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THE PUBLIC LANDS OF OHIO

 

BY JOHN KILBOURNE.

 

Page 128

JOHN KILBOURNE was born in Berlin, Connecticut, August 7, 1787, graduated at Vermont University, and emigrating West was occupied for several years as Principal of Worthington College, Franklin county, of which his uncle, James Kilbourne, the famed surveyor and founder of the Scioto Company, was the president trustee. Subsequently he removed to Columbus and engaged in authorship and book selling and publishing, and there died March 12, 1831, aged forty-four years. He published a "Gazetteer of Vermont," a “Gazetteer of Ohio," a map of Ohio, a volume of "Public Documents Concerning the Ohio Canals," and a “School Geography." The article upon The Public Lands of Ohio," which here follows slightly abridged from the original, is from his "Ohio Gazetteer," the first edition of which appeared in 1816. It went through several editions and was a work of great merit and utility. This article on the lands was carefully written, and having been copied into the first edition of the "Ohio Historical Collections," was highly valued by many of its readers. We are glad to reproduce it here with this preliminary notice of the author.

 

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IN Most of the States and Territories lying west of the Allegheny mountains, the United States, collectively as a nation, owned, or did own, the soil of the country, after the extinguishment of the aboriginal Indian title. This vast national domain comprises several hundreds of millions of acres; which is a bountiful fund, upon which the general government can draw for centuries, to supply, at a low price, all its citizens with a freehold estate.

 

When Ohio was admitted into the Federal Union as an independent State, one of the terms of admission was, that the fee-simple to all the lands within its limits, excepting those previously granted or sold, should vest in the United States. Different portions of them have, at diverse periods, been granted or sold to various individuals, companies and bodies politic.

 

The following are the names by which the principal bodies of the lands are designated, on account of these different forms of transfer, viz. :

 

1. Congress Lands.

8. Symmes’ Purchase.

15. Maumee Road Lands.

2. U. S. Military

9. Refugee Tract.

16. School do.

3. Virginia Military.

10. French Grant.

17. College do.

4. Western Reserve.

11. Dohrman’s Grant

18. Ministerial do.

5. Fire-Lands.

12. Zane’s do.

19. Moravian do.

6. Ohio Co’s Purchase

13. Canal Lands.

20. Salt Sections do.

7. Donation Tract.

14. Turnpike Lands.

 

 

 

Congress Lands are so called because they are sold to purchasers by the immediate officers of the general government, conformably to such laws as are, or may be, from time to time, enacted by Congress. They are all regularly surveyed into townships of six miles square each, under authority, and at the expense of the National government.

 

All Congress lands, excepting

Marietta and a part of Steuben-

ville district, are numbered as

follows:

VII ranges, Ohio Company’s

Purchase, and Symme’s pur-

chase, are numbered as here

exhibited:

 

6

5

4

3

2

1

 

36

30

24

18

12

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

 

35

29

23

17

11

5

18

17

16

15

14

13

 

34

28

22

16

10

4

19

20

21

22

23

24

 

33

27

21

15

9

3

30

29

28

27

26

25

 

32

26

20

14

8

2

31

32

33

34

35

36

 

31

25

19

13

7

1

 

 

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The townships are again subdivided into sections of one mile square, each containing 640 acres, by lines running parallel with the township and range lines. The sections are numbered in two different modes, as exhibited in the preceding figures or diagrams.

 

In addition to the foregoing division, the sections are again subdivided into four equal parts, called the northeast quarter section, southeast quarter section, etc. And again, by a law of Congress, which went into effect in July, 1820, these quarter sections are also divided by a north and south line into two equal parts, called the east half quarter section, No. and west half quarter section, No., which contain eighty acres each. The minimum price has been reduced by the same law from-$2.00 to $1.25 per acre, cash down.

 

In establishing the township and sectional corners, a post is first planted at the point of intersection; then on the tree nearest the post, and standing within the section intended to be designated, is numbered with the marking iron, the range, township and number of the section, thus:

 

 

Grid.

 

 

Section No. 16, of every township, is perpetually reserved for the use of schools and leased or sold out, for the benefit of schools, under the State government. All the others may be taken up either in sections, fractions, halves, quarters, or half quarters.

