Guide to the Speculation Land Company Records, 1768 - 1992, undated

Summary Information

Title: Speculation Land Company Records, 1768 - 1992, undated
Collection: AC.124
Extent: 33.5 linear feet (27 boxes, 4 half sized boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 4 oversize folders)
Abstract:

Speculation Land Company Records are the records from the owners and agents of the North Carolina branch of the New York-based Speculation Land Company primarily between 1796 and 1920. The collection consists of approximately 10,000 original documents, including land deeds, surveys, land plats, record books, business checks, business and personal correspondence. There are also maps, unidentified information packets, and one photograph. Other portions of Speculation Land Records are located at University of North Carolina at Asheville and Chapel Hill.

Creator: Speculation Land Company

Biographical/Historical Note

This collection contains records from the North Carolina branch of the Speculation Land Company of New York, New York, which sold and leased real estate in southwestern North Carolina counties, including Rutherford, Polk and Henderson. The local agents were based in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, and operated mostly by the Justice family. This collection illustrates its administrative model, land holdings, and mineral rights policies.

New York-based speculator Tench Coxe (1755-1824) came into possession of 400,000 acres of land in North Carolina following the Revolutionary War, much of it purchased from the Rutherford Land Company in North Carolina in 1791, and established the Speculation Land Company to manage and sell the acreages. The Speculation Land Company was one of the largest land owners in southwestern North Carolina during the eighteenth through the early twentieth century, owning thousands of acres in Buncombe, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford, and Mecklenburg counties. Later owners and trustees included Pierre Etienne DuPonceau and Abraham Kintzig, Isaac Bronson and Goold Hoyt, James J. Hoyt, William G. Ward, John Ward, William Redmond, Jr., Francis Randall, Francis M. Scott, David A. Thompson, George Willett Van Nest and William Redmond Cross. The local agents were based in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Many of the claims were handled by Company Agent Joshua Forman in the nineteenth century and a number of the surveying records were created by the Justice family. By 1910 over 927 deeds had been distributed by the company. In 1913 the descendants of the original Speculation Land Company sued for changes in the distribution of the proceeds. The Speculation Land Company was dissolved in 1930.

Thomas Butler Justice (1813-1892) was a Rutherford County Baptist minister and a surveyor. He and his wife Harriet Bailey had several children: C. Baylis (b. 1836), James (b. 1838), Mary (b. 1840), Michael (b. 1844), William (b. 1846).

C. Baylis Justice was a Baptist minister and surveyor, and surveyed many Speculation Lands prior to being certified. Decades later, this led to concern about potential legal challenges. He and his wife Eliza (died 1906) had six children: James (b. 1863), Mills (b. 1867), Andrew (b. 1869), Thomas (b. 1872), William (b. 1875), and Eliza (b. 1879). In Hendersonville, Butler Justice's nephew Samuel (b. 1851) and great nephew George W. (b. 1878) operated a surveying company named Justice and Son, which performed many surveys for Speculation Land Company claims.

Scope and Contents

The collection includes land deeds, surveys, land plats, record books, business checks, business and personal letters, and one photograph. Some correspondence relates to the ministries of Thomas Butler and Baylis Justice. These papers document multiple business issues and social developments, semi-annual reports filed by C.B. Justice, describing local economic, political, and legal conditions. Communication between the company's trustees, agents, and purchasers was often problematic, and many land owners sought legal assistance to obtain their land deeds. Land brokers regularly contacted agents and trustees in attempt to work with them. Documents concern use of the Green River for water power, the Appalachian Power Company, eviction of squatters, timber and mineral rights, Carolinas Monazite Company, North Carolina Gold Mining Company, Davis Mine, and the King's Mountain Mine.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into six series.

Series I: Field Books is arranged by subject of each book.

