To most of us, legal descriptions of land titles are a confusing mess of numbers, such as Township 44, Range 11, Fractional sections 6,7, and 8, whole sections 17 and 18, partial sections 19 and 20, lot 455. In layman’s language, that’s Missouri’s capital city. Lot 455 proved to be a key point in an important legal controversy that began with the eleventh article of the 1820 state constitution. It called for the first legislature to name five commissioners to select four sections of land that had not been exposed to public sale. The land had to be on the banks of the Missouri River, not more than forty miles from the mouth of the Osage.

AOWM – October 1