 

For the purpose of selling out these lands, they are divided into eight several land districts, called after the names of the towns in which the land offices are kept, viz.: Wooster, Steubenville, Zanesville, Marietta, Chillicothe, etc.,

 

The seven ranges of townships are a portion of the Congress lands, so called, being the first ranges of public lands ever surveyed by the general government west of the Ohio river. They are bounded on the north by a line drawn due west from the Pennsylvania State line, where it crosses the Ohio river, to the United States Military lands, forty-two miles; thence south to the Ohio river, at the southeast corner of Marietta township, thence up the river to the place of beginning.

 

Connecticut Western Reserve, oftentimes called New Connecticut, is situated in, the northeast quarter of the State, between Lake Erie on the north, Pennsylvania east, the parallel of the forty-first degree of north latitude south, and Sandusky and Seneca counties on the west. It extends 120 miles from east to west, and upon an average fifty from north to south: although, upon the Pennsylvania line, it is sixty-eight miles broad, from north to south. The area is about 3,800,000acres. It is surveyed into townships of five miles square each. A body of half a million acres is, however, stricken off from the west end of the tract; as a donation, by the State of Connecticut, to certain sufferers by fire, in the revolutionary war.

 

The manner by which Connecticut became possessed of the land in question was the following: King Charles II, of England, pursuing the example of his brother kings, of granting distant and foreign regions to his subjects granted to the then colony of Connecticut, in 1662, a charter right, to all lands included within certain specific bounds. But as the geographical knowledge of Europeans concerning America was then very limited and confused, patents for lands often interfered with each other, and many of them, even by their express terms, extended to the Pacific ocean, or South sea, as it was then called. Among the rest, that for Connecticut embraced all lands contained between the forty-first and forty-second parallels of north latitude, and from Providence plantations on the east, to the Pacific ocean west, with the exception of New York and Pennsylvania colonies; and, indeed, pretensions to these were not finally relinquished without considerable altercation. And after the United States became an independent nation, these interfering claims occasioned much collision of sentiment between

 

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them and the State of Connecticut, which was finally compromised by the United States relinquishing all their claims upon, and guaranteeing to Connecticut the exclusive right of soil to the 3,800,000 acres now described. The United States, however, by the terms of compromise, reserved to themselves the right of jurisdiction. They then united this tract to the Territory, now State of Ohio. Fire-Lands, a tract of country so called, of about 781 square miles, or 500,000 acres, in the western part of New Connecticut. The name originated from the circumstance of the State of Connecticut having granted these lands in 1792; as a donation to certain sufferers by fire, occasioned by the English during our revolutionary war, particularly at New London, Fairfield and Norwalk. These lands, include the five westernmost ranges of the Western Reserve townships: Lake Erie and Sandusky bay project so far southerly as to leave but the space of six tiers and some fractions of townships between them and the forty-first parallel of latitude, or a tract of about thirty by twenty-seven miles in extent.

 

Grid.This tract is surveyed into townships of about five miles square 2each; and these townships are then subdivided into four quarters; and these quarter townships are numbered as in the accompanying figure, the top being considered north. And for individual convenience these are again subdivided, by private, surveys, into lots from fifty to five hundred acres each, to suit individual purchasers.

 

United States Military Lands are so called from the circumstances of their having been appropriated, by an act of Congress of the 1st of June, 1796, to satisfy certain claims of the officers and soldiers of the revolutionary war. The tract of country embracing these lands is bounded as follows: beginning at the northwest corner of the original VII ranges of townships, thence south 50 miles, thence' west to the Scioto river, thence up said river to the Greenville treaty line, thence northeasterly with said line to old Fort Laurens, on the Tuscarawas river, thence due east to the place of beginning; including a tract of about 4,000 square miles, or 2,560,000 acres of land. It is, of course, bounded north by the Greenville treaty line, east by the “VII ranges of townships," south by the Congress and Refugee lands, and west by the Scioto river. These lands are surveyed into townships of five miles square. These town­ships were then again, originally, surveyed into quarter townships of two and a half miles square, containing 4,000 acres each; and subsequently some of these quarter townships were subdivided into forty lots of 100 acres each, for the accommodation of those soldiers holding warrants for only 100 acres each. And again after the time originally assigned for the location of these warrants had expired, certain quarter townships, which had not then been located, were divided into sections of one mile square each, and sold by the general government like the main body of Congress lands.

