Jefferson College Library maintains and administers for the public a variety of historic records as part of the Jefferson County History Center. One set of records is a collection 19th century Jefferson County Circuit Court documents that contain both criminal and civil legal cases. Some of these records date to periods of Spanish and French control of the lands now comprising Missouri and predate the creation of Jefferson County in 1812 and statehood in 1821. Many of the cases in this set of records involve property claims, inheritances, and disputes, some of which continued for decades, made their way to the Missouri Supreme Court and were finally resolved through acts of the U.S. Congress. One such case is that involving Survey 2020. Librarians Joette Klein and Lisa Pritchard have created a small look into the beginnings of Jefferson County and Missouri by examining this one case, its associated survey, and its import for our county. Special thanks to Professor of History Dr. Scott Holzer and John Linhorst, local history researcher and Jefferson College IT Department employee for their assistance and expertise.
The surveys, maps, and drawings that accompany some of the Jefferson County Circuit Court cases seemed like logical additions to the state and federal maps of Missouri that we wanted to display and describe as part of our bicentennial exhibit. The illustrations of the creeks and rivers in these small maps were often complimented by watercolors. It was one such map remembered from the Missouri State Archives project to digitize these records that seemed especially beautiful and worth highlighting. After the map was located, efforts were made to understand its significance to the history of Jefferson County and provide some context within the exhibit. Below are some of the images, documents, and histories that fill in the picture of this map, Hardy Ware, and Survey 2020.
Image Source: Google Books
Source: History of Southeast Missouri: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, Its People and its Principal Interests, by R. S. Douglass, Professor of History, State Normal School, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Copyright, 1912, Lewis Publishing Company, Reprinted, 1961, Rampfre Press. Jefferson County History Center.
Image:An illustrated historical atlas map of Jefferson County, Missouri, 1876. Brink, McDonough & Company, 1876.
Image Source: The State Historical Society of Missouri, Public Domain.
"The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) was created by the enactment of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These two ordinances provided for the systematic survey and monumentation of public domain lands with the intent of transferring these lands to private citizens through sale. To this day the PLSS forms the basis for the delineation of lands and transfer of ownership in Missouri (The Public Land Survey System (PLSS), 2009). The system as laid out in the laws called for a rectangular system of Townships six (6) miles square arranged in a grid of ranges and divided up into 36 sections of 640 acres each. The Township and Range lines were to be surveyed first and the Townships divided up into section starting in the south east corner." Missouri Department of Natural Resources
The links below direct you to scanned copies of the court case related to Survey 2020. There are three cases and four files. Box 8, files 44 and 45, are for the case Allen, Thomas VS Palmer, Maria, Dunn, William, King, Almedia, and King, John B. Box 8, file 46 is for the case Allen, Thomas VS Moss, Thomas and Hensley, Alexander. Box 11, file 73 is for the case Allen, Thomas vs. Moss, Thomas, Coons, Frank and Coons, Mary. All three cases involve the original Spanish claim to a piece of land located at the mouth of Pomme River or Creek and the Merrimack or Meramec River. The confusion regarding land grant claims during the Spanish control of what is now Missouri led to legal battles that continued in some cases for decades. This particular piece of land was claimed by William Clark and his descendants, among several others. These claims are all connected with Hardy Ware and his supposed original claim and subsequent sales to one or more persons.
Hardy Ware is listed in several early sources about Jeffeson County as one of the known early American settlers. He is at the heart of the mystery surrounding the land known as Survey 2020 and the cases and controversies related to that "certain piece of land" continue for decades as Missouri progresses through the early decades of statehood. There is much to know and piece together about Hardy Ware that is beyond the scope of our library exhibition of documents, but some information is known because of public documents held by Jefferson College Library, Jefferson County, Missouri State Archives, and the Government Land Office and other sources available on internet.
Hardy Ware is among the earliest settlers in the oldest settlement of Jefferson County. The area extends from around what is now Fenton to the Meramec River. Court documents provide testimonies stating that Hardy Ware began settling land in 1799 and made a claim to this land under the Spanish Government in 1802. The difficulties of substantiating these earliest claims to land in Missouri are well documented in countless volumes of history scholarship and too numerous and complicated to explore here. However, it is clear that Hardy Ware was in the area, cultivated land, made claims to at least two parcels of land, one of which, Survey 2020, was at the center of a property of dispute involving William Clark.
Image: Certificate transcript of the description of Hardy Ware's Survey No. 2020, and copy of plat thereof. Surveyors Office, St. Louis, 1848.
Leading up to the Missouri Bicentennial, Bill Eddleman, associate director of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Cape Girardeau research center, is writing, recording, and sharing the Missouri Bicentennial Minute. Eddleman will discuss some of the important moments that led to Missouri’s admission to the United States. The project is in partnership with KRCU Public Radio in Cape Girardeau. The State Historical Society of Missouri is a partner in the Bicentennial Alliance.
"a certain tract of three hundred and twenty acres of land, situate, lying and being in the county of Jefferson and state of Missouri and on the south side of the Merriamack river, and near the Junction of the Merrimack and Mississippi rivers being the same land acquired by William Clark decessed by deed from Hardy Ware,dated August 11th 1815, and recorded in Recorder's office of St . Louis county in said State. In Book F- page 78 and by deed from James Smirl , by sheriff dated March 7th 1812, and recorded in Recorder's office in said county of Jefferson In Book H Pages 134 and 135."
The original document is part of the Missouri State Archives St Louis Circuit Court collection
William Clark's will lists a certain track of land in Jefferson County as one of the assets he bequeaths to his heirs. However, as described in court documents related to several legal cases, there was much controversy about this track of land and the succession of owners dating back to 1799 and extending into the mid-19th century. William's Clark's claim was one of many that was unclear in its origins and legality. Documents housed at the Jefferson College History Center and in other collections offer some clues into this controversy. The value of this land was obvious to early settlers. It was adjacent to what would become St. Louis County and it provided easy access to the Meramec river, a means of safer and easier transportation. The value of this land only increased as a result of the Louisiana Purchase and Missouri's territorial status and eventual statehood. William Clark was well placed as both a surveyor, territorial governor, and Indian agent to know the value of the site.