FRENCH AND ENGLISH TRADERS.
The mouth of the Cuyahoga, was a point of too much consequence among the Indians, not to bring traders here at a very early day. Between 1700 and 1750, the French extended their forts and trading posts, to all points on the waters of the lakes and of the Ohio river. In the last named year they had a fort at Sandusky, and in 1755 a trading house on the Cuyahoga, opposite the mouth of Tinker's creek.
James Smith, of Pennsylvania, spent the winter of 1755-6 on the "Cayahoga," not as a trader, but as a prisoner among the Delawares. He left a narrative of his captivity, in which the country watered by the Cuyahoga, the Black, and the Kilbuck rivers, is fully described. From 1760 to 1764, Mary Campbell, a young girl captured in Pennsylvania, lived on this river, most of the time near the foot of the falls, at the forks below Akron.
After the British took possession in 1760, French and English traders continued together,
to traffic with the Indians on the waters of lake Erie. No doubt a post was kept up, at some point or points on the river during a large part of the eighteenth century, but such establishments are so slight and temporary, that they are seldom noticed in history. A trading house is a very transient affair. A small log cabin covered with bark, constituted all of what is designated as an establishment. If the Indian customers remove, the trader follows them; abandons his cabin, and constructs another at a more convenient place. Within a year the deserted hut is burned to the ground, and all that remains is a vacancy of an acre or two in the forest, covered with grass, weeds, briers and bushes.
In 1786 a lively trade in furs is known to have been carried on here. Of the energetic half civilized men, who for so many generations carried on this business, we know personally nothing ; except in regard to Joseph Du Shattar and some of his companions. Mr. Ebenezer Merry, of Milan, Huron County, Ohio, in 1842 had a conversation with Judge S.A. Abbey, in which he stated that he had known Du Shattar. He had from a youth been in the employ of the North -West Fur Company, along this lake. The mouth of the Cuyahoga and Sandusky, were principal points. About 1790 he married Mary Pornay, at Detroit, and commenced trading on his own account. He had a post nine miles up the river, which is probably the one whose remains have been observed in Brooklyn, opposite Newburg.
Here his second child was born in 1794. John Baptiste Flemming and Joseph Burrall were with him a part of the time. While he was at Sandusky one of his voyageurs, by the name of Beaulieau appropriated the wife of an Indian. This proceeding and the continued presence of fire-water gave rise to frequent quarrels. Their establishment at Sandusky was attacked by the Indians, in order to rescue Beaulieu's squaw, and many goods were seized. The remainder were saved by a compromise effected with rum.
On the Cuyahoga, a fight occurred with the Indians in reference to a rifle. The Indians attacked them at another time, intending to capture their spirits, to obtain which they will risk whatever they possess. Some of the savages were killed on the lake shore about ten miles below Grand River. Du Shattar was living in 1812, and assisted in capturing John O'Mic and Semo, on Locust Point, the murderers of Michael Gibbs and Daniel Buell at Pipe creek, near Sandusky.
THE MORAVIANS IN CUYAHOGA COUNTY.
Those who escaped alive from the slaughter of the Pennsylvanians, under Col. Williamson, located themselves around Sandusky. But although they were here among their kindred, the Delawares, they were not in a place of safety. The Indians threatened and annoyed them, until at last they appealed to Col. Depuyster, the British commandant at Detroit. He treated the missionaries and their converts with humanity. This gentleman made great efforts to soften the ill will of their savage enemies. The praying Indians remained near Detroit during four years. They built a village on the Huron river of Michigan, which was called New Gnadenhutten. I May, 1786, they determined to plant a "settlement on the Cuyahoga river, within the limits of this county. The officer in command at Detroit procured two small vessels, the Beaver and the Mackinaw, to bring them, their provisions and other luggage to this place.
They left New Gnadenhutten because the Chippewas were dissatisfied at seeing them on the Huron. With their usual bad luck, after they were near enough to have a view of the mouth of the Cuyahoga, a violent storm drove them back to the islands opposite Sandusky. It was now one month since they had embarked at Detroit, and they were not more than half way to their destination. Two of the missionaries, Youngman and Senseman, had left New Gnadenhutten in May, 1785, so that the responsibility of directing their affairs remained with Zeisberger and Heckewelder.