 

GridThe quarter townships are numbered as exhibited in the accompanying figure, the top being considered north. The place of each township is ascertained by numbers and ranges, the same as Congress lands; the ranges being numbered from east to west, and the numbers from south to north.

 

Virginia Military Lands are a body of land lying between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers, and bounded upon the Ohio river on the south. The State of Virginia, from the indefinite and vague terms of expression in its original colonial charter of territory from James I. king of England, in the year 1609, claimed all the continent west of the Ohio river, and of the north and south breadth of Virginia. But finally, among several other compromises of conflicting claims which were made, subsequently to the attainment of our national independence, Virginia agreed to relinquish all her claims to lands northwest of the Ohio river, in favor of the general government, upon condition of the lands, now described, being guaranteed to her. The State of Virginia then appropriated this body of land to satisfy the claims of her State troops employed in the continental line during the revolutionary war.

 

This district is not surveyed into townships or any regular form; but any individual holding a Virginia military land warrant may locate it wherever he chooses within the district, and in such shape as he pleases wherever the land shall not previously have been located. In consequence of this deficiency of

 

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regular original surveys, and the irregularities with which the several locations; have been made, and the consequent interference and encroachment of some locations upon others, more than double the litigation has probably arisen between the holders of adverse titles, in this district, than there has in any other part of the State of equal extent.

 

Ohio Company's Purchase is a body of land containing about 1,500,000 acres; including, however, the donation tract, school lands, etc., lying along the Ohio river; and including Meigs, nearly all of Athens, and a considerable part of Washington and Gallia counties. This tract was purchased of the general government in the year 1787, by Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargeant, from the neighborhood of Salem, in by Massachusetts, agents for the "Ohio Company," so called, which had been then formed in Massachusetts for the purpose of a settlement in the Ohio country. Only 964,285 acres were ultimately paid for, and of course patented. This body of land was then apportioned out into 817 shares of 1,173 acres each, and a town lot of one-third of an acre to each share. These shares were made up to each proprietor in tracts, one of 640 acres, one of 262, one of 160, one of 100, one of 8, and another of 3 acres, besides the before-mentioned town lot.

 

Besides every section 16, set apart, as elsewhere, for the support of schools, every section 29 is appropriated for the support of religious institutions. In addition to which were also granted two six miles square townships for the use of a college.

 

But unfortunately for the Ohio Company, owing to their want of topographical knowledge of the country, the body of land selected by them, with some partial exceptions, is the most hilly and sterile of any tract of similar extent in the State.

 

Donation Tract is a body of 100,000 acres set off in the northern limits of the Ohio Company's tract, and granted to them by Congress, provided they should obtain one actual settler upon each hundred acres thereof within five years from the date of the-grant; and that so much of the 100,000 acres aforesaid, as should not thus be taken up, shall revert to the general government. This tract may, in some respects, be considered a part of the Ohio Company's purchase. It is situated in the northern limits of Washington county. It lies in an oblong shape, extending nearly 17 miles from east to west, and about 7 1 from north to south.

 

Symmes' Purchase, a tract of 311,682 acres of land, in the southwestern quarter of the State, between the Great and Little Miami rivers. It borders on the Ohio river a distance of 27 miles, and extends so far back from the latter between the two Miamis as to include the quantity of land just mentioned. It was patented to John Cleves Symmes, in 1794, for 67 cents an acre. Every 16th section, or square mile, in each township, was reserved by Congress for the use of schools, and sections 29 for the support of religious institutions, besides 15 acres around Fort Washington, in Cincinnati. This tract of country is now one of the most valuable in the State.

