xt74f47gqw88 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt74f47gqw88/data/mets.xml Wilson, Samuel M. (Samuel Mackay), 1871-1946. 1923  books b92-102-27766079 English [s.n.], : Lexington, Ky. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Virginia. Commissioners for Adjusting and Determining Claims to Lands on the Western Waters (Kentucky District). Kentucky Public lands. Virginia Public lands. Kentucky History To 1792 Sources. First land court of Kentucky, 1779-1780  : an address delivered / by Samuel M. Wilson before the Kentucky State Bar Association at Covington, Kentucky, July 6, 1923. text First land court of Kentucky, 1779-1780  : an address delivered / by Samuel M. Wilson before the Kentucky State Bar Association at Covington, Kentucky, July 6, 1923. 1923 2002 true xt74f47gqw88 section xt74f47gqw88 

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First Land Court of Kentucky


An Address

          DELIVERED BY

           BEFORE THE


                 Po-viligon, Kenta.uk-
                     Ju.y 6 1923

(Reprinted, with the addition of Notes, Appendices, and Illustrations, from the
Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of the Association, 1923.)

                 Lexington, Kentucky


This page in the original text is blank.


The First Land Court of Kentucky.

   Without disparagement to the other departments of
our State government, it may with truth be said that the
courts, composing the Judicial Department, are by far
the most important. It is to the courts that the citizen
must look for the protection and enforcement of his rights
of life, liberty and property and for the effectual promo-
tion of his happiness; it is to the courts that the Execu-
tive and Legislative Departments must turn for the de-
limitation of their spheres of action and the adjustment
of their prerogatives both as between themselves and as
between these co-ordinate depositories of the sovereign
power and the people for whom and upon whom they
operate. Under our system of government, unless the
courts are open and actively engaged in the discharge of
their duty to dispense justice between litigants, without
sale, denial or delay, there can be neither freedom nor
felicity in the daily life of the citizens of the common-
   Not a little has been written by competent hands con-
cerning the judicial history of the Commonwealth of Ken-
tucky, and the beginnings of that history have, from titne
to time, been traced with var-ing degrees of skill and
fulness; but nowhere, within .he range of my reading,
have I ever found what professed to be or proved to be
an adequate account ol that umique tribunal, which may
with propriety be called "The First Land Court of Ken-
tucky." Except for the fact that a County Court and,
possibly, a Court of Quarter Sessions, for the County of
Kentucky had preceded it, by the space of two years, and



except for the fact that its jurisdiction was strictly lim-
ited to the determination of causeseaffecting real estate,
it might not improperly be termed Kentucky's first court
of record, having jurisdiction at all comparable to that
of the established courts of general jurisdiction through-
out the Commonwealth of Virginia. While its legal com-
petence was restricted and the entire period of its exist-
ence comprised less than a single year, yet within the
statutory scope of its powers and from -the day it first
convened until it ceased to function, it exercised an au-
thority of the highest order and was well-nigh absolute
and supreme. Dealing, as it did, with inchoate titles to
the land, the highest form of property known to our law,
and touching most intimately the subject which was then
of chief concern to the first inhabitants and first adven-
turers of Kentucky, the significance of its place and pro-
ceedings in the pioneer era of the Commonwealth cannot
easily be overstated. Moreover, it is a pleasure, at the
very outset, to declare that, within the bounds of its pre-
scribed authority, it was a not unworthy forerunner of
its successors, the "Supreme Court for the District of
Kentucky," the "Court of Appeals," and the District
and Circuit Courts, which, in the order mentioned, later
came to exercise the jurisdiction with which this First
Land Court was originally invested.
   By way of further introduction to swhat follows, let
it be said that, most tort-anately for us of 'this generation,
the records of this court, by whvch we, ;are enabled to
form an estimate of its character and activities, have been
preserved practically unimpaired, bi d, in this respect, it
differs, greatly to its advantage, both from the County
and Quarter Sessions Courts, which preceded it, and
from the District Supreme Court, the County and Quar-