The North-Western Fur Company, to whom the vessels belonged, could spare them no longer, and sent orders for the Beaver to return. It was barely possible to crowd the weak, the sick and the young, with the heavy luggage into the Mackinaw. The others were landed in the woods on the shore opposite Sandusky bay. From thence they straggled along, crossing the bay in a very destitute condition. Those who were healthy and strong, whether men or women, took the great trail along the Lake Shore on foot, led on by their brother Zeisberger. For those who could not travel by land, canoes were built, and Brother Heckewelder embarked with them on the 7th of June. Both parties reached the Cuyahoga on the same day. The schooner Mackinaw had also been here, and had landed their blankets, mats and other property, including some provisions.
Congress had ordered five hundred bushels of corn for their support, but it never came. A firm by the name of Duncan, Wilson & Co.; of Pittsburgh, were engaged in furnishing supplies to the Indians of Lake Erie. They had flour in store on the west side of the river, and had the liberality to relieve the immediate wants of this distressed company. They immediately proceeded up the river. The site of their mission was on the east bank of the Cuyahoga, a short distance below the mouth of Tinker's creek, to which they gave the name of Pilgerruh, or the "Pilgrim's Rest." Near it there had been a village of Ottawas, where some ground had been cleared. This they planted with corn. On the 13th of August they celebrated the Lord's Supper. In the mouth of October their village was so far completed, as to furnish comfortable lodging for the coming winter. Mr. Heckewelder then left the community, whose numbers at this time I cannot ascertain, and started for the old station at Bethlehem, Pa. A brother by the name of Wm. Edwards, had arrived at the Pilgrim's Rest, who remained with Zeisberger during the winter.
Their chapel was completed and consecrated on the 10th of November. It was never their design to remain permanently at Pilgerruh.
Their rich lands in the more genial valley of the Muskingum, were ever present to their future home.
But they were not destined to see those pleasant fields, to drink the sweet waters of the spring at Sochoenbrunn, or to weep over the bones of their slaughtered companions; until after more trials, and after painful and distant wanderings.
The majority of the Delawares were still their enemies. At Sandusky they had friends enough, however, to keep them advised of the designs of their pagan brethren. A Delaware chief sent them word, privately, that they would be wise not to go to the Muskingum.
General Butler, who was the Indian agent at Pittsburgh, also advised them to remain at Pilgerruh. Captain Pipe, a noted chief of the Delawares, desired them to come and settle at the mouth of the Huron river, a place which was known by the name of "Petquotting."
One of the Moravian writers and missionaries, by the name of Loskiel, speaking of the dilemma they were now in, remarks that the "missionaries were not concerned as to their own safety. If that alone had been the point in question, they would not have hesitated a moment to return to the Muskingum. But they dare not bring the congregation committed to their care, into so dreadful and dangerous a situation."
They resolved to abandon the project of a return, and after celebrating Lent and Easter at Pilgerruh in the spring of 1787, they prepared to remove to the mouth of Black river.
Their last service on the banks of the Cuyahoga, is said to have been an occasion of deep religious interest. Their hearts were full of devotion and of gratitude, notwithstanding the dangerous by which they were surrounded.
On the 19th of April, the last prayer was heard in their chapel at the "Pilgrim's Rest," which was no sooner concluded than they set forward.
One part descended the river in canoes, and coasting westward, reached the mouth of Black river. Another party proceed on foot to the same place, with which they were well pleased, and had hopes that the unconverted Indians would suffer them to remain in peace.
They had enjoyed this expectation only three days, when a peremptory came to them from the principal chiefs of the Delawares, to proceed forthwith to Sandusky.
This band of simple, patient and harassed children of the woods, decided at once to obey, looking with confidence to heaven for protection.
The praying Indians of Ohio, whom the United brethren of Moravia had induced to separate from their savage neighbors, had the misfortune to be suspected by all parties. Those Americans who constituted the frontier men of the West, living at the verge of the settlements in Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania, regarded the Moravians as secretly leagued with the French, and after the Revolution, with the English.
