Land Grant 425, the newest addition to the Kentucky Library & Museum’s Land Grant Collection is a bit of a curiosity. Dating from 1826, the piece looks like many of the other land grants in appearance. For the most part these documents were large printed paper forms with blanks for pertitent information. Many times a wax or embossed seal was attached near the bottom left margin. Land grants were issued for military service or to pioneers willing to settle on theretofore unclaimed land.
Land Grant 425 was issued by Governor Joseph Desha (1768-1842) in 1826 to the Trustees of Augusta College, a Methodist institution located in Bracken County, Kentucky. It was certainly not unusual for educational institutions to receive tracts of land to underwrite their operating costs, but this particular grant included five hundred acres in Sumner County, Tennessee. Why was the state of Kentucky allowed to issue a grant for land in another state’s territory?
This curiosity is acutally one of nearly 4600 grants that Kentucky issued for land in Tennessee between 1820 and 1926. The land, as delineated in Land Grant 425, was located “South of Walker’s line.” This disputed land was part of a large sliver of land at Kentucky’s southern border that was inaccurately surveyed in 1779-80 by Thomas Walker. The dispute was inconclusively settled with a new survey in 1859, but political wrangling over the matter continued for several generations. Because of this boundary dispute, some people located in Cumberland County, Kentucky in the 1810 U.S. census are found in the Tenneessee counties of Jackson or Overton ten years later.
A finding aid and photograph of the land grant can be found here.