Series II: Land Documents is divided into six subseries. Subseries A: Patents is arranged by patent number with larger materials listed at the end of the subseries. Subseries B: Land Surveys is arranged by survey number with larger materials listed at the end of the subseries. Subseries C: Land Plats is arranged by patent number and county name with larger materials listed at the end of the subseries. Subseries D: Land Deed Agreements is arranged by county name with larger materials listed at the end of the subseries. Subseries E: Land Lease Agreements is arranged by county name. Subseries F: Maps is arranged by date.

Series III: Correspondence is arranged chronologically with larger materials listed at the end of the series.

Series IV: Court Documents is arranged chronologically.

Series V: Accounts and Receipts is arranged chronologically with larger materials listed at the end of the series.

Series VI: Justice Family Documents is arranged by subject.

Series VII: Visual Materials is arranged by subject.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room without restriction. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

This collection was donated to the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection by the Justice family, Agnes W. Justice, Alice M. Justice, Janette J. Griffin, and Caroline J. Dessouky, in 2001 and 2002.

Processing Information

Processed in July 2002. Finding aid revised, 2010. Collection reprocessed and finding aid revised by Trevor McKenzie, June 2014. This collection was reprocessed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], AC.124: Speculation Land Company Records, W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Container List

Series I: Field Books, 1768-1932, undated

Series Description

Series I: Field Books containshand bound, handwritten field books which include surveys of land plats, check receipts, lists of delinquent purchasers and actions taken. These booklets and ledgers were carried by representatives of the Speculation Land Company. Included are books related to specific patents, financial affairs, and survey notes. Books generally include dates, names of buyers and associated people, land patent numbers, and survey notes.