This was the cause of the massacre on the Muskingum, in March 1782. On the other side, the north-western tribes of Indians including those of Ohio, who were in league with the British, regarded the praying Indians as no better than Whites. It was this feeling that led the Delawares, a tribe to whom many of Zeisberger's band belonged, to keep a strict watch over them. They stood in constant dread of the chiefs of their own tribe. They were afraid to return to the Muskingum, because it displeased the Delawares and other nations, and thus lived daily expectation of persecutions. It was not an unexpected event, therefore, when they were ordered away from Black river, after they had left the Cuyahoga. Only three days were they permitted to remain there, supplying themselves with fish, which they speared in the river, by torch light. They then felt compelled to enter their canoes and remove to Petquotting, at the mouth of the Huron river. As they passed along near the shore, vegetation began to show the influence of spring. The buds upon the trees of this dense forest, were expanding into miniature leaves; grass, flowers and rank herbage were springing up under the shade of their branches. But the mind of these wanderers, was in sad contrast with the peace and beauty of the scene. They were full of apprehension. The message of the Delawares was couched in dominant and angry terms. There were with them two young men,
by the name of Michael Young and John Weygand, vainly endeavoring to support their timid souls, as they entered the Huron river, and tied their canoes to the shore at Petquotting. This must have been about the first of May, 1787, the message of the Delawares having been delivered on the 27th of April. By the 11th of May, they had erected huts. giving to their new residence the name of New Salem. On the first of June, they had built a chapel, and celebrated the Lord's supper in it. In the winter of 1789-90, a powerful league was formed among the north-western Indians against the United States. The Moravians were required to join it, and as they were suspected by their Pagan brethren, it was determined at their council fire, that they should be removed to the interior, near Fort Wayne, which was then called Keyequash. In their distress they again applied to the commandant at Detroit, who being touched by their demeanor and their helplessness, again gave them relief. He sent a vessel to the mouth of the Huron river, in April, 1790, and selecting a place on the river Thames in Canada, transported them thither.
To this settlement they gave the name of Fairfield, where they remained in safety during the Indian was under Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne. In the year 1797, when their reverend father, Zeisberger, had attained the age of seventy-seven years, their lands on the Muskingum were surveyed,
and patented to them by the United States. It seemed that all obstacles were now removed, to their return to their desired home in Ohio. A part of the band returned there in the spring of 1798. They found, after an absence of sixteen years, nothing but the ruins of their houses, weedy and deserted fields, and the graves of their kindred. Some remained at Fairfield, in Canada. In 1804, a part of them returned to New Salem, on the Huron river. On the Muskingum, they rebuilt the villages of Gnadenhutten, Salem and Schoenbrunn, and established a new settlement, under the name of Goshen. The faithful old Zeisberger died in the year 1808, but at this time his grave cannot be identified. As the country adjacent became more populous with whites, the converted Indians, and probably their white neighbors, thought it best for them to abandon their settlements. The United States purchased their lands and improvements on the 4th of August, 1823, and they returned to Canada, where some of them still survive. The grave yard at Goshen was reserved from sale, also ten acres around the church at Beersheba, together with the parsonage, church lot and grave yard, at Gnadenhutten. Thus terminated the Moravian settlements in Ohio, after a precarious and painful existence of sixty years.
In the mouth of April, 1788, while Zeisberger and his congregation were at Petquotting, the first settlement of whites was founded in Ohio, at the mouth of the Muskingum.
As these emigrants were from the land of churches, they considered religious services to be an essential part of the new colony. They brought with them the Rev. David Breck, and afterwards the Rev. Daniel Story, who, under the Rev. Manasseh Cutler, formed a church at Marietta. In the fall of the same year, a settlement was made at Columbia, near Cincinnati, and a Baptist church was established there in 1790, under the charge of the Rev. Daniel Gano. These congregations worshiped God, as the Pilgrims had done before them, with arms in their hands, surrounded by savages, whose minds were filled with wonder and revenge. During the second year of the settlement at Cleveland, (1797,) the Rev. Seth Hart held the position of General Agent and Chaplain, for the Connecticut Land Company on the Reserve. He has left no evidence of his spiritual efforts, and according to tradition, he was not a very zealous laborer in the vineyard of Christ. In this part of Ohio, the first regular dispensation of gospel truth occurred in Youngstown, in September, 1799, under the Rev. William Wick, of the Presbyterian persuasion. A church was organized there the next year, during the last months of which the Rev. Jos. Badger arrived as a missionary from Connecticut, to the settlements on the Western Reserve. From this period, being the commencement of the present century, the history of Wick, Badger, Robbins, and
the other pioneer ministers who planted Christianity throughout the Reserve, is within the reach of all.
