Clinton Co., OHGenWeb


Chapter IV- Ante-Pioneer Days

[Chapter III] - [Return To Beer's Index] - [Chapter V - Part I]


DECEMBER 20, 1783, the State of Virginia authorized its delegates to make a deed to the United States of all its right in the territory northwest of the Ohio River, upon condition that the territory so ceded should " be laid out and formed into States, containing a suitable extent of territory, not less than 100 nor more than 150 miles square, or as near thereto as circumstances will admit; and that the States so formed shall be distinct Republican States and admitted members of the Federal Union, having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence as the other States."

These were only a part of the conditions. Among others were the following: " That the French and Canadian inhabitants and other settlers of the Kaskaskies, St. Vincents, and the neighboring villages, who have professed themselves citizens of Virginia, shall have their possessions and titles confirmed to them and be protected in the enjoyment of their rights and liberties. That a quantity, not exceeding 150,000 acres, of land, promised by this State, shall be allowed and granted to then Colonel, now General, George Rogers Clark, and to the officers and soldiers of his regiment who marched with him when the posts of Kaskaskies and St. Vincents were reduced, and to the officers and soldiers that have since been incorporated into the said regiment, to be laid off in one tract, the length of which not to exceed double the breadth, in such place, on the northwest side of the Ohio, as a majority of the officers shall choose, and to be afterward divided among the said officers and soldiers in due proportion, according to the laws of Virginia. That in case the quantity of good land on the southeast side of the Ohio, upon the waters of the Cumberland River, and between the Green River and the Tennessee River, which have been reserved by law for the Virginia troops upon continental establishment, should, from the North Carolina line bearing in farther upon the Cumberland lands than was expected, prove insufficient for their legal bounties, the deficiency should be made up to the said troops in good lands, to be laid off between the Rivers Scioto and Little Miami, on the northwest side of the River Ohio, in such proportions as have been engaged to them by the laws of Virginia. That all the lands within the territory so ceded to the United States, and not reserved for or appropriated to any of the before mentioned purposes, or disposed of in bounties to the officers and soldiers of the American Army, shall be considered a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as have become, or shall become, members of the Confederation or Federal Alliance of the said States, Virginia included, according to their usual respective proportions in the general charge and expenditure, and shall be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever."

In agreement with these conditions, a deed was made March 1, 1784 The number of soldiers in the Virginia continental line proved to be 1,124. The tract reserved for them between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers became known as the "Virginia Military Tract."

In 1783, the Continental Line chose Col. Richard C. Anderson Principal Surveyor on their behalf, and concluded a contract with him December 17 in that year. July 211, 1784, he opened an office at Louisville, Ky., but no entries were made north of the Ohio until August 1, 1787.
The first work done in what is now Clinton County by a deputy surveyor was by Gen. Nathaniel Massie, whose name appears in 1792 and a number of subsequent years. Others were John Obannon, 1794, Wm. Lytle, 1795; John Beasley, 1796; James Galloway, 1804; William Barlow, 1802; James Taylor, 1813; Walter Dun, 1820; Allen Latham, 1822; Cadwallader Wallace, 1822; E. P. Kendrick, 1833; A. D. Kendrick, 1847. These, with the exception of Walter Dun, all appear to have been employed on surveys through a number of years each, and probably the names of Nathaniel Massie and John Obannon are most frequently found on the records.

The following is the record of the first entry made in the territory now comprising the county of Clinton: "No. 550, August 4, 1787. Richard C. Anderson and Mayo Carrington enter 4,000 acres of land on Military Warrant, No. 856, on the waters of the Little Miami, beginning three miles southeast of Col. Logan's encampment, in October, 1786, when a man deserted from him; running southwest 400 poles, and, from the beginning northeast 400 poles; thence at right angles southeast from each end of this line for quantity."

In the same record, page 58, is the survey, as follows: "Surveyed for Richard Clough Anderson and Mayo Carrington 2,000 acres of land, on part of a military warrant No. 856, on the waters of the Little Miami, beginning at a sugar tree, ash and black oak, running s. 45 w. 400 poles to three sugar trees; thence s. 45 e. 800 poles, crossing a small creek at 500 poles, to a black oak, sugar tree and sassafras; thence n. 45 e. 400 poles, crossing a creek at 38 and at 200 poles to two sugar trees and a sassafras ; thence n. 45 w. 800 poles, crossing a branch at 70, and the creek at 300 poles, to the beginning.
ANDREW POTTER, C.C. March 3, 1794.
CHARLES PIGMAN, June 23, 1794.

