Chemung County NY
History of Tompkins, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga 1879
Chapter IV  - Land Titles
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London and Plymouth Grant, 1606—Plymouth Grant, 1620—Massachusetts Charter, 1628—Warwick Grant, 1630—Connecticut Charter, 1662—The Dutch west India Company, 1621—New York Charter, 1664—Pennsylvania Charter, 1681—Boundary Troubles between Massachusetts and New York—Hartford Convention of 1786 and its Awards—Indian Title recognized—Flexible Boundaries of Indian Deeds—Knickerbocker against Quaker, an Indian’s Preference—Indian Treaties—With the Six Nations as a Confederacy—With the Mohawks—Oneidas—Onondagas—Cayugas—Senecas—Tuscaroras—State Grants to Massachusetts—Phelps and Gorham Purchase—Morris Reserve—Holland Purchase—Boston Ten Townships—Pale-Face Gold weaker than Indian Friendship—McMaster Half-Township—Coxe’s Manor—Hambden Township—Township of Chemung—Patents therein—The Military Tract—Watkins & Flint Purchase—Watson Purchase.


Vested rights in real estate have ever been held more sacred than in any other kind of property by all civilized nations. Even barbarians assert their rights to the soil with a tenacity of purpose called forth by no other thing possessed by them. From time immemorial the alienation of real estate, the homestead of the family, has been attended with rigid formality, growing out of the sense of permanency attaching to the soil whereon the holder was born, or which he has acquired by some one of the many legitimate methods in vogue in the world from time to time, from the law of force and might to that of purchase and right.

To maintain its authority in the vast territory acquired and claimed by the British Crown in the New World, great companies of the noblemen and wealthy merchants and tradesmen were incorporated by James I., in 1606, by letters patent, under the name of the London and Plymouth Companies. To the former of these was granted the territory of South Virginia, extending from the thirty-fourth to the fortieth degree of north latitude, and from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the South Sea on the west. To the latter company was granted North Virginia or New England.

On Nov. 3, 1620, the Plymouth Company was incorporated by letters patent under the name of the Great Council of Plymouth, and a grant made to this company, their successors and assigns, of "all of New England in America, in breadth from the fortieth to the forty-eighth degree of north latitude, and in length within all the breadth aforesaid throughout the mainland from sea to sea; provided always that any part of the premises hereinbefore mentioned, and by these premises intended to be granted, be not actually possessed or inhabited by any other Christian prince or state." To this company were also granted the jurisdiction and the royal pre-emption of the soil, with the authority to distribute their territory and assign their prerogative to companies of adventurers for the purpose of occupation and settlement.

In 1628 the Great Council of Plymouth conveyed to the Massachusetts Colony all of the territory lying between the Merrimac River on the north and the Charles River on the south, and running through the continent from sea to sea the same breadth, with the proviso of the original grant to the Council of Plymouth concerning the territory of any other Christian prince or state. The king confirmed the grant in 1629, and issued a royal charter for the same. The south line of the Massachusetts grant was subsequently settled to be the forty-second parallel. In 1630 the Earl of Warwick, president of the Great Council, procured a grant from the Council of a large tract of country, which was confirmed by the king, and a royal charter issued in accordance therewith, and March 19, 1631, the earl conveyed to Lords Say, Seal, Brooke, Humphrey, Wyllys, Saltonstall, and others, twelve in number, the territory lying between the forty-second parallel (Massachusetts line) on the north and the forty-first parallel on the south, and so running that breadth through the mainland from sea to sea. In 1662 the Connecticut Colony was charted by the king, the proprietors having previously purchased of Lords Say, Seal, and others their rights in the territory, and thus became vested with the rights of the grant to Earl Warwick in that territory, with the proviso of the grant to the Great Council. The Great Council having disposed of all its lands to others, in 1635 released its jurisdiction over the territory to the Crows, in the words of the original grant, mentioning, however, that the said territory extended to the westward about three thousand miles. *

*In 1754 a congress composed of deputies from the British colonies north of Virginia, held at Albany by direction of the Lords of Trade and Plantations of England, declared "the ancient colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut were by their respective charters made to extend to the South Sea."

In 1614, the Dutch States-General chartered the New Netherland Company, and took formal possession of the country about the Hudson River, and in 1621 chartered a new company with greatly enlarged powers, called the Dutch West India Company, to whom the States-General gave exclusive privileges of trade, and commerce, and jurisdiction throughout the Dutch possessions. The provisions of the charter of this company were repellant to settlement, and served only to enrich the proprietors to the exclusion of immigration; whereupon a great pressure was brought to bear upon the Holland government, and the company was forced to modify its regulations and encourage settlement. Under the modified rules and regulations the Patroon system sprang up, whereby persons were allowed grants of land purchased of the Indians extending eight English miles on both sides of a river or creek, or sixteen miles on one side, provided that they settled a colony of 50 persons above the age of fifteen years on the same before the expiration of four years from the date of the grant. Under this regulation the directors of the West Indian Company became possessed of immense tracts of land in Eastern New York.

In 1664, Charles II, then King of England, ignoring the claims of the Dutch West India Company, based on actual possession of the country along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers for fifty-three years, conveyed to his brother James, Duke of York, "all that island or islands continuously called Mattawaks or Long Island, together with Hudson’s River and all the land from the west side of Connecticut River to the east side of Delaware Bay." The duke to enforce his title sent an armed expedition under Colonel Richard Nichols, who compelled the surrender of the Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant. Nichols granted very liberal terms of capitulation to the Dutch, guaranteeing the West Indian Company and the people in the possession of their lands, and the latter in their civil and political rights, the sovereignty of the country merely passing into the power of the English. In 1667 the treaty of Breda confirmed the duke in the possession of the country. In 1673, Admiral Colve overthrew the English power, and for the space of a few months restored the Dutch rule and endeavored to reinstate the old system that pertained to it, but in the general peace of 1674 the power was restored to the English, and in the treaty that followed between England and Holland the duke’s rights were reaffirmed and his title guaranteed. By the grant of the king and the confirmations by treaty the Duke of York became vested with the rights of the Dutch possessions along the Hudson and Mohawk, and in New Jersey, which was through the lines of the Massachusetts and Connecticut charters, though they did not "cut them asunder," as declared by Governor Saltonstall, of Connecticut, for by the provisos of the royal grant to the Great Council of Plymouth, and the Massachusetts and Connecticut charters, these possessions of the Dutch were exempted, being the possession of another Christian state. The boundary of the duke’s claim was subsequently settled between Connecticut and New York, about as it now runs; and established also on the east shore of the Delaware River and Bay.

