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100 Years Ago

Black History
Civil War
Gold Rush
Law and Order

1783 - 1800

Clark’s expedition would prove important to Ohio’s growth, because in addition to punishing Indians for their raids on settlements, it also attracted the interest of the people in the U.S. They began to believe that the ‘west’ could be made a "fitting place to live".

After Great Britain formally relinquished its rights to this territory to the United States in 1783, the government had to deal with claims from other states. The states of Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York all claimed portions of the territory north and west of Ohio, based upon charters granted by the kings of England. After much controversy, Ohio, along with what would later become the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota were formally given to the United States.

As part of a compromise, Virginia and Connecticut both reserved Ohio lands which, while not directly impacting Shelby County, involved 37 counties in the state of Ohio. In 1784, the first Congressional Committee, chaired by Thomas Jefferson, developed a plan for the disposal of Ohio land. This Committee, needing money to pay the national debt from the war, dealt with Revolutionary War veterans’ demands for land bounties and the need to assess squatters who had already crossed the Ohio River and staked claims.

Shortly after the Ordinance of 1787 (dividing land into states) was passed, the Ohio Land Company purchased a million and a half acres in southeast Ohio. A group of New Englanders traveled down the Ohio River and settled on it at the mouth of the Muskingum River, establishing the first permanent settlement of white men in Ohio, called Marietta.

The Indians realized that this ordinance threatened their existence by establishing claims to their land. They began to battle the settlers in earnest to prevent them from ruining their hunting grounds. These battles between the Indians and Americans went on until the Greene Ville Treaty was signed on August 3, 1795.

The most important aspect of this treaty was that the northern part of the Ohio territory would belong to the Indians and the southern part would belong to the whites. It ceded 16,930,417 acres and involved eleven northwestern Indian tribes. The Greene Ville Treaty Line went through Shelby County, starting a little south of Ft. Loramie and crossing through the county. This treaty signaled the beginning of real settlement activity for Ohio and Shelby County.

The state of Ohio was eventually segmented into 18 different land grants that determined how the land was distributed and/or sold. The first of the ‘Congress Lands’ were available in Shelby County in 1798, and included all lands west and north of the Great Miami River and south of the Greenville Treaty Line. In 1802, all the land in Shelby County east of the Great Miami River and south of the Treaty Line could be bought.

Western lands were divided into townships six miles square containing 640 acres. These sections were the smallest amount that could be purchased at a $1.00 per acre. Very few settlers had $640 so squatters, who claimed land by settling versus paying, became more prevalent than settlers. By 1820, the price increased to $1.25 per acre, but could be purchased in smaller sections or fractions of larger parcels.

'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge


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