Military Tract Article
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THE MILITARY TRACT



A BIT OF EARLY HISTORY OF CORTLAND COUNTY , NEW YORK



 The military tract was defined and set a part by the Legislature of the State of New York in 1782 , bounded as follows:

 All lands situate , lying and being in County of Tryon , bounded on the north by Lake Ontario , the Onondaga River and the Oneida Lake ; on the west by a line drawn from the mouth of the great Sodus Creek through the most westerly inclination of the Seneca Lake ; on the south by an east and west line drawn through the most southernly inclination of the Seneca Lake , on the east by a line drawn from the most westerly boundary of the Oneida or Tuscarora country , on the Oneida Lake , through the most westerly inclination of the west bounds of the Oneida or Tuscarora Country. (See map of Col. Place.)

 The tract contained 1,680,000 acres and embraced within its boundaries the present counties of Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Tompkins and Seneca, and parts of Oswego, Wayne and Schuyler...(A tract of land about the size of Rhode Island and larger than the State of Delaware.)   The Indian title to these lands was extinguished by the treaty of Fort Stanwix, September 12 , 1788...The tract was directed to be surveyed by an act of the Legislature of 1789 into twenty-six townships of one square mile , each to contain one hundred lots of 600 acres.  (Possible error - see note at end of page).

 Townships.––No.1 , Lysander; 2. Hannibal; 3. Cato; 4. Brutus; 5. Camillus; 6. Cicero; 7. Manlius; 8. Aurelius; 9. Marcellus; 10. Pompey; 11. Romulus; 12. Scipio; 13. Sempronius; 14. Tully; 15. Fabius; 16. Ovid; 17. Milton; 18. Locke; 19. Homer; 20. Solon; 21. Hector; 22. Ulysses; 23. Dryden 24. Virgil; 25. Cincinnatus; 26. Junius.
(Note from VLT:   A map showing the layout of these " townships " was included in the article and is included after the complete text)

 In 1791 the commissioners decided by ballot who were the claimants to the bounty lands...Ninety-four persons drew lots in each township...One lot was especially set apart for the promotion of literature and another for the support of the gospel and common schools...The four remaining lots in each township were appropriated to the benefit of certain affairs and to such as had drawn lots partially covered with water.

 In 1792 the twenty-seventh township was surveyed and added , being granted to the hospital department...It was known as Galen.

 In 1796 another township was laid out and numbered twenty-eight , and named Sterling...This addition was made to meet unsatisfied claims for bounty land.


THE STATE'S GRANT.


 The bloody enormities and cruel massacres perpetrated along the frontier of New York by the Tories and Indian allies during the stormy period of our country's history , and more particularly of the years of 1779 and 1780 , and the neglect of several other States to furnish their proportion of troops for the protection of the lives and property of the people , caused the Legislature of 1781 to enact a law requiring the enlistment of "two regiments for the defense of the frontier of New York."   All necessary expenses incurred were to be cancelled by the United States , and the troops were to be employed in the actual service of the country for the "term of three years , unless sooner discharged." The faith of the State was held in pledge for the positive payments for such services...The council of appointment of the State of New York was to commission the field officers and the Governor of the state the captains and subalterns.

 The non-commissioned officers and privates were each to receive in land , as soon as surveyed by the Surveyor-General , as follows: Major General , 5,500 acres ; Brigadier General , 4,500 acres ; Colonel , 2,500 acres ; Lieutenant Colonel , 2,000 acres ; Major , 2,000 acres ; Captain , 1,500 acres ; Regimental Surgeon , 1,500 acres ; Chaplain , 2,000 acres ; Subaltern , 1,000 acres ; Surgeon's Mate , 1,000 acres.


THE NATION'S GRANT.

The United States Congress also granted one hundred acres of land to each of these soldiers as an additional compensation for their valuable services in the defence of their country...Officers of the different grades received larger amounts , according to their commission or rank: Major General , 1,000 acres ; Brigadier General , 900 acres ; Colonel , 500 acres ; Lieutenant Colonel , 450 acres ; Major , 400 acres ; Captain , 300 acres ; Lieutenant , 200 acres ; Ensign , 150 acres ; Private , 100 acres.

The land granted or set apart for the payment of Revolutionary claims in accordance with the act of Congress was located in the state of Ohio...Arrangements were , however , made which enabled the soldier to draw his whole quota of 600 acres in one body in New York , on condition of his having first legally relinquished his claim to the 100 acres in Ohio...If he neglected to relinquish such claim , or to enter upon the Ohio lands , the 100 acres reserved for him in New York reverted to the State and was known as the "State's Hundred." If the soldier gave notice of his election to take the 100 acres in New York , but neglected to pay the State's fee of $8 for survey of the lands , fifty acres reverted to the State and were known as the "Survey Fifty."

To properly locate Cortland County with reference to the military tract it will be necessary to note the development of the political divisions.

Tryon County , above referred to , was organized in 1772 and embraced a large tract in the interior of the State...The name was changed to Montgomery County in 1784 , as some citizens objected to the Tory name of Tryon.

Herkimer County was organized from territory taken from Montgomery County in 1791.

In 1794 Onondaga County was organized , being taken from the western portion of Herkimer County and lying entirely within the military tract.

By the Legislature of 1808 an act was passed forming the county of Cortland out of the southern part of Onondaga County...Cortland County is entirely composed of four whole townships and two half townships of the military tract––Nos.19. Homer ; 20. Solon ; 24. Virgil ; 25. Cincinnatus , and the south half of No.14. Tully , and the south half of No. 15. Fabius.

The act of the Legislature of 1781 was the earliest to grant lands for military service , and it is also the earliest at reserving land for the support of the gospel ministry and schools among the people of the State.

Mrs. C.P. Walrad found a bond among her father's papers describing one piece of land , in Homer , containing ten acres leased to Zenas Lilly by the trustees of the Gospel and School lands for nineteen tears , each year paying the sum of twelve dollars and forty-one cents.

Many of the pioneers of Cortland County were soldiers of the Revolution who drew lots in certain townships in a manner prescribed by law...In spite of the safeguards to protect his title of rights the soldier was often the victim of forgeries and frauds...However , there were enough proved their claims to exert an intensely patriotic spirit on the county's subsequent history.

When Tioughnioga Chapter , of Cortland , N.Y., was formed in 1900 the members began gathering the names of the Revolutionary soldiers buried in the county and planned to erect an enduring monument to their memory...A fine granite boulder was placed upon a plot of ground at the intersection of three principal streets of Cortland City , and surrounded by a substantial iron fence , at a cost of $1,000 , making a restful little park known as "Boulder Place," the Chapter obligating itself to the city for its maintenance.

Two bronze tablets on the reverse side of the boulder record the names of one hundred and four Revolutionary soldiers buried in the county.



Map of Military Tract

Click HERE for a large map suitable for print



Possible error note:
A user contacted me with concerns that this transcript may have factual errors. Although the transcription is identical to the original article, the numbers don't seem to add up. As he explains: " I believe the size of the townships was actually about 100 square miles, not 1 square mile as stated. Based on the total acreage of 1,680,000, there were 2,625 square miles in Tryon, which for 26 townships would be just over 100 square miles each. Figured on 100 lots of 600 acres, a township would come out to be just under 94 square miles, maybe because of water bodies or land set aside for other purposes. "

Transcribed by Acc Jim.
Source: The American Monthly Magazine, April 1912, Volume XL, Number 4, Pages 193-195



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