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LAND TRACTS


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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 24 November 2004

Sources:
The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter III. Explorations - Surveys - Land Grants
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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Explanations of the terms used to designate the various kinds of tracts of land in Warren County, with reference to the difference in the origin of their titles or the mode of transfer to the occupying owners, are here given:

Virginia Military Lands.—These lands lie between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers, and are bounded by the Ohio on the south. The State of Virginia, under the charter granted by King James I, in 1609, claimed all the lands extending 200 miles north and 200 miles south from Point Comfort along the coast, and "up into the land throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest." In 1784, the State of Virginia ceded to the United States the right of soil and jurisdiction of the territory northwest of the Ohio, reserving the lands between the Little Miami and Scioto for the purpose of satisfying the land warrants of the Virginia troops on continental establishment in the Revolution. The land bounties promised by Virginia in her statutes of 1779 and 1780 to her Revolutionary troops who should serve until the close of the war, were liberal, especially to the officers of the higher grades. A private was to receive 200 acres; a non-commissioned officer, 400 acres; a subaltern, 2,000 acres; a Captain, 3,000 acres; a Major, 4,000 acres; a Lieutenant Colonel, 4,500 acres; a Colonel, 5,000 acres; a Brigadier General, 10,000 acres; a Major General, 15,000 acres. The lands south of the Ohio granted for these bounties having been exhausted, on the 1st day of August, 1787, the books were opened for the location of war-

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between the Little Miami and Scioto. A large number of locations were entered on the first day the books were opened, and on that day, one entry was made of land within the present limits of Warren County, viz.: Clement Read's entry of 1,333 acres (No. 399). So rapidly were locations made that 55,000 acres within the present limits of Warren were located before the expiration of the month of August, 1787. The regular surveys of these entries were not made until several years later. The patents for the lands were signed by the President of the United States.

Symmes' Patent. - A brief history of the Miami Purchase has already been given. As finally patented to Symmes and his associates, the tract contained only 311,682 acres, bounded on the south by the Ohio, on the east by the Little Miami, on the west by the Great Miami, and on the north by a parallel of latitude, so run as to comprehend the quantity of land named. The north boundary passes about one mile north of Lebanon. Symmes and his associates had paid the Government for only 248,540 acres, but the township of land for a college, the lands for the support of schools and religion, and other reservations, were included in his patent. The patentee, John Cleves Symmes, was born at Riverhead, on Long Island, in the State of New York, July 21, 1742, and died at Cincinnati January 26, 1814. Having removed to New Jersey, he became a member of Congress and Chief Justice of the State. He was one of the three Judges of the Northwest Territory in whose hands, in connection with the Governor, was vested the government of the Territory. His name should not be confounded with that of John Cleves Symmes, author of the theory that "the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles." The author of this theory, which has been ridiculed in the expression. "Symmes' Hole," was a nephew of the land speculator.

Ministerial Lands. — In both the purchases of the Ohio Company and Symmes, Section 29 in every township of six miles square was reserved for the support of religion. The purchasers of these tracts came from parts of the Union in which it was customary to have a settled support for a clergyman in each town, and they stipulated with Congress for a reservation of land to be set apart for this purpose. In no other parts of Ohio than these two tracts are any such reservations made, nor has the United States Government devoted any portion of the public lands for the support of religion since the adoption of the constitution of the United States. Judge Symmes, in publishing his pamphlet giving the terms of sale and settlement of his purchase, seems to have had the notion that ministers of the Gospel would be permitted to occupy Section 29, and schoolmasters Section 16. There are but three ministerial sections in Warren County. Two of these have been sold under State laws, and the interest on the proceeds of the sale is applied for the benefit of all the religious societies in the townships in which the sections are located. The third section is still leased, and the rent is applied to the support of religious societies in the township in which it is situated.

School Sections.-- Section 16 in each township, or the one-thirty-sixth part of Symmes' Purchase, was reserved for the use of schools in the original contract for this purchase. For the Virginia Military District, which was not laid out into sections, Congress, in 1807, enacted that a quantity of land equal to the one thirty sixth part should be selected from the lands then lately purchased from the Indians, and lying between the Western Reserve and the United States Military District, for the use of schools. The first reservation of Section 16 for the use of schools was made by the Colonial Congress in an ordinance passed May 20, 1785, for the survey and sale of the lands comprehended in the Ohio Company's Purchase. The policy has been continued to the present time, and, in the newer States and Territories, the reservations for schools have been in-

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creased to two sections, or 1,280 acres, in each township of six miles square. In Ohio, where the school sections have been sold, the deeds have been made under authority of the Legislature by the Governor of the State, and the proceeds form a part of the irreducible State school fund.

