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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Warren County Took Butler Land, And Gave Back To Clinton County

Dallas Bogan on 23 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 65
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Warren County was established by an act of the first General Assembly of the State of Ohio, passed March 24, 1803. Out of the large territory of Hamilton County, as it then existed, Warren, Butler and Montgomery Counties were formed by one act, and by the same act the County of Greene was formed out of Hamilton and Ross.
Warren County contains nearly exactly 400 square miles. Originally this county contained no territory west of the Great Miami.
After Clinton was formed (1810) it was found to contain less than 400 square miles (both Ohio Constitutions provided that no new county was to contain less than 400 square miles).
In 1815, the Legislature took 11 square miles, being a strip along the eastern boundary (Eaton Township), from Warren and added it to Clinton, and at the same time detached from Butler a small tract west of the Great Miami and attached it to Warren. This gave to both Clinton and Warren the area of 400 square miles that was constitutionally called for.
Virginia, in 1784, gave up her rights of the western territory to the General Government. This opened up the lands for future purchases.
John Cleves Symmes, an ex-member of Congress and Chief Justice of the State of New Jersey, applied for purchase rights of the lands between the two Miami Rivers. This tract originally called for a total of 2,000,000 acres, but when his contract was made to Congress this amount was reduced to 1,000,000 acres. It was then found that there were only approximately 600,000 acres from the head of the Miami Rivers to the mouth. The monetary exchange was only for about half of that acreage; consequently Symmes received a deed for only 311,682 acres.
The northern boundary of Symmes Purchase runs along an east/west line, passing from a point on the Little Miami, a short distance from Oregonia (Freeport/Oregon), to the Great Miami River, about three miles below downtown Middletown (it closely follows Todhunter Road in Butler County). This line parallels an east/west course aligned with Emmons Road for a short distance, and also the line follows closely the Monroe Road line in Lebanon.
Thus, the line north of this was later called Congress Lands and sold for $2.00 per acre and Symmes bought the line below this for 66 2/3 cents per acre. This acquisition was called the Symmes or Miami Purchase. The price to be paid for this tract was payable in certificates of debt due from the United States.
How the price came to be fixed at 66 2/3 cents per acre is explained by the fact that the Government estimated the value of the lands at one dollar per acre, but as they were to be sold in very large tracts, one-third of the price was to be deducted for poor land and land covered by water.
The Symmes Purchase contained more good land than any other tract of the same scope in the State. In the prospectus of the terms of the sale and settlement of his purchase, issued at Trenton N.J., November 25, 1787, Symmes announced that after May 1, 1788, the price of land would be $1.00 an acre, and, after November 1, 1788, still higher. Symmes exceeded his patent authority by selling lands that he had no deeds to. His unauthorized sales extended past the line, which was surveyed one-mile north of Lebanon. Waynesville, Franklin, Middletown and Dayton were included in this area.
The first deed for land in Warren County recorded at Cincinnati was from John Cleves Symmes to Moses Kitchel of Morris County, N.J., for an entire section (640 acres) in Deerfield Township, near Kings Mills. It was dated April 10, 1795, and the consideration for the 640 acres was $425 "in certificates of debt due from the United States." This was exactly the price Symmes had paid the Government, two-thirds of a dollar per acre, payable in certificates of greatly depreciated value.
The first land entry recorded in the Military Lands in Warren County was an entry recorded in the name of Clement Read. Read had his choice of all the lands in the County east of the Little Miami. This land chosen extends along the river about a mile and a half above Corwin. In describing the land, its estimated distance below Old Chillicothe (Old Town) in Greene County is given. Also, reference is made to the road cut by General George Rogers Clark in his expedition against the Indians in 1780, and also to an old sugar camp of the Indians on the land entered.
There were 122 surveys made in Warren County, many of which were made as late as 1831 or 1832. The surveys listed in this county are as such: Nathaniel Massie, 57; Gen. Wm. Lytle, 38; James Galloway, Jr., 6; John O'Bannon, 3; Duncan McArthur, 1; and the remaining 17 were made by various surveyors at a later date.
William Beedle at Beedle's Station made the first permanent settlements in Warren County, five miles west of Lebanon, in September 1795, and by William Mounts at Mounts Station along the Little Miami River near Stubb's Mills Road. Mr. Beedle did not get his deed until November 13, 1795. The money consideration is not given, but it is believed he purchased one section (640 acres) upon which he settled for $250.
