As I mentioned in my previous post, I ran across some puzzling entries while I was plotting out the land ownership for Township 96N, Range 55W in Yankton, Dakota Territory. I discussed one of those puzzles before. Now I’ll try to tackle the other two entries in this post.
Both entries have this in common: James Stone is the ultimate owner of the land. One parcel of land was transferred to James Stone from John Wormwood, and the other was transferred from Jerome Phillips. Then I read something I had never seen before. The patents for both parcels are issued under an Act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862, entitled “An Act Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts.” These are apparently referred to as agricultural scrips.
This Act of Congress is referred to as the Morrill Act (named for Justin Smith Morrill, the Vermont congressman who introduced the bill). As far as I can tell, it provides a total of 30,000 acres of land for each senator and representative in Congress apportioned for each state or territory according to the 1860 census. There are a lot of provisions that had to be followed, but basically the parcels could be no less than one quarter section, and could not be mineral lands. Each state that participated in the grant was required to build at least one college within 5 years, or they would lose the land and/or any monies derived from the sale of the land. Each state was to sell its allotted land by issuing scrips (which I assume is sort of like a voucher) for the equivalent of a quarter section of land. The funds earned from the sale of the land were to be invested, and the principle to remain intact and undiminished as a “perpetual fund” to maintain at least one college that had a curriculum focused on agriculture and the “mechanic arts.”
One specific provision I found interesting was “no State while in a condition of rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States shall be entitled to the benefit of this act.” The Wormwood scrip was issued in Tennessee, and the Phillips scrip was issued in South Carolina. Given that the Act was passed in 1862, after both of these states had seceded from the Union, I can only assume that it was some time later that these scrips were issued.
I wonder if the states still maintain these perpetual funds. Of course, at $1.25 per acre, the principle amount is only about $37,500 for each congressman, so I guess that won’t really go very far these days.
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
Copyright 2016 - Jenny-ology.com
Disclosure: Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may be compensated if you purchase a product using one of those links. There is no additional cost to you. Occasionally I receive free products to review, which will be indicated in my review posts. All opinions are my own, regardless of compensation. See my full disclosures at the link above.