A group of indentures regarding land sold, transferred, and settled in the state of Kentucky between 1785 and 1840. This collection contains eleven unrelated land documents that provide a record of some of the earliest settlers. Kentucky was admitted into the Union as the 15th state on June 1, 1792, splitting from Virginia which had claimed the territory as Kentucky County beginning in 1776.
In these old property indentures, mountains, rivers, neighbor’s lands, and other parts of the natural landscape were used to demarcate property boundaries. This strategy backfired for Reuben Ruffner, who was forced to have two court-appointed commissioners resurvey his land in Lincoln County at the mouth of Logan Crick as part of a deal to sell to Hugh and John Logan. The July 1818 document includes a small map, and notes that a red oak which marked one border of the property had fallen and decayed, so the parties marked a sugar tree as the corner, but also planted a stone. A pre-statehood property indenture dated 1790 in the district of Caintukey (sic) further underscores the problem of property descriptions during this period. James and Mary Craig sold William Nash their land for 100 pounds. The boundaries are described as: “Beginning a sugar tree the south east corner of James Craig’s preemption (word) heir to William Craig deceased – thence north thirty two degrees, east fifty six poles to two elms (slatons) corner thence north fifty eight degrees, west ninety two, sixtyfore poles to a sugar tree on the old preemption line thence south fifty eight degrees east two hundred and forty poles to the beginning.”
Among the documents is an indenture for property purchased by one of the earliest settlers of Louisville in 1785, just five years after the Virginia General Assembly approved the town charter. Adam Hooper acquired a five-acre lot described as number seven for 700 pounds, 16 shillings from the Trustees of Louisville. The document is signed by George Slaughter, James Sullivan, George Wilson, Will Johnston, Andrew Heth, and Richard Taylor. The one-page indenture measure 9” x 14” with a scalloped top edge written in faded ink, which is still legible.
Another early Louisville indenture dated November 8, 1787 records the sale of square No. 6 by the trustees of the city to Richard James Waters for 126 pounds. The document is signed by John Clark, David Meriwether, William Taylor, and James Francis Moore. A second quarter-page document dated 1790 officially records Water’s refusal to accept a deed for the property. The indenture measures 9 ½” x 14” with a few old archival tape repairs along the folds.
Other property indentures in this collection include:
Jefferson County, October 10, 1795. 332 acres purchased by Sam Terrell from David Humphries and Charles Scott for 2,000 pounds, current money of Kentucky. Bifolium, 7 ½” x 12 ¾” with silk tape repairs along the fold.
Harrodsburg, Pulaskia County, October 24, 1798. One half-acre lot in the town sold by Hugh McGary and his wife Catherine to Thomas Stogdale for five pounds. Single sheet with a scalloped top edge, 7 ½” x 12”.
Mercer County, 1801. A lot of one acre purchased for 75 pounds by John Montgomery from James Montgomery and his wife. 8” x 13 ¼”, scalloped along the top edge
Lincoln County, July 1801. 140 acres to David Williams “according to an act of the general assembly of Kentucky entitled An Act for Settling, Improving the Vacant Lands in the Commonwealth.” Witnessed by Thomas Montgomery. Single sheet, 7 ½” x 12 ½“.
Lincoln County, August 14, 1820. 111 acres near Davis Creek sold by Joseph and his wife Martha from Lawrence, Alabama to William Farris for $1,332. Bifolium with an additional sheet attached: 7 ½” x 12 ½ with the additional attached sheet measuring 8” x 10”.
Mason County, August 17, 1824. 160 acres granted by patent of President James Monroe and sold for $50 cash by Joseph Brown to William Murphy. Bifolium, 8” x 12 1/4” with an official seal from the state of Kentucky and from the county of Pulasksi, Arkansas .
Mason County, July 4, 1840. 50 acres in Mason County and another 160 acres in Arkansas sold by Charles B. Ryan to John M. Morton for $6,000. Bifolium, 10” x 8”.
The indentures are in very good condition, with toning due to age, creasing from prior folds, and some with older archival silk. Item #72699