terly Courts, and even the Court of Appeals, which pres-
ently took its place.
   A brief preliminary glance will suffice to put us in
possession of the leading facts necessary to a proper un-
derstanding of its origin and environment. For four
years, from 1772 to 1776, the territory which, since 1792,
has been known as the State of Kentucky, was embraced
within the extensive, though indefinite, limits of the Coun-
ty of Fincastle, Virginia. Fincastle was itself created
out of Botetourt, which, in 1770, had been severed from
the wide-spreading domain of the ancient County. of Au-
gusta. For four years, again, from December 31, 1776, to
November 1, 1780, Kentucky County, which was carved
out of Fincastle, not only included all of the present
State, bearing the same name, but its area practically
coincided with that of the territory which has ever since
been known, both officially and unofficially, as Kentucky
The County of Kentucky underwent division and sub-
division, but, save for the short space of about two years,
from November, 1780, until August, 1782, the name was
never discarded, and, first, as a District of Virginia, and,
later, as an independent Commonwealth, Kentucky re-
tained the identity and unity which had originally been
defined in the Act of October, 1776, by which the County
and Parish of Kentucky were simultaneously created.
   Except in the extreme northern end of the State, in
what are now Lawrence and Greenup Counties, where a
few grants to John Fry (said to have been acting in the
interest of Colonel George Washington), were made in
1772, upon surveys theretofore located, the first surveys
of consequence in Kentucky were made while it was still
comprised within the limits of Fincastle County; and
all official surveys thereafter, down to the end of 1780,
were made while the territory constituting the present



State of Kentucky was known as the County of Ken-
tucky. Leaving out of consideration the exceptional case
of the Transylvania Company, whose ambitious project
left little or no lasting impress on land titles in Kentucky,
it may be said that, during the greater portion of the
period from 1772 to 1780, surveys, whether in Fincastle
County or in Kentucky County, were made either under
the Royal authority or in accordance with Colonial laws.
The surveys made at the Falls of the Ohio and elsewhere,
in 1773, by the party headed by Captain Thomas Bullitt,
of Fauquier County, were made in pursuance of Military
Warrants granted by Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor
of Virginia, and upon these surveys at the Falls, Dun-
more issued patents to Doctor John Connolly, then in
command at Fort Pitt as the representative of the gov-
ernment of Virginia, but inasmuch as Captain Bullitt had
attempted to proceed under a commission from William
and Mary College alone and because he had never been
regularly deputized by Colonel William Preston, the
Chief Surveyor of Fincastle County, Colonel Preston re-
fused to recognize the validity of the Bullitt surveys and
the following year (1774) caused these same lands to be
re-surveyed by his own duly authorized deputies and
then, and not until then, would he approve the surveys
upon which the Connolly grants had issued. These grants
were dated December 10 or 16, 1773, Lord Dunmore hav-
ing executed patents for the land to his friend and par-
tisan, John Connolly, and to one Charles Warrenstaff
(or Warrensdorff), without waiting for Colonel Preston's
formal approval of the surveys. (See Calendar of Vir-
ginia State Papers, Vol. I, pp. 307-310.)
   In addition to locations, entries, or surveys under
corporate charters, or founded upon importation rights,
upon treasury rights for money paid the receiver general,



regularly made "on the western waters" before the 26th
day of October, 1763, or upon any warrant from the gov-
ernor for the time being for military service, in virtue
of any proclamation either from the King of Great
Britain or any former Governor of Virginia, a preferred
right to certain quantities of land was secured to actual
settlers, who had become such prior to January 1, 1778,
and to those who might theretofore or thereafter have
made a crop of corn or have resided "in the country
upon the western waters" for at least one year since the
time of their settlement, there was likewise secured a
right of pre-emption to not exceeding four hundred acres
per person, and, if before January 1, 1778, they had
"marked out or chosen for themselves any waste or un-
appropriated lands and built any house or hut, or made
other improvements thereon," such persons were de-
clared entitled to a pre-emption of any quantity of land,
to include such improvements, not exceeding one thousand
acres, but in no event to a pre-emption for more than one
such improvement; and a right of pre-emption to four
hundred acres, called a village right, was given to such
families as might have settled themselves in villages or
townships "under some agreement between the inhab-
itants of laying off the same into town lots, to be divided
among them, and have, from present necessity, cultivated-
a piece of ground adjoining thereto in common." All of
these rights were subject to certain specified conditions,
which had to be complied with within a certain time, gen-
erally fixed at twelve months at the latest, under pain of
forfeiture of all such rights. It was provided that "all
locations made by officers and soldiers upon the lands of
actual settlers shall be void, but the said officers, soldiers,
or their assignees, may obtain warrants on producing the
Commissioners' Certificate of their several rights, and