  Box Folder

Untitled Book, 1785-1830

1 1

No. 2 Burgins Field Notes, 1796-1801

1 1

Untitled Book 2, 1796-1828

1 1

Untitled Book 3, 1812-1838

1 1

Untitled Book 4, 1830

1 1

Untitled Book 5, 1830

1 1

Untitled Book 6, 1775-1829

1 2

Untitled Book 7, undated

1 2

Untitled Book 8, 1768-1828

1 3

Untitled Book 9, 1828

1 3

Untitled Book 10, 1828

1 3

Untitled Book 11, 1778-1833

1 4

Field Book of Patent No. 1013, 1829-1832

1 4

Notes in Union County, 1818-1829

1 5

Joshua Foreman, 1862-1863

1 5

Deed Book of Patent No. 1024, 1830-1856

1 6

Patent No. 1037, 1057, 1044, 1043 and 1042, 1830

1 6

Patent 250 Buncombe, 1830-1833

1 6

Patent No. 1014, 1831-1855

1 6

Patent No. 1030, 1831

1 7

Untitled Book 12, 1799-1830

1 7

Untitled Book 13, 1836

1 7

Untitled Book 14, 1769-1824

1 7

Memorandum of the Big-Survey, 1840-1869

1 8

T.B. Justice, Rutherfordton, 1856-1860

1 8

Tax Return, Account of Gold, 1853-1879

2 1

Promiscuous Receipts Office, 1849-1859

2 1

Receipts Office, 1853-1868

2 2

Untitled Book 15, 1856-1858

2 3

Untitled Book 16, circa 1860

2 3

E.B. Justice, 1876-1930

2 3

Eastman College book, undated

2 4

Untitled Book 17, 1885-1889

2 5

Untitled Book 18, 1893-1894

2 5

S.J. Blocher's Government Land Survey, 1900

2 6

Notes of Survey, 1903; Patents No. 1024 and 1036, 1855-1917

2 6

Field Book, circa 1911

2 7

Untitled Book 19, undated

2 7

Patet [Patent] 1016, 1898-1915

3 1

Untitled Book 20 [receipts], 1912-1915

3 2

G.W. Justice Field Book, 1913

3 3

G.W. Justice Field Book, 1913

3 4

Level Book 373, undated

3 5

1909 Kanuga, 1909-1932

3 6

Leather Wallet, undated

3 7

S.J. Justice Level Survey Patent # 250, circa 1910

3 8

Patent 1022, undated

3 8

Untitled Book 21, undated

3 8

Untitled Book 22, undated

3 8

Untitled Book 23, undated

3 8

Untitled Book 24, undated

3 8

Untitled Book 25, 1828

3 9

N. 1001, 1829

3 9
,

Series II: Land Documents, 1796-1924

Series Description

Series II: Land Documents contains information and legal documents related to the lands controlled by the Speculation Land Company. Subseries A: Patents includes patents on individual properties throughout western North Carolina. Subseries B: Land Surveys consists of surveys of lands owned by the company. Subseries C: Land Plats holds land plats detailing holdings within western North Carolina counties. Subseries D: Land Deed Agreements contains legal documents related to the transfer of ownership of lands to and from the Speculation Land Company. Subseries E: Land Lease Agreements holds materials documenting the lease of lands held by the company. Subseries F: Maps contains maps detailing a number of the patents owned by the company.

Subseries A: Patents, 1787-1987, undated

  Box Folder

Supporting Documents, 1787-1844

4 1-3

Supporting Documents, 1844-1869

4 4-6

Supporting Documents, 1868-1904

4 7-9

Supporting Documents, 1900-1916

4 10-11

Supporting Documents, 1906-1908

5 1-2

Supporting Documents, 1910-1911

5 3-4

Supporting Documents, July 18, 1911-September 15, 1911

5 5

Supporting Documents, September 19, 1911-December 13, 1911

5 6

Supporting Documents, January 1, 1912-May 15, 1912

5 7

Supporting Documents, June 12, 1912-September 25, 1912

5 8

Supporting Documents, September 30, 1912-1917

5 9-10

Supporting Documents, February 1923-July 12, 1923

5 11

Supporting Documents, July 11, 1923-September 5, 1923

6 1

Supporting Documents, September 6, 1923-November 18,1923

6 2

Supporting Documents, November 30, 1923-February 26, 1924

6 3

Patent # 250, 1832-1914

6 4-5

Patents # 1001-1005, 1796-1919

6 6

Patents # 1006-1007, 1796-1919

6 7

Patents # 1008, 1831-1978

6 8

Patents # 1009-1010, 1834-1908

6 9

Patent # 1013, 1797-1911

6 10-11

Patent # 1013, 1797-1911

7 1-2

Patent # 1014, 1834-1901

7 3-6

Patent # 1015-1016 [and part of # 1007], 1834-1919

7 7

Patent # 1020, 1836-1875

7 8-9

Patent # 1021, 1832-1905

8 1

Patent # 1023, 1834-1899

8 2

Patent # 1024, 1849-1919

8 3-9

Patent # 1025-1026, 1915-1919

9 1

Patent # 1027, 1832-1919

9 2

Patent # 1028, 1834-1912

9 3

Patent # 1029, 1900-1918

9 4

Patent # 1030, 1833-1901

9 5

Patent # 1031-1034, 1833-1906

9 6

Patent # 1035-1039, 1834-1916

9 7

Patent # 1040, 1830-1878

9 8

Patent # 1041, 1839-1909

9 9-10

Patents # 1042-1046, 1795-1850

9 11

Patent # 1047, 1795-1844

10 1

Patents # 1048-1049, 1795-1870

10 2

Patents # 1050-1053, 1795-1874

10 3

Patents # 1061-1316, 1847-1919

10 4

Unidentified patents, 1911-1917, undated

10 5

Lists of owners, patent numbers, and counties [Henderson, Polk, McDowell, Rutherford], 1903-1912

10 6

Patents # 1005-1021, 1796-1904

32 1

Patents # 1024-1028, 1796-1913

32 2

Patents # 1029-1039, 1795-1912

32 3

Patents # 1040-1324, 1795-1796, undated

32 4

Accounts and lists of patents removed from Unidentified Patents, 1872-1918, undated