Although this tract was the first one entered in the county, it was not the first surveyed, as Nathaniel Massie had made several surveys in 1792-93. Several entries were made August 6, 1787, being as follows, all on the "lower side of Caesar's Creek:" No. 567, by Clement Biddle, Assignee, 9651 acres; No. 569, by Archibald Blair, heir, 1,000 acres; No. 570, by John Anderson, 1,000 acres; No. 571, by Albert Gallatin, Assignee, 766 2/3 acres; No. 557, by Col. Abram Buford, 1,000 acres; No. 583, by Isaac Webb, 1,000 acres; No. 625, by Thomas Finn, 1,500 acres. The entire number of entries made in the Clinton County portion of the tract, during the month of August, 1787, was 116.

Gen. Horatio Gates had for his share of the Virginia Military Tract, 12,500 acres, which he sold to his son-in-law, Dr. James Murray, who deeded to settlers such quantities of land as they chose to purchase, at the rate of "seven quarter dollars per acre."

Murray's deeds are as follows:

  • December 3, 1803, John McGregor, 200 acres, Survey 1,632.
  • December 3, 1803, James Magee, 250 acres, Survey 1,632.
  • December 12, 1803, Joseph Carter, 100 acres, Survey 1,559.
  • December 12, 1803, Robert Eachus, 160 acres. Survey 1,558.
  • December 13, 1803, John Vestal, 690 acres, Survey 1,559.
  • December 13, 1803, James Moon, Survey 1,558.
  • December 13, 1803, Isaac Perkins, 67 acres. Survey 1,558.
  • December 13, 1803, James Odle, 159 acres, Survey 1 558.
  • December 19, 1803, Layton Jay, 50 acres, Survey 1,558.
  • December 17, 1803, Jacob Haines, 125 acres, Survey 1,558.
  • December 15, 1803, Center Meeting-House, 15 acres, Survey 1,558.
  • December 19, 1803, Thomas Perking, Survey 1,558.
  • January 19, 1805, Solomon Stanbrough, 140 acres, Survey 1,558.
  • January 19, 1807, Samuel Stanton, 100 acres, Survey 1,558.
  • August 5, 1809, Mahlon Farquhar, 175 acres, Survey 2,231.
  • August 5, 1809, William Mendenhall, 170 acres, Survey 1,554.
  • August 5, 1805, Nathan Linton, 122 1/2 acres, Survey 2,231.
  • June 8, 1805, Mordecai Mendenhall, 146 acres, Survey 1, 554.
  • December 17, 1806, Israel Wright, 517 acres, Survey 1,554.
  • February 7, 1805, Nathan Hines, 94 acres, Survey 2,248.
  • February 7, 1805, George Phillips, 200 acres, Survey 2,232.
  • August 5, 1809, Frances Hester, 82 acres, Survey 2,248.
  • February 4, 1812, John Ballard, 75 acres, Survey 1,557.
  • February 5, 1809, Daniel Linton, 100 acres, Survey 2,248.
  • December 21, 1809, David Ballard, 122 3/4 acres, Survey 1,556.
  • December 21, 1809, Hur Hodgson, 100 acres, Survey 2,248.
  • August 5, 1809, Enoch Ballard, 110 acres, Survey 2,248.
  • July 4, 1807, Enoch Wickersham, 200 acres, Survey 2,232.
  • July 12, 1808, Daniel Hodgson, 117 1/2, acres, Survey 2 2,248.
  • July 12, 1808, Jonathan Hodgson, 118 acres, Survey, 2,848.
  • December 26,1806, Jacob Haines, 111 acres.
  • January 26, 1807, Benjamin Farquhar, 100 acres, Survey 1,554.
  • August 5, 1809, John Hadley, 250 acres, Survey 2,231.
  • September 20, 1824, Ezekiel Leonard, 107 1/4 acres, Survey 2,248.

Any person holding a warrant for land in the Virginia Military Tract had the privilege of locating it in such place and such shape in the district as he chose, provided he did not encroach on previous locations. Consequently, surveys were made in all conceivable shapes, with no system whatever, and the confusion and after litigation occasioned were not surprising. The only limitation in shape was that which by a Virginia statute required the breadth of each survey to be at least one-third its length in every part, unless the breadth was restricted by mountains, water-courses or previous locations. Because of this lack of system, there were numerous interferences and encroachments of one land entry upon another, and there is at the present time great difficulty in the matter of tracing titles to these lands.

