"Ohio Lands - A Short History"
Michigan Survey.This original land survey is located in Northwest Ohio in Williams, Fulton, and Lucas counties. It is a continuation of the federal rectangular surveys starting from the Michigan Meridian and its base line, which is located north of Detroit.
The land was claimed by both the state of Ohio and the territory of Michigan.This dispute nearly caused a war between the two in 1835. Ohio militia actually waited at the disputed state boundary line to invade Michigan. Some skirmishes occurred, and minor injuries inflicted before more peaceful means prevailed.
The cause of this controversy had its origin in the Ordinance of 1787, when it was provided that, if Congress shall hereafter find it expedient, they shall have authority to form one or two states in that part of said territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan.
The Act of April 30, 1802, that enabled Ohio to become a state, defined its north boundary to be an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east until it shall intersect Lake Erie.
Ohio was admitted to the Union without Congress clearly defining its northern boundary. Congress tried to clear up the problem in 1817, when William Harris surveyed the boundary as set forth in the Ohio Constitution. Michigan objected to the Harris Line. John A. Fulton ran another survey in 1818 based upon the language in the Northwest Ordinance. Ohio objected to the Fulton Line because it was several miles south of the Harris Line and Ohio would lose the harbor at what is now Toledo.
Finally, on June 15, 1836, the controversy ended when the President of the United States approved An Act to establish the northern boundary of Ohio, and to provide for the admission of the State of Michigan into the Union upon the conditions therein expressed. The boundaries prescribed for Michigan took away all the land south of the Harris Line, 400 square miles. Michigan received 9,000 square miles (which now is its Upper Peninsula) for its loss. Also, it was admitted to the Union on January 26, 1837 as part of the compromise.
Moravian Indian Grants.The Moravian Indian Grants were the Moravian (United Brethren) Missionaries Indian Villages of Schoenbrun (May, 1772); Gnadenhutten (October, 1772); Salem (1780) and the adjoining lands. These three separate tracts, 4,000 acres each, are located in Tuscarawas County, with the Tuscarawas River flowing through each.
The Land Ordinance of May 20, 1785 reserved these tracts for the sole use of the Christian Indians who formerly settled there, or the remains of that society. The
Continental Congress reserved these tracts because 100 white men, acting as a corps
of volunteer militia, slaughtered 96 innocent Christian Indians, including women and chil
dren, at Gnadenhutten on March 8, 1782. These murders were in retaliation for hostile
Indians raids on the settlers of Western Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The three tracts were donated in trust to the Society of the United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen (Moravian Brethren) under the Ordinance of September 3, 1788. This was to encourage the Moravian missionaries in the work of civilizing the Indians, and encourage the surviving Christian Indians to return to these villages.
A U.S. Patent was issued February 24, 1798, to the United Brethren as trustees for the Indians, based upon the Act of June 1, 1796. By agreements signed between a U.S. Commissioner and the United Brethren (August 4, 1823) and the Christian Indians (November 8, 1823), the trust was revoked and the three tracts transferred to the United States government. The United Brethren Deed of Retrocession was executed April 24, 1824, and accepted by Congress on May 26, 1824.
The three tracts were subdivided into farm lots in 1825. These farm lots were later sold at public auction by government appointed agents at the courthouse in New Philadelphia. Unsold farm lots were sold at the Zanesville Land Office. From the sale proceeds, the Christian Indians received a $400 annuity and the United Brethren
Society received enough money to pay the debt remaining from its improvement of the
French Grants.These land grants are located in Scioto County along the Ohio River. They were given to 101 Frenchmen who had been swindled by the Scioto Company. This speculative land company was led by William Duer of New York and in reality owned no land anywhere.
Induced to come to America by the extravagant claims and gross misrepresentations of the Scioto Company’s agent in France, these French immigrants arrived in Ohio in December 1791. They settled on land they eventually bought from the Ohio Company for $1.25 an acre and named their town Gallipolis.
By an act passed May 31, 1795, Congress gave 24,000 acres to the French inhabitants of Gallipolis. John Gabriel Gervais received 4,000 acres for his services in obtaining the grant. The remainder was surveyed in 92 lots of 217.4 acres each. This is commonly called the First Grant.
Somehow eight Gallipolis inhabitants did not receive their portion of the First Grant. Therefore, Congress passed the Act of June 25, 1798, giving an additional 1,200 acres which were surveyed into 150 acre lots. This became known as the Second Grant.