In 1681, King Charles II, of England, by his letters patent dated February 29, granted to William Penn, his heirs and assigns, all that tract of land in America bounded "on the east by the Delaware River, on the north by the beginning of the forty-third degree of northerly latitude, on the south by a circle drawn twelve miles distant from New Castle town northward and westward to the beginning of the fortieth degree of north latitude, thence by the beginning of the said fortieth degree of northerly latitude to extend westward through five degrees of longitude, to be reckoned from the said easterly bounds." This grant encroached on the south upon the previous grants to Lord Baltimore, and the Virginia Colony, giving rise to controversies, which were adjusted by compromises and expensive and long-continued lawsuits. It also covered a portion of the previous grant to the Connecticut Colony, the width of about one degree of latitude, extending throughout the entire length of Pennsylvania, giving rise to controversies accompanied with rioting and bloodshed, and which were not finally settled until one hundred and twenty-five years afterwards.

Massachusetts resisted the claim of the Duke of York to lands west of the Connecticut up to a point about twenty miles east of the Hudson, and granted to individuals lands now included in the State of New York. The same were held under the patent of Van Rensselaer, whose original claim and grant under the Dutch had been ratified and confirmed by the English colonial government, and patents issued therefor, and an original patent granted to Robert Livingston of a tract of 160,000 acres by the New York Governor. The troubles existed for years previous to the Revolution and during that period; arrests and counter-arrests were made by the two governments, proclamations and counter-proclamations were issued by the respective Governors, blood was shed, and confusion and disorder was general all along the border on these great manors. At the adoption of the Articles of Confederation of the colonies provision was made for the settlement of the claims of the several States regarding their territorial jurisdiction, and in accordance therewith a convention was held in December 1786, at Hartford, Conn., by commissioners appointed by the authorities of both of the States of New York and Massachusetts, which commissioners were empowered to effect a settlement of the claims of Massachusetts to territory within the limits claimed by New York. This convention finally comprised by awarding to Massachusetts about 6,000,000 acres in the western part of New York establishing the eastern boundary of the State as it now runs, and giving the jurisdiction of the territory to the latter. This compromise was ratified and confirmed by the Legislatures of the respective States, and a patent issued to Massachusetts accordingly.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York, with others of the old colonies, ceded to the United States their claims to lands beyond the limits of Pennsylvania, which was erected into the Northwest Territory, from which the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin have since been carved. Connecticut lost all of her territory in Pennsylvania, and in compensation reserved the tract in Ohio known as the Western Reserve which she subsequently sold for $1,000,0000, which formed the basis of her general school fund.

Notwithstanding the claims of foreign potentates to land in America, based on the discoveries of their navigators, there was a prior title running through the continent based on possession from a time whence the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. The Indians were the real lords proprietors of the soil by patrimony or conquest. These Indian proprietors asserted their rights to the land, and maintained it through many years of bloody and devastating warfare, and compelled the royal grantees to purchase formally, at least, if not according to strict justice in the matter of compensation, the entire country from sea to sea as far as it is at present alienated by the Indians. This right of ownership was recognized by the English and Dutch, though sometimes the latter granted lands without the formality of Indian purchase. But it was the policy of the English to procure the extinction of the Indian title before a patent was issued for lands by the government.

It was the rule in New York for parties desiring a grant of land to apply to the Governor and Council for leave to purchase a certain tract of the Indians; permission being granted, the purchase was made, and the Indian deeds executed and returned to the Governor for a patent. A survey was then ordered, and on the report of the Surveyor-General the patent of the Governor was issued. No person was allowed to receive a patent for more than 1000 acres by the law, but this provision was evaded by the insertion of several names merely nominal, and, the offices of the Crown being frequently included in the list, or otherwise generously provided for, the patents were issued for immense tracts to one individual. The rule for a previous survey was also violated previous to 1736.*

*The report of Cadwallader Colden, Surveyor-General of the provision of New York, in 1732, to Governor Cosby, says, "There being no previous Survey to the Grants, their Boundaries are generally expressed with much uncertainty, By the Indian names of Brooks, Rivulets, Hills, Ponds, Falls of Water, &c., which were and still are known to very few Christians; and which adds to this uncertainty is, that such names as are in these grants taken to be the proper name of a Brook, Hill, or Fall of Water, &c., in the Indian language signifies only a Large Brook, or broad Brook, or small Brook, or high Hill or only a Hill or only a Hill of fall of water in general; so that the Indians show many places by the same name. Brooks and Rivers have different names with the Indians at different places, and often change their names, they taking their names often from the abode of some Indian near the place where it is so called. This has given room to some to explain and enlarge their Grants according to their own inclinations, by putting the names mentioned in their grants to what place or part of the Country they please." (Doc. Hist. N.Y., vol. I page 383, Colden, MSS.)