The difficulties and dangers encountered by the early surveyors can hardly be understood by the people of the present generation, but so great were they that in the Virginia Military Tract a large portion of the tillable land in the entry-one-fourth, one-third or one-half-was often paid the surveyor for his labor. Not only here, but throughout all the lands of the West, the surveys were made principally in the winter, there being then less danger from the Indians, who were 1n their winter quarters. Surveying with deep snow on the ground and in the midst of heavy forests was not especially conducive to accuracy, and, in the case of the "Congress lands," as they are many blunders were made which were only discovered when the snows had melted and the face of the country was in full view. Glen. Nathaniel Massie was the most extensive surveyor and land speculator in Ohio in his time, and was usually accompanied by three assistant surveyors, with each of whom were six men. Great caution was observed in their movements. The hunter went ahead looking for game and keeping a sharp watch for Indians; the surveyor, two chainmen and a marker followed; the man with packhorse and baggage came next, and some distance in the rear was a watchman, following on the trail and guarding against an attack from that direction. From John McDonald's Life of Gen. Massie, the following extract is quoted: [See History of Warren County, Ohio, page 228. ]

"During the winter of 1794-95, Massie prepared a party to enter largely into the surveying business. Nathaniel Beasley, John Beasley and Peter Lee were employed as the assistant surveyors. The party set off from Manchester, well equipped, to prosecute their business, or, should an occasion offer, give battle to the Indians. They took the route of Logan's trace and proceeded to a place called the Deserted Camp, on Todd's Fork of the Little Miami
At this point, they commenced surveying, and surveyed large portions of land on Todd's Fork and up the Miami to the Chillicothe town, thence up Massie's Creek and Car's Creek early to their heads. By the time the party had progressed thus far, winter had set in. The ground was covered with a sheet of snow from six to ten inches deep. During the tour, which continued upward of thirty days, the party had no bread. For the first two weeks, a pint of flour was distributed to each mess once a day, to mix with the soup in which meat had been. boiled. When night came, four fires were made for cooking, that is, one for each mess. Around these fires, till sleeping time arrived, the company spent their time in the most social glee, singing songs and telling stories. When danger was not apparent or immediate, they were as merry a set of men as ever assembled. Resting time arriving, Massie always gave the signal, and the whole party would then leave their comfortable fires, carrying with them their blankets, their firearms and their little baggage, walking in perfect silence two or three hundred yards from their fires. They would then scrape away the snow and huddle down together for the night. Each mess formed one bed; they would spread down on the ground one-half of the blankets, reserving the other half for covering. The covering blankets were fastened together by skewers, to prevent them from slipping apart. Thus prepared, the whole party crouched down together, with their rifles in their arms and their pouches under their heads for pillows; lying spoon-fashion, with three heads one way and four the other, their feet extending to about the middle of their bodies. When one turned, the whole mess turned, or else the close range would be broken and the cold let in. In this way they lay till broad daylight, no noise and scarce a whisper being uttered during the night. When it was perfectly light, Massie would call up two of the men in whom he had most confidence and send them to reconnoiter and make a circuit around the fires, lest an ambuscade might be formed by the Indians to destroy the party as they returned to the fires. This was an invariable custom in every variety of weather. Self-preservation required this circumspection. Some time after this, while surveying on Caesar's Creek, his men attacked a party of Indians, and the savages broke and fled. After the defeat of the Indians by Wayne, the surveyors were not interrupted by the Indians: but on one of their excursions, still remembered as `the starving tour,' the whole party, consisting of twenty-eight men, suffered extremely in a driving snow storm for about four days. They were in a wilderness, exposed to this severe storm, without hut, tent or covering, and, what. was still more appalling, without provision and without any road or even track to retreat on, and were nearly one hundred miles from any place of shelter. On the third day of the storm, they luckily killed two wild turkeys, which were boiled and divided into twenty-eight parts and devoured with great avidity, head, feet, entrails and all."

In Symmes' Purchase, between the two Miami Rivers, the territory was laid out into ranges, townships and sections, something after the system of the present Government surveys, but in a manner which was defective. The sections were numbered from south to north, beginning at the southeast corner of each township. West of the Great Miami the surveys were made on the plan now in use by the Government, which is the most complete and convenient of all. Section 16 in each Government township, or one-thirty-sixth part of part of the townships in the Symmes' Purchase, was reserved for school uses. In 1801, Congress enacted that a quantity of land equal to one-thirty-sixth of the Virginia Military Tract should be selected for school purposes from the lands, lately purchased from the Indians and lying between the Western Reserve and the United States Military District. By an ordinance passed May 20, 1785, Congress provided for the reservation of Section 18 for the use of schools, and the policy has since been adhered to; the deeds of these lands in Ohio have been made under authority of the Legislature, by the Governor, and the proceeds form part of the Irreducible State School Fund.