 

Refugee Tract, a body of 100,000 acres of land granted by Congress to certain individuals who left the British provinces during the revolutionary war, and espoused the cause of freedom. it is a narrow strip of country 41 miles broad from north to south, and extends eastwardly from the Scioto river 48 miles. It has the United States XX ranges of military or army lands north, and XXII ranges of Congress lands south. In the western borders of this tract is situated the town of Columbus.

 

French Grant, a tract of 24,000 acres of land bordering upon the Ohio river, in the southeastern quarter of Scioto county. It was granted by Congress, in March, 1795, to a number of French families, who lost their lands at Gallipolis by invalid titles. Twelve hundred acres, additional, were afterwards granted, adjoining the above-mentioned tract at its lower end, toward the mouth of Little Scioto river.

 

Dohrman's Grant is one six mile square township, of 23,040 acres, granted to Arnold Henry Dohrman, formerly a wealthy Portuguese merchant in Lisbon, for and in consideration of his having, during the revolutionary war, given shelter and aid to the American cruisers and vessels of war. It is located in the south-eastern part of Tuscarawas county.

 

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Moravian Lands are three several tracts of 4,000 acres each, originally granted by the old Continental Congress, July, 1787, and confirmed, by the act of Congress on 1st June, 1796, to the Moravian brethren at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in trust and for these of the Christianized Indians living thereon. They are laid out in nearly square forms, on the Muskingum river, in what is now Tuscarawas county. They are called by the names of the Shoenbrun, Gnadenhutten and Salem tracts.

 

Zane's Tracts are three several tracts of one mile square each-one on the Muskingum, which includes the town of Zanesville—one at the cross of the Hocking river, on which the town of Lancaster is laid outand the third, on the left bank of the Scioto river, opposite Chillicothe. They were granted by Congress to one Ebenezer Zane, in May, 1796, on condition that he should open a road through them from Wheeling, in Virginia, to Maysville, in Kentucky:

 

There are also three other tracts, of one mile square each, granted to Isaac Zane, in the year 1802, in consideration of his having been taken prisoner by the Indians, when a boy, during the revolutionary war, and living with them most of his life; and having, during that time, performed many acts of kindness and beneficence toward the American people. These tracts are situated in Champaign county, on King's creek, from three to five miles northwest from Urbana.

 

The Maumee Road Lands are a body of lands averaging two miles wide, lying along one mile on each side of the road from the Maumee river at Perrysburg to the western limits of the Western Reserve, a distance of about 46 miles; and comprising nearly 60,000 acres. They were originally granted by the Indian owners, at the treaty of Brownstown in 1808, to enable the United States to make a road on the line just mentioned. The general government never moved in the business until February, 1823, when Congress passed an a making over the aforesaid land to the State of Ohio; provided she would within four years thereafter; make and keep in repair a good road throughout the aforesaid route of 46 miles. This road the State government has already made; and obtained possession and sold most of the land.

 

Turnpike lands are forty-nine sections, amounting to 31,360 acres, situated along the western side of the Columbus and Sandusky turnpike, in the eastern parts of Seneca, Crawford, and Marion counties. They were originally granted by an act of Congress on the 3d of March, 1827, and more specifically by a supplementary act the year following. The considerations for which these lands were granted were, that the mail stages and all troops and property of the United States which should ever be moved and transported along this road shall pass free from toll.

 

The Ohio Canal lands are lands granted by Congress to the State of Ohio to aid in constructing her extensive canals. These lands comprise over 1,000,000 of acres, a large proportion of which is now (1847) in market.

 

School Lands.-By compact between the United States and the State of Ohio, when the latter was admitted into the Union, it was stipulated, for and in. consideration that the State of Ohio should never tax the Congress lands until after they should have been sold five years; and in consideration that the public lands would thereby more readily sell, that the one-thirty-sixth part of all the territory included within the limits of the State should be set apart for the support of common schools therein. And, for the purpose of getting at lands which should in point of quality of soil be on an average with the whole land in the country, they decreed that it should be selected by lot, in small tracts each, to wit: that it should consist of section 16, let that section be good or bad, in every township of Congress lands; also in the Ohio Company, and in Symmes' purchases; all of which townships are composed of thirty-six sections each; and for the United States military lands and Connecticut Reserve, a number of quarter townships, two and one-half miles square each (being the smallest public surveys therein then made), should be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury, in different places throughout the United States military tract, equivalent in quantity to the one-thirty-sixth part of those two tracts respectively. And for the Virginia military tract, Congress enacted that a quantity of land equal to the one-thirty-sixth part of the estimated quantity of land contained therein should be selected by lot, in what was then called the "New Purchase," in quarter township tracts of three miles square each. Most of these selections were accordingly made; but,

