Connecticut State Library with state seal

Research Guide to Connecticut's "Western Lands" or "Western Reserve"

According to Albert E. Van Dusen in Connecticut (New York: Random House, 1961):

"The part of Ohio most intimately associated with Connecticut is the Western Reserve. When Connecticut yielded her claims to any Pennsylvania land by a deed of cession to Congress in 1786 [see Susquehanna Settlers], the state specifically 'reserved' a strip of land bordering upon Lake Erie and Pennsylvania, 120 miles wide from east to west.... Congress accepted this reservation, and the area ... was governed by Connecticut until 1800." (p. 199)

Van Dusen further states that the land was sold by Connecticut to venture capitalists in 1795 for $1,200,000. This group then organized the Connecticut Land Company. The "purchasers and associates" did not necessarily move to the reserve but hired agents to sell the land to those persons wishing to migrate. An initial party, led by Moses Cleaveland, reached the site of what is now Cleveland, Ohio, in 1796. Soon, so many Connecticut residents moved to this northeastern section of present-day Ohio that it was soon called "New Connecticut." Today, the area is still reminiscent of New England, especially in its architecture. Toward the end of the Revolutionary War, Connecticut set aside land at the west end of the Western Reserve to compensate those who had suffered from British raids; it became known as the Firelands.

This listings that follow are not intended to be exhaustive but highlight a large cross-section of our holdings on the Western Reserve.

Classified Manuscripts and Archival Materials
Holdings in the State Archives include the original Connecticut Land Company Records, 1794-1808 (the company being made up of the purchasers of Western Reserve lands), along with many other original manuscript materials pertaining to the Western Reserve lands. However, these records are, for the most part, not indexed and the library staff does not search them. Researchers may access these materials by visiting our facility and obtaining an archives pass; for information about this process, please see the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections. Individuals who are unable to visit our institution personally may wish to contact a professional researcher who would be able to search these records for a fee; a list of professional genealogists familiar with Connecticut State Library collections is made available for your convenience.

Connecticut Land Company. Account of "money advanced in trade" by the "New Connecticut Land Company". Gives the names of the owners of land and amounts, evidently figured according to the number of acres they owned in the Western Reserve. [no date]. 20 pages. [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 C767m]

Connecticut Land Company. Articles of association, votes, and proceedings, September 5, 1795-December 13, 1797. Photostat copy of the original volume in the possession of the Litchfield Historical Society. 127 pages. [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 C767L]

Connecticut Land Company. Papers relating to the Connecticut Land Company, consisting of correspondence of Gideon Granger, Jr.; Uriel Holmes, Jr.; Oliver Phelps; Oliver L. Phelps; Clara Root; David Root; and Ephraim Root concerning financial affairs, land transfers, and Western Reserve, 1792-1823. 618 documents. [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 C767p]

Connecticut Land Company. Perkins family deeds of land in the Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio, most of them granted by the Trustees of the Connecticut Land Company to Enoch Perkins of Hartford, Conn., 1795-1819. 44 documents. [CSL call number Main Vault 977.1 Oh7dp]

Connecticut Land Company. Records, 1764-1808. 6 volumes. Contents: Volume 1, Votes and Proceedings; Volume 2, Western Reserve Deeds; Volume 3, Mortgages of Script; Volume 4, Register of Certificates; Volume 5, Register of Transfers; Volume 6, Stock Ledger [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 C767r]. These are the original records of the Connecticut Land Company. This collection has been microfilmed on three reels and is available for use at the State Library (but not on Interlibrary Loan). [CSL call number F 497 .W5 C66 mfilm]

Griswold, Mrs. Huldah, Claimant. Papers relating to claim of Mrs. Huldah Griswold, Meriden, Conn. to land in Ohio, 1754-1855. 16 documents. [CSL call number Main Vault 977.1 G889]

United States. President (John Adams). Deed given by John Adams, as President of the United States, to the State of Connecticut, whereby, according to an act of Congress in 1799 session, the United States releases and conveys all right, title, and interest in the land known as the Western reserve of Connecticut, March 2, 1801. 1 document (parchment). [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 C762se 1801]

Warren, Moses. Journals, field notes, and accounts as surveyor for the Connecticut Land Company during his survey of New Connecticut, now Cleveland, Ohio; correspondence with Amzi Atwater on development of Ohio. 17 items. [CSL call number Main Vault 977.1 W25]

RG 1, Connecticut Archives: Susquehanna Settlers and Western Lands, Series I and II. The Connecticut Archives collection comprises the papers of the General Assembly to approximately 1820, and is grouped into broad topics. The series pertaining to Susquehanna Settlers and Western Lands include acts, resolves, petitions, committee reports, deeds, etc., relating to the Susquehannah Company, the settlement of Westmoreland County, the Wyoming Valley massacre of 1778, the Delaware Company, the Connecticut Land Company, the Connecticut gore lands, and the settlement of Connecticut's Western Lands. Bound index volumes are available for use in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. Documents are indexed by subject and by names of individuals, providing volume, document numbers, and page numbers. Researchers may retrieve microfilm copies of the documents from a cabinet adjacent to the bound indexes. The State Library staff does not search or provide copies from microfilmed records, but the Susquehanna Settlers and Western Lands, Series I, which includes an index, is also available through LDS Family History Centers. A list of professional genealogists familiar with Connecticut State Library collections who will make copies of microfilmed records for a fee is also available. The original Connecticut Archives volumes are subject to the Guidelines on Use of Restricted Original Archival Records and are available for use only if the microfilm is not legible.

