Connecticut Western Reserve

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Connecticut Western Reserve in Ohio

The Connecticut Western Reserve was land claimed by Connecticut in the Northwest Territory in what is now northeastern Ohio.



Although forced to surrender the Pennsylvania portion of its sea-to-sea land grant following the Yankee-Pennamite Wars and the intercession of the federal government, Connecticut held fast to its right to the lands between the 41st and 42nd-and-2-minutes parallels that lay west of the Pennsylvania border.

Within the state of Ohio, the claim was a 120 mile (190 km) strip between Lake Erie and a line just below Youngstown, Akron, New London and Willard, about three miles south of the present-day U.S. Highway 224. Beyond Ohio the claim included parts of what would become Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

In her deed of cession (the states gave up their western claims in exchange for federal assumption of their American Revolutionary War debt) dated September 13, 1786, Connecticut retained more than three million acres (12,000 km²) in Ohio. In 1796, Connecticut sold that land to investors, who formed the Connecticut Land Company. However, the Indian title to the reserve had not been extinguished. Clear title was not obtained until the Greenville Treaty in 1795 and the Treaty of Fort Industry in 1805. The west end of the reserve included the 500,000 acre (2,000 km²) Firelands or "Sufferers Lands" reserved for residents of several New England towns destroyed by British-set fires during the Revolutionary War.

The land company arranged for the surveying of the balance of the land into townships five miles square. To this day, the townships of the Western Reserve differ in size from those of most of the rest of the state, which are six miles square.

The following year, a team from the land company led by Moses Cleaveland traveled to the Reserve to prepare surveys. The group also founded Cleveland, which would become the largest city in the region. (The arbitrary decision to drop the "a" in the name of the community was done by a printer early in the settlement's existence; Cleveland taking less room on a printed page than Cleaveland.)

Over the next few years, settlers began trickling into the territory. Youngstown was founded in 1796, Warren in 1798 and Ashtabula in 1799.

In 1800, the Northwest Territory established Trumbull County. Because Warren was made the county seat, the city calls itself "the historical capital of the Western Reserve." Later, several more counties would be carved out of the territory.


Architecture in the Western Reserve mimicked that of the New England towns where settlers came from. Many of the buildings were designed in the Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival style. Towns such as Hudson and Gates Mills, Ohio exemplify the mixture of these styles and traditional New England town planning.


Early settlers called the territory "New Connecticut," but that name was later discarded in favor of "Western Reserve." The latter name is still used to describe the northeastern corner of Ohio. Western Reserve University, which merged with the Case Institute of Technology to form Case Western Reserve University, is an example of that tie to the past. The Western Reserve Historical Society works to preserve history and historical items relevant to the area.


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