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Seminary Lands (1827)

Seminary Lands were public lands that were set apart for the “use of a seminary of learning.” Seminary Lands in the territory of Arkansas were established by a Congressional Act in 1827 that “…authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to set apart and reserve from sale, out of any public lands in the territory of Arkansas to which Indian title has been, or may be, extinguished, and not otherwise appropriated, a quantity of land not exceeding two entire townships, for the use and support of a university in said territory and for no other use or purpose whatsoever….” A supplementary act was passed in 1833 allowing the governor of Arkansas to select 20 of the sections that were reserved in the Act of 1827 to be sold at public auction with the funds to be applied to the “erection of suitable buildings for a seminary of learning at such place as may be designated, and under such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the legislature of Arkansas.” The price could not be less than $1.25 an acre and could not exceed one-half of a section (320 acres) per transaction. After statehood in 1836, this act was again modified in 1846 to allow the General Assembly of Arkansas to appropriate the 72 sections (two townships) to common school purposes. The Act states in part “….the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas is hereby authorized to appropriate said seventy-two sections of land for the use and benefit of common schools in said State or in any other mode the said General Assembly may deem proper, for the promotion of education in said State.”


Helpful Tips


Plats-When researching Seminary Lands, it is easiest to go to the plat book first. Pull up the appropriate Township & Range, and notice the deed numbers are contained on the plat(s). Using the deed number, refer to the register book with the same legal description and it will match with the name in which the deed was issued and the date of the transaction.


Sales Book-In the sales book; you will find the deed numbers listed in numerical & date order beginning in 1869. Then deed numbers start over at #1 coinciding with the creation of the Land Commissioners Office in 1868. This serves as a cross reference for the register and shows where the funds were receipted into the State Treasurer’s Office.


Note:The register book was transcribed from the original records in 1938. The original journal containing Seminary Lands has been lost.