In the colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York individuals were allowed to purchase lands of the Indians, the same to be approved by the Assembly or Governor of the colony, but in Pennsylvania none but the proprietors of the colony could acquire the Indian title. The line of boundary of Pennsylvania and New York was settled by the two colonies in the forty-second parallel of north latitude, and the line established in 1771, and partly run through prior to the Revolutionary war. Previous to that time the proprietors of Pennsylvania were solicitous to obtain from the Indians the title to the northern Susquehanna country, but as early as 1684 the Iroquois gave in their adhesion to New York, and the right of purchase of their lands to that colony.* The Onondagas and Cayugas made the proposition at the first, which was subsequently sanctioned by the Mowhawks, Oneidas, and Senecas. The oration of the spokesman of the deputation of the first-named tribes said,---

"BRETHREN,--Wee have putt all our land and our selfs under the protection of the great Duke of York, the brother of your great Sachim. Wee have given the Susquehanna river which we wonn with the sword to this Government, and desire that it may be a branch of that great tree that grows here, Whose topp reaches to the Sunn, under whose branches we shall shelter ourselves from the French or any other people, and our fire born in your houses and your fire burns with us; and we desire that it may always be so, and will not that any of your Penn’s people shall settle upon the Susquehanna river. . . .Wee have putt ourselves under the Great Sachim Charles that lives over the Great Lake, and we doe give you two White drest Bear Skins to be sent to the Great Sachim Charles, that he may write upon them, and putt a Great Redd Seale to them. Thatt we do putt the Susquehanna river above the Washuita or falls, and all the rest of our land under the Great Duke of Yorke and to nobody else . . . And you, great Man of Virginia (meaning the Lord Effingham, Governor of Virginia), we let you know that Great Penn did speak to us here in Corlaor’s house (the Governor’s house at Albany) by his agents, and desired to buy the Susquehanna river, but we would not hearken to him, nor come under his Government, and therefore desire you to be witness of what we now do, and that we have already done, and lett your friend that lives over the Great Lake know that we are a free people uniting ourselves to what Sachim we please, and do give you one beaver skinn." **

*Doc. Hist. N.Y., vol. I, p. 401.

**Doc. Hist. N.Y., vol. I, p. 402.

In 1768 the Six Nations, for themselves and their dependent nations, the Shawanese, Delawares, Mingoes of Ohio, and other tribes, agreed with Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian affairs in America, upon a boundary line commonly called "the line of property," between the English and Indian lands, and confirmed the grant of all lands east of that line by a new grant. This line began where the Cherokee or Hogohee River, then so called, emptied into the Ohio+ River, and "running thence upwards along the south side of said river to Kittaning, which is above Fort Pitt; from thence by a direct line to the nearest fork of the west branch of Susquehanna; thence through the Alleghany Mountains, along the south side of the west branch until it comes opposite to the mouth of a creek called Tiadaghton; thence across the west branch along the south side of that creek and along the north side of Barnett’s Hills to a creek called Awandae;++ thence down the same to the east branch of the Susquehanna, and across the same and up the east side of that river to Oswegy; +++ from thence east to Delawar River, and up that river to opposite where Tianaderha falls into Susquehanna; thence to Tianaderha, and up the west side of the west branch to the head thereof; and thence by a direct line to Canada Creek, where it empties into the Wood Creek at the west of the Carrying-Place beyond Fort Stanwix. * This agreement was signed by Tiorhausere als Abraham for the Mowhawks, Canaghaguieson for the Oneidas, Seguarccscra for the Tuscaroras, Otsinoghiyata als Bunt for the Onondaguas, Tegania for the Cayugas, and Guastrax for the Senecas, with the several totems of the tribes at Fort Stanwix, Nov. 5, 1768. ** The lands east of this boundary were recognized as having been alicuated to the whites, while the territory west was yet (1768) in the Indians’ possession and exclusive control. No alienation of any considerable portion of the lands west of this line of property was alienated by the Iroquois until after the Revolution of American Independence.

+ Below the mouth of the Scioto.

++ Towanda

+++ Owega

* Doc. Hist. N.Y., vol. I, p. 587.

** The Iroquois allowed none of the conquered tribes to sell the land on which they resided by sufferance of the conquerors, but the Six Nations assumed to themselves the sole right of conveying the soil to whomsoever they pleased; hence this agreement, while it included dependent nations to the Confederacy, was signed only by the chiefs of the latter, as sole proprietors.


The Iroquois had ceded but a comparatively small portion of their lands prior to the Revolution,--that is, each lands as were included in the present State of New York. The first law of the State government looking to indemnity for past atrocities and security for the future from the Mowhawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas (the Oneidas and Tuscaroras were friendly to the colonies during the war), was passed Oct. 23, 1779. It empowered the Governor and four commissioners to effect a treaty of pacification. March 25, 1783, three commissioners of Indian affairs were appointed to examine the territorial claims of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, and to secure the tranquility and contentment of those nations. The first general treaty with the Six Nations was held at Fort Stanwix, Oct. 22, 1784, by Oliver Wolcott, Richard Bailey, and Arthur Lee, commissioners plenipotentiary appointed by Congress. It required the immediate surrender of all prisoners, and secured the Oneidas and Tuscaroras in the quiet possession of their lands. At that time the Six Nations ceded all of their lands west of a line from Lake Ontario, four miles east of Niagara River, to Buffalo Creek; thence south to Pennsylvania; thence west to the end of Pennsylvania line; thence south along the west bounds of that State to the Ohio River. Jan. 9, 1789, at Fort Harmer, the stipulations of the treaty of 1784 were renewed, and the Six Nations secured in their possessions east of the line above mentioned, excepting a reservation of six miles square at Oswego. The Mowhawks took no part in this treaty of 1789. A treaty was also held at Tioga (now Athens, Pa.), in November, 1790, by Colonel Thomas Pickering, on the part of the United States, with the Six Nations, except the Mowhawks, more especially, however, with the Senecas, and another one in June following, at Newtown (now Elmira City), with the same parties. A general treaty was held at Canandaigua, Nov. 11, 1794, by Timothy Pickering, at which the separate treaties which had been made with the Oneidas, Onondagas,and Cayugas by the State of New York were confirmed, and goods to the amount of $10,000, besides the annuity of $3000 in addition to the sum of $1500 allowed by the act of Congress of 1792, were distributed. * With the exception of a few of the earlier treaties, each tribe has negotiated separately with the State in the cession of lands, and in more recent periods sectional and local parties have acted independently in such negotiations.