As the labors, privations, and even names of these early teachers are forgotten, I append a list of them here:
ORIGIN OF TITLE.
To those outside of the legal profession, nothing is more uninteresting than discussions upon titles. But the subject is too important to be omitted. In regard to the permanent prosperity of a country, a good system of land titles, is of no less consequence than a good government.
On the Western Reserve, although the system is simple, the history of its origin is somewhat complicated. A thorough exposition would of itself occupy a small volume. I can only present the outlines.
England claimed the North American continent by discovery, in virtue of the voyages of John and Sebastian Cabot, along its eastern coast. The Pope assumed to grant to Spain, a large part of America, but the other powers, paid very little attention to the title of his Holiness; as it was wholly without foundation. By the practice of civilized nations, which constitutes the law of nations; discovery and possession, make up the title to unoccupied countries. In determining the limits of possession under the law of nations,
constructive occupation was allowed, whereby the party who held the mouth of a river took the country which is drained by it.
Thus Spain, by the explorations of De Narvaez, and De Soto, on the Gulf of Mexico ; became possessed of the country of the Apalachicola, Mobile, Pearl, and Mississippi rivers, early in the 16th century.
She soon lost a large part of this territory, by the failure of continuous possession, and the French taking advantage of her neglect, extended their occupation over it. Coming in by way of the St. Lawrence in 1535, and fixing themselves there in 1603, they pushed forward in every direction.
In 1660 they reached the west end of Lake Superior ; in 1673 they were on the upper Mississippi, and on the 7th of April, 1682, La Salle arrived at its mouth.
The English had frequently tried to dislodge them, by negotiation and by force, but without success. By the year 1749, French military posts had entirely surrounded the English colonies. They were continually contracting the inner cordon of their forts, until they were brought in immediate contact, with the frontier positions of the British Crown. The French then held the Bay of Funday, Fort Cohasset on the Connecticut, and Crown Point on Lake Champlain.
They held Oswego, Niagara, Fort Erie, opposite Buffalo, Presque Isle(Erie, Pa.), the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. This dangerous proximity brought on the old French war of 1754. Before appealing to arms, the French offered a boundary, commencing on the Gulf of Mexico, at the mouth of the Apalachicola, thence up the same to its source. From its head waters the dividing line between the English and French colonies, was to follow the crest of the Allegheny mountains; to the sources of the Susquehanna; and thence to Crown Point, and the Bay of Funday.
As a counter proposition, the English offered to accept the line of the Allegheny mountains, as far as the eastern branches of the Ohio; diverging thence to their junction at Pittsburgh; up the Allegheny river, and French creek to Presque Isle, on lake Erie; and thence along the shore, through lake Ontario, the outlet of lake Champlain, and the sources of the Atlantic rivers. This being refused, the war was begun; which in 1760, ended in the conquest by the English, of all the French possessions, east of the Mississippi, except the island of Orleans.
With the Indians, the French policy was quite different from that of the English, and the Americans. The French did not ask for territory, except as tenants of so much as might be necessary for temporary cultivation, around their forts. Their treaties were made to secure peace and traffic.
The French have little taste for colonizing new countries,
for the purpose or permanent cultivation. But whatever rights the French had in the Indian country, became English ; by conquest, secured by the treaty of February 13, 1763; and as the Indians were their allies, they stood in the position of a conquered people.
Between the colonies and the crown, there arose at once the question of title, to the lands beyond the Alleghenies; included in all the colonial charters.