locate their claims on other waste and unappropriated
lands. "  Certificates for settlements were expressly
given a preference over warrants for pre-emption.
    Without attempting to give a complete synopsis or
 digest of the celebrated Act of May, 1779, by which the
 Commonwealth of Virginia sought to provide "for ad-
 justing and settling the titles of claimers to unpatented
 lands under the present and former government" (10
 Hening's Stats., pp. 35-50), Chap. XII), and without at-
 tempting to summarize the Act, adopted at the same ses-
 sion, "for establishing a Land Office, and ascertaining
 the terms and manner of granting waste and unappro-
 priated lands" (10 Hening's Stats., pp. 50-65, Chap.
 XIII), it will sufficiently serve our present purposes to
 mention the following more important features of this
 epoch-making legislation.
   The first of these two acts, commonly known as the
"Land Law," declares that "great numbers of people
have settled in the country upon the western waters, upon
waste and unappropriated lands, for which they have
'been hitherto prevented from suing out patents or ob-
taining legal titles by the King of Great Britain's proc-
lamations or instructions to his governors, or by the late
change of government, and the present war having de-
layed until now the opening of a Land Office, and the
establishment of any certain terms for granting lands,
and it is just that those settling under such circumstances
should have some reasonable allowance for the charge
and risk they have incurred, and that the property so ac-
quired should be secured to them," and, in view of the
conflicting claims likely to arise out of the diverse cir-
cumstances and conditions relied upon to support such
claims, numerous disputes may be occasioned, "the de-
termination of which, depending upon evidence which



cannot, without great charge and trouble, be collected but
in the neighborhood of such lands, and will be most speed-
ily and properly made by commissioners in the respec-
tive counties;" therefore it is enacted: "That the
counties on the western waters shall be allotted into dis-
tricts, to wit: (1) The counties of Monongalia, Yoho-
gania, and Ohio, into one district; (2) the counties of Au-
gusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier, into one district; (3)
the counties of Washington and Montgomery, into one
other district; and (4) the county of Kentucky shall be
another district; for each of which districts, the governor,
with the advice of the council, shall appoint four com-
missoners, under the seal of the Commonwealth, not be-
ing inhabitants of such district (any three of whom may
act), to continue in office eight months from the end of
this present session of Assembly, for the purpose of col-
lecting, adjusting, and determining such claims, and four
months thereafter for the purpose of adjusting the claims
of settlers on lands surveyed for the aforesaid com-
panies. "
   The oath required to be taken by each Commissioner
before entering upon the duties of his office contained,
among other obligations thereby solemnly assumed, the
following: "I do swear that I will well and truly serve
this Commonwealth in the office of a Commissioner for
the District of (Kentucky);    and that I will do
equal right to all manner aif people, without respect of
persons; I will not take, by myself nor by any other per-
son, any gift, fee, or reward for any matter done or to be
done by virtue of my office, except such fees or salary as
the law shall allow me; and finally, in all things belong-
ing to my said office, I will faithfully, justly, and truly,
according to the best of my skill and judgment, do equal



and impartial justice, without fraud, favor, affection, or
partiality. So help me God. "
   It was further provided that "the said Commission-
ers shall have power to hear and determine all titles
claimed in consideration of settlements, to lands, to which
no person hath any other legal title, and the rights of all
persons claiming preemption to any lards within their
respective districts, as also the rights of all persons
claiming any unpatented lands, surveyed by order of
council for sundry companies, by having settled thereon
under the faith of the terms of sale publickly offered by
such companies or their agents, and shall, immediately
upon receipt of their commissions, give at least twenty
days previous notice by advertisements at the forts,
churches, meeting-houses, and other publiek places in
their district, of the time and place at which they intend
to meet, for the purpose of collecting, hearing, and de-
termining the said claims and titles, requiring all persons
interested therein to attend and put in their claims, and
may adjourn from place to place, and time to time, as
their business may require."
   "They shall appoint and administer an oath of office
to their clerk; be attended by the sheriff, or one of the
under sheriffs of the county; be empowered to administer
oaths to witnesses or others, necessary for the discharge
of their office; to punish contempts; enforce good be-
haviour in their presence; and award costs, in the same
manner with the county courts; they shall have free ac-
cess to the county surveyor's books, and may order the
same to be laid before them at any time or place of their
sitting. "
   Reinforcing the principle of priority, of "first come,
first served," it was distinctly provided that "in all cases
of disputes upon claims for settlement, the person who



