the true meridian fifty-five miles for its western boundary; thence east to the Tennessee River; thence [south] up the Tennessee, to the beginning; which shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Ninth District. ”63 (TSLA map #404)

The 10th District

Located in West Tennessee. This “...district beginning at the southwest corner of the last mentioned [9 th District]; running west with the south boundary line of this State thirty miles; thence north fifty-five miles; thence east to the northwest corner of the aforesaid district; thence south to the beginning , to compose one other district, which shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Tenth District.”64 (TSLA map #398)

The 11th District

Located in West Tennessee. This “...district beginning at the at the southwest corner of the last mentioned [10th District], running thence north fifty-five miles with the west boundary of the last mentioned, to the northwest corner thereof; thence west to the Mississippi; thence down that river to the south boundary of this State; thence east to the beginning; which shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Eleventh District.” 65 (TSLA map #397)

The 12th District

Located in West Tennessee. This “...district beginning where the north boundary line of this State crosses the Tennessee River; thence west with the said north boundary line, thirty-five miles; thence south to the north boundary line of the districts before described; thence east with the said line to the Tennessee River, and down [north] the same to the beginning, which shall be known and distinguished by the name of the Twelfth District. ”66 ~ There is no extant original map of the 12th District.

The 13th District

Located in West Tennessee. This “...district beginning at the southwest corner of the last mentioned [12th District]; thence running north with the west boundary of the same to the north boundary of the State; thence west with the same to the Mississippi; thence down said river to the northwest corner of District No.11; thence east to the beginning; which shall be called and known by the name of the Thirteenth District.” 67 (TSLA map #396)


In 1819,... “All of which Districts [7 through 13] shall be attached to the land office of West Tennessee.” 68 ~ In 1825, it became necessary to establish a land office more convenient to the western settler: “... the register of the land office herein to be appointed, shall keep his office in the town of Jackson, in the County of Madison, and shall be denominated the ‘Register of the Western District’... ”69

The 1827 West {Middle} Tennessee District

The Mountain District

The 3rd District closed in 1827, and in that year, the Assembly created the “Mountain District.” This District was to superimpose over parts of older districts, mainly over the 3 rd District. It seems that the Mountain District became more of an administration district rather than a Surveyors’ District. The State needed to dispose of the surplus land on the Cumberland Plateau and to enter that land on the tax rolls. ---“The register of the land office...shall keep his office in the town of Sparta, in the county of White, and shall be denominated ‘the Register of the Mountain District. ’...”
Additionally; “...All land entered or hereafter to be entered in the counties of Franklin, Warren, Marion, Bledsoe, White, Overton, Fentress and Jackson, and the plats and certificates not returned to any other registers office in this State on or before the first day of January next shall be returned to the ‘register’s office of the mountain district,’ ....” 70 Note that parts or all of some of the above mentioned counties may fall into other older districts. There is no mention, and would have been no need of re-surveying the Mountain District. There is no extant map of the Mountain District. The 1827 bounds of the mentioned counties create the bounds of the Mountain District. TSLA has some litigation records involving land in this district.

The 1836 East Tennessee District

The Ocoee District

In 1833, “...the laws and jurisdiction of the State of Tennessee...are hereby extended to the southern limits of the State, over that tract of country now in the occupancy of the Cherokee Indians... ” 71 Here was the Cherokee’s last hold out. Then came the Ocoee District in 1836.
Located in the southeast corner of East Tennessee. “That the public lands of this State ceded by the Cherokee Nation of Indians to the United States by treaty of the 23rd day of May, 1836, shall constitute a surveyors’ district, which shall be known by the name of ‘Ocoee District’... ”72 In this treaty, called the Treaty of New Echota or Treaty of Removal, the Cherokee Nation ceded all lands that were owned, claimed or possessed by them, east of the Mississippi River. The treaty also provided for the removal of the Indians, two years after ratification. 73
We can set the boundaries from existing maps: the State Line on the east and south, the Tennessee River on the west, the Hiwassee River on the north. Also a small strip of land north of the Hiwassee River and west of the Blue Ridge. [See Hiwassee District section] There were survey conflicts between the Ocoee and the Hiwassee Districts, involving the exact placement of the dividing line between the two Districts. This involved islands in the Hiwassee River and similar claims among other things. 74
The office of the Surveyor General of the District was established at Cleveland, Bradley County.75 ~ There is no extant original map of the Ocoee District. There is a map, ca. 1850-60, surveyed by Capt. O. M. Poe. (TSLA map #898)

**Addendum, 19 December 2006

The boundaries of North Carolina’s Military Reservation in Middle Tennessee was known by various names; Commissioner's line, Continental Line, Military Line, Military Reservation line, Rutherford Line, and Soldiers Line.