32 5-6

Land deeds, plats, and patents removed from Unidentified Patents, 1810-1918

32 7-8

Subseries B: Land Surveys, 1794-1912, undated

  Box Folder

Patent #250-1024, 1835-1906

10 7

Patent #1025-1039, 1797-1912

10 8

Patent #1041-1317, 1795-1872

10 9

Patent #1319-3435, 1796-1826

10 10

Patent Lists, 1794-1912

11 1-5

Surveys, 1794-1912

11 1-5

Surveys, undated

11 6-8

Surveys, undated

12 1-2

Surveys, 1876, undated

32 9

Subseries C: Land Plats, 1790-1916, undated

  Box Folder

Patents #250-1014, 1835-1911

13 1

Patents #1014-1027, 1837-1889

13 2

Patents #1030-1318, 1835-1893

13 3

Buncombe County, 1831-1891, undated

13 4

Burke County, 1889, undated

13 5

Cleveland County, 1835-1874

13 6

Cleveland County, 1875-1891, undated

13 7

Henderson County, 1830-1858

13 8

Henderson County, 1861-1903

13 9

Henderson County, 1904-1912, undated

13 10

McDowell County, 1856-1885, undated

13 11

Mecklenburg County, 1795-1855, undated

13 12

Polk County, 1847-1873

13 13

Polk County, 1874-1891

14 1

Polk County, 1892-1918

14 2

Rutherford County, 1790-1845

14 3
  Mapcase Drawer Folder

Rutherford County, 1795

E1 21 1
  Box Folder

Rutherford County, 1847-1861

14 4

Rutherford County, 1866-1881

14 5

Rutherford County, 1885-1916

14 6

Union County, 1845-1871

14 7

Union County, 1872-1880

14 8

Union County, 1875-1880

14 9

Union County, 1880-1892, undated

14 10

Unknown location, 1800-1900

15 1

Buncombe-Burke Counties, 1836-1855

33 1

Cleveland-Polk Counties, 1835-1903

33 2

Rutherford County, 1796-1859

33 3-4

Union County-Unknown Counties, 1857, undated

33 5

Subseries D: Land Deed Agreements, 1796-1922, undated

Subseries Note

An itemized list of the land deed agreements by county, then by grantee's name is available (PDF).