made the first actual settlement, his or her heirs or as-
signs, shall have the preference; (and) in all disputes for
the right of pre-emptions, for improvements made on the
land, the persons, their heirs or assigns respectively, who
made the first improvement," shall likewise take prece-
   " The Clerk, " says the Act, " shall keep exact minutes
of all the proceedings of the Commissioners, and enter
the names of all the persons to whom either lands for set-
tlement or the right of pre-emption, as the case is, shall
be adjudged, with their respective quantities and loca-
tions, and also the names of all such persons to whom
titles shall be adjudged for lands within the surveys made
by order of council for any company, with the quantity
of acres adjudged, and inwhat survey," and the "name
or style of the company."
   In case of conflicting claims to the same land or any
portions thereof, the Clerk was empowered to issue a
summons, "stating the nature of the plaintiff's claim and
calling on the party opposing the same to appear at a
time and place certain therein to be named, and shew
cause why a grant of the said lands may not issue, or a
title be made to the said plaintiff." " The clerk shill also
have power," as the Act recites, "at the request of either
party, to issue subpoenas for witnesses to appear at the
time and place of trial, which shall be had in a summary
way without pleadings in. writing, and the court (note the
language), in conducting the said trial, in all matters of
evidence relative thereto, and in giving judgment, shall
govern themselves by such rules and principles of law or
equity as are applicable to the case, or would be the rule
of evidence or of decision, were the same before the or-
dinary courts of law or equity, save only as far as this
act shall otherwise have specially directed. Judgment


when rendered shall be final, except as hereinafter ex-
cepted, and shall give to the party, in whose favour it is,
a title against all others who were parties to the trial."
   To every person to whom they might adjudge lands
for settlement or the right of pre-emption to lands, the
Commissioners were directed to deliver a certificate there-
of under their hands, kttested by the clerk; which cer-
tificates, when produced to the surveyor of the county or
to the register of the Land Office, with proper receipts
for the payments due on pre-emptions, entitled the hold-
ers to an entry and survey, in the one case, or a warrant
for the described quantity of lands, in the other. Similar
certificates were to be delivered to every person to whom
might be adjudged a title to any unpatented land, sur-
veyed for any company by order of council.
   "And, to prevent frauds or mistakes," says the Act,
f'the said Commissioners immediately upon having cpm-
pleted the business in their district, shall transmit to the
register of the land office, under their hands, and attested
by their clerk, an exact list or schedule, in alphabetical
order, of all such certificates by them granted (for settle-
ments or pre-emptions), and a duplicate so signed and
attested to the county surveyor, for their information."
Of the certificates issued for lands within the bounds of
any unpatented lands, surveyed for any company by or-
der of council, a similar list or schedule, in alphabetical
order, "containing exact copies of all such certificates by
them granted," was ordered to be "transmitted to the
clerk of the General Court," to remain in said clerk's
office "for the information of the said companies, and
as evidence and proof of the respective titles."
   By the Act it was provided that nothing therein con-
tained should "extend to officers, soldiers, or their as-
signees, claiming lands for military service." Caveats



pending and undetermined "at the time of the late change
of government," that is, at the outbreak of the Revolu-
tion, were to be heard and determined in the General
Court, unaffected and unprejudiced by anything con-
tained in the Act. Controversies over land claims "upon
surveys under any order of council or entry in the coun-
cil books" were required to be litigated, in a summary
way, "without pleadings in writing, upon such evidence
as in the opinion of the court the nature of the case may
require," before the Court of Appeals. And, with re-
spect to the proceedings before the District Commission-
ers, it was further provided: "But as by this summary
mode of proceeding, some persons at a great distance
may not have timely notice, and may be unable to appear
in support of their claims, for remedy whereof, Be it en-
acted, That no grant shall issue upon any of the claims
determined by the said Commissioners until the first day
of December, 1780, and, in the meantime, any such per-
son injured by their determination, his or her heirs or
assigns, may enter a caveat against a grant thereupon,
until the matter shall be heard before the General Court,
and may petition the said General Court to have his or
her claim considered; and, upon its being proved to the
court that he or she labored under such disability at the
time of the meeting of the commissioners, thereupon the
court shall grant him or her a hearing in a summary way,
and if it shall appear upon trial that the petitioner's claim
is just, such court may reverse the former determination,
and order a grant to issue for such land or any part
thereof, on the terms hereinbef ore mentioned, to the per-
son to whom they shall adjudge the same."
   Due provision was made for the compensation of the
members of the Commission, of its clerk, the sheriff, and
the county surveyor, and the payment of witness fees, the



