|Thanks to Joe Stout for the gathering of this data from the book
in Weakley County, Tennessee A publication of the Isaac Dawson Chapter,
NSDAC Martin, Tennessee 1985, Text by Mary K. Vowell. We express
a special "Thank You" to the Isaac Dawson Chapter of NSDAC for giving
permission to put their book online - we know it will help many researchers.
Below the Introduction you will find links to the A - Z SURNAME INDEX which is in 4 parts.
Check out the NSDAC 1836 MAP to see where your kinfolks owned land
Introduction to Occupant Entry Records
The very first owners of a specific tract of land registered their claim for the land in a Land Office. When West Tennessee was first opened for legitimate settlement, there were five land offices in the region. Later on one was established in each county. The entry into the record at the land office was called an occupant entry. After the entry was made, the surveyor verified the dimensions and the fact that no one else was claiming this tract.
Then a request was made to the State for a grant for the land. When a request was deemed accurate, complete, legitimate, etc. a grant was issued and the individual could record it with the county. I don't know if that office was called the Registrar at that or not. At that time a deed was issued. The Occupant Entry was really the first document of ownership for a given tract. Often, the person for whom the Occupant Entry was made was the first generation settler on the land.
It is the first part of a lengthy process whereby people gained title to and paid for public land. The process varied widely with region and time. The laws were changed.
The subject of Occupant Entry is large and complex. It was one of the hottest and most contentious political issues on the frontier. There were several Occupant Entry Laws.
Again, the Revolutionary War Soldiers received warrants which had to be turned into grants through the process I began to outline earlier. There were also land grants or warrants for service in the North Carolina Militia (although none of these were in West Tennessee), there were huge grants to universities, and there were lots of other kinds of grants as well. Much of the land was settled illegally by squatters and herein lay part of the trouble. (It should be noted that the dispensing of public lands in Tennessee was one of the biggest public scandals in the history of the nation. This corruption was also a big part of the trouble.) There were several different laws enacted at different times in an effort to let those who had settled and improved the land gain legal title to it. These laws allowed an individual to lay claim to and pay 12 1/2 cents/acre for the land he occupied up to about 300 acres. Most Occupant Entries were for 160 to 200 acres in the early years and less as time went on. There were different limits and conditions over time. But he still had to survey it, enter it at the land office, apply for a grant, and then finally get a deed. And if he happened to be living on land that someone else had already entered but didn't live on, this process didn't work. There were many, many law suits and many people simple moved on.
Weakley County was split between two land offices when the Legislature passed the laws governing the initial settlement of West Tennessee after the Act of Congress allowing the settlement of West Tennessee was passed in ( I think) 1819. This act of the legislature also set up the survey and land offices. The surveyors for the 12th and 13th districts had their offices in Dover at the beginning, 1820. Both offices moved to their districts within a few years. I believe most of these old records and maps have been lost. I am unaware of any relevant land records for Weakley Co in Stewart Co today but I haven't been there to verify it. The entry deeds and early deed books in Weakley Co are amazingly complete.
INDEX A - E INDEX F - J INDEX K - R INDEX S - Y
The A - Z surname index incorporates the index to the Occupant Entry Book 1827- 1833 with the index to Neighbors in Weakley County, Tennessee. The first numbers after a name are the page numbers in the Occupant Entry Book found in the office of the Register of Deeds of Weakley County, Tennessee at Dresden. The page numbers for Neighbors in Weakley County, Tennessee will follow those numbers and will be separated by a diagonal (/). See table on Index pages for links to these pages.
Many names appear in the index that do not appear in the text of THIS book. These are the surnames appearing in the Occupant Entry Book in marginal notes showing property being transferred in the late 1830's and 1840's. Some of the surnames are without given names or initials. These names are found in the property descriptions that show by whom the property is bounded.
No doubt there are some errors in transcriptions. In case of discrepancy, please refer to the original source. "Lo" stands for locator.
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