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United States Military District (USMD)

  • PLSS

In 1796, Congress passed legislation that created the United States Military District (USMD) in central Ohio. The USMD is approximately 2.5 million acres of land bounded on by the Greenville Treaty Line in the north, by the Seven Ranges in the east, by the Refugee Tract and Congress lands in the south, and by the Scioto River in the west. Congress created the district to satisfy outstanding military warrants that had been issued to veterans in lieu of money for their services during the Revolution. Military warrants were doled out to American patriots that enlisted as follows: 1,100 acres for Major General, 850 acres for Brigadier General, 500 acres for Colonel, 450 acres for Lieutenant Colonel, 400 acres for Major, 300 acres for Captain, 200 acres for Lieutenant, 150 acres for Ensign, and regular soldiers who recieved either 50 or 100 acres. In order to best account for the sizes of the military warrants, Congress had the tract surveyed into five-mile-square townships. Townships were run north of the south line of the USMD tract, which is considered to be this survey's principal base line. Fractional quarter-townships run along the north and western borders of the USMD tract due to the bearing of the Greenville Treaty Line and the meandering of the Scioto River. Ranges were numbered east to west, starting at the west line of Range 7 in the Old Seven Ranges survey and terminating at the east bank of the Scioto River. The USMD encompasses all or part of the modern day Ohio counties of: Franklin, Delaware, Knox, Licking, Morrow, Noble, Marion, Holmes, Coshocton, Muskingham, Tuscarawas, and Guernsey.

The Military District contains three 4,000-acre Moravian tracts excepted from the PLSS system of survey. The Moravians had settled in the area as early as 1761, in what is modern day Tuscarawas county, for the purposes of bringing the teachings of the Gospel to the Indians living in the area. By 1780, three Moravian missions had been established: near present day New Philadelphia (Schoenbrunn), at Gnadenhutten, and at Salem on the Tuscarawas River. These tracts are approximately equal to a USMD quarter-township. Congress allowed the inhabitants to conform subdivisional land lines to existing structures and improvements already existing in the tracts. In this manner, the Moravian tracts parallel the indiscriminate subdivisions of townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve. The townsite of Gnadenhutten is one of the four towns laid out by the National Government in Ohio.