18th Century Kentucky Land Survey with Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone Association, 1795
Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone Association | Kentucky Land Survey executed for James Speed | October, 1795 | 12″ x 7.25″ | Condition: folds, some slightly weak, minor loss from ink erosion only marginally affecting a few words of text.
The Kentucky Land Survey, from Franklin, Kentucky, was conducted with Abraham Lincoln and the Daniel Boone Association by the state surveyor James Thompson. The two surveys include a 1,000-acre tract in 1782 owned by James Speed (1739-1811), the grandfather of Abraham Lincoln’s second Attorney General James Speed (1812-1887), and Lincoln’s close friend Joshua Fry Speed (1814-1882).
The first page of the document recounts a survey conducted for “James Speed Assignee of Anthony Bledsoe.” Anthony Bledsoe (1733 – 1788), like Speed was a Virginian and a veteran of the American Revolution. Instead of migrating into Kentucky, then still part of Virginia, Bledsoe moved into North Carolina and ultimately Tennessee. The lands he conveyed to James Speed were likely the land bounty he received from the State of Virginia for his service during the Revolutionary War (Land was one of the primary inducements for enlisting in the Continental Army and state militias.) Speed too was a veteran of the war, serving as a lieutenant in the Virginia militia. He was wounded at the Battle of Guildford Courthouse on March 15, 1781 when a ball destroyed two or three of his ribs, according to an application for an invalid pension he submitted in 1795 (See Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804). Even at that time, Speed was planning to reside in Kentucky: he obtained the warrant for the land in 1781 (the document was, coincidentally entered into official records on March 16, 1781, only a day after Speed was wounded at Guildford Courthouse).
Speed removed to Kentucky soon after the war and quickly became a prominent resident of Danville, located only a few miles northwest of the lands described in the present survey. In 1784 Speed was selected to be a judge and soon became prominent in local and state politics. He never fully recovered from his Revolutionary War wound, and was never able to stand fully erect (Thomas Speed, The Political Club, Danville, Kentucky, 1786-1790. 1894, Vol. 9, pp. 66-67).
Interestingly, the 1000 acre tract that Speed had surveyed in 1782 was located “Û_on the head of Boones Mill Creek”. Daniel Boone’s first settlement in Kentucky, Boonesborough established in 1775 was located approximately fifty miles to the northeast. By the time Speed obtained his land warrant, Boone had moved a few miles to the north where he established Boone’s Station where he remained for two years before losing his claim to the land. Boone resettled in present-day Maysville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River where he remained until 1788. The name of the creek suggests that Daniel Boone, or one of his kin, established a mill, but we have not been able to discover where it may have been built. Certainly worthy of further research.
The present surveys were produced in conjunction with a 1795 civil suit between Speed and one Jacob Myers. The case concerning this tract was part of the October 1795 circuit court term. Unfortunately records of the trial were destroyed in an 1863 fire, so only the abstracts survive. Whether the land described in the first survey was actually settled and cultivated by Speed is not known. Like many Kentuckians, he invested heavily in land and owned numerous tracts in the region (Speed, p. 66).
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