Major Benjamin Stites, the founder of Columbia, now a part of Cincinnati, owned some 10,000 acres in scattered sections, chiefly in the eastern halves of Union and Turtlecreek Townships.
Samuel Manning was one of the earliest settlers on lands east of Lebanon, coming here about 1796. He purchased of Benjamin Stites the half-section (320 acres) on which is now the northeast part of Lebanon, paying $320 for the half-section, or $1.00 per acre.
Mathias Corwin, father of Governor Thomas Corwin, and John Osborn purchased the half section east of Manning's, each paying Stites the same price. Corwin paid $100 for the northeast quarter and Osborn $100 for the southeast quarter. This was a little less than two-thirds of a dollar per acre.
A little later Captain John Tharp purchased the half-section of which is the southeast quarter of Lebanon, which includes Harmon Park and the County Home farm, paying $1,000 for the 320 acres, or a little over $3.00 per acre.
Jeremiah Morrow received deeds from Symmes at three different dates, the price advancing with the time: in 1800, for 210 acres at $1.50 per acre; in 1803, 212 acres at $3 per acre; in 1805, for 90 acres at $4 per acre.
On February 3, 1796, Samuel Heighway, Reverend John Smith and Dr. Evan Banes contracted for the purchase of 30,000 acres on the Little Miami about the site of Waynesville. The contract was made with Judge Symmes and the purchase price was $1.25 per acre, but only one thousand dollars was to be paid in money, the remainder in certificates of indebtedness due the United States, so that the price of the whole tract the speculators expected to pay did not exceed 25 cents per acre.
Heighway and the other two purchasers were equal partners and each was to reserve for himself 3,000 acres for his own use, as Heighway agreed to advance the first 2,000 pounds of the purchase money as soon as Congress should demand the payment, he was to have the first choice in selecting his 3,000 acres.
The settlement of Waynesville did not begin until March 1797, more than a year after the contract for the purchase was signed. At this time Heighway asked $2.00 an acre for land outside the town and $6.00 for a town lot, the purchaser agreeing to build a house in a certain time.
As Judge Symmes failed to obtain from the Government a patent for the lands north of the Monroe Road line in Lebanon, as described earlier, his contract for their sale was voided.
The first owners of land about Waynesville obtained deeds not from Symmes, but from the United States Government and the price paid were probably in no case less than $2.00 per acre.
The towns of Franklin, Dayton and Waynesville were all laid out on lands, which Symmes had contracted to sell but for which he was never able to give deeds.
Heighway and his associates were involved in lawsuits concerning their lands, which continued for several years, and their speculation it seems was not a profitable one.
Some later Wayne Township land prices were: In 1803, Nathaniel Massie deeded to Ezekiel Cleaver 135 acres for $404.75; John Overton to Abijah O'Neall, 621 acres in Griffin's surv ey for $1,255; in 1805.
Benjamin Anderson to Abijah O'Neall, 1,000 acres on Caesar's Creek, for $2,000; in 1807, Thomas Posey to Jonathon Wright, 298 1/2 acres in Survey 1056, for $297; in 1807, Abijah O'Neall to Robert Millhouse, 210 acres on Caesar's Creek, for $72.10.
William Smalley made the first settlement on Todd's Fork above its mouth in 1797. He had been a hunter and guide for surveying parties and had traversed the whole region. He selected for himself a fine tract in Warren County near the Clinton County line. In 1801, he received a deed from General Lytle for 600 acres of excellent land, the purchase price being only $200. In 1806, he sold to his brother, Benjamin, 100 acres of this tract for $300.
Ten years later after the organization of the county, or about 1813, several hundred acres of good land in the neighborhood of Hopkinsville, and not far from the state road, were purchased at $1 per acre, while land of the same quality on the same road, west of the river, would bring six dollars an acre.
As was stated earlier, all the lands west of the Little Miami and north of Symmes Purchase were called Congress Lands and were sold to purchasers at public land offices. The uniform price fixed by Congress for all public lands, without regard to quality, was $2 per acre. Not until 1821 was the price of Government lands lowered to $1.25 per acre.

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