New Madrid certificates
New Madrid Certificates providing public lands to settlers were granted by the federal government following the devastating New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. Certificate holders were given surveyed lands in various parts of the Missouri Territory, including Arkansas. A few victims settled near Little Rock under the earthquake relief bill passed in 1815. Speculator William O'Hara, purchased 1,120 acres worth of New Madrid certificates in the vicinity in 1819.
O'Hara became embroiled in conflict with speculator William Russell who held a claim derived from first settler William Lewis. In April 1821 O'Hara sold his certificates and exited the controversy. He was replaced on the New Madrid side by Chester Ashley. Ashley lost the case in June 1821 in the Superior Court of the Territory of Missouri. Many of the town's buildings created by the New Madrid certificate holders were pulled several blocks to land not owned by Russell.
- Ira Don Richards, Story of a Rivertown: Little Rock in the Nineteenth Century (1969), 6-9.