In early July 2022 an impressive and extraordinarily rare batch of documents, previously a part of the Thomas W. Streeter Collection, went up for auction. Sam Hyde, Leon Ford Endowed Chair and director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University, said he was contacted by one of the center’s biggest benefactors who notified him about the documents.
“Ann Reilly Jones describes herself as first and foremost a hunter,” Hyde said. “And fortunately for us, one of the things she hunts for are rare documents pertaining to this region.”
In the competitive bidding process, Jones invested $13,000 to purchase some impressive documents to add to the center’s holdings, Hyde added.
“The documents are all British land grants along the Natalbany and Amite rivers, mostly to soldiers who served in the French and Indian War,” Hyde explained. “The grants, issued in 1777 and 1778, as the American Revolution raged, also included some to British loyalists who were being persecuted by the Americans during the revolution and who fled to British-controlled West Florida, a territory that chose not to join in the revolution. All of the documents include maps, replete with identified ‘witness trees’ that were used to delineate the dimensions of the grant, and some include the seal of West Florida.”
Louisiana’s Florida Parishes remain the only place in North America where every major European power that intruded into the continent held governmental authority. The native peoples did not issue land grants and the initial French explorers of the region issued very few. It was the British who first began issuing substantive numbers of land grants.
The documents, which represent some of the first block printing ever completed in the Gulf South region, are in pristine condition. After processing in the center, the grants will be included in an exhibit connected to the forthcoming Louisiana in Continuity and Change Symposium to be hosted at Southeastern the final week of September 2022. The documents will remain on permanent display in the center through the end of the year.
For more information on the documents or to arrange viewing times, contact the center at 985-549-2151 or email email@example.com.