Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County

From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County


As a matter of special interest, we shall give a brief description of the manner of obtaining, locating, and surveying the territory which we now occupy.

The military warrant upon which the entries were made, were issued by Virginia as bounties to her officers and soldiers of the continental line, as well as to General George R. Clarke and his army, and which entitled the holder to the number of acres named therein. These were filed with the principal surveyor, who was paid for receiving them.

The first step towards obtaining land by warrant is by entry, or the appropriation of a specified quantity of land by the owner of the warrant. The next step is the survey, which designates the land by metes and bounds. Surveys were returned to the chief surveyor, with a plat of the land and boundary lines, signed by the deputy surveyor, who executed it, as well as by the chainmen and markers, which was recorded, and together with the sealed certificate of the surveyor and the warrant, were delivered to the owner, who could then obtain a patent from the President of the United States.

The plan of Massie in securing himself against surprises from savages during his labors, is described by Colonel McDonald thus: Three assistant surveyors, with himself making the fourth, were generally engaged at the same time in making surveys. To each surveyor was detailed six men, which made a mess of seven. Every man had his prescribed duty to perform. Their plan of operations was somewhat thus: In front went the hunter, who kept in advance of the surveyor two or three hundred yards, looking for game, and prepared to give notice should any danger from Indians threaten. Then followed, after the surveyor, the two chainmen, marker, and pack-horse men with the baggage, who always kept near each other, prepared for defence in case of an attack. Lastly, two or three hundred yards in the rear came a man called the spy, whose duty it was to keep on the back track, and look out lest the party in advance might be pursued or attacked by surprise. Each man, the surveyor included, carried his rifle, blanket, and such other articles as were necessary on such an occasion. On the packhorse was carried the cooking utensils and provisions that could be conveniently taken. Nothing like bread was thought of. Some salt was taken, to be used sparingly. For subsistence they depended solely on the game which the woods afforded, procured by their own rifles. Thus was the larger number of the surveys made in the Virginia district, and thus was the territory of Fayette surveyed.

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