Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Northwest Territory AKA Ohio

Anyone who has ancestors who lived in British North America before the America Revolution has a good chance of finding relatives who lived in Ohio just before the end of the 18th century. However, what today is the State of Ohio was called the Northwest Territory of the River Ohio.

Also, known as the Northwest Territory, this region was established in 1787. The territory included all of the land in the current states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. The Northwest Territory ceased to exist in 1803 when the State of Ohio was created. The land not included in the State of Ohio became known as the Indiana Territory.

Following the Revolutionary War, the new United States government was cash poor but became land rich as it acquired land to the west that the British government had preserved for the aborigine populations, i. e., Indians. Some of this land was part of the Northwest Territory. The Federal government saw an opportunity to raise revenue by selling land in this area.

Much of today's Ohio was surveyed around 1785 to provide saleable lots. In addition to lots that could be purchased, lots could be exchanged for Military Bounty Land Warrants. During the Revolutionary War, the patriot government had little money to pay the military personnel fighting in the war. The pay situation was no better at the conclusion of the war.

Soldiers were offered the land warrants in lieu of pay. The holder of the warrant could exchange the warrant for land patents, primarily in the Northwest Territory in what is Ohio today. Not all people who were given the land warrants exercised them, because for some it was more advantageous to sell them to another who then exchanged the warrant for land.

Because the warrants could be transferred to another either by gift or by sale, you cannot conclude that your ancestor who settled in Ohio at conclusion of the war actually fought as a patriot.

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