History of the Connecticut Western Reserve

The early history of Northeastern Ohio, known as New Connecticut or the Connecticut Western Reserve, is one of the most interesting histories recorded. The general area was explored and perhaps occupied by the French in the 1600�s and early 1700�s. The English entered the area in battle against the French for control of the western lands in the late 1750�s and early 1760�s. England defeated the French at Fort DuQuesne (Pittsburgh), Quebec, and Niagara and thereby established her right over the lands of the Western Reserve.

At the time of the Revolutionary War, pioneers primarily from Virginia, had established themselves west of the Alleghenies principally in Kentucky. The Revolutionary War was primarily a war between the thirteen colonies and England, without regard to the western lands held by England. George Rogers Clark, a Virginian, who settled in Kentucky, convinced the Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry, of the necessity of obtaining independence for the western lands at the same time the colonies were struggling for their independence. George Rogers Clark feared that without our army west of the Alleghenies, should the colonies obtain their freedom, it would only extend to the mountains.

Rogers was commissioned by Patrick Henry, in the name of Virginia, to capture the military ports held by the British in the Northwest.

Rogers enlisted seven companies of pioneers and defeated the British. Virginia thereby claimed the territory including the lands of the Western Reserve. At the Treaty of Peace at Paris in 1783, England insisted that the Ohio River was the boundary of the United States. The colonies sustained their claim to the northwest land on the basis that Virginia was in undisputed possession at the close of the Revolutionary War.

Although Virginia claimed the lands in the Western Reserve, New York claimed the land by her charter of 1614 granted by the King of England, Pennsylvania by the charter granted to William Penn in 1664, and Connecticut by her charter granted in 1662. All the royal charters granted land claims to the colonies westward to the mythical "South Sea." The Indian nations also claimed these same lands.

It became evident that the only way to open up the Northwest for settlement would be for the States to grant their claims to the United States. Virginia gave up all her rights to the land and Pennsylvania and New York agreed on western boundaries and released the remaining lands to the federal congress. In 1786 Connecticut agreed to give up her claim to the portion of the land which crossed New York and Pennsylvania and the remaining land to the west except for that portion lying between the parallels forty-one degrees and forty-two degrees two minutes and a line 120 miles west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania and parallels with it.

A treaty was made with the Indians at Fort McIntosh (Beaver, PA) in 1785, which granted the Indian claims on the land in the Western Reserve, east of the Cuyahoga River, to the United States. However, this was not a lasting treaty. Spurred on by both British and Spanish agents, savage and bloody wars ensued until the Indians were defeated and a new treaty at Greenville was concluded in 1795 which again confirmed the Treaty of Fort McIntosh. With this, the settlement of New Connecticut was assured.

In 1792, the Connecticut legislature granted 500,000 acres of the western portion of New Connecticut to those of her citizens whose property had been burned by the British during the war. These lands were called the "Fire Lands."

On the 5th of September, 1795, Connecticut sold the remaining three million acres of land to John Caldwell, Jonathan Brace, and John Morgan, trustees for the Connecticut Land Company, for one million two hundred thousand dollars, or at the rate of forty cents an acre. The Connecticut Land Company decided to extinguish all Indian title to the west of the Cuyahoga River and survey the land into townships five miles square.

Moses Cleaveland was selected to head a surveying party of about fifty people. Cleaveland landed at Conneaut Creek on July 4, 1795. Surveying was completed the following year and the Western Reserve was ready for settlement.

Above information from the 1976 book
Thompson Ohio Bicentennial Community