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NC Land Records before 1800: 1775-1796

Information on the different types of land records in Colonial North Carolina through the Revolutionary War and some resources available at the Government and Heritage Library.

The Wataugah Land Purchases, 1775-1782

Before the Revolutionary War, land in what is known today as Tennessee was sold by the state of North Carolina. The settlement was on the the Watauga and Nolichucky rivers and south of the Holston river in present-day Tennessee.

Author Troy R. Keesee wrote the book The Wataugah Land Purchases, which discusses these land grants. This land in the book primarily deals with the locality that is now the northeast tip of the state of Tennessee in the following counties: Johnson, Sullivan, Carter, Washington, Union, and Greene. The land was originally settled by white squatters and the first settler is often credited as Capt. William Bean and his wife Lydia, in 1769, who settled on a tributary of the Watauga river in what is today known as Washington County, TN. The land was purchased from the local Cherokee tribe and deeded to Charles Robertson who represented the Wataugah settlement. The cost of the purchase was £2000. Land from this purchase was sold to individuals who were among the first white settlers in what is now Tennessee.

Revolutionary War Bounty Land 1777-1796

The practice of land patents during the colonial period continued through the Revolutionary Period of 1763-1783. The land office in the upper portion of the state closed in 1763 upon the death of Lord Granville, and in 1775, the Crown closed land offices in the lower portion of the state before royal authority collapsed. Until North Carolina was declared a sovereign state in 1776, the first session of the General Assembly was created in 1777 and one of their first duties pass an act in November 1777 that allowed men who took an oath of allegiance to the state to purchase land based on 50 shillings an acres and dependent on those in the household. A single man could purchase 640 acres while a married man could purchase 640 acres for himself and 100 acres each for his wife and each child. The process of receiving land patents during this time included making a claim on vacant land and if not contested within 3 months the claim would go to the county surveyor for permission to survey the land and create a warrant and plat for the land. The surveyor sent the plat and warrant to the secretary of state who created the patent. As you can see, there were several steps. Also, at times the surveyor could not find suitable land for the acreage claimed so at time and entry for the claim and the warrant had different acreage. The process could take many months, first, the buyer must file and entry for the land, which then led to the warrant for the land given to the surveyor. After the surveyor was finished, he would make a plat of the land and return back to the courts, who would then create a patent for the land.