Refugee Tract.The Refugee Tract (Lands) is located in parts of Franklin, Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties in Central Ohio. This tract extends 42 miles eastward from the Scioto River, along the south line of the United States Military District. The first 30 miles are four and one half miles wide but narrows to three miles wide for the last twelve miles. This tract contains 103,527 acres.
The Continental Congress resolved to grant land to Canadian refugees (April 23, 1783) and to Refugees of Nova Scotia (April 13, 1785), whenever Congress could legally make such grants of land. These refugees had abandoned their settlements and fled to the United States to aid the colonial cause during the Revolutionary War.
The Act of April 7, 1798 provided that the refugees had to have fled prior to July 4, 1776; continued aiding the United States; and did not return to reside in the dominions of the King of Great Britain prior to November 25, 1783. It also provided that the bounty land could be claimed by widows and heirs of all such persons, if they died within the United States or in colonial service during the Revolutionary War.
The Act of February 18, 1801, established the boundaries of the Refugee Tract and named the claimants and the quantity of land which they were entitled. Additional claimants were named in the acts of April 23, 1812. By these Acts, 67 claimants received 58,080 acres, most of which were in 320, 640, 960, 1,280, and 2,240 acre grants.
The Refugee Lands were not set aside until after the regular Federal surveys had progressed to the United States Military District. Therefore, the range, township and section lines and numbers were already established. The townships, being fractional (par-tial) townships, were subdivided into 320-acre lots by halving each full section with a north and south line. A drawing, by lot, determined the location, or locations, of the claimant’s grant.
The Act of April 29, 1816 authorized the remaining 45,447 acres to be sold by the Chillicothe Land Office.
In Columbus, the Refugee Tract is between approximately Fifth Avenue on the north, and Refugee Road on the south. Therefore, the State House and most state
offices are located within the tract.
Zane’s Tract.Ebenezer Zane received three tracts of land, 640 acres each, for laying out a road (Zane’s Trace) from Wheeling, Virginia (W.Va.), through Ohio, to Limestone (now called Maysville), Kentucky. Zane’s Trace opened in 1797.
Congress authorized Ebenezer Zane on May 17, 1796, to locate the three tracts provided he paid for the surveys and did not interfere with existing government surveys. Also, he acquired the right to operate the ferries at these locations. Zane located one tract on the Muskingum River (now in Zanesville), one on the Hocking River (now in Lancaster), and one on the east bank of the Scioto River, opposite Chillicothe.
He chose these locations because they were important river crossings on the road he laid out, and were a financially sound investment.
Isaac Zane, one of Ebenezer Zane’s brothers received three surveying sections, 640 acres each, for various services to the U.S. government, by the Act of April 3, 1802. Two of these sections were for the use and benefit of Zane’s children, living at the time of his death, or their heirs. A U.S. Patent was issued to Isaac Zane on August 28, 1806, for these tracts which are located in the civil townships of Salem and Concord,
Dohrman Grant.Arnold Henry Dohrman was agent for the United States at the court of Lisbon (Portugal) during the Revolutionary War. He fed, clothed and nursed American sailors who had been captured by British cruisers. After submitting his expenditures to the Treasury Department, a substantial amount was disallowed because of lack of documentation. Therefore Congress, on October 1, 1787, granted him an entire township (23,040 acres) to compensate him for the disallowed expenditures and for his humanitarian efforts.
The Act of February 27, 1801 directed the president to issue a U.S. Patent to Dohrman for Township 13, Range 7, in the Old Seven Ranges. This land is located half in Harrison County, and half in Tuscarawas County.
On March 3, 1817, Congress granted Rachel Dohrman, widow of Arnold Henry Dohrman, $300 annually for life, and to each of Dohrman’s minor children, $100 a year until they became 21 years old.
Other Grants to Individuals.The United States government gave small land grants to various Indians as the result of Indian Treaties; to white men who had been captured and lived with the Indians; and some early settlers in Northwest Ohio who traded with the Indians. Pre-emption rights (the right to buy land first, without bidding on it) were also given by Congress to various individuals throughout Ohio. Unfortunately, space does not permit the listing of all these grants and pre-emptions.