1. Whitney, Henry D. Land Law of Tennessee, W. H. Anderson & Co. Law Book Publishers, Cincinnati Ohio, 1893. From microfilm of original book, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville TN. Hereafter: Whitney.
2. Whitney, p. 58. ( An additional source for early U. S. Laws is: The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, Pub. Little & Brown, Boston, MA, 1846, This is a large set, and has been reprinted as United States Statutes at Large, Pub. Dennis & Co. Buffalo, NY. 1963.)
3. Ibid. p. 159.
4. Among the many duties of the Entry-Taker was the collection of monies or entry fees from those settlers that did not have a Military Warrant or other, exempt from payment, certificate. In essence, Tennessee sold her lands to the settlers, and with time payments. If the settler did not follow through with his payments, he would lose his land. Of course the settler was also taxed on the land.
5. Whitney, ps.121 & 437.
6. Ibid. pp. 202-203.
7. A. J. Johnson, Johnston’s Kentucky and Tennessee Map, New York, 1865. Reprint by Jonathan Sheppard Books, Albany, N. Y. 12220.
8. Tennessee State Library & Archives, Nashville. Record Group 50. Tennessee’s Surveyors’ Districts. These records are on 35mm microfilm and may be purchased. It is best to order an index first. Separate Land Grant records exist and there is an extensive card file index of grantees at the TSLA. The card file of grantees is also on 16mm microfilm. County records are on 35 mm microfilm and indices are available for individual counties.
9. Irene M. Griffey, CG, Clarksville TN. Lecture, The Walker Line Conflict, at the NGS convention in Nashville, TN., 8-11. May 1996. See:
National Genealogical Society 1996 Conference in the States, Traveling Historic Trails, Families on the Move: Syllabus, pp. 388-391.
10. Whitney, pp. 58-59.
11. Ibid. p. 120.
12. Ibid. p. 195.
13. Ramsey, J. G. M., M.D., Annals of Tennessee. 1853. Reprint 1967 by the East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville, TN
p. 491.
14. Chickasaw Cession, 23 July 1805, Whitney pp. 41-42.
15. Third Treaty of Tellico, 25 Oct 1805, Whitney pp. 23-24.
16. Whitney, p. 15.
17. Ibid, p. 23.
18. Maps have been published showing the various boundary adjustments caused by the numerous treaties with the Indian Nations. See: White, Robert H., Ph.D. Messages of the Governors of Tennessee 1796-1821. Vol. 1. Pub. Tennessee Historical Commission, Nashville TN, 1952. Map facing p. 194. This map was taken from: William R. Garrett & Albert V. Goodpasture., History of Tennessee, Its People and Its Institutions, Pub. Brandon Printing Co., Nashville, TN, 1903. Another map of the Treaty Boundary lines appears in the NGS Syllabus, See: National Genealogical Society 1996 Conference in the States, Traveling Historic Trails, Families on the Move: Syllabus. p. 108. The above maps have at least two anomalies. First, the bounds of the Chickasaw Cession of 23 July 1805 are in error. Second, the Chickasaw Cession of 20 September 1816 is not indicated on these maps. In the 1816 treaty, the Chickasaw Nation ceded “...all right or title to lands on the north side of the Tennessee River...” The maps shows southern middle Tennessee being ceded in Dearborn&$0146s Treaty, 1806. However there is no reference to the land west of the Congressional Reservation Line. The part of the Reservation that was to become the 7 th & 8th Districts, was, except for Maury County and northeast Giles County, closed until September, 1816. “Southern Hickman and Humphreys and southwestern Giles lay in the 1816 Chickasaw cession, an area previously ceded by treaties of 1805-1807.” Quote from: Map Guide to the U. S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide. Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. Baltimore, MD. 1987, 1992. p. 316. (All U. S. Indian Treaties may be found in: Chas J. Kappler, LL.M. Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties. Vol. II, Treaties. Pub. Government Printing Office. 1904. Reprint G. P. O. 1972. This is a seven volume set, other volumes contain Indian Treaty law.)
19. Chickasaw Treaty, 20 September 1816. Whitney pp. 42-43.
20. Whitney, p. 123.
21. TSLA map # 2543, Middle Tennessee Supreme Court case, Maury County vs. Lewis County, 1851. MT Box 94.
