Echoes From The Past

By JUDY MAUPIN *- Echoes From the Past
(A Column of historical and genealogical anecdotes, stories and family notes.)
Calloway County, Ky.

Boundary Disputes

May 5, 1979
Have you ever wondered why the Kentucky state line, bordering on Tennessee has such a jog In it, just east of the Jackson Purchase? There is a story that has gone around for many years about that one little jog over near the Christian County line, and a farmer whose farm was In Kentucky, but who was threatened with annexation to Tennessee. The story goes that when the surveyors came through his farm, the crafty farmer, who did a little moonshining on the side, set Jugs of his best under trees along the border of his land, just far enough apart to keep the surveyors moving in the right direction. As a result, his farm, that little hump in Kentucky's border, remained within the state.

The Kentucky-Tennessee border dispute began In the late 1790's, when the original states of North Carolina and Virginia couldn't see eye-to-eye on Just where the border should be. The original survey, done about 1780, was the work of Dr. Thomas Walker; this was later known as the Walker line, and was accepted by Virginia legislature, but not by North Carolina.

By 1790, North Carolina had agreed to recognize this line, but by this time, North Carolina bad agreed to give over its western territory to the United States. This resulted in the creation of Tennessee - and Tennessee didn't agree with the boundary decision. This dispute continued until 1819.

With the creation of the Jackson Purchase, in 1819, two surveyors were appointed to re-survey the dividing line between the two states as far as the Mississippi River.

The Walker line had reached as far as the Cumberland River, and when the other survey was finished, it was seen that the Walker line was about 15 miles or so north, by river, of the 36 deg. 30' line that had been established by Luke Munsell,, the second surveyor.

A new agreement, to use the term loosely, was reached, providing for acceptance of the Walker line as far as the Tennessee River and the Munsell line as far as the Mississippi River. To further complicate things, although the unappropriated land In this area (the Jackson Purchase) would be put at Kentucky's disposal, Tennessee would be given political control over the same area. Kentucky proceeded to begin selling land at $20 per hundred acres, a price that was later cut In half.

In 1827, still not satisfied with the Walker line, someone (probably In Washington) proposed a new survey as far as the Tennessee River, where the Munsell line took over. Understandably enough, people In this part of the country were getting very confused, not clear from one day to the next what state they would find themselves in.

The resulting survey was approved by Tennessee, but Kentucky didn't like It, so the debate was still not settled. In 1858, another attempt was made to come up with an acceptable state line.

This group, made of two commissioners from each state, concurred that all the old surveys were Invalid, and they came up with a brand new line. Evidently this one was agreeable to all, because In 1860, both Kentucky and Tennessee accepted it.

The result of this final survey meant that Kentucky lost a strip of land between the 36 deg. 30' parallel and the old Walker line. But It must have been some consolation for the people who lived In this area, much of which was between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, to know, at last and with some degree of certainty, what state they lived in.

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