OCOEE LAND DISTRICT
The Ocoee Land District is that portion of land south of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers to the Sate of Georgia, along the Georgia border and East to South Carolina. Before the New Echota Treaty, this land was part of the Cherokee Nation. It was ceded to the United States when the treaty was ratified on May 23,1836. The removal of the Indians began in 1837 but the “Trail of Tears” was not completed until 1838. However, many white settlers ha been occupying the area for years.
The 21st Tennessee General Assembly on October 18, 1836, established the Ocoee Land District and the following year, the 22nd General Assembly set up the guidelines for the claims to the land. The first Entry Taker, Luke Lea, was elected by the General Assembly and instructed to set up his office in Cleveland, Bradley County, on the first Monday in October 1838. At that time, he was to receive any and all claims to land in the Ocoee District. P.J. R. Edwards was named the first register and he was to issue grants to the claims certified by Luke Lea.
To file a claim, anyone except a member of the Cherokee Nation could file within the first two months for a claim of 160 acres at the rate of $7.50 per acre. Those with prior claims, known as occupants, had three months in which to file their claims. After the first five months, all claims could be made for a 160 acres at $5.00 per acre. At two-month intervals, the rate was reduced. At the end of nineteen months, all claims were reduced to once cent per acre or to the highest bidder. Some lands were sold for as little as one-fourth cent per acre and as high as $105.00 per acre.
John B. Tipton and his deputies started the land survey in the spring of 1837; John C. Kennedy, J.C. Tipton, Thomas H. Calloway, J. F. Cleveland, and John Hannah. The base line for the survey began at a large mass of limestone on the Hiwassee River opposite Charleston and ran 20 degrees west of south to the Georgia border, passing through Cleveland. From this line they surveyed Range Lines at six-mile intervals with Range Seven being the last Range east or west. The Ranges were then divided into Townships of six miles square. These were numbered from north to south. To further sub-divide these sections of land, each township was divided into thirty-six sections of 640 acres each, or one-mile square. The thirty-six sections were numbered from east to west. If a section did not contain the exact amount of land or number of acres, they were treated as if they did.
by Phebe Morgan