22. TSLA RG50 microfilm roll 35, Book 35, p. 7, survey for W m Smith, p. 12, survey for John Baily, p. 20, survey for Baker King, p. 35, James Webb.
23. TSLA RG50 microfilm roll 35 Book 35, p. 138. Survey for Jesse Cypert.
24. Whitney, p. 120.
25. McCallum, James C. A brief Sketch of the Settlement and Early History of Giles County Tennessee, 1878. Reprint 1983 by Southern Historical Press, Easley, SC pp. 52-57. Hereafter: McCallum.
25. 26. Calhoun’s Treaty, 27 February 1819. Whitney, pp. 35-39.
27. Whitney, p. 123.
28. Ibid. p. 192.
29. TSLA, Nashville. Survey Notes, 1807, Microfilm roll AC-1511. A State archivist has joined these notes into long mostly straight line surveys of some, but not all of the original range and section lines surveys of the Second District.
30. Originally, we place this Flat Rock as being near Highway 24 [70N] and near Campbell Junction, Cumberland County. Since the first publication, we have seen secondary sources that indicate that Flat Rock may have been located to directly north of Campbell Junction, near present day Highway 62.
31. Whitney, p. 120.
32. Jackson and McMinn’s Treaty, 18 July 1817, Whitney pp. 32-35 and Calhoun’s Treaty, 27 February 1819. Whitney, pp. 35-39.
33. Whitney, p. 186.
34. Ibid, p. 123.
35. Webb, Thomas G., De Kalb County Historian, writes in private correspondence, dated 25 September 1996: “Daniel Alexander in March 1802, was granted license to operate a tavern at his residence in Smith Co. TN . . . Thus he not only had a home there, but one large enough to be used as a tavern, a place open to the public and suitable to be used as an office for the surveyors’ district . . . In 1820 Daniel Alexander laid off the town of Alexandria into 24 lots, including his own home on No. 3 . . It would seem quite logical to me that Alexander’s would have been the district office location.” (Alexandria is now in northwest De Kalb County.) Interestingly, the 3rd District Surveyors’ Office would actually,be located in the 1st District. There would have been no existing place in the then, just opened, 3rd District wherein an office could be located.
36. Ibid. p. 192.
37. Ibid. pp. 120-121.
38. Ibid. p. 123.
39. Ibid. p. 121.
40. Ibid. p. 159.
41. Ibid. p. 123.
42. Ibid. p. 123.
43. Ibid. p. 190.
44. TSLA RG50 microfilm roll 37, Book 41, p. 68, survey #989. Survey for Saml Jennings, Cocke County, 1812.
45. Also in the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell, we see “...the people settled between the fork of French Broad and Holston Rivers, whose particular situation shall be transmitted to the United States Congress assembled, for their decision thereon, which the Indians agree to abide by.” Whitney p. 16, Art. V.
46. Whitney, p. 17.
47. Rothrock, Mary U., Editor. The French Broad-Holston Country. A History of Knox County Tennessee. By the Knox County Historical Committee, East Tennessee Historical Society. Knoxville, TN 1946, reprint 1972. pp. 44-46.
48. Whitney, pp. 21-22.
49. D. Morton Rose, Jr., Knoxville, TN. Early Land Grants in Sevier County, NC-TN (South of the French Broad River) Tennessee Ancestor, Vol. 9 (2). August 1993. pp. 83-92. Additionally. Mr. Rose states in private conversation, August 1996, that he had never seen section and range lines mentioned in old Sevier County land documents.
50. Whitney, p. 123.
51. Ibid. p. 386.
52. Ibid. p. 426.
53. Ibid. p. 36.
54. Ibid. p. 405.
55. Ibid. p. 409.
56. Ibid. p. 42.
57. McCallum, p. 61.
58. Whitney, p. 43.
59. Ibid. p. 200.
60. Rhea, Matthew. Map of the State of Tennessee, 1832. Reprinted and included with reprint of: Morris, Eastin, The Tennessee Gazetteer. Orig. pub. W. Hasell Hunt & Co. Nashville, TN 1834, reprint, The Gazetteer Press, Nashville, TN 1971.
61. Whitney, p. 201.
62. Ibid. p. 201.
63. Ibid. p. 201.
64. Ibid. p. 201.
65. Ibid. pp. 201-202.
66. Ibid. p. 202.
67. Ibid. p. 202.
68. Ibid. p. 202.
69. Ibid. p. 240.
70. Ibid. pp. 322-323.
71. Ibid. p. 647.
72. Ibid. p. 436.
73. Ibid. p. 41.
74. Ibid. pp. 427, 429-430, 435.
75. Ibid. pp. 440, 447.

With sincere thanks to
Norman T. Mc Gee, mentor, and to
Wayne Moore. Ph.D. of the TSLA.

The TNGenNet has permitted
use “in perpetuity” of this paper.

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