The Sovereigns of England not only made grants in this country or immense extent, for very trifling considerations, covering many times over the same territory; but they claimed the power to amend, alter, and annual previous patents, a power which was frequently exercised.
Virginia at first included a large part or North America: from latitude thirty-four to latitude forty-eight north, thence west and north-west to the Great South Sea; which was at that time a geographical myth. While the Pilgrim fathers were on the sea, in search of a new home; where they could be exempt from religious persecution; James the First, king of England, on the 3d of November, 1630, divided Old Virginia; constituting a northern and a southern colony; under the names of the "London" and "Plymouth" companies. The charter of the Plymouth company, is tediously verbose, granting to forty favorites of the crown mostly nobles; the country between latitude 40 and 48 degrees north,
stretching indefinitely, to the mythical South Sea, on the west. This territory was forever to be called "New England." It covered the Dutch settlement on Hudson river, and subsequent grants to the Duke of York, now constituting the State of New York; most of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada and the north-western States.
The "Council of Plymouth" was made a corporation, with most extensive political and personal privileges; on condition of rendering to the king, one-fourth part of all the gold and silver that might be discovered. They had exclusive rights of trade, free of duty, except as to imports to England. It was made a heinous crime to speak evil of "New England" or the corporators. The object of the grants are set forth in these words: "The principal effect which we can desire or expect of this action is the conversion or reduction of the people in those parts to the true worship of God and christian religion."
In 1630, the Council of Plymouth, sitting in the county of Devon, England, granted to Robert, Earl of Warwick, its President; "All that part of New England, in America, which lies and extends itself from a river there called Narragansett river, the space of forty leagues upon a straight line near the sea shore, towards south-west, west and by south, or west, as the coast lieth, towards Virginia, accounting three English miles to the league, all and singular,
the lands and hereditaments whatsoever, lying and being within the bounds aforesaid, north and south in latitude and breadth, and in length and longitude, and within all the breadth aforesaid throughout all the main lands there, from the western ocean to the South Seas." What lands were meant by this description, or what were not included in it, constituted the legal puzzle of a century and a half.
On the 19th of March, 1631, Earl Robert conveyed the same premises "more or less," to Viscount Say And Seal Brook, and his associates, which is called the "Patent of Connecticut." It is under this patent she claimed a large part of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and from which her claim to the Western Reserve is derived. The limits of Connecticut north and south were finally determined to be the forty-first parallel, and the parallel of forty-two degrees and two minutes north. As doubts were entertained of the validity of Warwick's patent, to found a political government ; and the colony of Massachusetts encroached upon that of Connecticut, recourse was had to King Charles the Second, who granted a most ample charter on the 23d of April, 1662, which was also fixed the northern boundary.
Lord Say and Seal was still living, and a fast friend of the Puritans. He was also in power at court, and in favor with Charles Second. John Winthrop the Governor, who was sent to England to procure this charter,
had in his possession a ring; which once belonged to Charles the First. This was presented to the King, delighting his royal heart exceedingly. Whatever they desired was put into the charter, which served as a constitution, until after the United States became independent of Great Britain-[Trumbull's History of Connecticut.]
The charter of the "London Company," covering a large part of North America, had been annulled by judicial process in 1624. The subsequent grant to the Duke of York, extended across the St. Lawrence indefinitely to the north-west. Connecticut and Massachusetts, under the charter of the Plymouth Company, reached to the Great South Sea.
After the Peace of Paris, and before the revolution, the Indians made grants of territory to Great Britain, embracing parts of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as these colonies were then described. They had much reason to claim, that having borne much of the expense, and furnished a large part of the soldiers. to carry on the war with the French and Indians, the lands thus wrested from their enemies, should be confirmed to them. Whether under the law of nations, the King had a right to grant them territory, which lay beyond the rivers emptying into the Atlantic, he now held this disputed country by a good title, and they insisted that he was bound to make good his ancient promises. The Crown took a different view.
In the fall of 1763, all the colonist were excluded from lands beyond the mountains, by royal proclamation.