 

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in some instances, by the carelessness of the officers conducting the sales, or from some other cause, a few sections 16 have been sold; in which case Congress, when applied to, has generally granted other lands in lieu thereof; as, for instance, no section 16 was reserved in Montgomery township, in which Columbus is situated; and Congress afterwards granted therefor section 21 in the township cornering thereon to the southeast.

 

College townships are three six miles square townships granted by Congress; two of them to the Ohio Company for the use of a college to be established within their purchase, and one for the use of the inhabitants of Symmes' purchase.

 

Ministerial Lands.-In both the Ohio Company and in Symmes' purchase every section 29 (equal to one-thirty-sixth part of every township) is reserved as a permanent fund for the support of a settled minister. As the purchasers of these two tracts came from parts of the Union where it was customary and deemed neces­sary to have a regular settled clergyman in every town, they therefore stipulated in their original purchase that a permanent fund in land should thus be set apart for this purchase. In no other part of the State, other than in these two purchases, are any lands set apart for this object.

 

Salt Sections.-Near the centre of what is now (1847) Jackson county Congress originally reserved from sale thirty-six sections, or one six mile square township, around and including what was called the Scioto salt-licks; also one-quarter of a five mile square township in what is now Delaware county; in all, forty-two and a quarter sections, or 27,040 acres. By an act of Congress of the 28th of December, 1824, the legislature of Ohio was authorized to sell these lands, and to apply the proceeds thereof to such literary purposes as said legislature may think proper; but to no other purpose whatever.

 

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To the foregoing article of Kilbourne we append Tract No. 61 of the “Western Reserve and Northern Ohio Historical Society," by the late Col. Charles Whittlesey, and entitled:

 

SURVEYS OF THE PUBLIC LANDS IN OHIO.

 

The surveys of the government lands were commenced in July, 1786, under the management of Thomas Hutchins, the geographer of the United States. There were surveyors appointed-one from each State; but only nine entered upon the work in 1786*. Among them were Anselm Tupper, Joseph Buell, and John Matthews. Rufus Putnam was appointed from Massachusetts, but was then engaged in surveys in what is now the State of Maine.

 

The geographer planted his Jacobstaff on the Pennsylvania line at the north bank of the Ohio river. Having been one of the Pennsylvania commissioners on the western boundary in 1784,* he was familiar with the country from the Ohio river to Lake Erie. He ran a line west over the hills of Columbiana and Cal-roll counties in person, now known as the "Geographer's Line," a distance of forty-two miles. At each mile a post was set and on each side witness-trees were marked. Every six miles was a town corner. From these corners surveyors ran the meridian or range lines south to the Ohio, and the east and west town lines.

 

Hutchins began the numbers of the sections, or No. 1 at the southeast corner of the township, thence north to the northeast corner. The nest tier began with No. 7 on the south line, and so on, terminating with No. 36 at the northwest corner. This system of numbering was followed in the survey of the Ohio Com­

 

 

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* The best astronomical and mathematical talent oft the colonies was employed on the western boundary of Pennsylvania, which had long been contested by Virginia. It was fixed by a transit sighting from hill to hill, the timber cut away, so that the instrument could be reversed and thus cover three stations, often several miles apart. As the monuments put up by the surveyors were nearly all of wood, there were few of them visible in 1796, when the surveyors of the Western Reserve began their work. The vista cut through the woods on the summit of the hills to open the Pennsylvania line had nearly disappeared when the country was cleared for settlement. On this survey, when the Ohio river was reached the Virginia commissioners retired, because that State had ceded the country north of the Ohio.

