Land Grants.The first grants or concessions of land in the province of Louisiana were made soon after the Western company succeeded Antoine Crozat in the management of colonial affairs in 1717. These early grants were mostly along the Mississippi river below the present city of Natchez, Miss., and were generally made to wealthy and prominent citizens of France. The failure of John Law in 1720 seriously affected the prosperity of the Western company and practically put a stop to further concessions. When Alexander O'Reilly assumed control of the colony for Spain in 1769 he laid down rules under which all future land grants should be made, and limiting the extent of such grants. Concerning grants made by the Spanish authorities in Lower Louisiana about this time Claiborne says: "Lands were obtained with little difficulty or expense. The immigrant made his selection of any unoccupied parcel, and presented a written request for an order of survey. If no obstacle intervened the governor issued the order, and on return of the plat and the payment of very moderate fees for surveying, the grant issued. Many settled under the order of survey merely, if the survey could not be immediately made."
The first land grants in Upper Louisiana, which included the present State of Kansas, were made at St. Louis and bear the date of April 27, 1766. They were made by the French authorities, although the province had passed into the hands of Spain by the treaty of 1762. In fact the French continued to dispose of the lands in this part of the province until the spring of 1770, when Spain took possession. Some twenty-five years later Spain found it necessary to increase the population of Upper Louisiana in order to form a barrier against the English in Canada. To this end liberal inducements were offered to people of the United States to cross the Mississippi and accept valuable concessions of land. Preference was given to the emigrants from the States, because "their prejudices against the English were a sure guarantee of their attachment to the Spanish interests." Lands were granted to them for the actual cost of survey and the fees of confirmation and entry at New Orleans. Maj. Amos Stoddard says that the cost of 800 acres amounted to but little over $40. After the United States took possession of Louisiana under the treaty of April 30, 1803, some of these old claims became matters of litigation and were not finally settled until about the middle of the 19th century.
Only one of these early land grants was located in Kansas. That was the one made to Regis Loisel (q. v.) by Charles Dehault de Lassus, lieutenant-governor of Upper Louisiana, March 25, 1800. The title to the lands included in this grant was not settled until after long and expensive litigation.
In more recent years the question of railroad land grants has commanded considerable attention. In the building up of the country almost every inducement was offered to railroad companies to build roads where roads were not especially necessary. Congress and the state authorities of Kansas granted large tracts of land to railroad companies to encourage the construction of their lines. The report of the Kansas railroad commission for 1883 gives the following list of railroad companies that thus received aid and the acreage of their land grants:
|Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe||2,930,338.00|
|Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas||242,349.41|
|Union Pacific (Kansas Division)||6,625,508.11|
|Missouri, Kansas & Texas||1,041,769.17|
|Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf||89,672.43|
Part of the lands thus given the railroads were granted by the state, but by far the greater portion Was given from the public domain by act of Congress. Of the above land grants, the same report of the railroad commission gives the number of acres sold or under contract as follows:
|Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe||1,318,679.14|
|Kansas City, Lawrence & Southern Kansas||238,874.96|
|Union Pacific (Kansas Division)||1,538,284.56|
|Missouri, Kansas & Texas||1,035,769.17|
|Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf||87,112.43|
About the time this report was rendered a large number of people came to the conclusion that too much liberality had been shown the railroad companies in the way of land grants and demanded that the companies either perfect their title to the land by carrying out the provisions of the law under which the lands were granted, or that the lands revert to the public domain. Through the work of ex-Gov. Samuel J. Crawford, as state agent, a large part of the unsold lands were recovered for the state. (See Railroads.)
At the close of the Civil war thousands of discharged soldiers came to Kansas and entered homesteads. These entries were not land grants in the ordinary meaning of that term, but they were made possible by liberal amendments to the homestead laws, and have sometimes been designated as "military grants."Pages 95-96 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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