Before the French war, the "Ohio Land Company" had been formed, with extensive grants in Ohio and West Virginia. The colony or Virginia had issued bounty land warrants, to her soldiers who fought against the French. As she claimed under the almost limitless charter of the London Company, the holders of these warrants had a roving commission, to plant themselves at will in the western country. These bold soldiers paid little heed to the King's proclamation, or to the savages, who protested fiercely against their intrusions. Even Washington came to the great Kenhawa and located his warrants. Projects for land companies and settlements, in the valley of the Ohio, were being vigorously prosecuted, when the war of the revolution broke out. When it closed, all the rights which the English government possessed, either from French or Indian conquest, were transferred by the same right of the conqueror, and by treaty, to the United States.
Immediately after the peace of 1783, the American Congress took measures to obtain cessions of Indian lands. Their commissioners, beginning at Fort Stanwix in 1784, afterwards at Fort McIntosh, Fort Harmar, and other points on the Ohio, in 1785-6, concluded what are called treaties, with the Six Nations and many western tribes.
In these negotiations, although matters had the appearance of bargain and sale, a certain amount of goods and money, for a given quantity of land, the terms were those of a conqueror, dictating to the vanquished. The Indians had fought with the British, against us, as they had with the French, against the English. Victory placed them again in position of a conquered people. These treaties were not those of parties, equal under the law of nations, but were articles of settlement at the conclusion of a war. The Indians always regarded them as stipulations made under duress, to be kept no longer than they were obliged to do so by force.
They had learned under British rule, that the government would permit no sales by them to other parties. They had been guarantied by the British crown, a permanent home, west of the Alleghenies; into which the white men had been forbidden to enter. This was done in good faith by the British authorities, but the issue of war had abrogated her authority; a war to which the Indians were parties.
The possession of the soil is evidently due to those who will cultivate it. The earth was not intended as a mere hunting ground for the savage. By his mode of life, he requires about six miles square to support a family. He draws his subsistence from the spontaneous production of nature, always exhausting and never adding any thing to her resources.
Of course the earth cannot in this way fulfil its destiny, and support the increasing millions that are incessantly appearing upon it. In 1736 all the savages, with which the Jesuit Missionaries were acquainted, on the waters of the lakes and of the Mississippi, did not exceed 80,000. Within the limits of Ohio, there were probably more Indians about the time of the Revolution, than ever before. By Capt. Hutchins' estimate, made in 1787, there were not of them to exceed 7,000 souls. The whole number, would not have made a city of the second class, as fixed by our statues.
The old difficulty between the colonies and the crown, revived immediately after the revolution, between the same parties as States, and the confederation of the United States of America. All the old questions of boundary, came up anew. New York, at an early day, consented to liberal curtailment of her claims. The pressure of the war, the wisdom, forbearance and patriotism of those times, and the financial difficulties which oppressed the nation, all conspired to make the discussion temperate, and finally secured a happy result. Congress held the Indian grants. Some States had no indefinite western boundary, on which to found a claim. These had, like the others, sent their citizens into the field, and supported them there. Like the colonies in the French war, they had acquired a moral right to a portion of the proceeds of the conquest.
The discussion continued from the formation of the confederation, until the year 1800, before everything connected with the western lands was adjusted.
Connecticut, having been ousted of her pretensions in Pennsylvania, was tenacious of her claims to the west of that State. By her deed of September 14, 1786, she limited herself to a tract, about as large as Old Connecticut, in the north-eastern part of Ohio, commonly called the "Western Reserve." To this as to all other western lands, the title was eventually made sure by compromise; the United States refusing to consider the comparative value of the conflicting claims of the States.
In addition to the relinquishment of 1786, a farther compact was made between the State and the Government, by which Connecticut, in 1800, relinquished to the United States, all claim of political jurisdiction, and the latter confirmed to her the title to the soil.
That personal enterprise which is engendered by wars, expends itself in the United States, upon the new territories. The provincial soldiers of the old French war, and of the campaign under Col. Bouquet, 1764, were the men who became the pioneers on the waters of the Ohio. Very soon after the Revolution, our immediate ancestors began to look westward. Their courage did not allow them to fear their red enemies. Wars are not wholly without compensation.