customary office fees, and "the ancient composition
money or the new purchase money" due the common-
   In the Act establishing the Commonwealth's Land
Office (10 Hening's Stats., Chap. XIII), it was exprtssly
provided that: "No entry or location of land shall be ad-
mitted within the country and limits of the Cherokee
Indians, or on the northwest side of the Ohio river, or
on the lands reserved by act of assembly for any par-
ticular nation or tribe of Indians, or on the lands granted
by law to Richard Henderson and Company (9 Hening's
Stats., p. 571, Chap. XXXIII, October, 1778); a tract
containing about 200,000 acres, on the Ohio at the mouth
of Green River, or in that tract of country reserved by
resolution of the General Assembly (of 19th December,
1778), for the benefit of the troops serving in the present
war, and bounded by the Green river and a South-East
course from the head thereof to the Cumberland moun-
tains, with the said mountains to the Carolina line, with
the Carolina line to the Cherokee or Tennessee river, with
the said river to the Ohio river, and with the Ohio to the
said Green River, until the further order of the General
Assembly. I
   It will be recalled that, by an Act of October, 1778 (9
Hening's Stats., pp. 552-555, Chap. XXI), on the strength
of "a successful expedition carried on by the Virginia
militia" against several of the British posts, on the west-
ern side of the Ohio river, within the territory of Vir-
ginia, and in the country adjacent to the river Missis-
sippi, all of the territory west or northwest of the Ohio,
so claimed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, was erected
into the County of Illinois, and, by commission dated
December 12, 1778, John Todd was appointed County
Lieutenant or Commandant-in-Chief of that county.



   For certain purposes, not of importance here, it may
be mentioned, in passing that the new ecunty of Illinois
was joined to the county of Kentucky to form what was
known as the "Kentucky District. "I By the terms of the
Act of May, 1779, creating the Court of Land Commis-
sioners, however, Kentuckly County aluime constituted a
separate district to-itself; and in addition to the provi-
sion of this Act forbidding the location or entry of land
"on the northwest side of the Ohio river," settlements in
that territory were further reprobated and prohibited by
an Act of October, 1779 (10 Hening's Stats., Chap. XXI,
at page 161).
   Enough has been presented from the acts under con-
sideration to show that the Commissioners provided for
in the celebrated Land Law of May, 1779, were clothed
with judicial power, and that the Board or Commission,
which they were designed to form, possessed all the es-
sential attributes of a court; and it is not at all surprising
to find in the official record of their proceedings that their
sessions are invariably spoken of as the sessions of a
court. Having ascertained the general nature and dis-
tinguishing characteristics of this unique tribunal, the
next thing in order is to inquire how it was actually or-
ganized and how its business was conducted.
   Before proceeding with this inquiry, however, it may
help to restore the atmosphere of the times to indulge
in a sweeping glance at some of the more significant
events which had transpired between the years 1772 and
1780. A few facts of major importance have already
been noticed, but to these a series of events of scarcely
less importance may here be added.
   One subject belonging to an earlier decade, but which
had a direct and noteworthy bearing upon the period
in question deserves particular mention. In 1763, the



very year of the British treaty which terminated the old
French and Indian War, Colonel George Washington, a
distinguished soldier of that war, organized the " Missis-
sippi Company," and the Articles of Association, in his
own handwriting, signed by Francis Lightfoot Lee, John
Augustine Washington, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas
Bullitt, the "founder" of Louisville, and others, includ-
ing Washington himself, are still preserved in the Con-
gressional Library. An agent was despatched to Lon-
don to secure a grant of Western land, but he met with
no success, owing to the governmental policy which took
form in the King's Proclamation of October 7, 1763, pro-
hibiting Western settlements. Curiously enough, this
very proclamation provided for the issuing of warrants
for bounty lands to the officers and soldiers who had
served in the "late war," and even to the king of Great
Britain himself it must have been apparent that if these
"proclamation warrants" were ever to be satisfied, it
must be by locating them on lands drained by the
"western waters." While the avowed purpose of the
proclamation was to protect the Indians from molesta-
tion or disturbance "in the possession of such parts of
our (royal) dominions and territories as, not having
been ceded to, or purchased by us, are reserved to them,"
its language was sufficiently ambiguous to afford loop,
holes for those who might .be bent on evading its re-
straints. The prohibition against granting warrants of
survey or passing patents "for any lands beyond the
heads or sources of any of the rivers, which fall into the
Atlantic ocean from the west and northwest, which, not
having been ceded or purchased, as aforesaid, are re-
served to the said Indians," was qualified by the words,
"for the present, and until our future pleasure be
known," and the privilege of purchasing, occupying, or



settling the reserved lands was under no circumstances
to be exercised "'without our special leave and license
for that purpose first obtained." To the headstrong
pioneers, no less than to the avaricious land companies,
this all sounded like specious pretense or an empty ful-
   With clear perception of what was written between
the lines of the royal proclamation, Washington himself
not only realized that no mere proclamation could stay
the rising tide of immigration but that its guarded lan-
guage must inevitably be construed in the light of cur-
rent events. As early as 1767, we find this pioneer ex-
plorer and ardent friend of the West instructing his old
comrade of surveying expeditions and military cam-
paigns, William Crawford, to pick him out some good
tracts of land near Fort Pitt. As to the king's proc-
lamation, he wrote confidentially:

       "I can never look upon that       in any
    other light (but I say this between ourselves), than
    as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the
    Indians.    Any person, therefore, who neg-
    lects the present opportunity of hunting out good
    lands, and in some measure marking and distin-
    guishing them for his own, in order to keep others
    from settling them, will never regain it."

    It is a disputed question whether the treaty of Fort
Stanwix (near Rome), New York, in November, 1768,
effectually extinguished the shadowy Indian title
to all of Kentucky, but, upon the basic assumption that
it did, it is manifest that the prohibitions and restraints
of the royal proclamation of 1763 were thereby finally
and forever removed. Lord Dunmore and his represen-
tative, Captain Bullitt, in 1773, and Colonel William



Preston and his deputies, John Floyd, James Douglas,
and Hancock Taylor, in 1774, acted upon the belief that
the Fort Stanwix compact had wiped out all pretense of
any Indian claim to Kentucky, whether north or south of
Kentucky River, and it is probable that this conclusion
would never have been contested, had it not been for
the complications brought about by the purchase from the
Cherokees by Henderson and his associates at Watauga
in March, 1775, pursuant to an understanding reached in
the previous autumn. The transaction between Hen-
derson  Company and the Cherokees was promptly de-
nounced as unauthorized and illegal in public proclama-
tions promulgated by the governors of Virginia and
North Carolina almost simultaneously with the conclu-
sion of the Watauga treaty, and, in conformity with the
twenty-first article or section of the Constitution of Vir-
ginia, adopted June 29, 1776 (9 Hening's Stats., Chap.
II, p. 119), which declared: "No purchase of lands shall
be made of the Indian natives, but on behalf of the pub-
lick, by authority of the General Assembly," the Gen-
eral Assembly of Virginia, at its October session, in the
year 1778, formally reaffirmed the invalidity of the Wa-
tauga purchase in an act to vest certain lands on the Ohio
and Green Rivers, in fee simple, in Richard Henderson
 Company, and their heirs, as "compensation for their
trouble and expense," for that the commonwealth "is
likely to receive great advantage therefrom, by increas-
ing its inhabitants and establishing a barrier against the
Indians."  (9 Hening's Stats., p. 574, Chap. XXXI.)
All doubt as to Virginia's attitude with respect to pri-
vate land deals with the Indians was once for all dissi-
pated by an act of May, 1779 (10 Hening's Stats., p. 97,
Chap. XXV), by which such "sales and deeds" were
prenounced "utterly void and of no effect. "



   The infiltration of immigrants into the Kentucky
country began in earnest in the year 1774. In that year,
as well as the two years following, considerable survey-
ing was done by legally authorized deputies, acting un-
der their chief, Colonel William Preston, the surveyor of
Fincastle County. Numerous bands of hunters, explor-
ers, and adventurers of divers descriptions traversed the
entrancing domain long sacredly reserved by the Indians
as an inviolable hunting ground. Here and there a few
solitary cabins were erected, so-called "improvements"
of a rather flimsy character were made, claims were
staked or marked out, and at one place, Harrodsburg,
an enterprising party, under the leadership of Captain
James Harrod, laid off a town site into lots, and began
the erection of cabins. These activities were rudely in-
terrupted by a warning of impending Indian hostilities,
long fomented by Dr. John Connolly (then commanding
at Fort Pitt), at the instigation of Lord Dunmore, as was
believed, and in obedience to the message delivered by
Daniel Boone and Michael Stoner, both surveyors and
settlers hurriedly quit the country. Most of these hardy
frontiersmen took part in the battle of Point Pleasant,
fought at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, on October
10, 1774, and, as Daniel Trabue informs us in his valuable
and fascinating Journal, "On the Point Pleasant cam-
paign, Kentucky was a subject as excitinig as the war
itself. "
   The "Kentucky Path" or Wilderness Road, which
passed from the Holston and Watauga settlements
through Cumberland Gap, and thenc