What Land Cost Over 150 Years Ago in Syracuse

James Criddle, the youngest in the family paid each sibling $250 to buy them out of 40 acres and had earlier bought another 9,000 for $24,000!


This article is part of a series on how much homes used to cost back in the day. We’re starting from the ground up with this piece on the cost of land.

Syracuse land has passed through a lot of hands over the years. We’ve traced back all the on-record owners of one particular piece of land from the time it was settled to modern day.

The first settlers of Syracuse found that they could purchase their land for about $1.50 an acre after living on the land for five years, thanks to the Homestead Act of 1862. If they wanted to purchase railroad land, it cost $2.50 per acre and there was no requirement to live on the land before the sale. John Messery was one of the first to buy land in Section 7 in Syracuse. A section is 1 square mile, or 640 square acres. At the time, John only bought about 40 acres of it.

In 1884, Amasa Driggs purchased the land from John. Growing up, Amasa lived in the wagon they crossed the plains in. It was the first to go up the Indian trail and settle on the mountain road. His father, Samuel Driggs, built a square adobe home for his family of eight. At the time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints authorities advised not to take too large a tract of land. Instead, they encouraged settlers to take only small tracts and be sociable and neighborly. Samuel Driggs had settled on about 30 acres. The settlers plowed around a tract of land turning two furrows together, cut stakes, sharpened and drove them into the ground, got limbs and brush, and rip rapped the stakes to make a fence.

Samuel died in 1854, leaving his wife, Elizabeth Ann Driggs, a widow and his children fatherless. However, in his last testament, he begged, “Take good care of my children. I want them sent to school. I want them taught the principles of this kingdom and not go into bad company or too many dances.”

The home of Samuel and Elizabeth Driggs sat on 30 acres.

As a result, the First Presidency of the Church sent a man named John Criddle to take care of a widow and her children. At the time, they lived 22 miles from Fort Kaysward on a farm. John arrived, gathered logs, and built a log room onto the adobe one in spring of 1854. He had no friends or family nearby. Six months after her husband’s death, Elizabeth Ann married John Criddle. They went on to have five more children together.

Then, in 1888, almost as if as a gift of gratitude, Amasa sold 25 acres to John Criddle, and in 1894, sold the last 15 acres to him as well. After all, Amasa was about two years old when John married his mother. That same year, the 40 acres were again sold to Johnny’s brother, William Criddle, who moved to bring his brother some company.

The family lived in that same house from 1887 until 1906. James Criddle, the youngest of the family, paid each sibling $250.00 to buy them out of their land ownership so he could continue living there with his mother. She had a life lease on the home as long as she lived. James had previously bought an additional 9,000 acres for $24,000 with the help of other stockmen. A farmer known only as Mr. Ellison had aged out of the business and sold it to him. Afterwards, James made a business of feeding beef cattle on that land before turning it over the government. Today, the Driggs/Criddle property would be worth well over $1 million.

Do you know the history of your home or land? We want to hear from you! Email jenny@connectionpub.com or submit your story on www.connectionpub.com

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