Saturday, January 22, 2011

Virginia Land Laws : Cabin Rights

It was during the Revolutionary War that Virginia addressed the land expansion to the west for the first time under its own laws. "Taking up Land" meant building a cabin and raising a crop of grain of any kind, however small. This entitled the occupant to four hundred acres, and after 1779 the pre-emption right to as much as one thousand more adjoining acres. [Most of the first patents of Kentucky were under these laws.] This pre-emption right was to be secured by a land office warrant which became known as "Cabin rights". The word "patent" as used here means the official certificate of a government grant or franchise. [No longer under the King!] As an adjective it means protected or conferred by letters patent.

"Tomahawk Right" was claimed from deadening trees about the head of a spring and marking the bark of some trees with the initials of the one who made the improvement. Unless followed by a settlement these rights were held invalid. If some one else desired to make a settlement on the land and secure a title, he would buy up the rights rather than quarrel with the one who made them.

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