Isaac Jones homestead (1837-1851) Calloway County, KY

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Tinsley Survey (1833)

Original 1783 Military Land Grant to Samuel Tinsley

Not long after his marriage to Nancy Dunlap, Isaac Jones makes his largest land purchase to date, purchasing 1000 acres in Calloway County, Kentucky on December 2, 1833. The land was part of a larger military grant originally awarded to Samuel Tinsley on December 5, 1783 for his service in the American Revolution and hence was referred to and became known as the Tinsley Survey. Over the years the land had come into the possession of a family by the name of Semple, although earlier records list the name as Temple. At the time of Isaac's purchase, he is buying the land from John M. Semple, Charles D. Semple, Isaac R. Semple and his wife Eliza, and Eliza B. Cheatham, none of whom actually reside in the county opting instead to be represented by their attorney Charles D. Semple. This would tend to indicate that the land had been left to them through an estate and was most likely never developed or improved upon, allowing Isaac to take possession of it for only $700. The land lay in the northeastern part of the county along the waters of Jonathan Creek just to the east of the town of Wadesboro, which at the time was the county seat of Calloway County and also the location for the region's land office. Many have speculated in the past that the Tinsley Survey's exact location was along Little Jonathan Creek south of Hico, but I believe that evidence suggests that it was much further north. Far enough north for parts of it to have been incorporated into Marshall County with it's formation from Calloway in 1842. On the 1852 tax list for McCracken County, KY, Isaac's son Burrel is shown as being taxed for 100 acres along Clarks River in Marshall County. I believe this to be land recently acquired through his father's estate and the same land he is shown being taxed on prior to 1842 in the Calloway County tax records. Later deeds even indicate that Issac himself never lived on any of the Tinsley Survey land which is a subject I'll address later.

It's difficult to say for certain how Isaac would have come by knowledge of this particular land being available for sale while he still living in Tennessee, although there are numerous solid possibilities. Calloway County and all the other counties in Kentucky lying west of the Tennessee River had been part of the Jackson Purchase of 1818 with the Chickasaw Nation. The purchase also included all of Tennessee west of the Tennessee River, which included Henry County where Isaac's son Burrel had left Williamson County for around 1830. With land speculation being a national obsession at the time anyone with land they were looking to unload could either advertise in regional newspapers as far away as Nashville, or simply down at either of the two land offices that serviced the area, one being in Princeton and the other in Wadesboro. With Wadesboro being pretty much just across the state line from Henry County where Burrel was, it's quite likely Burrel may have been in the area with his ear already to the ground for just such a deal.

Another possibility once again goes back to the Methodist Church. By 1833, Calloway County already boasted the largest number of Methodist inhabitants in this region of Kentucky, a distinction it would hold throughout the 19th Century even surpassing the nearby population center of Paducah. Later evidence would show that Isaac made the trip several times from Williamson County, Tennessee to Calloway County, Kentucky in the years prior to his own eventual relocation, indicating a certain level of ease in travel between the two locations. With names like Bizzell, Morefield, Wells, and Jones already existing in the county as early as 1830, it's entirely possible that word had trickled back to Williamson County from earlier emigrants.

Isaac wouldn't relocate to Calloway County for another four years, but many of his children did shortly after he purchased the Tinsley Survey. A deed of mortgage between John Jeffrey and Isaac's son Joshua Douglas involving a $50 loan indicates they had arrived in Calloway County as early as February 18, 1834. Isaac would make a return trip to the area later that month to perform the wedding between John Jeffrey and Isaac's now-widowed daughter Jane Jones Sparks on February 25,1834. Tax records for 1834 indicate that Wiley had also arrived in the county that year and that Burrel had begun dividing his time between there and Henry County, TN. By 1835, Isaac's son Thomas had arrived on the scene from Lincoln County, TN accompanied by his sister Alvina and her husband Bowen Whitlock. The theory has been proposed in the past that it was necessary for Isaac to rush his children up to Calloway County to take possession of and quickly occupy his recent Tinsley Survey purchase "to prevent the state of Kentucky from declaring the claim invalid and selling the land to any interested party." While it was possible for this sort of situation to occur, it wouldn't have been the case with Isaac's land purchase.

Despite being part of the Jackson Purchase and owned by the Chickasaw prior to 1818, the area of Calloway County had originally been the location of many military grants issued to Virginians who fought in the American Revolution. Many of these veterans or their descendants had settled in the area without a clear title of ownership to their land. After the land was purchased from the Chickasaws, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation on February 14, 1820 developing the public land system.This called for the land to be mapped and laid out using the township and range method and then sold off to the public in 160 acre quarter sections. This legislation also provided for military veterans or their assigns who did not possess clear title to their land to continue with the original patent process. This scenario would not have applied to or even affected Samuel Tinsley's land because he had already entered the 1000 acres that Isaac purchased back on August 11, 1784. This same land was subsequently surveyed for him on March 11, 1825 and recorded on March 16, 1826 with the state, meeting all requirements for rightful and legal ownership prior to it even ending up in the hands of the people Isaac bought it from. The actual deed for Isaac's purchase in 1833 states that the land was "patented to Samuel Tinsley on the first day of September 1826" further proving that Tinsley had met the requirements of the state and held clear title to the land. This voids any possibility that the state could have declared the claim invalid at the time of Isaac's purchase.

Despite having been opened up to settlement back in 1820, plenty of cheap land was still available to be had in Calloway County. Kentucky Land Office records show that in 1835 during the months of July, August, and November, Isaac's sons Burrel, Thomas, and Wiley purchased a total of four quarter sections of land along Little Jonathan Creek. Each quarter section consisted of 160 acres and cost a mere $20. Isaac's son-in-law John Jeffrey would also purchase a single quarter section in July bringing the total to five, which were all eventually sold to Isaac in 1836 and 1837. The records involving these land purchases hold a particular significance in that they take the form of receipts from the receiver's office in Wadesboro. Upon receiving payment for the land, the land office receiver would issue a receipt as proof of ownership that also listed the specific township and range location. Anytime an individual wanted to transfer ownership of their land, they would simply sign it over to the other person on the back of the receipt. This could continue on through several owners, and often did, until the last individual sent the receipt off to the governor's office in Frankfort to have it finalized and an official certificate of ownership was then issued. With the original receipt having been handed over, there was no need for a court copy to be produced as was usually the case with the typical land deed, thus providing the viewer with a rare glimpse at actual authentic signatures for each of these individuals.

The land purchases mentioned above are where many of these individuals or their children ended up actually living, all located along Little Jonathan Creek on both sides of modern day Roosevelt Road (Hwy 1346) and including the land occupied by the Jeffrey Cemetery.

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