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Carver land grant papers

Identifier: jfb-MB8943

Scope and Content

These papers document the claims made in the early nineteenth century by several individuals upon all or part of a tract of land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin, supposedly granted to Jonathan Carver by two Naudowessie Indian chiefs in 1767, centering on claims made by Robert McLenehan and others in 1815-16.


  • 1802-1844.


Language of Materials



Materials are open to research without restriction. Permission to examine this collection will be granted to any qualified researcher upon completion of an application form. The original documents may only be used in the reading room of the James Ford Bell Library.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Curator of the James Ford Bell Library.

Historical Note

Jonathan Carver was born in Massachusetts in 1710. He joined the colonial militia in 1755 and fought in the French and Indian War, but left the Army when peace was concluded in 1763. In August 1766 he traveled to Fort Michilimackinac, where Major Robert Rogers, the fort commander, contracted him to explore and map the territory to the west as far as the upper Mississippi River. In this endeavor, Carver traveled to Green Bay, and along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. In the winter of 1766-1767 he lived near the upper Mississippi River among the Naudowessie (also known as the Sioux, or Dakota) Indians. Carver later claimed that two Naudowessie chiefs had given him a deed to the land in question.

After Rogers came under suspicion of treason against England, Carver sailed for London to petition the government for payment to cover his expedition to the upper Mississippi. In 1775 Carver sent a copy of the deed to Richard Whitworth, a member of the British Parliament. Other documents relating to Carver’s expedition to the upper Mississippi River are part of the Richard Whitworth papers (, held by the Clements Library of the University of Michigan.

In 1778, Carver published Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767 and 1768, based on the journals he kept during his journey. Carver died in 1780. The United States Congress in 1825 refused to accept the validity of Carver’s land grant. (For more information see: Parker, John, ed. The Journals of Jonathan Carver and Related Documents, 1766-1770. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1976.)


1 oversize box (Flat oversize box)


The collection pertains to several claims to a land grant that was supposedly made to Jonathan Carver by two Naudowessie Indian chiefs in 1767. The land grant was located on the east side of the Mississippi River between the Falls of St. Anthony and Lake Pepin’s south end, extending far into present-day Wisconsin. Claims upon this land were disputed well into the nineteenth century. These papers center on claims made by Robert McLenehan and others in 1815-16.


Documents are arranged, for the most part, chronologically within the box, and encased in polyethylene folders. The printed pamphlet and the printed journal are housed in separate niches within the box. See the Detailed Contents of Collection for individual documents and their location in the collection.

James Ford Bell Library Call #

1815 oCa

Carver Land Grant Papers, 1802-1844
Finding aid created by Paul Bary
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The James Ford Bell Library Collecting Area

Elmer L. Andersen Library
Suite 15
Minneapolis MN 55455