Concerning Military Land Warrants and Grants

At the conclusion of the Revolution, the pay accounts of the North Carolina Continental Line veterans still remained to be settled. To complete this settlement, North Carolina laid off a section of land in her western area (now the middle of Tennessee) as a "military reservation" and issued Military Land Warrants to Continental Line veterans, in payment for past military service. These warrants entitled the holders to tracts of land in the military reservation. The size of each tract varied by rank, from 640 acres for a private to 12,000 acres in the case of at least one brigadier general. Heirs of soldiers killed in the war enjoyed the same benefits.

As many soldiers or their heirs chose not to move west, they were permitted to sell their warrants to others. Sometimes a warrant passed through several hands before being surrendered for land. A warrant holder who chose to move west--whether he was a veteran, an heir, or a purchaser of a military land warrant--first had to locate vacant land within the bounds of the reserved area. This done, he presented his warrant to a surveyor who in turn "laid off" the tract and returned the survey to the Secretary of State. When the survey had been approved, the Secretary of State issued a Military Land Grant and copies of the warrant, survey, and grant were filed in his office. See the “List of North Carolina Land Grants in Tennessee, 1778-1791” at the National Archives (Microcopies of Record No. 68) and the “Secretary of State: Land Grants in Tennessee 1778 – 1791” at the North Carolina Archives (microfilm S.108.1).

North Carolina stopped issuing military land warrants after ceding her western lands to the United States Government in 1790. However, for warrants which had been issued prior 1790, North Carolina continued to give grants up to about 1810; Tennessee honored the North Carolina warrants until considerably later.

Surviving North Carolina military land warrants, and the copies of surveys and grants for which these were exchanged, are at the North Carolina State Archives, or in the Tennessee State Archives, in Nashville, Tennessee. An informative brochure, "Land Records in the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” is available on request from the Tennessee State Archives

Taken from:
Number 1 1973 CFWC/DRL Revised February 2002 (LO) Raleigh, North Carolina

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