The Connecticut Western Reserve Lands (Western Reserve, the Reserve, New Connecticut) are found in 14 northeastern Ohio counties. The Western Reserve started at the Pennsylvania-Ohio line and extended 120 miles westward to the present Seneca and Sandusky County lines. It is bordered on the north by Lake Erie, and on the south by the parallel of the 41st degree North Latitude.
Connecticut claimed this land under an English Charter issued in 1662 by King Charles II. Reserved by Connecticut in its September 13, 1786 Deed of Cession, the Western Reserve contains approximately 3,366,921 acres (5260 + square miles) including the Fire Lands. Connecticut released its jurisdictional claim to this land by a Deed of Cession to the United States of America on May 30, 1800.
The Western Reserve, with the exception of the Fire Lands, was sold by the state of Connecticut for $1,200,000 to the Connecticut Land Company by 35 quitclaim deeds dated September 2, 1795. The Connecticut Land Company consisted of 48 persons who, individually or in groups, pledged money to acquire the land. Each individual or group being the grantee (buyer) of as many as 1,200 thousandths, in common and undivided, of that part of the Connecticut Western Reserve as each had subscribed dollars to the purchase price. For example, the quitclaim deed to Moses Cleaveland was for 32,600 twelve hundred thousandths.
Starting in 1798, the Connecticut Land Company divided the land into shares called drafts which were drawn for by its members at the companys office in Hartford. The value of the shares varied depending upon the year of the drawing. For example, in 1807, 46 shares (drafts) of land west of the Cuyahoga River were drawn. The value of each share was $26,087.
On March 2, 1801, President John Adams issued a U.S. patent for the Connecticut Western Reserve lands. This U.S. patent was conveyed to Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of the State of Connecticut, and his successors, as well as for the use of the persons holding and claiming the Western Reserve Lands through deeds given by the state.
Indian title to the Western Reserve lands lying east of the Cuyahoga River, was extinguished by the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, January 21, 1785, and confirmed by the Treaty of Greenville, August 3, 1795. The lands West of the Cuyahoga River were given up by the Treaty of Fort Industry, July 4, 1805.
In 1796, the Connecticut Land Company decided to subdivide their purchase into five-mile-square surveying townships. Surveying townships bordering Lake Erie do not contain the full 16,000 acres because of the irregular coastline. The interior subdivisions of the surveying townships were irregularly subdivided by the purchaser into tracts and lots of various sizes and land quantity. For example, the civil township of Brooklyn, in Cuyahoga County, contains 90 lots, while Madison Township, Geauga County, contains tracts subdivided into lots of various shapes and sizes.
The State of Ohio Archives does not have original records relating to the Connecticut Western Reserve lands. However, researchers can contact the Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Street, Hartford, Conn. 06115. The library has records relating to the Connecticut Land Company, Western Reserve Deeds, 1800-1807; Registrar of Certificates, Mortgages 1796-1800; Register of Deed Transfer, 1795-1807; Proceedings and Votes and Stock Ledgers. The Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield, Conn. 06759, has the original Connecticut Land Company proceedings. The Trumbull County Recorder, Warren, Ohio 44481, has deeds recorded in Western Reserve Draft Book, pages five to 73, inclusive.
Other sources of information include county records and the extensive collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.