Speculators from New York buying significant number of acres of land in Rutherford County
Reporter Clarke Morrison, The Asheville Citizen Times reports February 25,2003 of the significant find of Land Speculation Records in his article: "Historic papers shed light on early WNC land"
ASHEVILLE - Historic documents discovered in a safe in the basement of a Hendersonville home offer a rare, new and detailed picture of how the Western North Carolina region was settled.
The cache of deeds, maps, survey notes and ledgers spanning 125 years will give researchers access to the inner workings of a land speculation company that owned more than 400,000 acres in the mountains as early as 1795.
UNC Asheville unveiled the landmark collection Tuesday, saying the find is of national significance and would aid in an emerging area of historical research.
The more than 800 documents also will help debunk some notions of pioneer life in the Appalachians, said Dan Pierce, a Southern history expert and UNCA professor.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for scholars," he said. "Because this is such a comprehensive set of records, it will give us good insight into who owned the land, how it was acquired and how it was distributed."
UNC-A now has this collection and is making them available online. The following are citations which illustrate early speculationr in Rutherford County. Read where one speculator, Hyatt, is told to "act like a farmer."
Agustus Sacket (ESQ) was a US Representative in New York, and a resident of Seneca Falls.
Here are example citations from the collection:
Land Speculation Records online at UNC-A library
In Philadelphia in September of 1795, two agents, Andrew Baird and Lewis Baird, approached Tench Coxe, assistant to Alexander Hamilton, Treasurer of the United States under the Jefferson administration regarding land holdings of some half million acres in western North Carolina. The Baird agents represented the interests of the Rutherford Land Company that consisted of some 18 members or Trustees, including William W. Erwin , James Greenlee, and others. The Rutherford Land Company was apparently been created by Greenlee who owned extensive tracts in Burke County, North Carolina. Andrew Baird, a former New Jersey iron master, knew members of the Coxe family and this possibly accounts for the primary interest in Coxe as an investor. The Bairds offered Coxe an opportunity to purchase some or all of the land holdings of the Company, described as "east of the Blue Ridge Mountains" for 9 cents an acre. The tracts Tench Coxe eventually purchased, however, appear to have included land in present day Rutherford County, Polk County, Henderson County, Cleveland County, McDowell County and in Buncombe County. [William W. Ervin and Andrew Baird to Coxe, Sept. 17, 1795, Coxe Papers.]
Extract of Letters sent by the owners of the "Speculation Land Company" - signed by James Thompson, Goold(sic) Hoyt, James B. Murray, and Arthur Bronson. 1. Letter of Instruction to Jacob Hyatt dated March 10, 1825. Hyatt is told to see a number of specified people in Rutherford County and to inquire about purchasing their lands, and to obtain a contract and price for each executable at a later date. The purpose of which was to create a settlement, the location of which was to be determined later. He is told to act as a farmer from New York wanting to relocate to the area. He is also told which lawyers to use. Hyatt is also instructed to inform "those settlers that purchased land from Augustus Sacket that the new owners will treat them fairly both in regard to the prices of the land and terms of payment". In those cases where "their title is not valid or for other reasons they will take legal measures to dispossess them". (For additional correspondence between the owners of the "Speculation Land Company" and Jacob Hyatt see Patton P.16 - 45.)
Copy of a newspaper article that appeared in the Sacket Harbor (New York) Gazette, February 9, 1821. Article extols the virtues of land that Augustus Sacket has for sale in Western North Carolina.
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