1844: George Twyman Wood to Gen. John Albert Granger

John Albert Granger

This letter was written by Hon. George Twyman Wood (1796-1876), of Virginia. He married Elizabeth Helm, the sister of Kentucky Governor John L. Helm. He appears to have spent most of his life at Munfordville, Hart County, Kentucky, where he was active as the Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts of Hart County.

This letter was sent to Gen. John Albert Granger (1795-1870), the son of Gideon Granger (1767-1822) and Mindwell Pease (1770-1860). Gen. Granger was a local New York militia leader and a farmer in Canandaigua, New York.

The content of the letter concerns the surveying and sale of Kentucky acreage acquired by John Granger’s father, Gideon Granger, while serving as Postmaster General from 1801 to 1814. This large tract became known as “Granger’s Great Tract.”  See footnotes below.

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[Addressed to Gen. John Albert Granger, Canandaigua, Ontario Co., New York]

Munfordville, Kentucky
29th July 1844

Gen’l John A. Granger
Dear Sir,

Yours under date Canandaigua, 28th ult. has been rec’d. I am happy to learn that you arrived safely at home and found your family and friends in the enjoyment of fine health. I rec’d the package with its enclosures which you sent me from Cleveland in due time and all in correct form. As yet, I have taken no steps toward the survey or disposal of your lands entrusted to my charge. My reasons for not having done so are these: I have been in quite bad health most of the time, the weather has been excessively warm, and the rains have been hitherto almost unparalleled in Kentucky as well as most of the Western States. The farmers have been busily engaged in securing their harvest. Mr. Munford, our surveyor, has been for some time past employed in executing under an order of our Chancellor, an extensive survey so that his services could not have been procured. Upon the very day in which yours from Cleveland was received, a beloved daughter, who was ill when you were in Kentucky, departed this life. These are my reasons for not having sooner commenced the survey or sale of your lands. It will, however, not be long before I begin, when you shall hear from me.

I am inclined to doubt whether sales to any great extent can be readily effected at the prices and upon the terms which you have proposed. I think the purchasers will hesitate much to pay interest on the purchase money. Am I to understand that these are terms firm which you will not depart in any case?

A friend of mine has mentioned to me, since you left here, that there was a suit tried some years since in the Hardin Circuit Court in the name of Hunt vs. Perry for a piece of land which Hunt had bought off of our tract in which suit Hunt was unsuccessful owing to a defect in some of the conveyances – which one of the conveyances my informant did not recollect. My informant was one of the counsel engaged in the case. Would it not be well for you, as soon as practicable, to place me in possession of your whole chain titles, so that I may assure all who may desire to purchase, from my own personal knowledge, that your title is without a doubt good. The defect above alluded to may have been in the conveyance which invested Hunt with the title, but I would like to see and be in possession of the papers evidencing your title. This would be an advantage to you in making sales, and if suits should be brought, it will be absolutely necessary.

I will endeavor to procure all the information you desire in relation to the tract of land of 500 acres in Grayson County conveyed to [your father,] Gideon Granger, by John Rhodes.

It would be almost needless for me to offer you any assurances of the happiness it would afford me to see you in Kentucky, whenever it may promote either your interest or pleasure to visit us.

Very respectfully, am truly yours, — G. T. Woods

P. S. I must acknowledge my indebtedness to you for some interesting numbers of the Albany Evening Journal. The excitement prevalent in Kentucky is very great. Our State elections come on next Monday. I forbear to make any prediction as to the results, as you will be in possession of it in a very short time. Yours, — G. T. Wood


Granger’s Great Tract was big but it did not really encompass most of Hardin Co. LaRue Co. was created in 1843 from a part of Hardin Co.

On February 26, 1784 a tract of 64184 acres was surveyed for Geo. Pickett on Nolinn Creek in what was then Jefferson Co., Virginia and what was later Hardin Co., Kentucky (THE KENTUCKY LAND GRANTS by Willard Rouse Jillson, 1925, pg 107). This tract subsequently came into the possession of Gideon Granger, who was postmaster general from 1801 to 1814 and who after he left Washington, settled in Ontario Co., New York where he acquired a considerable amount of land by buying existing farms in exchange for larger amounts of land in his “Great Tract” in the Kentucky barrens. A Hardin Co. deed from Gideon Granger to John Rhoades on September 4, 1817 (F/374) indicates that Gideon Granger’s Great Tract was a rectangle 16 miles long north-south and a bit over 6 1/4 miles wide east-west. It was divided into 96 sections, each 1 mile square. There were 16 ranges each of which was a east-west row of 6 sections. The ranges were numbered from 1 to 16 from north to south, and the sections in each range were numbered from 1 to 6 east to west and west to east alternatively. Section 1 of Range 1 was in the NE corner of the tract. A square mile is 640 acres and 96*640 = 61440. The eastmost section in each range was somewhat larger than 1 mile square to accommodate the additional 2744 (64184-61440) acres. In the cited deed Gideon Granger of Canandaigua, Ontario Co., New York conveyed to John Rhoades of Bristol in the same county for $3430 ten tracts containing 1715 acres, all of which were in the great tract called Grangersville. The third tract is 518 acres in section 4 of range 2.

For source, click here.

In his 1969 article, Mr. Duermyer discusses Gideon Granger, former Postmaster General of the United States, who settled in Ontario County, NY, bought up his fellow New Yorkers’ land in Ontario County, and sold them equal or greater acreage in the “barrens” area of Kentucky, including parts of present-day Hardin, Hart, Larue and perhaps Green Counties. Granger owned 64,184 acres of land in the barrens, called “Granger’s Great Tract.” In spite of diligent searching, this author has never located any map of this Great Tract. One must have existed, because most, if not all, of the Hardin County deeds recording the sale to the New York families of barrens land referred to land descriptions unknown in Kentucky, such as Range numbers. Kentucky is one of the few “state” land states, and her land is not divided in the rectangular fashion of Ranges, Sections, and Townships used in most of the United States. Instead, Kentucky’s deeds and other land documents refer to parcels of land by “metes and bounds”, by trees, rocks, adjoining neighbors, and watercourses, if any. Thus, locating an ancestor’s land is extremely difficult 200 years after the deed was written and recorded.

For source, click here.


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