YEAR COUNTY ESTABLISHED
Originally, the responsibility of creating and naming counties rested with the Territorial Governor until the creation of the state. After November 30, 1802, the creation of counties and their boundaries were the responsibility of the Ohio Legislature. Until a county was formally organized it remained attached to its parent county or surrounding counties. This could occur several years after the county’s creation depending on the Legislative Acts creating it. County Commissioners created and named civil townships.
YEAR COUNTY ORGANIZED
Although a county may have been established earlier, it did not function as a county until it was organized. The year shown on this map represents the year of organization and the records of the county recorder should begin in that year. Since many counties were formed from existing counties, earlier records may exist in the parent county or surrounding counties. It is possible for a land-owner never to have moved, yet various records may show four different counties of residence.
Forts, garrisons, stockades and blockhouses were all used by frontier settlers and soldiers for defense against hostile Indians. Many of these fortifications, described in Ohio county histories were already within original land subdivisions, or included in later ones. The following are separate original surveys:
Fort Washington.Built in 1789 to protect settlers in the Symmes (Miami) Purchase, this fort was reserved to the federal government in Symmes’ U.S. Patent. In 1806, Congress ordered the old fort’s 15 acres to be subdivided into town-lots and streets which would conform to the original town-plat of Cincinnati. The survey, certified on July 8, 1807, shows the boundaries of the old fort were: Fourth Street, on the north; Ludlow Street, on the east; the Ohio River, on the south; and Broadway, on the west. Riverfront Coliseum is built on part of the old Fort Washington grounds.
Twelve Mile Square Reservation.Located in Lucas and Wood counties, this original survey contains 144 square miles and is divided, nearly in half, by the Maumee River.
Twelve Mile Square surrounds the former site of Fort Miami; originally built by the French in 1680 and later abandoned. The British occupied the old fort from 1785 until the confirmation of the Jay Treaty (November 19, 1794) in 1795. The United States held the fort until the War of 1812 when the British captured it. The Americans recaptured the fort and abandoned it in 1813 when Fort Meigs was built nearby on the south side of the Maumee.
French and English white settlers who had settled around Fort Miami were given land in 1807, based upon their claims of living on the land prior to July 1, 1796.
Twelve Mile Square was surveyed into four six-mile-square townships numbered clockwise, beginning with one, from the southwest township. The private claims, near the center of the square, were laid out perpendicular to the claimants river frontage. Under the Act of April 27, 1816, 93 lots, containing 160 acres each, were surveyed out of the sections fronting the river. These were called River Tracts.
The town of Perrysburg was laid out by federal surveyors under the Act of April 27, 1816.
The Battle of Fallen Timbers, (August 20, 1794), took place within the Twelve Mile Square. Major General Anthony Wayne’s defeat of the Indians at this battle ended the Indian War which had been raging on the frontier since 1790. The Indians ceded, in addition to other lands, Twelve Mile Square and Two Mile Square by the Treaty of Greenville (August 3, 1795).
Two Mile Square Reservation.Two Mile Square (2,560 acres) is now covered by the city of Fremont, Sandusky County. The Sandusky River nearly cuts the reserve in half. The land was ceded by the Indians in 1795.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, Fort Stephenson (Sandusky) was built on the west bank of the river. The fort enclosed about an acre of ground. Major George Croghan, with 250 soldiers, successfully defended this fort (August 3, 1813), against a British and Indian force of over 1,300. This victory earned Croghan, who was Gen. George Rogers Clark’s nephew, the brevet rank of Lt. Colonel.
Two Mile Square was first surveyed into four (640 acre) sections in 1807. Following the Act of April 26, 1816, section one, which was east of the river, was subdivided into 310 inlots and 63 outlots to create a town. The town was named Croghanville, in honor of George Croghan. In 1829, the town was incorporated under the name Lower Sandusky, and in 1848 named Fremont. The Wooster Federal Land Office handled the early sales of the sections and lots within Two Mile Square.
Copyright 1994 by the Ohio Auditor of State All Rights Reserved.
FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION ONLY. Researched and written by
Thomas Aquinas Burke, Internet Address F491.3 B86 1994 977.1
Eighth Edition - September 1996
"Ohio Lands - A Short History"
ReTyped & Graphics Rescanned December 1997
by Maggie Stewart-Zimmerman
Email at MaggieOhio@columbus.rr.com
This booklet is available on the Auditor of State home page under