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LETTERS FROM THE COMMISSIONERS.
To Obediah Gore and others.
(June, 1801. ] Gentlemen :
As we understand there will be considerable difficulty in making out anything like a compleat and connected legal Chain of title, to Claims under the Susquehanna Company, in favour of the present Settlers of lots and rights within the 17 townships, we take the liberty of applying to you for information that may materially affect the peaceable and beneficial operation of the Act of Assembly, under which we are appointed, not doubting but you will wave any objection of Informality to a request which is calculated to farther the inild Intentions of the Legislature, and the Welfare of a County, wherein you hold situations so conspicuous and respectable.
We are given to understand that some years ago, while you sat upon the Bench and officiated as Associate Judges of the Court of Common pleas of the County of Luzerne, frequent Suits were submitted to your determination between contending Claimants under Connecticut rights, altho' of late the President Judge has deemed it inconsistent with his duty to entertain Cognizance of any Causes that did not originate in a title derived from the State of Penns.
During the time when you devoted your attention to the decision of Connecticut Claims, many Instances most probably have occurred wherein the Claim'ts were unable to compleat their Chain of title by written Documents, legally substantiated. If such Cases have occurred before you, We beg to know, 184, generally:
1. What rules or regulations you laid down for the guidance of the Bench; or what were admitted as ex necessitate rei by the Gentlemen of Counsel at the Bar, in the adoption of parol to supply written testimony, if any?
2. More particularly, whether you ever required proof of the Incorporation of the Susquehanna Company?
3. What evidence you required of the regulations of that Company, which were to guide the Conduct and rights of the Settlers? What original or Copies did you admit, and, if Copies, 28—Vol. XVIII
on what grounds was the production of the original dispensed with?
4. Can you inform us how we can procure, or where we can • apply for any original minutes, or any authentic transcript of
those Regulations down to the end of 1782, or how low down? Seeing that the Act of Assembly of Ap. 4, 1799, has established those regulations as the basis of our proceedings?
5. Were the votes and resolutions of the Committees of the Susquehanna Company considered as binding on the Settlers? Were they binding on the actual Settlers at the time as well as upon future Settlers? how were those Comunittees appointed!
6. Were original rights, whether of Townships or Indivi. duals, Considered as forfeited by Non compliance with the regulations of the Company, or of its Committees? In what Instances, within your knowledge, have such forfeitures been insisted on and established?
7. How were the Boundaries of Townships originally established? or latterly ascertained? What evidence respecting them did you deem sufficient under the Circumstances of the Country? Are there any authentic minutes of the Surveys of Townships existing or produceable?
8. In what way were the Boundaries of contested lots usually ascertained ? Was it required that the grant of the Company to original Settlers should be procured in Court? or in what cases, and under what Circumstances, was oral evidence admitted, either of prescriptive possession, or of surveys made within the knowledge of the Witnesses?
9. Was it customary for Claimants to suggest the loss of papers, or the Destruction of papers? or the neglect of procuring from the Grantor the written evidence of the rights of such Grantors? Were any such suggestions usually admitted, either under the Authority of the Court or by Consent of Counsel? or were they rejected, as in the latter Case we apprehend they must have been, and the parties put to strict proof? Or what were the rules and practice in this respect?
10. From your knowledge and experience of the titles of this County, under the Susquehanna or Connecticut Claim, what is the kind of proof you would suggest for the consideration of the Commissioners as necessary, or reasonable,to be admitted, when such Claimants come before them with titles resting upon evidence apparently defective, in that legal precision usually required by the Courts of Law?
We Certainly mean to go as near to legal precision as the Cases will enable us. We are aware that the best evidence the case will admit may reasonably be deemed legal evidence. But in this early stage of our duty, and Strangers as we are to the