Sunday, March 28, 2010

John Graham's Spanish Land Grant

So, if John Graham was in Missouri in 1805 to witness a burial, I wondered how early he could have been there. In Historical Records of St. Ferdinand (p.109) it stated that April 1803 John Graham attended the sale of Hezekiah Land (deceased) property along with Vincent and Denis Carrico. On 13 Sep. 1808 he gave testimony (p. 36):

"John Graham sworn says that Ezekial Land made an improvement on the place claimed in 1797 and began to build a grist mill and saw mill in 1798, cleared a field, raised corn, and finished his mills; that said land has been inhabited and cultivated ever since."

That land in dispute was at Coldwater Creek and Bellefontaine near Fort Bellefontaine.

So, I'm thinking if John Graham was here to witness Ezekial/Hezekiah improving the land in 1797 and 1798, John Graham must have lived here then. That meant Spanish Land Grant to me. So, I went back to the microfilm machines and found this.

As my friend Larry (genealogical librarian) reminded me---these were English speaking people talking to French-speaking government officials on behalf of the Spanish government. So the document above begins with:
John Graham claims 471 arpents of land situated in the district of St. Louis fronting the Missipipi (sic) granted to him by Zenon Trudeau the 4th of Dec. 1797.
From there it switches to French or Spanish: the name of the map is "Juan Graham". I am very puzzled because the Coldwater area and Fort Bellefontaine are on the Missouri river----granted the Mississippi isn't far.
The document above (towards the bottom) shows that this piece of land became his officially. He wasn't so lucky on his second Spanish Land Grant.

This second land grant of 545 Arpens was in Ste. Genevieve County. Apparently there was a dispute with Thomas Donnahoe over the land and Thomas Donnahue came out the winner on this one.There were apparently a lot of disputes over these Spanish Land Grants. Even Daniel Boone had his problems with them (according to Wikipedia):
In 1799, Boone moved out of the United States to Missouri, which was then part of Spanish Louisiana. The Spanish, eager to promote settlement in the sparsely populated region, did not enforce the legal requirement that all immigrants had to be Catholics. Boone, looking to make a fresh start, emigrated with much of his extended family to what is now St. Charles County. The Spanish governor appointed Boone "syndic" (judge and jury) and commandant (military leader) of the Femme Osage district. The many anecdotes of Boone's tenure as syndic suggest that he sought to render fair judgments rather than to strictly observe the letter of the law.
Boone served as syndic and commandant until 1804, when Missouri became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase. Because Boone's land grants from the Spanish government had been largely based on verbal agreements, he once again lost his land claims. In 1809, he petitioned Congress to restore his Spanish land claims, which was finally done in 1814. Boone sold most of this land to repay old Kentucky debts. When the War of 1812 came to Missouri, Boone's sons Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan Boone took part, but by that time Boone was too old for militia duty.
Hmm, this means that John Graham was in Missouri before Daniel Boone---now that's something to be proud of. He was here for Lewis and Clark and the New Madrid Earthquake. Actually, it's even possible that John Graham has legal documents in the Meriwether Lewis papers (It's a PDF file, google "Meriwether Lewis papers John Graham"). But, the number of John Grahams that lived in St. Louis in the early 1800's is another story.

If anyone can help me out on the translations, I'd appreciate it. I'm particularly interested in that parcel of land bordering the Mississippi (see top photo). I'm wondering what those hills are marching across the land, what the one-eyed smiley face means and what the body of water is that looks like tierra cenagora. I think I know what "tirmo" means---the end points of the land.

While we no longer believe John Graham to be related to our ancestor William Graham, this information could help others.

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