 

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pany's purchase and in the Symmes purchase. It was changed to the present system by the act of 1799, without any apparent reason. The towns in the seven ranges were, by law, numbered from the Ohio river northward, and the ranges from the Pennsylvania line westward. In the history of land surveys this is the first application of the rectangular system of lots in squares of one mile, with meridian lines, and corner posts at each mile, where the number of the section, town, and range was put on the witness-trees in letters and figures. It should be regarded as one of the great American inventions, and the credit of it is due to Hutchins, who conceived it in 1764 when he was a captain in the Sixtieth Royal-American regiment, and engineer to the expedition under Col. Henry Bouquet to the Forks of the Muskingum, in what is now Coshocton county. It formed a part of his plan for military colonies north of the Ohio, as a protection against

 

Map.

 

Indians. The law of 1785 embraced most of the details of the new system. It was afterwards adopted by the State of Massachusetts in the surveys of her timber lands in the province of Maine, and by the purchasers of her lands within the State of New York, also by the managers of the Holland purchase in Western New York and the State of Connecticut on the Western Reserve.

 

Although the Indian tribes had ceded Southern Ohio to the United States, they were bitterly opposed to its survey and settlement by white people. They were so hostile that troops were detailed from Fort Harmar for the protection of surveyors. The geographer's line ended on the heights south of Sandyville, in Stark county, about three miles east of Bolivar. In September, 1786, Major Doughty, of Colonel Harmar's Battalion, advised them that he could not guarantee their safety. The subdivision of very few townships was completed that, year. In 1787 the work was pushed more rapidly. The west line of the seven

 

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ranges, as they have ever since been designated, was continued southward to the Ohio river; a few miles above Marietta, being about fourteen (14) towns or eighty-four miles in length.

 

The meridian lines of the seven ranges diverged to the right, or to the west, as they were extended southerly. The magnetic variation was seldom corrected. The country was rough, and revengeful savages lurked in the surrounding forest. The work of these brave men should not be closely criticised, even where there are some irregularities.

 

The variation of the needle in 1786 must have been about (2) two degrees east, decreasing about (2' 30") two and one-half minutes yearly. If the magnetic meridian was followed, the result would be a deviation from the true meridian, and going south would be to the west, and the departure would be sixteen chains, eighty links for each township. No account was then taken of the divergence of meridians; which in working southward amounted in a degree of sixty-nine and one-half miles to about eight chains. Not less than an entire section was offered for sale, and the price was two dollars per acre. Supplies were brought to the lines from Fort Steuben (now Steubenville) through the woods on pack horses. By the act of May 18, 1796, the tract north of the geographer's line to the Western Reserve was directed to be surveyed, but it was not until 1810 that the sections were closed up to that line.

 

A discussion having arisen between the Connecticut Land Company and the Federal Government, as to the location of the forty-first parallel of latitude, Surveyor-General Professor Mansfield was directed to examine the line, in that year, who advised that it be not disturbed.

 

After the death of Geographer Hutchins, in April, 1789, the entire management of the surveys devolved upon the Board of the Treasury, until the Constitution of 1787 went into operation, and for some years after. Before the Constitution there was no Federal executive, or cabinet, and executive business was transacted by committees, or boards filled by members of Congress, subject to the direction of Congress. Legislation was a very simple matter. A convention of delegates from the several States, in such numbers as they chose to select and to pay, each State having one vote, constituted the supreme power. Their legislative acts took the form of resolutions and ordinances, which were final., As early as August, 1776, it was resolved to give bounties in land, to soldiers and officers in the war of liberation. A tract was directed to be surveyed for this purpose in Ohio, in 1796. It is still known as the "Military bounty lands, "lying next west of the seven ranges, fifty miles down the line to the south, bounded north by the treaty line of 1795, and extending west to the Scioto river. Its southwest corner is near Columbus. For this tract the surveyors were able to bring supplies up the Muskingum and the Scioto rivers in boats. In the bounty lands the townships were directed to be five miles square, with subdivisions into quarters, containing 4,000 acres. The allotment of the quarter towns was left to the owners.

 

It was not until 1799 that the surveys were again placed in charge of a special officer, with the title of surveyor-general.