*American State Papers; Indian Affairs.


were particularly hostile to the colonies in the Revolution, and removed near the close of the war, to Grand River, Canada. By a treaty held at Albany with the Federal government, March 29, 1797, they surrendered their right to the soil in New York for $1000 to the tribe and $600 to the deputies who attended the treaty. They were parties to the treaty at Buffalo Creek in 1788.


On June 28, 1785, a treaty was held at Fort Herkimer with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, who, for the sum of $11,500, ceded to the State of New York their lands lying between the Unadilla and Chenango Rivers, south of a line drawn east and west between those streams and north of the Pennsylvania line. Another treaty was held with the Oneidas Sept. 12, 1788, at Fort Schuyler, by Governor Clinton and six commissioners on the part of New York, at which this tribe ceded all of their lands in the State, excepting certain reservations, which latter they subsequently, by various treaties from 1795 to 1840, released to the State. There is now no Oneida reservation in the State, and those Oneidas now living in the State are on reservations of other tribes.


At the treaty of Fort Schuyler, in 1788, the Onondagas ceded their lands in the State to the State of New York, excepting a reservation at the south end of Onondaga Lake, and confirmed the grant at Fort Stanwix, June 16, 1790. They subsequently released a large portion of their reservation to the State, by treaties, at different times.


on February 25, 1789, ceded all of their lands east of the Massachusetts pre-emption line, except certain reservations, to the State. These reservations were, in a great measure, subsequently released to the State in 1790 and 1795.


On July 8, 1788, a treaty was held at Buffalo Creek with the Six Nations by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, acting under the authority of Massachusetts, at which the Nations ceded, without reservation, 2,000,000 acres, since known as the Phelps and Gorham purchase. This purchase was bounded, east by the pre-emption line, and west by a line beginning at a point in the north line of Pennsylvania due south of the confluence of the Canaseraga Creek with the Genesee River; thence north to the Genesee River, and along that river to a point about two miles north of Cannewagas village; thence west twelve miles; thence northwardly twelve miles from the Genesee River to Lake Ontario. The consideration paid for this tract was $5250 cash in hand and an annuity of $5000. * A quit-claim of the Phelps and Gorham purchase was executed Aug. 4, 1789, in the name of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas, and Tuscaroras at Canandaigua. The territory thus ceded was exclusively occupied by the Senecas and Cayugas. Phelps and Gorham obtained, in 1788, the Massachusetts right of pre-emption of the above tract. On Sept. 15, 1797, Robert Morris, of Philadelphia, having obtained the Massachusetts right of pre-emption of the balance of the 6,000,000 acres awarded that State, held a treaty with the Senecas at Geneseo, before Jeremiah Wadsworth, United States Commissioner, and Wm. Shepherd, a commissioner appointed by Massachusetts, by which treaty the Senecas ceded to Morris their title to these lands, excepting certain reservations, for $100,000, to be vested in the stock of the United States Bank, to be held in the name of the President of the United States for the use and benefit of the Seneca nation. This treaty was confirmed by the President, April 11, 1798, and the tract was subsequently known as the Holland Land Company purchase, that company acquiring its title through Morris. The reservations of the Senecas were subsequently released, and conveyed in large measure to the Holland Land Company or individuals holding title under it.

*Bitter complaints were subsequently made by the Indians concerning this treaty with Phelps and Gorham. The noted chief and orator, Red Jacket, at a treaty held in 1790, at Tioga (now Athens, Pa.) made an impassioned plea for justice to the United States Commissioner, in which he said the Indians supposed they were to receive $10,000 instead of $5000 for an annuity, and the latter amount, when divided, gave them but about one dollar apiece for all the country sold. At the time the treaty was made he said, "20 broaches would not buy half a loaf of bread, so that when we returned home there was not a bright spot of silver about us." (Am. State Papers / Indian Affairs, vol. I, page 214.


became part of the Iroquois Confederacy in 1712, but never held the title to any specific tract of country in New York. As a constituent nation they participated in treaties and cessions of territory, and in the sale to Morris by the Senecas a reservation was made for their use of one square mile, to which the Holland Land Company afterwards added, by donation, two square miles adjoining. In 1804 the Tuscaroras purchased of that company 4329 acres additional for $13,722, money received for their lands in North Carolina, to which, with much difficulty, they had succeeded in perfecting their claims.

By the above treaties, and with some minor ones, held by individuals, were the claims of the Iroquois proprietors in the soil of Western New York quieted and extinguished.


