08 May 2018

Read Into This All You Want: The Land Fraud That Built The Valley

Your MesaZona blogger has seen this story before, but it surely seems like Divine Providence now with new land grabs in The Phx East Valley by Angel Investors and Holding Companies, and acquisition of 'downtown development portfolios' here in The Old Donut-Hole and the Massive Mormon Make-Over around the LDS Temple:

Once upon a time in the West
“It’s a good fairy tale,” says Jody Crago, Chandler Museum administrator.
“There’s a little more to the story.”
Crago and colleague Nate Meyers, curator of collections, have for several years been panning streams of historical records and recently digitized data from the federal government to find the truth about the town’s origin.
The title of a presentation that they periodically give – and continually update – is:
“Dr. Chandler and the Land Fraud that Built the Valley.”  
They’ll present it at 10:30 a.m. June 9 at Basha Library.
It’s a story that nearly reads like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
Greed. Dummy loans. Rampant speculation. Congressional investigations . . ."
Like the article says, good historians don't judge a man's character, but they did say that AJ Chandler "skated a thin line of illegality and ethics. . . "
Hmmm....This is starting to sound familiar now > READ MORE 
Give me land, lots of land
" . . . When A.J. Chandler reported for duty as the federally appointed Arizona territorial veterinarian, taking a big cut in pay, he was also acting as land agent for the seed company.
The Desert Land Act of 1877 gave Ferry and Chandler the means to acquire thousands of acres by hook and crook. . . The seed company needed land. Lots of land.
Congress wanted to encourage homesteaders and other dreamers to move west by allowing married couples to purchase 640-acre parcels for $1.25 per acre. They were required to irrigate and cultivate the land . . .
Chandler, on the other hand, saw gold in the form of the Salt River flowing through canals to the arid lands south of Mesa.
Blogger Note: There's a few omissions here about Chandler and what he did here in Mesa forming a water company that the City owns today, as well as other enterprises
The scheme
Chandler and his partners in the Improvement Company hatched a plan to lure homesteaders and other potential investors by offering to pay for the 640-acre parcels, deliver irrigation and even plant crops. In exchange for their names, investors would also receive a 40-acre farm free and clear.
The catch was that the Improvement Company created a mortgage on the other 600 acres. If that mortgage wasn’t paid in three years, the property would revert to the Improvement Company.
Crago says the vast majority of investors were secretaries of the seed company, general laborers and spouses of Improvement Company employees who had no intention of farming the land. . .
This was outright land fraud, Crago says, because investors lied to the federal government by stating that no other entity had a financial interest in the land that they were claiming. . . . . Chandler was brazenly writing mortgages on land that he did not own.
“It was, essentially, a transference of land,” according to Crago.
In this way, the partners were able to amass an incredible 18,000 acres by the late 1890s, land that would yield highly valuable alfalfa, long-fiber cotton, citrus and other crops.
The canals
Chandler needed to bring water to his newly acquired lands and believed that an improved Mesa Canal was the way to do it.
Chandler very shrewdly paid fair market prices for two strategic 160-acre parcels in Mesa.
One tract, now the site of Mesa Country Club, contained a precipitous drop off the mesa and would provide a perfect opportunity to create hydroelectric power.
The other tract had a spot, near present-day Horne and Brown roads, that would be an ideal place for diversion gates.
These gates and a new “crosscut” canal would send water to a thirsty and growing Tempe to the west. The new Consolidated Canal would funnel water to the south.
In 1891, after two years of negotiations, Dr. Chandler gained approval from the Mesa Canal Company to expand the waterway and become the new canal manager. . .
Once Roosevelt Dam, completed in 1911, became a reality, Chandler knew that his ranch lands would become exponentially more valuable . . .
Link > The San Tan Sun 08 May 2018


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