 

General Rufus Putman, of Marietta, was appointed to the place, which he held until the State of Ohio was admitted into the Union. Putnam was a self-taught mathematician, surveyor and engineer, on whom Washington relied for the construction of the lines investing the city of Boston in 1775-1776. He comprehended at once the rectangular system of surveys, and so did the surveyors of the New England States. He served until the State of Ohio was organized in 1803 and was succeeded by Jared Mansfield, of the United States Military Engineers. Both these gentlemen were for their times accomplished mathematicians and engineers.

 

The sale of lands in the seven ranges was so slow, that there was for several years no necessity for additional surveys. At two dollars per acre, and in tracts of not less than a section of 640 acres, the western emigrant could do better in other parts of Ohio and in Kentucky. The purchasers of the Symmes' purchase paid for the entire tract sixty-seven cents per acre. On the Reserve the State of Connecticut offered her lands at fifty cents.

 

In the Virginia military reservation, the whole was available in State warrants that were very cheap. The Ohio Company paid principally in continental certificate.

 

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After 1796 the military bounty land came in competition, which could be had in tracts of 4,000 acres for bounty certificates, issued under the resolutions of 1776 and 1780. In 1795 the Western Reserve was sold in a body at about forty cents per acre. These large blocks covered full half of the State of Ohio.

 

By the act of May 18, 1796, additional surveys were provided for. First: In the district between the Ohio Company and the Scioto river. Here it was found that a correctional meridian was necessary, because of the excess in the sections, abutting on the west line of the company at range fifteen.* The correction was made by establishing a true meridian between ranges seventeen and eighteen with sections of an exact mile square. Between the Ohio river and Hampden, in Vinton county, the correction north and south amounted to a mile. The errors from the variation of the needle were such that quarter sections abutting on the true meridian on the east, were nearly as large as full sections on the west.

 

There are also discrepancies on the north line, of the Ohio Company, especially between Hocking and Perry counties. On the south side the sections overrun in some instances twenty acres. On the north, the government surveys are sometimes short 25 to 28 acres. On the county maps in the Symmes' purchase, the section lines present a singular appearance. Their east and west boundaries are the most irregular, especially, in the later surveys. This difference is due not so much to the compass as the chain, and the allowance for rough ground. Land was of so little value that very little care was given to the accuracy of surveys. Secondly: By the same act, seven ranges were to be surveyed on the Ohio river, next west of the first meridian, now in Indiana; also in the country between this meridian and the great Miami. In both tracts, the towns were numbered from the river northward. Quarter posts were required at each half mile, and the land was offered in half sections, to be divided by the purchaser, the price remaining at two dollars per acre.

 

It was not until after the war of 1812-15, and the conquest of the Indian territory north of Wayne's treaty line, that surveys were ordered in the northwest quarter of Ohio. For this tract a base line was run on or near the forty-first parallel of latitude, corresponding to the south line of the Reserve. The ranges were numbered east from the first meridian, being the west line of Ohio, and the towns numbered north and south from the base. It is seventeen ranges east to the west line of the Reserve, and from the Pennsylvania line twenty-one ranges west, making the breadth of the State about 228 miles.

 

From 1779 to 1785 parties holding Virginia State land warrants located them, on the north side of the Ohio. This was done against the law of Virginia and her cession of 1784. The valley of the Hocking river was occupied as far as Logan when, in the fall of 1785, the claimants were removed by the United States troops. Probably these claims had been surveyed. In the Virginia military tract the private surveys were so loose as to be entirely useless for geographical purposes. In order to fix the Little Miami river on the official maps, an east and west line was run from near Chillicothe through the reservation, connecting the United States surveys from the Scioto river to the Little Miami. According to the present practice there are corrective lines and guide meridians within thirty to fifty miles of each other. The towns and sections are thus made nearly equal by these frequent checks upon errors of chaining, of the variation of the needle, and the convergence of meridians. It was not until 1804 that sales were made in quarter sections, and it was 1820 before the price was fixed at $1.25 per acre, which could be located in half or quarter sections as it has been ever since.

 

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* See line A A of plan.

 

 

 

 

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