The 6,000,000 acres awarded to Massachusetts by the Hartford Convention of 1786, included all of the lands in the State of New York west of a meridian line drawn from the eighty-second mile-stone in the Pennsylvania line northward to Lake Ontario, with the exception of a strip of territory one mile wide on the Niagara River, which was reserved to New York. This meridian line is commonly known as the Massachusetts pre-emption line, and is on or near the meridian of the Capitol at Washington. Besides this tract, another of 230,400 acres, lying between the Owego and Chenango Rivers, was also ceded to Massachusetts, the same being since known as the Boston ten townships, and includes the northern half of the town of Owego and the towns of Newark Valley, Berkshire, and Richford, in Tioga County, and a portion of Broome County. The tract west of the pre-emption line was sold by Massachusetts as follows: Phelps and Gorham, 1788, 2,000,000 acres as before described in the Indian purchase; Robert Morris, the balance of the tract, and subsequently mortgaged by him to the Holland Land Company, who foreclosed the trust, and came thereby into possession of the greater portion of the land. A small portion only of the Phelps and Gorham purchase included territory now forming a part of the counties of which this work treats, and which portion is the towns of Tyrone and Orange, and a small part of Reading, in Schuyler County. Morris acquired also about 1,204,000 acres of the Phelps and Gorham purchase, those gentlemen being unable to fulfill their contract for the whole tract purchased by them of Massachusetts. Morris resold this tract to William Pulteney. The Boston ten townships were sold by Massachusetts to sixty individuals, principally from Berkshire County, in that State, the greater portion of whom came to their purchases as actual settlers of whom Samuel Brown was the first. The title was conveyed to these individuals by resolution of the Legislature of Massachusetts, and approved by the Governor, Nov. 7, 1787. The purchase price of the tract of 230,400 acres was 3333 Spanish milled dollars, payable in two years, and subject to a deduction of the sum necessarily paid by the grantees to the natives in extinguishment of their claim. On the confirmation of the Indian purchase by the Massachusetts Legislature this sum was increased to $5000, and no allowance for amount paid to Indians. The grantees, Samuel Brown, Elijah Brown, Orringh Stoddard, and Joseph Raymond, on behalf of the company, purchased of the Indians, June 22, 1786, the title of the latter, and fully extinguished their claims. This latter transaction was not accomplished without some difficulty, originating in a claim by possession of James McMaster of a portion of the tract now known as the McMaster Patent, for the half-township of Owego. McMaster had located on the tract in 1785, and by the aid of Amos Draper, an Indian trader, had ingratiated himself to such an extent with the natives that no treaty could be made with the latter by Brown and his associates wherein McMaster’s rights or claims were ignored. It was a trial of gold on the Yankees’ side, and the covenant chain of amity * of the Indians with McMaster and Draper on the other, and the latter conquered. After several fruitless councils were held, a compromise was finally effected, whereby McMaster was to receive a patent for a half-township embracing the settlement at Owego, being a tract six miles by three miles, bounded south by a tract patented to Daniel Coxe and associates, and west by Owego River, the east line to be a straight one three miles distant from the Owego River, and to be as nearly parallel to the said river (creek) as possible. After this contract was made with McMaster, the Indians consummated the cession of the whole tract of 230,400 acres in a very short time. The resolution of the Massachusetts Legislature provided for the issuing of a patent for McMaster of the half-township as agreed upon, and one was accordingly issued to Samuel Brown, who conveyed to McMaster as he agreed. ** The north line of the ten townships was identical with the present south line of Cortland County.

*Previous to the arrival of Brown and his associates for negotiating with the Indians (Oneidas) for their title to the Boston ten towns, McMaster and Draper had secured a written contract from the Indians guaranteeing them (McMaster and Draper) in the possession of their claims which they had obtained from the Indians. The contract or covenant was written in duplicate, one copy in English and one in the Oneida dialect. The Indians document was found among Mr. Draper’s papers by his daughter, Mrs. Selecta Williams (the first white child born in Tioga County), who gave it to Judge Charles P. Avery, for whom it was translated by Mr. Ely S. Parker, afterwards a major on the staff of General Grant, of the United States army. Major Parker was a thoroughly-educated Seneca, and possessed an accurate knowledge of the various Iroquois dialects. The "covenant" and its translation were as follows:

Natho wakya donio no-dyag wa wennag wi kough hasen
Here is written the meeting of our minds Three
myakyoogh yagwa nonwe setsi ni senirigh wison.  Neya nihagh ne
miles land to be his so long as agreed. And again for
noyatshi  nihengh neon  wenya kentho ronongh sodo
six miles across the flat from the house  
rasonni Oghgwesen ronwayats. Netsi onen
now building by Partridge (Draper) they call him. Now we
waong wa dokese tsi nihayerha  isehen sesyadon gi yatyugh.
understand as he says he has written on paper.
Neneha ha wake Oghgween.  
This shall be held by Partridge. Done 1786.

Names of chiefs:

Shondari Di (not translated).

Dekanaghkwas (The Thankful).

Yokkaradarihea (In the Middle of Heavens).

Oghson wa Dagede (He that carries the Bells).

Rodighya (not translated).

--The Susquehanna Valley, by Judge Charles P. Avery, in St. Nicholas, 1854.

**Book I. of Deeds, p. 52, Tioga County Clerk’s office.

There was but one royal grant of lands to individuals direct (other than the Massachusetts charter) in the territory of our four counties, and that was for a tract of 29,812 acres, lying in the present southerly half of the town of Owego and a portion of Nichols. This tract was patented to Daniel, William, and Rebecca Coxe, by John Tabor Kemp and Grace (Coxe), his wife, Jan. 15, 1775, and has since been known as Coxe’s Manor, or Patent. It was a portion of 100,000 acres patented to them in consideration of the surrender of their rights in a "province called Carolana, consisting of a territory on the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas, together with the islands of Veanis and Bahama, and all other islands off that coast, between the 31st and 36th degree of north latitude, as granted by Charles I., Oct. 30, 1629, to Sir Robert Heath, and from him devised to the present grantees through their father." * 47,000 acres were granted in Oneida and 23,000 acres elsewhere (in Otsego or Delaware Counties) to these grantors. The petition for this grant was filed Oct. 31, 1774, and described the tract as being in the county of Tryon, and as "beginning at a place called Owegg, on the Susquehanna River, and runs along the northern boundary of Pennsylvania." ** On Jan. 4, 1775, a return of survey was made for the parties named in the patent, which described the tract as beginning "opposite the mouth of Owegy Creek." ***

*New York Book of Patents,xv., pp. 197-204.