  Box Folder

Buncombe County, 1833-1836

15 2

Burke County, 1880

15 3

Cabarrus County, 1841

15 4

Cleveland County, Buff-Lee, 1860-1905

15 5

Cleveland County, Lovelace-Wortman, 1842-1905

15 6

Henderson County, Boone-Grier, 1842-1914

15 7

Henderson County, Harris-Nix, 1853-1918

15 8

Henderson County, Pace-Williams, 1828-1918

15 9

McDowell County, Burgess-Ledbetter, 1843-1912

15 10

McDowell County, Lytle-Warren, 1874-1891

15 11

Mecklenburg County, 1821-1839

15 12

Polk County, Aleurine-Bradley, 1855-1918

15 13

Polk County, Brown-Green, 1859-1916

15 14

Polk County, Green Land Company-Laughter, 1848-1917

16 1

Polk County, Lanchaster-McMurray, 1876-1918

16 2

Polk County, Nadine-Splawn, 1836-1919

16 3

Polk County, Stearns-Wilson, 1860-1912

16 4

Rutherford County, Adkinson-Furgasen, 1817-1906

16 5

Rutherford County, Gallert-Justice, 1830-1890

16 6

Rutherford County, Keeter-Price, 1820-1922

16 7

Rutherford County, Ramsey-Yelton, 1820-1907

17 1

Union County, Armfield-House, 1861-1894

17 2

Union County, Houston-Stancill, 1844-1900

17 3

Union County, Sutton-Yondle, 1857-1874

17 4

No County Listed, 1820-1911

17 5

No County Listed, 1836-1902

17 6

Deed Requisition, 1850-1907

17 7

Deed Lists, 1920, undated

17 8

Land Grants, 1828-1831

17 9

Buncombe-Burke Counties, 1831-1899

34 1

Cleveland County, 1851-1905

34 2

Henderson County, 1853-1908

34 3

Lincoln-McDowell Counties, 1831-1908

34 4

Polk County, 1861-1907

34 5

Rutherford County, 1796-1907

34 6-8

Union County, 1878-1905

34 9

Subseries E: Land Lease Agreements, 1826-1916

  Box Folder

Burke County, 1840-1889

18 1

Cleveland County, 1864-1895

18 2

Henderson County, 1845-1916

18 3

McDowell County, 1843-1879

18 4

Mecklenburg County, 1826-1839

18 5

Polk County, 1828-1913

18 6

Rutherford County, 1828-1888

18 7

Union County, 1845-1879

18 8

Unknown location, 1833-1880

18 9

Subseries F: Maps, 1888-1916, undated

  Box Folder

Maps, 1888-1890, undated

35 1-2
  Mapcase Drawer Folder

Maps, 1909-1916, undated

E1 21 2

Maps, undated

E1 21 3
  Mapcase Drawer

Map, undated

WR-F3 9
,

Series III: Correspondence, 1813-1926, undated

Series Description

Series III: Correspondence contains letters between company representatives as well as materials documenting the purchase and sale of land. Letters from the Justice family's Baptist ministry and from some Justice family members are also included. Speculation Land Company correspondence includes a 1925 letter providing details of the Speculation Land Company's origins, discussion of an 1860s controversy over the Davis mine, orders for squatters to vacate land, requests for land surveys and purchases, discussions of land ownership controversies, business practices within the company, and mineral, water and electric rights. Pastor Thomas Butler Justice 1860s correspondence includes references to slaves and the impending war. C. Baylis Justice's ministry correspondence (1880s-1895) includes a March 1907 letter from ex-slave Hannah Powers requesting help locating her children.

Note: An itemized list of correspondence, roughly chronological, is available (PDF).

