Speculation Lands Collection

The Speculation Land Collection consists of nearly 800 documents related to land ownership in Western North Carolina in the early 1800s. The documents help shed light on the acquisition and sale of the "Speculation Lands," some 400,000 acres in Western North Carolina that were bought for resale by native Philadelphian Tench Coxe in 1795-96. Tench Coxe, whose grandson Franklin Coxe built the original Battery Park Hotel in Asheville, was one of many wealthy and politically powerful land speculators operating after the Revolutionary War. The Speculation Lands make up most of today's Rutherford County, as well as portions of Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties. The collection includes maps, land surveys and survey notes, deeds, ledgers, and letters of correspondence with foreign investors. Among the signatures in the collection are those of Tench Coxe; Samuel Ashe, who was governor of North Carolina in 1795-98; Pierre Estienne DuPonceau, who fought with Washington at Valley Forge; and Smith Thompson, the U.S. Supreme Court judge who presided in the Amistad Case.