**Vol. xxxiv., p. 116, Land Papers, Secretary’s office, Albany.

***Vol. xxxv., p. 9, Land Papers, Secretary’s office, Albany.

The portion of the present town of Owego south of the Susquehanna and the town of Nichols was called the township of Hambden. The lands in the township, aside from Coxe’s Manor, were sold as follows: to Robert Morris, several tracts in Owego; Alexander Macomb, 6930 acres in Owego and Vestal, Feb. 15, 1785, vol. xliii., p. 123, Land Papers, New York; Nicholas Fish, 7040 acres in Owego, and 6400 acres in township 7 of the tract purchased of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, in Owego and Nichols, vol. xliii., pp. 84 and 85, Land Papers; William Butler, return of survey for 3000 acres in Nichols, adjoining Coxe's Patent on the west, Jan. 12, 1775, vol. xxxv., p. 14; John Reid, similar return, Jan. 20, 1775, for 2000 lying between Reid’s tract and the Susquehanna, which bounds it on the west, vol. xxxv., p. 23, Land Papers.

On the 10th of November, 1784, Rebecca, John D., and Trench Coxe filed a caveat in the land-offices protesting against the granting by the State of any certificates of location, warrants of survey, or letters patent for lands west of the Delaware River, bounded south by Pennsylvania, until the claim of said protestors or their assigns, to a tract of 29,812 acres of land, on the east bank of the Susquehanna, was lawfully and fully recognized. * The claims of the Coxe heirs were confirmed subsequently, and the tract, as surveyed in 1806-7, was found to contain 30,900 acres.

*Vol. xxxvii., p. 52, Land Papers, Secretary’s office, Albany.

Gospel and literature tracts* were also set off in Owego township, comprising about three square miles, adjoining Coxe’s Manor on the north. Colonel Nichols subsequently acquired a large tract of land in the towns of Owego and Nichols.

** Lands reserved by the State, in early surveys, for the support of churches, schools, and academies.

In 1788, on March 22, the Legislature erected a new town in Montgomery County, the boundary-line beginning at the intersection of the pre-emption line of Massachusetts with the Pennsylvania State line, and running due north from the point of intersection along the pre-emption line to the distance of two miles north of Tioga River; thence in a direct line at right angles to the pre-emption line east to the Owego River (West Owego), to intersect said river at a distance of four miles on a straight line from the confluence thereof with the Susquehanna; then down the Owego and Susquehanna to the Pennsylvania line; and thence along said line to the place of beginning. This tract, which covers the present town of Barton and the greater portion of Tioga, in Tioga County, and the towns of Southport, Elmira, Ashland, Baldwin, and Chemung, and a portion of Big Flats, Horseheads, Erin, and Van Etten, in Chemung County had been settled by a number of persons, who could not agree upon a proper division of their locations, and the act creating the town appointed John Cantine, James Clinton, and John Hathorn commissioners to inquire into and settle the disputes which had arisen among the settlers concerning their possessions, and to assign and allot lands to the claimants, who were actually settled on the lands, or who had made improvements, intending to settle. The allotments were to be not less than 100, not more than 1000 acres each and also provided that the lands were to be settled within three months after the State acquired the Indian title. The lands were to be bought at one shilling, and sixpence per acre. These commissioners proceeded under their authority to survey and plot the town, and Feb. 28, 1789, the Legislature confirmed their report, and authorized the Commissioner of the Land-Office to patent the lands by the parties named on the lots on the map, submitted by the commissioners of the town, and extended the time of settlement to one year after the State had acquired the Indian title. Certificates of location were issued by the commissioners, which were assignable, and thus parties acquired large tracts, which were patented to them under one patent. Some of the larger tracts granted in the old town of Chemung, were as follows (made previous to the survey of the commissioners or the granting of patents):

Isaac D. Fonda, Jacob Ford, Peter W. Yates, Josiah Richardson, and Thomas Klump, certificate of location 8000 acres, on northwest band of the Susquehanna River, now in Tioga, Tioga Co., Jan. 26, 1789, vol. xivi., p. 25, Land Papers.

Henry Wisner, 4000 acres, on the northerly side of Tioga River, now in town of Big Flats, Chemung Co., vol. xivi., pp. 27 and 47.

Wheeler Douglass, 4450 acres, in Barton, Tioga Co., vol. xivi., p. 46, Feb. 17, 1789.

Thomas Palmer, 3450 acres, in town of Tioga, vol. xlvi., p. 54, Feb. 26, 1789.

Joseph Benedict, 8000 acres, adjoining Douglass, in Barton, Feb. 28, 1789, vol. xlvi., p. 62.

Archibald Campbell, 3000 acres, in Tioga, on the river, including two islands, June 53, 1789, vol. xivii., p. 37.

Lewis Brodhead, lot 158, 1000 acres, Feb. 22, 1792.

Thomas Burt, Richard Willing, and Thomas Willing, 2300 acres, Nov. 6, 1788.

Jacob R. De Witt and Phillip Cuddeback, 2000 acres, March 23, 1791.

Direk Romeyne, Daniel Jansen, and William Peck, 2850 acres, Nov. 8, 1788.

John Jackson, Benj. Jackson, John Donton, Joseph Elliott, Reuben Hopkins, James White, Daniel Jackson, Phineas Case, Timothy Duncan, Wm. Elmer, Wm. Thompson, and Anthony Dobbin, lots 177, 171, 182 to 187, inclusive, 9360 acres, Nov. 6, 1788.

