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Ohio Company Purchase

  • PLSS

On July 23, 1787, Congress authorized the Board of Treasury to contract with the Ohio Company for the sale of 1,500,000 acres of land west of the Old Seven Ranges tract. The Ohio Company was not able to afford the tract that it asked for, thus the amount of land actually contained within the boundaries of the purchase was 1,128,168 acres. Congress defined the boundaries of the purchase as lands lying west of the Seven Ranges, north of the Ohio River, east of the sixteenth range, and extending as far north as required to secure the agreed-upon acreage. This tract came to be known as the Ohio Company Purchase.

The Ohio Company was ordered to survey the purchased lands as per the Land Ordinance of 1785, continuing the range numbering started in the Old Seven Ranges, and numbering townships northward from the Ohio River. However, per the Ohio Company's plan each of the 822 shareholders were to receive 1,173.37 acres of land within the purchased tract. This would not be possible by adhering to the 1785 ordinance. So, the tract was divided into survey townships as shown in the viewer above, but from there, seven different types of subdivision were used: 640-acre section, 262-acre lot or fraction, 160-acre lot, 100-acre lot, 8-acre lot, 3-acre lot, and house lots which were 0.37 acres. Each shareholder would receive one type of subdivision listed above, in theory totalling 1,173.37 acres. To make matters more confusing, some townships were sold whole, and thus subdivisions were left up to the purchasers. Additionally, sections along the Hocking River were frequently subdivided into "River Lots" or "Shoestring Lots" of approximately 53.3-acres. For an example of the discussed subdivisions within the Ohio Company Purchase, please view this figure of York and Dover Townships.

In addition to the acreage purchased from the federal government, Congress, in an act passed on April 21st, 1792, granted President George Washington the authority to donate a 100,000-acre tract of land to the Ohio Company to serve as a buffer zone between the valuable river lands on the Ohio River and Native American territory to the north. Land in the Donation Tract was to be given out in 100-acre parcels or lots to male settlers at least 18 years of age that were willing to settle on the land within 5 years of the passage of the act. A group of pioneers would be given an "allotment," and within that allotment 100-acre lots were drawn (although settlers could make 100-acres out of multiple smaller parcels) and numbered sequentially until the allotment was full. This method of subdivision within the Donation Tract is shown on the referenced plate.

The Ohio Company’s Purchase included all or part of the modern day counties of: Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton, and Washington. No field notes are known to exist for the original survey plats in this tract. The Ohio Company was not required to file plats with the Board of Treasury.