It required precisely such characters, as the impoverished soldiers of the Revolution, to conquer the western wilds. Men who had never been toughened by the exposures and dangers of the camp, would not relish such undertakings. Perhaps many of these, would not have sought after fortune in such remote regions, had not the war left them with nothing but their physical strength, ambition and courage. The rich wilderness which they had seen, had been conquered by their exertions. It was therefore in accordance with a fearless spirit, coupled with necessity; that they entered upon the dangerous task of subduing the western wilderness.
In 1788 the settlement of Ohio was commenced, by an association of New England soldiers. During the next year a purchase of three millions of acres, was made in western New York, through the agency of Benjamin Gorham and Oliver Phelps; embracing the rich lands which border upon Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes.
In Ohio the most accessible portion lies adjacent to the Ohio River, where the first lodgments were made, at Marietta and Cincinnati.
For thirty years, rude highways had been in existence over the ridges of the Allegheny mountains, made by Braddock and Forbes, to the forks of the Ohio, at Pittsburg. From thence, in boats, they could float onward with the stream. The settlements, following the impulse of the old French war, had passed the crests of those mountains, and already occupied some of the valleys of the streams.
The northern route to Ohio was more difficult. The entire breadth of the State of New York must be penetrated, mostly by a land route, through a country not broken by mountains, but by marshes, lakes and streams, more impracticable than mountains. It required a few years more time, for them to reach the northern borders of this State.
Settlers had forced their way as far west as Canandaigua. A horse trail had been opened along the old Indian trail to lake Erie, at Buffalo, when the project of occupying this portion of the State was set on foot. Oliver Phelps, of Connecticut, the partner of Gorham, of Massachusetts, in the New York purchase, was disposed to strike still deeper into the western country.
On the 14th of September, 1786, the State of Connecticut made a deed of cession, whereby she released to the United States; all right, title, interest jurisdiction and claim, which she had north of the forty-first parallel, and west of a meridian to be run at a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, west of the west line of Pennsylvania; extending north to the parallel of forty-two degrees and two minutes.
The State of Connecticut made no disposition of the territory, between the Pennsylvania line and the meridian referred to, lying between forty-two degrees two minutes, and forty-one degrees.
It was thus reserved to herself, from which it received the title of the "Connecticut Western Reserve." All the States, having claims to the territory north-west of the Ohio; having relinquished their claims, except to the Reserve; the United States proceeded to establish a government over it, and passed the famous "Ordinance of 1787."
As the State of Connecticut, had never relinquished her claim to the Western Reserve, she considered such an extension of jurisdiction, to be in violation of her rights. She very soon after, provided for the sale of her reserved lands in this region.
As claims of the several States, to western lands under their conflicting grants, and the mode of settlement are fully set forth in the Land Laws of the United States; I notice them only incidentally here.
In October, 1786, that State had passed a resolution, authorizing a committee of three persons, to sell that part, which lies east of the Cuyahoga river and the old portage path; by townships of six miles square. The price was limited to three shillings currency per acre, which is equal to fifty cents in Federal money. Six ranges of townships were to be surveyed, lying next to the Pennsylvania line; to be numbered from Lake Erie southward, and not less than twenty-seven dollars in specie, was to be paid per township to defray the expenses of survey.
Five hundred acres of land in each township, was reserved for the support of the gospel ministry; and five hundred acres for the support of schools.
The first minister who settled in a township, was entitled to two hundred and forty acres. Until a republican government should be established, the general Assembly, undertook to provide for the preservation of peace and good order among the settlers.
At their session in May 1787, some alterations were made, in the manner of surveying and numbering the townships, and the mode of making conveyances.
No attempt was made to execute the surveys. A sale was made however, to General Samuel H. Parsons, of Middletown, of a tract embracing twenty-four thousand acres, afterwards known as the "Salt Spring Tract," in Trumbull county. This patent was executed by the Governor and Secretary, February 10, 1788. [Hon. T. D. Webb.] It is described by ranges and townships, as though the lines had been run and marked upon the ground. General Parsons had explored the country, and found the location of the well known Salt Spring, near the Mahoning river, which was considered very valuable. This spring is laid down by Evans, on his map of 1755. The Pennsylvanians had recourse to it during the revolution, and cabins had been erected there. In 1785, Col. Brodhead, commanding the troops at Fort Pitt, had orders to dispossess them, and did so.