The following is a list of the patents in the old town of Chemung:

1. Wm. Wynkoop 52. Lebbeus Tubbs & Benj. Clark 104. Isaac Wells 151. Thomas Moffitt, et al.
2. Isaac McBride 53. Jabez Culver & Lebbeus Tubbs 105. Daniel De Witt 152. Benoni Bradley, et al., 2250 acres
3. Elijah Buck 54. Jabez Culver 106. Ames Finton, March 31, 1849 153. Wm. Rose & J. Wallace
4,5. Daniel McDowell 55. Jacob Stull 107. 154. John Wood
6. Elijah Drake 56. Jabez Culver 108. Thomas B. Carr, part. 155. John Suffern
7. Thomas Walling, Jr. 57. Sol. Bovier 108. Lewis B. Miller, part., Nov. 8, 1847 156. Gerritt H. Van Wagonen
8. E. Buck & Solomon Bennett 58. Wm. Jenkins 109, 110. James Conover 157. John Hathorn
9. Charles Ennot 59. J. Dunham, P. Vandewater 111. Stephen Garlinghame 158. John Cantine
10. Israel Parshall 60. Elijah Griswold 112. James Rockwell 159. Jonas Poirs & B. Kole
11. Azrnel Bates 61. Daniel Purdy 113. James R. Smith 160. Jonas Williams & Amos Draper
12. Hugh Frazer 62. David Griswald 114. John Hendy 161. L. Light, et al.
13. Solo. Bennett 63. Jacob Stull 115. Thomas Hendy 162. Samuel Ransom
14. Christian Christ 64. Samuel Tubbs 116. Simon Hann (July 1, 1837) 163. Nathaniel Goodspeed
15. Elisha Griswold 65. David McCormick  117. Christian Minier 164. Silas Taylor
16. Gideon Griswold 66. Cornelius Roberts 118. James Dolson 165. Samuel Ransom
17, 18 Roger Count 67. Titus Ives 119. John Harris 166. Thomas Thomas
19. John Spalding 68. Jacob Stull & Eph. Tyler 120. Thomas Hendy 167. James Clinton, et al.
20. Thomas Baldwin 69. Jacob Stull 121. J. Bay & Mark Platner 168. James Clinton
21. Wm. Wynkoop 70. John Jamieson 122. Abijah Whitney 169. John Dunham
22. Thomas Baldwin 71. Abraham Stull 123. David Perry 170. Wm. & K. W. De Witt
23. Joel Thomas & Thomas Baldwin 72. Ambrose Ives 124. T. Culver & J. Culver 171. Solomon Bovier
24. Joel Thomas 73. Jacob Boin 125. James Thornton 172. John Cantine
25. Nathan Van Aukin 74. C. Westfall & J. Middaugh 126. Thomas Thomas 173. James R. Smith
26. Wm. Buck 75. John Day 127. Isaac Baldwin 174. Michael Connelly
27. Samuel Westbrook 76. Abraham A. Cudderback 128. Bezaleel Seeley & H. Howell 175. D. Romaine, et al.
28. E. & J. Tunishyn 77. Walter Warren 129. Bezaleel Seeley 176. Abraham B. Banker
29. Guy Maxwell 78. John Day 130. Not patented. 177. James De Hart
30. Abijah Patterson 79, 80. James Cameron 131. Hovey Everitt (sub-lot 1 & 3) 178. John Lawrence
31. John Squires 81. William Jacques 131. Phin’s Blodgett (sub-lot 2) 179. William Duer
32. Ebenezer Green 82, 83. Richard Wisner 131. T. Mulford (sub-lot 4) 180. John Lawrence
33. Benj. Burt 84. Jeffry Wisner 132. Abraham Brown 181-187. inclusive, James De Hart, containing, with 177,9360 acres
34. Justus Bennett 85. John Konkle 133. John Bay 188. Abraham Banker
35. David Bart 86. Solomon Bovier & Fred Hymes 134. J. Bay & Mark Platner 189. John Ransom
36. Peter Roberts 87. Cornelius Roberts 135. Tho. Stoddard 190. Israel Wells
37. Abiel Fry 88. William Latta 136. Henry Vose 191. Jeffrey Wisner
38. Asa Burnham 89. Joshua Carpenter 137. Geo. Suffern, 1890 acres 192. Included in 197.
39. Jasper Parish 90. James Loundsberry 138. D. Delevan & P. Stevens, 0100 acres 193. Charles Cantine
40. Green Bentley 91. Gilliam Bartolph 139. William Duer, 7680 acres 194. Belden Burt, included in 198.
41. Abner Wells 92. S. Hills Paine & George C. Paine 140. D. Holbrook, et al., 2807 acres 195. Moses De Witt, April 26, 1790
42. Isaac Baldwin 93. Richard Edsall (3d) 141. Tho. White 196. H. Wisner, Jan. 29, 1790
43. Aaron Kelsey 94. Thomas Whitney 142. Obad Gorestal, 3850 acres 197. Charles Cantine, includes 192.
44. Elisha Brown 95. Phebe Pettebone 143. A. Rummerfield & J. Edsall 198. Belden Burt, includes 194.
45. William Webber 96. John Suffern 144. R. Starrett & D. Montgomery 199. John Miller
46. Stephen Kent 97. Mathew McConnell 145. E. J. & J. R. De Witt 200. John Cantino
47. Stephen Gardner 98. John Miller 146. Joseph McConnell 201. Thomas Ten Eyck
48. Solomon Lane 99. Brinton Paine 147. T. Nicholson, 3792 acres 202. John Lawrence
49. Lebbeus Hammond 100. N. Seeley, Jr., 2553 acres 148. John Bay, 3724 acres 203. William Duer
50. Abraham Miller 101, 102. John Wair 149. George Suffern, 2322 acres 204. James & Robert Bennett
51. Benj. Clark & Abraham Miller 103. Abner Hardenburgh 150. Thomas Thomas 205. Benajah Brown

The earliest patented lots were Nos. 17 and 18, to Roger Count, 91 to Gilliam Bartolph, 191 to Jeffrey Wisner, all dated April 17, 1790. One lot, 107, was patented as late as March 31, 1849 to Anlos Fenton; another one, part of lot 108, Nov. 8, 1847; another, 116, to Simon Hann, July 1, 1837; and one yet unpatented, lot 130. Lots from 1 to 158, and 190 to 203, inclusive, are now included in Chemung County, the balance being in Tioga, in the towns of Barton and Tioga.

