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Summer 2003
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 3   No. 3


Bounty Lands in Ohio

Virginia was the original owner of much of the state we know as Ohio. There were overlapping claims from several of the original 13 colonies for parts of Ohio, including a substantial area claimed by Connecticut. In 1784, Thomas Jefferson proposed that land in the unsettled area between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River be surveyed using a new system that would divide the land into square tracts. This new method, which would become known as the federal or township system, would avoid the drawbacks of the old metes and bounds system of land division used in most of the 13 colonies. Jefferson's system was adopted after some modifications by Congress as the Land Ordinance of 1785 (a Land Ordinance passed by Congress in 1796 changed the township numbering system, but left Jefferson's system otherwise intact).

Ohio was the site of two districts in which bounty land was offered to veterans of the American Revolution. The first was the Virginia Military District. In 1784, Virginia relinquished its claim to land in this area in exchange for the right to make bounty land grants to Virginia veterans of the Revolutionary War. Once this land was surveyed, the district was opened for settlement in 1794. Virginia continued to make land grants until 1803, when Ohio became a state.

Ohio was also the site of the U.S. Military District (sometimes called the Congressional Military District). Land in this area was used to award bounty land to veterans of the Revolutionary War from any colony. Grants of federal land to veterans varied depending on the veteran's highest rank held. Privates received 100 acres. Because later bounty land grants in other wars gave privates 160 acres, many Revolutionary War veterans or their heirs received a later supplementary grant of land (not in Ohio) to make up the difference. Persons awarded bounty land could either settle a claim themselves or assign their claim to someone else (possibly a friend or relative, but usually a speculator who bought the veteran's bounty land warrant). There was initially a minimum purchase of land necessary in this district, which led to increased speculation in bounty land warrants. Land entries in this district ended in 1832.

An area known as the Connecticut Western Reserve was used to satisfy the state of Connecticut's claims of land ownership in Ohio. Part of Connecticut's Western Reserve was called the Fire Lands (or Sufferers Lands) and was used to award land to persons from Connecticut whose homes or farms had been damaged by British raids during the Revolutionary War.

Ohio's quest for statehood was boosted by the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. This ordinance created the Northwest Territory and spelled out the steps necessary before the territory could petition for statehood.

The Ohio Land Office opened in 1800 and began selling available public land to settlers in areas not previously reserved for other uses.

A Little Trivia…

The nicknames that we are familiar with are sometimes different than those our ancestors used. Here are a few of the more unusual female nicknames that were common way back when…

Sarah – Sally

Elizabeth – Betsy, Bess, Bessie

Caroline – Caddie

Dorothy – Dolly

Frances – Fannie (Remember, Frances with an "E" is a woman- Francis with an "I" is a man.)

Florence – Flossie

Harriett – Hattie

Mary – Molly or Polly

Margaret – Peggy

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