The Indians soon burned the cabins they had erected. General Parsons, was appointed one of the Judges in the north-western Territory, but was drowned in the fall of 1788, at the falls of Beaver river. Considerable quantities of salt had been made by Indians and traders before the settlement, and for a number of years after, its manufacture was continued by the pioneers.
General Parsons was the only purchaser from the State, until the Connecticut Land Company was organized, giving him the choice of lands east of the Cuyahoga. The description in his patent is as follows: "Beginning at the north-east corner of the first township in the third range; thence northerly, on the west line of the second range, to forty-one degrees and twelve minutes of north latitude; thence west, three miles; thence southerly, parallel to the west line of Pennsylvania, two miles and one half, thence west, three miles, to the west line of said third range; thence southerly, parallel to the west line of Pennsylvania, to the north line of the first township in the third range; thence east to the first bound." [Leonard Case.]
Although no surveys were made, General Parsons proceeded to make sales and deeds, of undivided portions, to various parties. His patent was recorded in the office of the Secretary of State, at Hartford, but the United States having organized the county of Washington,
embracing this tract, it was again recorded at Marietta, as were many of the deeds made by him. Afterwards, when the conflicting claims of the State and the federal government were harmonized, as doubts remained in regard to the validity of Washington county, north of the 41st parallel, they were recorded again at Warren, in the county of Trumbull. No taxes were effectually imposed upon the inhabitants of the Reserve, until after the organization of Trumbull county. Before that time, the settlers were left in a state of nature, so far as civil government was concerned. They were once disturbed by the authority of the United States, at the time when they were supposed to be included in Jefferson County.
Zenas Kimberly made his appearance in this region, to enquire into the matter of taxation. As they did not acknowledge the jurisdiction of the United States, he was by ridicule and laughter, until he concluded to leave them.
[T. D. Webb.]
In May, 1792, the Legislature of Connecticut granted to those of her citizens, who had suffered by depredations of the British, during the revolution, half a million of acres, to be taken off the west end of the Reserve, exclusive of the Islands. As no one except Parsons had purchased lands under the resolutions of 1786-7, a new mode of
disposing of her western lands adopted, in May, 1795.
Numerous parties entered the field as purchasers. Under the last resolution, a committee of eight citizens, representing each county in the State; was empowered to sell, three millions of acres; next west of the Pennsylvania line, at a price not less than one million of dollars being a third of a dollar per acre. The names of the committee were
John Treadwell James Wadsworth,
Marvin Wait, William Edmond,
Thomas Grosvenor, Aaron Austin,
Eilijah Hubbard, Sylvester Gilbert.
Speculation in wild lands had already become epidemic in New England. Benjamin Gorham and Oliver Phelps had sold their New York purchase to Robert Livingston, of Philadelphia, who transferred it to a company in Holland, by which the tract was afterwards known as the "Holland Purchase."
The committee, and the several adventurers, spent the summer of 1795 in negotiations. General Wayne's successful movements, through the Indians that the United States intended to occupy Ohio, whoever might oppose. The purchasers, were, notwithstanding; required to take all risks of title and possession. Another condition was imposed upon
the committee; which required them to dispose of the entire three million of acres, before concluding a sale of any part of it.
John Livingston and others were in the field as competitors of the Connecticut men, but were induced to accept for their share, the supposed surplus, a million or more acres.
On the 2d of September, 1795, the bargain was concluded. A sufficient number of individuals had presented themselves, willing to take the entire tract at the sum of one million two hundred thousand dollars; whose names, and their respective proportions are here given:
The committee of eight, immediately made deeds to these purchasers, of as many twelve hundred thousandths in common, of the entire tract, as they had subscribed dollars on the above list. These deeds and the subsequent drafts were recorded in the office of the Secretary of State, at Hartford; and afterwards transferred to the Records office at Warren. They are very lengthy, reciting the substance of the resolution, and the mode of sale to the grantees. It does not appear that any part of the consideration was paid in hand. [T.D. Webb.]
For further reading: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History