  Box Folder

Correspondence, 1813-1839

19 1

Correspondence, 1840-1855

19 2

Correspondence, 1843

35 3

Correspondence, 1856-1867

19 3

Correspondence, 1868-1874

19 4

Correspondence, 1875-April 1879

19 5

Correspondence, May 1879-1885

19 6

Correspondence, 1885

19 7

Correspondence, 1886

19 8

Correspondence, January-August 1887

20 1

Correspondence, September 1887-February 1888

20 2

Correspondence, March-August 1888

20 3

Correspondence, September-October 1888

20 4

Correspondence, December 1888-April 1889

20 5

Correspondence, May-June 1889

20 6

Correspondence, July-October 1889

20 7

Correspondence, November 1889-February 13, 1890

20 8

Correspondence, February 20-June 1890

20 9

Correspondence, July-October 1890

20 10

Correspondence, November 1890-February 1891

21 1

Correspondence, March-June 1891

21 2

Correspondence, July 1891

21 3

Correspondence, August-September 1891

21 4

Correspondence, October-December 1891

21 5

Correspondence, April-June 1892

21 6

Correspondence, July 1892-January 1893

21 7

Correspondence, February-December 1893

21 8

Correspondence, January-December 1894

21 9

Correspondence, January 1895-August 1896

22 1

Correspondence, September 1896-July 1902

22 2

Correspondence, August 1902-July 1903

22 3

Correspondence, August-December 1903

22 4

Correspondence, January 1904-April 1905

22 5

Correspondence, May-November 1905

22 6

Correspondence, January-May 1906

22 7

Correspondence, June 1906

22 8

Correspondence, July-October 1906

22 9

Correspondence, November-December 1906

23 1

Correspondence, January 1907-February 1908

23 2

Correspondence, March-April 1908

23 3

Correspondence, May 1908

23 4-5

Correspondence, June 1908-February 1909

23 6

Correspondence, March-December 1909

23 6

Correspondence, March 1910-February 1914

23 7

Correspondence, March 1910-February

23 8

Correspondence, March 1914-1926

23 9

Correspondence, undated

23 10

Correspondence, undated

23 11
,

Series IV: Court Documents, 1796-1919, undated

Series Description

Series IV: Court Documents contains legal materials spanning from 1796-1919, including lawsuits, witness statements, and deeds of trust. Most documents are lawsuits against individuals who illegally possessed, or "squatted", on company land. Many date from 1839. Several court documents are imprinted with "July Special Term 1912" but contain later handwritten dates.

  Box Folder

Court Documents, 1796-1827

24 1

Court Documents, 1828-1829

24 2

Court Documents, 1830-1833

24 3

Court Documents, 1834-1838

24 4

Court Documents, 1839-1878

24 5

Court Documents, 1882-1912

24 6-7

Court Documents, 1913

24 8

Court Documents, 1913-1916

25 1

Court Documents, 1917-1919, undated

25 2

Court Documents, undated

35 4
,

Series V: Accounts and Receipts, 1796-1992, undated

Series Description

Series V: Accounts and Receipts contains receipts and lists of accounts and expenditures of the Speculation Land Company. It is organized chronologically . It also includes lists of accounts and expenses as well as torn documents and stationary.

  Box Folder

Receipts, 1821-1849

26 1

Receipts, 1850-1874

26 2

Receipts, 1875-1882

26 3

Receipts, 1883-1891

26 4

Receipts, 1892-1906

26 5

Receipts, 1907-1910

26 6

Receipts, 1911-1912

26 7

Receipts, January-October 1913

26 8

Receipts, November-December 1913

26 9

Receipts, 1914

27 1

Receipts, January-May 1915

27 2

Receipts, June 1915

27 3

Receipts, July-December 1915

27 4

Receipts, 1916

27 5

Receipts, 1917

27 6

Receipts, January-July 1918

27 7

Receipts, August-October 1918

27 8

Receipts, 1923-1926

27 9

Receipts, 1927

27 10

Receipts, 1929

28 1

Receipts, 1929-1992, undated

28 2

Accounts and Expenditures, 1796-1837

28 3

Accounts and Expenditures, 1839-1874

28 4

Accounts and Expenditures, 1876-1879

28 5

Accounts and Expenditures, 1880-1892

28 6

Accounts and Expenditures, 1893-1917

28 7

Accounts and Expenditures, undated

28 8

Accounts and Receipts, 1877-1927

35 5-6

Annual Financial Statements, 1910-1914

28 9

Various Account Documents, 1820-1907, undated

28 10
,

Series VI: Justice Family Documents, 1815-1992, undated

Series Description

Series VI: Justice Family Documents includes ephemera, sermons and notes by C. B. Justice, religious tracts and fliers, and notes from Justice and Sons Surveyors. Many relate to Reverend C. B. Justice and include pamphlets and publications involving Southern Baptists, temperance, several publications involving the Keeley Institute, and religion (the Keeley Institute provided injections of "bichloride of gold" to cure alcoholism between the 1879 and 1965). There are many empty envelopes.

  Box Folder

Ephemera and publications, 1826-1992, undated

29 1

C.B. Justice notes and sermons, 1888-1893, undated

29 2

C.B. Justice envelopes, 1883-1912

29 3

Justice and Sons Surveyors notes, 1815-1912

29 4
,

Series VII: Visual Materials, circa 1900, undated

Series Description

Series VII: Visual Materials contains a large black and white photograph of the Big Bradley Falls on Cove Creek, Saluda, North Carolina and CD-ROMs of digitized documents.

  Box Folder

Big Bradley Falls on Cove Creek, Saluda, Polk County, North Carolina [photograph], circa 1900

35 7
  Box Item

Digitized Images [Online Documents], undated

30 1-7