The "Reserved Line" Grants

Below, following the discussion (which can get a little long, sorry), is a map showing how the land grants issued on the "reserved line" in the southern part of Rockcastle County were supposed to be, except that none of them appear to have actually been on the reserved line. These grants were all issued prior to Kentucky's statehood in 1792.

The orange areas are the grants (Moore, Buckner, Clark, and Reid) the way they were envisioned when originally surveyed. The last two, Clark and Reid, were never actually granted and aren't presented in their true sizes here. We do know the Reid grant was supposed to have had the Rockcastle River as its southeastern boundary; however, the grant's survey had that boundary as a straight line, so confusion would have certainly followed had the grant process been completed.

The northwestern-most grant was first entered in the name of Samuel Moore in 1784. It consisted of 3,900 acres and was surveyed in 1791. Samuel died and the grant was given to his son, Robert. James Kincaid purchased the grant from Robert Moore shortly thereafter.

The blue box is the Buckner grant as surveyed by Holbert McClure. The original survey calls for it to join the Moore grant. It wasn't where it was supposed to be, though. It's too far southeast by about 6,700 feet, or a little more than a mile and a quarter. How this mistake was made is unknown, but the fact that it was in the wrong place was certainly known by the time McClure purchased it in 1832.

The area where the blue box overlaps the orange box was the only portion of Buckner which McClure could reasonably expect to take possession of—a little more than half of the original 10,000 acres. But there were most likely squatters who had made claims to some of that land, so he probably didn't get it all, at least not easily.

An analysis of the Line Creek land on the Pulaski County side has revealed several sales McClure made between the late 1840s and early 1870s, including sales to Amos Chaney and David McKinney. It looks like Holbert was able to take possession of a reasonable amount of the Pulaski County portion of Buckner, or at least to some parts which hadn't been granted prior to 1833 or so.

From studying grants in both Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties, it's evident there was not agreement on the lines. For instance, the southeastern line in Pulaski was deemed to be about 500 feet north of where it was in Rockcastle. Also, the lines seem better established in Pulaski. There is a deed reference prior to McClure's 1866 survey which mentioned the Buckner line and corners marked "RB," presumably meaning "Robert Buckner." These marks and corners may have survived in Pulaski from the original 1790 survey.

The green-striped area would have been a sort of "no-man's land," which, starting in the mid-1820s, began to be granted in small tracts by the county. John Baker, John Renner, and John Rowe all took advantage of the Buckner location mistake and received defendable grants in this area. Thomas and William Brown, Granderson Renner, Solomon Rowe, and, again, the three Johns (and others), received additional grants in the area in the 1840s.

Others, including Jacob Renner Sr, John McKinney, and Thomas Nichols, requsted grants inside of where the Clark grant would have been (southeast of Buckner) with the assumption that Buckner was correctly placed. See "Land Grants in the Buffalo Area" for a discussion and map of those grants.

If Buckner had been where it was supposed to have been, then the Renner/Nichols and McKinney grants would not have been inside Buckner. It appears grants issued using both strategies were honored, at least for a time.

You'll notice another anomaly on the map: The orange grants have their southwest borders on the Pulaski County side of the Pulaski-Rockcastle County line, and Buckner is even further over into Pulaski. This is caused by confusion about exactly where the reserved line was supposed to be, a debate that continues to the present.

The reserved line was supposed to run at a 45-degree angle (northwest to southeast) from the headwaters of the Green River to Cumberland Gap. The problem is that a 45-degree line can't be so drawn.

The orange southwestern boundary of the grants on the map is obtained using such a 45-degree line. It misses Cumberland Gap by a bit more than a mile, but that's not too large an error, all things considered. Even with this deviation, the line's placement along Line Creek is minimal, less than a few hundred feet.

A line that connects the headwaters of the Green River (two miles southwest of Hall's Gap in Lincoln County) with Cumberland Gap is 79 miles long with a declination of about 43.4 degrees west of north. Such a line would put the reserved line further into Pulaski County, about 1,900 feet southwest of Buckner's southwest boundary as shown in blue. It is interesting that McClure's survey of Buckner calls for 46 degrees instead of the 45 in the original 1790 survey, a result of the changes in earth's magnetic field. The surveyors of the Pulaski-Rockcastle County line did a very poor job in establishing the county line, which should have been the reserved line--they missed it by about 5,000 feet. On topographical maps today the county line is called an "indefinite boundary." Maps from different sources have slightly different versions of the boundary.

McClure's survey, though flawed in several ways, is closest to where the reserved line was meant to be, among these early surveys. And from the description of the southwest line in his survey, they knew pretty much where the line was. The description from the second corner, the farthest south, reads: "...reserved line corrected as the base N 46 E at 122 poles crossing Line Creek..." 122 poles is 2,013 feet. Using that crossing of Line Creek puts the beginning point of the survey only 231 feet away from the correct position of the reserved line. So they were indeed very close. Unfortunately, the other lines of McClure's survey do not fit so neatly. Several other calls in the text are a physical impossibility using the distances given therein. They also placed Moore's corner much too far southeast; Granderson Renner did the same in an 1866 survey. In all, it was just a poor survey.

A note on the accuracy of the placement of these grants is warranted. I've used two reference points: one is a known and accepted point in the Moore-Thompson line; the other is based on the distance from the Rockcastle River given for the starting point in the Campbell grant. Errors in rounding, surveying, etc., and in trying to reconcile the differences between the original survey of Buckner and McClure's survey, may have resulted in my placement of Buckner being a bit too far northwest or southeast. The ungranted area may actually have been a little larger or smaller than represented here. Hopefully a further analysis of the grants in that region will fine-tune things somewhat. Even with those suspected/known errors, I feel these maps are accurate to within a few hundred feet, certainly close enough for our purposes.




Note: Due to recent discoveries and further analysis of the land grants in Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties, the placement I have indicated for the Buckner grant may be about 1,000 feet too far southeast. I hope to have a more accurate placement shortly.