5. The Seven Ranges

On May 27, 1785, the Confederation Congress of the United States of America passed the Land Ordinance Act of 1785.  This act was determined to be the means by which congress would survey, sell,and settle the lands they “won by conquest” from the Native American tribes in the Ohio Country.  The plan was to survey and designate seven “rangers” in the south eastern part of Ohio.  One of these ranges would be set aside to compensate veterans of the Continental Army who had served in the war.  The other six ranges would be put up for sale by auction in the newly formed nation’s capitol – New York.   The ranges were to be divided into “townships,” with each township having thirty-six “sections”  This was 640 acres per section, or one square mile.

By September 1785 the planned survery was put into action by United States Geographer Thomas Hutchins.   He would do a survey of the Seven Ranges and report back to congress.  However, that same month, raids by Native American tribes, to include Mingo, some Delaware and Shawnee, and Miami were attacking unauthorized settlers in the area of the Tuscarawas River.  Frightened by the probability of an attack by the tribes, Hutchins and his men fled the area.   In 1785, The commander of the United States Army, Colonel Josiah Harmar ordered a Fort to be built at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers.  He named the fort after himself – Fort Harmar.  The fort was intended to protect the lands promised to the tribes to live on and hunt, and to keep squatters out.   In July 1786, Hutchins resumed his surveying.

“I hate riding in these coaches.  They sicken me.  Dust, impassable roads, and every imaginable delay.  If not an older gentleman in my fiftieth year, I may have considered taking this trip from Philadelphia to New York on the back of my own horse.  I am anxious, however, to meet with my friend William Morris, one of the surveyors appointed by congress to be involved in the surveying, and ultimately the sale of this place called the Seven Ranges.  It is my intention to buy up as much as I can before too many of these townships are sold out form under me.  I trust that most speculators will be no less than a full township or more each.  I intend to purchase several and then wait for more, and perhaps better lands to become available in the future.  The poorer people will likely buy one section for themselves, or even throw together to buy just one.  If this dratted coach ever manages to get there, my friends in New York will help me get what I want –  for a price of course.  Everything for a price.  I have been delayed in my adventures and my acquirement by those damn savages that just won’t go away and who won’t give up their insistence that they still own those lands. They frightened poor Hutchins so badly that he ran off scared half to death.  That caused another year’s delay.  Well, I think it’s going to come to a point where Congress realizes that those hostiles have got to be taken care of properly – and permanently.   There’s no other way, and I feel like it’s coming soon. They are hindering the progress of civilized men, and they have no place among us.   We are civilized and know how to use land to our advantage.  I know God himself sees our cause as just, and has no particular plans or purpose for those heathen Indians.  Oh, if there is mercy in this world, please let this journey end soon.”

Robert K. Seymour    Citizen and speculator

2019-08-12T20:41:22+00:00August 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|