Adirondack historians routinely state that Rhode Island merchant John Brown obtained clear title to a 210,000 acre tract of land when he paid $33,000 at a Court of Chancery mortgage foreclosure sale in December 1798. However, this transaction was not recorded in the Lewis County Clerk’s Office until February 22, 1804, more than five years later and five months after Brown’s death.
Two days later on February 24, the Assembly enacted Chapter 6, Laws of 1804 which affirmed that the Brown estate’s title to the tract could not be extinguished in any way “by reason or pretext of the alienism of any person to whom the said lands may have been conveyed” or “ by any conveyance prior to“ Brown’s 1798 payment.
John Brown’s anxiety over his title and his efforts to obtain this legislation while he was developing the tract at significant expense are evidence that his title was not perfected until 1804, the same year that two of his legal advisers fought a deadly duel. » Continue Reading.