The Early Landowners of Northeast Tennessee Project

Using information found in Deed Book A and other sources, the archives has begun putting together a database of early settler’s property records.  Deed Book A contains patents, land grants and deeds issued beginning with the Watauga Purchase agreement with the Cherokee in 1775.  A number of other sources were used, including files created on DeedMapper software, later deeds, and research donated to the archives.  Eventually, researchers will be able to view some of the individual pieces of property that have been overlayed on Google Earth showing the location of property owned by these early landowners!  This is a very time-consuming project, and it will be a slow process but one that will be an important aid to researchers. 

The earliest land records were often scant in detail, and the boundaries were not always clearly defined.   As time passed, though, accuracy in surveying and recording techniques steadily increased.  Clarity in boundaries can be better defined by taking the deed forward in time and working through conveyance records. These land plats cannot be guaranteed to be 100% accurate, but the team has used several means to get the property lines as defined as possible.  We strongly encourage you to do your own research to confirm the location. 

These first settlers in the Watauga area usually followed the same steps in obtaining land. First, they obtained and entry, then a warrant to do a survey. Next, a patent was issued and finally, a land grant was given by the governor and it was recorded.

The first deed written in what is now Tennessee was issued to Joshua Houghton by Charles Robertson, trustee of the Watauga Association.  The patent, located in what is now Carter County was recorded on page 4 of Deed Book A and contained 640 acres.   The next entry on page 5 is also for Houghton and contains 587 acres.  Joshua Houghton’s property and the property of his father, Thomas will be the first in this series.  

Joshua Houghton and Thomas Houghton

George Gray

Isaac Lincoln

Robert Young

William Watson