Connecticut Land Company

From Ohio History Central

The Connecticut Land Company consisted of a group of investors who bought a large part of the Western Reserve of Connecticut in the years after the American Revolution.

Connecticut was one of several states that had land claims in the Ohio Country going back to the colonial period. Connecticut gave up most of its claims to the federal government so that the Northwest Territory could be created. However, it reserved the northeast corner of the territory for itself. This area came to be known as the Connecticut Western Reserve.

The Western Reserve had two parts. The western part of the region was known as the Fire Lands. The state gave plots of land in this area to people who had lost their property in the American Revolution. The Connecticut government sold the eastern portion of the reserve to a group of thirty-five land speculators called the Connecticut Land Company in 1795. The $1.2 million earned through the land sale was spent on public education in the state of Connecticut.

The leader of the Connecticut Land Company was Oliver Phelps. Phelps and his partners sent General Moses Cleaveland to survey the territory and to establish townships in 1796. In federal land surveys such as the Seven Ranges, townships were 36 square miles. Cleaveland created townships of 25 square miles. One of the earliest towns established in this region was named Cleveland in his honor. It appears that Cleveland was originally spelled as Cleaveland, but a mistake by a mapmaker resulted in the new spelling by the 1820s. Many people moved into the Western Reserve because it was accessible from Lake Erie.

For the first several years, settlement of the land owned by the Connecticut Land Company proceeded slowly. When Connecticut sold the land to Phelps and his partners, the state gave up all rights to govern the land. The federal government did not consider the Western Reserve to be part of the Northwest Territory until 1800, and thus, the federal government provided residents with no legal or military protection. Unlike the Ohio Company and Associates, which made provisions for education and religious institutions, the Connecticut Land Company was only concerned with selling its lands and left future development of the region up to its new inhabitants. By 1800, only about one thousand people lived in the Western Reserve. Because of its lack of success in selling its land, the Connecticut Land Company was dissolved in 1809. Much of the settlement of the region did not occur until after the War of 1812.

See Also


  1. Carter, Clarence Edwin, ed. The Territorial Papers of the United States. Vol. I-III. New York, NY: AMS Press, 1973.
  2. Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
  3. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
  4. Kirtland, Turhand. Diary of Turhand Kirtland from 1798-1800: While Surveying and Laying out the Western Reserve for the Connecticut Land Company. Poland, OH: n.p., 1903.
  5. Milligan, Fred J. Ohio's Founding Fathers. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2003. 
  6. Onuf, Peter S. Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.