The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
During early period of frontier settlements in the United States, a "tomahawk right," was viewed by settlers as a way to claim title to a tract of land. The process was to deadening a few trees near the head of a spring, and marking the bark of some one or more of them with the initials of the name of the person who made the improvement. Whether these claims were legal or not, it is claimed that "tomahawk rights" were bought and sold among settlers.