RG 1, Early General Records. Volume 51, Connecticut Records of Deeds, etc.: Deeds of Patents of Land includes some items pertaining to land in Pennsylvania and the Western Reserve but is not indexed. Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, LDS film 0003658, and available for use at the State Library and through LDS Family History Centers.

RG 6, Records of the Secretary of the State. Box 2 contains papers pertaining to Western Reserve lands, 1793-1809; correspondence; deeds; General Assembly committee papers; sketch maps; accounts for supplies and services; auditor's report on the Connecticut Land Company; and other related materials. Unarranged. 9 inches.

RG 7:2, Records of the State Treasurer. Connecticut School Fund Records, 1793-1948. This collection includes, but is not limited too, such materials as:

Agents' accounts, 1799-1856. Includes ledgers of various agents, 1800-1852; agents' papers; correspondence; accounts; bonds; etc. Arranged alphabetically by name of agent.

Combined indexes, 1800-1849, for land ledgers for Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, along with Ohio and New York land contracts.

Correspondence, 1824-1909. Ohio property, 1897-1909, and letter books, 1824-1906 (scattered).

Maps, which include Ohio tract maps.

Records of lands held in Ohio, 1800-1913, which include land ledgers, 1800-1888, Western loan ledgers, 1890-1909, surveys of Ohio land, and other miscellaneous materials.

Records of the 1795 negotiating committee.

In addition to the Ohio tract maps found in State Archives Record Group 7:2 (above), the Connecticut State Library holds many other maps that depict the Western Reserve Lands. The following is listing of some such maps:

Connecticut Land Company. Lands of the Connecticut Land Company, Western Reserve, Ohio, by Burt Brett, Co. Surveyor. Ashtabula, OH, 1882. 44x47 cm. Photostatic copy of map from pocket in back of Connecticut Records of Deeds, 1795-1846, volume 5. Copy 2., enlarged Photostat 49x48 cm. [CSL call number 912.771 C762L]

Henshaw, Joshua. Map of Bloomfield, Trumbull County, Ohio, being Township No. 7 in the 4th Range of townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve; together with Section No. 25, in Orwell, adjoining. [Warren, OH, 1833] Manuscript. 60x49 cm. [CSL call number 912.771 H39]

[Pease, Seth] Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve from actual survey, 1798. Manuscript of right half of map showing east of the Cuyahoga River. Engraved and printed ... by Amos Doolittle, New Haven, 1798 [CSL call number: 912.771 P32].

Sumner, William, pub. Map of the Western Reserve including the fire lands in Ohio. Nelson, OH, 1826. 46x58 cm. Copy 2, photo-reduction, 16x28 cm. [CSL call number: 912.771 Su6].

Taylor, Allen, pub. Map of the Western Reserve including the fire lands in Ohio. Nelson, OH, 1833. [Revised and corrected March 1, 1833.] 45x67cm. [CSL call number: 912.771 T21]

Additional Published Materials
The Public Records of the State of Connecticut [HistRef ConnDoc G25 1776-]. This multi-volume set contains the record of transactions of the Connecticut General Assembly. Each volume covers a given time period and has an index. Researchers interested in the Western Lands should consult these volumes to gain knowledge of the legislative actions and petitions granted by the Connecticut General Assembly.

Burke, Thomas Aquinas. Ohio Lands: A Short History. [Columbus, OH]: Auditor of State, c1997 [CSL call number HistRef HD 243 .O3 B87 1997].

Cherry, Peter Peterson. The Western Reserve and Early Ohio. Akron, OH: R. L. Fouse, 1921 [CSL call number F 495 .C52].

Fedor, Ferenz. The Yankee Migration to the Firelands. s.l.: Fedor, 1976? [CSL call number F 497 .W5 F43 1976].

Hatcher, Harlan Henthorne. The Western Reserve: The Story of New Connecticut in Ohio. Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1966 [CSL call number F 497 .W5 H27 1966].

Mathews, Alfred. Ohio and Her Western Reserve, With a Story of Three States Leading to the Latter, From Connecticut, by Way of Wyoming, Its Indian Wars and Massacre. New York: D. Appleton, 1902 [CSL call number F 491 .M42].

Mills, William Stowell. The Story of the Western Reserve of Connecticut. New York: Printed for the author by Brown & Wilson Press [ca. 1900] [CSL call number F 497 .W5 M6].

Peters, William E. Ohio Lands and Their Subdivision. Athens, OH: W. E. Peters, 1918 [CSL call number F 497 .W5 P47 1918].

Rice, Harvey. Pioneers of the Western Reserve. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1883 [CSL call number: F 497 .W5 R5 1883].

Upton, Harriet Taylor. History of the Western Reserve. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1910 [CSL call number: F 497 .W5 U7].

Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer. Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve. [s.l.]: Whipporwill, [197- ] [CSL call number F 497 .W5 W63 1970z].

Other Institutions With Relevant Collections
The Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106. also has an excellent collection on this topic. It includes records of early settlers, histories of those Ohio counties formed out of this tract of land, and a microfilm copy of the Connecticut Land Company Records.

Prepared by the History and Genealogy Unit, Connecticut State Library. Revised 2-04, 5-04.