"The Military Tract," so called was a tract of twenty-eight townships laid out west of a line forming the west line of Oneida County and south of Oneida Lake principally, and dedicated to the payment of officers and soldiers in the Revolutionary army. The tract was laid out in 1788-89 into townships of one hundred lots of 600 acres each, in a form as nearly square as possible, which townships were to be named by the Commissioner of Land-Office, who proceeded to perpetuate the names of heroes of classic Greece amid the wilds of the Iroquois, as may be seen by consulting the maps of the counties of Oswego, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Cortland, Tompkins, Schuyler, and Wayne, in which the Military Tract is included. Two lots for gospel and literature purposes were assigned in each town, and the balance of the lots, excepting six, were allotted by ballot to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of the Revolutionary army, the same being granted by the State of New York. Settlements were required to be actually made within seven years from Jan. 1, 1790.

All of Tompkins County, save the three southern towns of Newfield, Danby, and Caroline, is included in the Military Tract, as is also the town of Hector in Schuyler County.


On Aug. 4, 1791, John W. Watkins, a lawyer in New York City, and Royal W. Flint, and certain associates, applied to the Commissioners of the Land-Office for the ungranted lands lying east of the Massachusetts pre-emption, west of the Owego Creek, south of the Military Tract, and north of the town of Chemung, as then laid out,—estimated to contain 363,000 acres,—for which they agreed to pay the price of three shillings and fourpence per acre. (Vol. xi., Land Papers, p. 141.) The proposition was accepted, and the tract surveyed, and a return made April 7, 1794, and a patent issued June 25, 1794, to John W. Watkins, who subsequently conveyed his associates, as their interests indicated.

The lands were described in the patent as follows: "Beginning at the northwest corner of the township of Chemung, as originally surveyed and laid out, on the east bounds of the lands ceded by this State to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and running along the line run for the north bounds of said township of Chemung south 87o 40’, east 2857 chains to Owego Creek, being the west bounds of a tract of 230,400 acres, also ceded by this State to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; thence up along same bounds northerly to the township of Dryden, being one of the townships of the tract set apart for the troops of this State lately serving in the army of the United States; thence along the south bounds of the townships of Dryden, Ulysses, and Hector, and the same continued west 2786 chains to the line run for the east bounds of of the said first above-mentioned ceded lands, which line is commonly called the pre-emption line; then along the same a true south course 1220 chains to place of beginning." From this tract so described were reserved the following tracts thereinbefore granted:

  1. Campbell, 1200 acres, April 26, 1790.
John Bay, 2000 acres, Sept. 26, 1792.

Henry Wisner, 1460 acres, February, 1792.

Gillian Bertolph, 400 acres, Jan. 31 1793.

Ezra L’ Hommedieu, 5440 acres, March 21, 1791.

Peter Himepough, 800 acres (in Danby), April 27, 1791.

Preserved Cooley, 200 acres, 1792.

John Carpenter, 400 acres, March 26, 1791.

Phineas Catlin, 200 acres.

James McKown, 600 acres.

John Hollenbach, 400 acres.

Lawrence Schoolcraft, et al., 2600 acres (in Spencer), June 10, 1791.

Direk Tenbrock, 600 acres (in Spencer), Sept. 13, 1791.

James and Robert McMaster and James Wood, 1350 acres (in Dix), Feb. 18, 1792.

John Bay, 2705 acres (in Dix), March 5, 1792.

John Cantine, 2400 acres (in Caroline), March 1792.

John Cantine, 2000 acres (in Candor), March 1792.

John Cantine, 800 acres, March 1792.

James Clinton, 200 acres, March 16, 1792.

Nathan Parshall, 200 acres, March 16, 1792.

Jonas Seeley, 500 acres, Jan. 31, 1793.

John Nicholson, 700 acres, in Tioga.

Mathew Carpenter, 200 acres.

John Gazley, 600 acres.

Caleb Bentley, 600 acres.

Henry Wisner, 200 acres.

Henry Wisner and John Carpenter, 660 acres.

Jacob Ford, 350 acres.

John Watson, 1200 acres.

John Hathorn and John Suffern, 400 acres.

Zephaniah Platt, 5000 acres.

Heirs of A. Campbell, 1000 acres.

The lands actually conveyed contained 336,380 acres.

All gold and silver mines were reserved to the State, and 5 acres in every 100 were reserved for highways. Settlements were to be made on certain areas within seven years of the date of the patent.

This tract includes the present towns of Spencer and Candor, in Tioga County; a portion of Horseheads, Erin, Van Etten, and Big Flats, and all of Veteran and Catlin, in Chemung; the towns of Dix, Montour, Catharine, and Cayuta, and the eastern portion of Orange, in Schuyler; and the towns of Newfield, Danby, and Caroline, in Tompkins County.

James Watson, on the 4th of August, 1791, purchased a tract of land lying on the west side of Seneca Lake, between the lake and the pre-emption line which covered the present town of Reading, in Schuyler County: He also purchased all of the unappropriated lands in the southwest part of the old town of Chemung, which lies south of the Chemung River,--14,550 acres,--now in the town of Southport, Chemung Co.

The foregoing comprise the sources of title under which the principal portions of the lands of our four counties are held.

Some large transfers of real estate were made by parties under the Watkins and Flint purchase, several of the deeds covering a square yard of parchment. One deed from James Greenleaf, one of Watkins’ and Flint’s associates, to Robert C. Johnson, dated May 5, 1795, conveys 119,992 acres in Tioga, Tompkins, and Chemung Counties, the consideration being 8993 pounds, New York currency, and is recorded in Liber of Deeds, m. R., page 514, Secretary of State’s office, Albany. Watkins and his wife convey to Robert C. Johnson 10,725 acres, now in the town of Catharine, Schuyler County, for 3082 pounds.*

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