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Land Grabbing

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Time Frame: Early 1800's

Some pioneers claimed land before it was legally for sale in the early 1800s. Then, claim clubs were created to protect squatter's land.
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“The Prairie Pioneers,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 4, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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Transcript

No land was officially offered for sale until November 1838, but that didn’t stop some pioneers from getting ahead of the surveyors and official land sales. These squatters carried no legal title to the land, so it was sometimes necessary for settlers to form claim clubs to protect their stakes until they could legally own them. In most cases claims were not challenged. One held a certain respect for the man who improved the land, but in other cases it was fear of retaliation from the claim clubs that prevented land grabbing.

It happened during this summer that we had a man here who after having bought his own claim went to the government and bought 200 acres of land which actually belonged to three of his neighbors. The news traveled everywhere and the people went to this man several times to persuade him to withdraw his claim, but now he’s taken flight. Now the people really got angry and they began to carry out mischievous acts. The horse stable and the nearly filled corncrib were set on fire. They also killed a few pigs. It seems as if the man heard this news, because he sent messengers to returned the land as well as the title deed. Thus it happened and everyone returned home.

 


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