In the late 1790s, a group of wealthy Northeasterners, headed by Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution, tried to lead the people of Bulloch County down their own “primrose” path.
This group of wealthy speculators, including John Nicholson and James Greenleaf, gathered up titles to some 4 million acres of land, most of it scattered throughout Georgia.
This was the largest land trust in the United States, and was led in part by former United States Attorney General John M. Berrien. Their plan: seize a large tract of land from the current owners by using fraudulent titles, some of acquired at the time of the Yazoo Fraud and the Pine Barren Scandals.
These “land jobbers,” as they were known, had exceedingly high hopes for the new acquisitions. Morris sent his sons to England, France and Switzerland with titles to thousands of these acres. Unfortunately for him, the Europeans were not interested.
Their agents arrived, armed with titles to 1.5 million acres in Washington County, 320,000 acres in Franklin County, 432,000 acres in Greene County and 108,000 acres in Camden County.
Bulloch County land-owners didn’t escape the grasp of these speculators. In late mid- to late-1830s, more of these “land jobbers” came down to Bulloch County with some of the same fraudulent titles to land that had been included in the new Bulloch County.
They first went to the Clerk of Courts office. Here, their representatives met with him and presented him with certified copies of their surveying notes, which they hoped would be sufficient legal proof of their ownership of the lands in question.
A message was hurriedly sent out to the people whose land’s ownership was being discussed, and the men of those households quickly arrived at the clerk’s office. In short order, a large group of indignant citizens had soon assembled.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.