Military Range,—The third range of townships in Symmes' Purchase, six miles wide and extending from the Great to the Little Miami River, is called the Military Range. In this range are Lebanon, South Lebanon and Union Village in Warren County, and Hamilton, Monroe and Bethany in Butler County. The whole range is probably not excelled in fertility and excellence of soil by any tract of equal extent in the State of Ohio. The fertility of the lands of this range was noticed by Symmes in a letter of an early date written to Gen. Dayton. It is called the Military Range because it was paid for by military land warrants issued by the United States to officers and soldiers for services in the Revolution. In the contract of Symmes with Congress, it was stipulated that United States military land warrants would be taken in payment, acre for acre, provided the aggregate of such payments did not exceed one-seventh of the whole tract purchased. These warrants were at that time of little value. In publishing the terms of sale and settlement of the Miami Purchase, Symmes directed the officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary army who desired to have their land warrants located in his purchase to send their names, rank, regiment and line to Gen. Dayton, at Elizabethtown, N. J., who was appointed to receive applications of this nature. A sufficient quantity of warrants was obtained to cover an entire range, and the third range was selected, and, after Symmes received his patent, he conveyed to Jonathan Dayton this range in trust for the owners of the warrants. The military warrants on which the title to this range rests, paid into the United States Treasury by Gen. Dayton and placed to the credit of Symmes, amounted to $42,897. The titles to all the lands in this range are derived from Gen. Jonathan Dayton, except the school sections, the ministerial sections, and Sections 8, 11 and 26, reserved by Congress for such purposes as should be afterward directed. The larger part of the lands in Warren County comprehended within Symmes' patent lie in the Military Range, and a larger number of deeds from Dayton are to be found in the county land records than from Symmes.

Forfeitures.—In Symmes' plan of sale and settlement of his purchase, it was provided that, in order to avoid the detrimental effects of large tracts whereon no families are settled, every locator of land should, within two years from the time of entering his location, place himself or some other person or persons on the land, or in some station of defense, and begin an improvement on the land located, and continue the improvement for seven years—provided they are not disturbed by the Indians for that period—and failing to do so, he should forfeit the one-sixth part of his land, to be taken off in a square at the northeast corner. The forfeited part was to revert to the Register, who was authorized to grant it to any volunteer settler who should first apply for the same and perform what was required of the original locator. The terms on which titles to these forfeitures could be obtained were stated in Symmes' pamphlet in confused and indefinite phraseology, and a large number of suits of ejectment were brought against the occupants of the forfeitures. Judge Burnet says that for the first ten years of his practice at Cincinnati, one-half of the ejectment cases in which he was employed arose on forfeiture titles. Popular feeling was in favor of the volunteer settler who made the improvement, and, if he could make out a plausible case, he was most likely to succeed.

In January, 1795, Judge Symmes gave notice in the Centinel of the Northwestern Territory, published at Cincinnati, that, as deeds will soon be given to those citizens in the Miami Purchase who have paid for their sections or frac-

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lions of sections of land, it is "incumbent on all who have entered forfeitures below the military or third range of townships, if they wish to save their forfeitures, to begin their improvements thereon as soon as possible. It being now required that every owner of a forfeiture below said military or third range fence and clear, in a proper manner, and plant with corn and duly cultivate two acres of laud in the course of the next season, otherwise, it will be considered as a dereliction and relinquishment of the claim."

Congress Lands.—All the lands of Warren County west of the Little Miami and north of Symmes' patent may be called Congress lands; that is, lands sold to purchasers by the officers of the General Government, under laws enacted by Congress from time to time. It was not until April, 1801, that these lands could be purchased from the United States in quantities as small as a half-section, or 320 acres, and there were no settlers on the lands west of the Great Miami, except a few squatters, and no improvements made until after that date. The price fixed by Congress for the public lands at this time was $2 per acre.

Pre-empted Lands.—Symmes had sold large quantities of land between the Miami Rivers north of the line which marked the northern boundary of his patent For these lands he was unable to secure a patent from the Government, and consequently could not grant titles to those who had purchased from him. A large number of persons within the present limits of Warren and Butler Counties, and, indeed, as far north as Dayton, were thus left in the unhappy condition of having contracted for lands for which they could not obtain deeds. Some had paid for their lands in full; others in part; many had expended considerable time and labor in improving them. The towns of Franklin, Waynesville and Dayton had been laid out on lands thus purchased, and all over the tract were many clearings and settlements commenced. The claims of these persons were presented to Congress. An act was promptly passed which secured to all persons who had made written contracts with Symmes for lands which did not lie within his patent a preference over all others at $2 per acre. Other pre emption acts were passed which enabled a number of worthy persons to complete their payments, and save the titles to their lands with the improvements they had made thereon.


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