Irene M. Griffey
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Once in a generation, someone compiles a genealogy reference work that instantly becomes a standard in its field because it aggregates a vital collection of records in one place, explains how those records originally came to be, and, in the process, promises to save its users hours of toil. Earliest Tennessee Land Records and Earliest Tennessee Land History, by Irene Griffey, is such a book.
The State of Tennessee was established, essentially, from land ceded to the federal government by North Carolina. Clouding the various land cession laws that transferred the title of land from North Carolina to the United States south of the River Ohio (a territory) and then to Tennessee was the requirement, however vaguely defined, that North Carolina Revolutionary soldiers' promise of land for military service be honored. Among other things, this requirement resulted in the inclusion of hundreds of footnotes to the Tennessee land laws that spelled out the land transfer process.
In the first portion of this book, Mrs. Griffey has done an extraordinary job of sifting through and organizing the legal history of the early Tennessee land laws so that genealogists may be able to grasp their substance. Among other things, researchers can now understand when and why the various county land offices were established, the six-step process for obtaining a land grant, the differences between military and other types of land grants, and, of course, how to use early Tennessee land records.
The bulk of this remarkable volume, however, consists of abstracts of some 16,000 of the earliest Tennessee land records in existence, arranged in a tabular format. For each record we are given the name of the claimant, the file number, the name of the assignee (if any), the county, number of acres, grant number, date, entry number, entry date, land book and page number, and a description of the stream nearest to the grant. A separate listing of assignees, with the corresponding claimant and file numbers follows in a separate table. The volume concludes with a lengthy appendix consisting of maps and a detailed chronology of Tennessee's land statutes. All of which makes Mrs. Griffey's new book the most important contribution to Tennessee genealogy in recent memory.
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