AncestorNews: Ohio Land

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

I wrote in the July 20 AncestorNews about my confusion finding a metes-and-bounds land record in Ohio, a public-land state. Thanks to Ernie Thode of the Washington County Public Library in Marietta, I learned that Ohio’s land history is amazingly diverse. According to Ernie, not only is Ohio a public-land state, but its land records also include the US Military District, Fire Lands, Connecticut Western Reserve, Symmes Purchase, Virginia Military District, Donation Lands, Seven Ranges, The Ohio Company Lands and United Brethren Lands (for Moravians). Whew!

Ernie also led me to a valuable online document published by the Auditor of State. Titled The Official Ohio Lands Book, this 85-page PDF document chronicles the state’s land system, and in my opinion is a must-have for anyone with Ohio roots. It’s free and located at (You’ll need a copy of the free Adobe Reader to read the file offline).

According to the preface, “No other state experienced so many different systems of original land survey. As the first state formed out of the public domain, Ohio was the social laboratory in which Congress worked out not only the basic Federal Rectangular Survey System, but also first applied the basic elements for moving a portion of the public domain from wilderness to statehood.” This document is an education in how land was divided and sold during the westward migration.

I also want to thank everyone for the many e-mails sent about Battleground National Cemetery in Washington, DC. As an update, I wrote the National Park Service again, and received a note saying “I would give this park a couple of weeks to respond to your concerns.” I guess it’s time for me to write again. In addition, reader Susan Dunlap suggested I contact the Daughters of the American Revolution, as their offices are in DC. I’ll keep you updated as I learn more.

Here’s more on Ohio genealogy:

Ohio Resource Guide

Ohio Resources at RootsWeb

Highland County Ohio Reference Books

Ohio Cemetery Preservation Society

The First American West: The Ohio River Valley 1750-1820
In 15,000 pages of original historical material, this amazing collection documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West.