Connecticut Land Company

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A Plan of the Survey made by & under the direction of Augustus Porter upon the Connecticut-Reserve for the Connecticut Land Company in the Year 1796. Showing the Western Reserve divided into sections and the town and city of Cleaveland (Cleveland). (Zoom)

The Connecticut Land Company was formed in the late eighteenth century to survey and encourage settlement in the Connecticut Western Reserve, part of the Old Northwest Territory. The Western Reserve is located in Northeast Ohio with its hub being Cleveland. In 1795, the Connecticut Land Company bought three million acres (12,000 km²) of the Western Reserve. Settlers used the guidelines of the Land Ordinance of 1785, which demanded the owners survey the land before settlement.[1] In 1796, the company began surveys and sales on property east of Cuyahoga.[2]

The original proprieters, 57 of the wealthiest and most prominent men in Connecticut, included Oliver Phelps, the largest subscriber and chief manager of the project. In 1796, one of the largest shareholders, Moses Cleaveland, planned a settlement on the banks of the Cuyahoga River with Seth Pease. This planned settlement would become the city of Cleveland.[1]

The Deeds for the land were executed as follows:[3]

No of Deeds Names of Grantees Integral parts of lands conveyed,
divided into 1,200,000 shares
No 1 Robert Charles Johnson $60,000
No 2&3 Moses Cleaveland $32,600
No 4 William Judd $16,250
No 5 James Johnson[disambiguation needed] $30,000
No 6 William Law $10,500
No 7 Daniel Holbrook $8,750
No 8 Pierpont Edwards $60,000
No 9 James Bull, Aaron Olmsted, John Wiles $30,000
No 10 Elisha Hyde, Uriah Tracy $57,400
No 11 Luther Loomis, Ebenezer King $44,318
No 12 Roger Newberry, Enoch Perkins, Jonathan Brace $38,000
No 13 Ephraim Root $42,000
No 14 Ephraim Kirby, Uriel Holmes Jr, Elijah Boardman $60,000
No 15 Oliver Phelps, Gideon Granger Jr $80,000
No 16 Oliver Phelps $168,185
No 17 John Caldwell, Peleg Sanford $15,000
No 18 Soloman Cowles $10,000
No 19 Soloman Griswold $10,000
No 20 Henry Champion 2d $85,675
No 21 Samuel P. Lord $14,092
No 22 Jazeb Stocking, Joshua Stow $11,423
No 23 Timothy Burr $15,231
No 24 Caleb Atwater $22,846
No 25 Titus Street $22,846
No 26 Elias Morgan, Daniel Lathrop Coit $51,402
No 27 Joseph Howland, Daniel Lathrop Coit $30,461
No 28 Asher Miller $34,000
No 29 Ephraim Starr $17,415
No 30 Joseph Williams $15,231
No 31 William Lyman, John Stoddard, David King $24,730
No 32 Nehemiah Hubbard Jr $19,039
No 33 Asahel Hathaway $12,000
No 34 William Hart $30,462
No 35 Samuel Mather Jr $18,461
No 36 Sylvanus Griswold $1,683

Company Introduction

The Connecticut Land Company was a company set up by a group of private investors in 1795 with the aim of making a profit from land sales. Towards that end, the company bought a large portion of the eastern part of the Western Connecticut Reserves. However, poor company management and political uncertainty led to weak land sales, slow economic development, and ultimately company failure in 1809. Despite its short existence, the Connecticut Land Company was instrumental in the development of the region and left a lasting impact on the landscape. One of the most important legacies of the Connecticut Land Company was the establishment of the settlement of Cleveland.

Key Company Figures

The ownership of the company was made up of a syndicate of 35 purchasing groups representing a total of 58 individual investors. The leader of this group and the head of the Connecticut Land Company was Oliver Phelps. He was the single largest investor in the company and the head manager of this investment project. Another key figure in the company was Moses Cleaveland, one of the company’s first directors. He was in charge of conducting the first company survey of the Western Connecticut Reserves in 1796. Moses Cleaveland successfully negotiated a treaty with the Iroquois, who gave up all of their land claims east of the Cuyahoga River. He also founded a settlement named after him that would later become the city “Cleveland” due to a cartographic error.

Company Background

In 1795, the Connecticut Land Company paid the state of Connecticut $1.2 million for three million acres of its Western Reserve lands. The $1.2 million raised by the state was used to fund public education. This allowed Connecticut to expand its public school system and improve its educational facilities. With regards to the land purchased by the company, it was divided into 1.2 million shares. On September 5, 1795, the company adopted articles of association, and each purchasing group was given a proportional share of the land commensurate with the amount of capital invested.

The main purpose of the Connecticut Land Company was the pursuit of profits through the sale of the lands to both land speculators and settlers. Land would usually be sold many times between speculators and investors before it would be sold to someone who would actually settle it. Due to weak land sales, the company was forced to lower prices and give away free land in order to encourage settlement. The problems that forced the company to lower prices would ultimately force the company into bankruptcy.

Company’s Problems

One of the problems that befell the Connecticut Land Company was company mismanagement. Instead of developing settlements and providing basic services like education, the company left those tasks to the new settlers. This discouraged many from coming as there was no support for their settlement. In effect, this raised the cost of buying land and settling in the Connecticut Western Reserve, thus decreasing the number of settlers who came. Furthermore, sales efforts by the company were not centrally organized. The company did not even set up a sales or marketing office in the Western Reserve to promote sales of land. Without an organized, concerted sales campaign by the company, their efforts to sell the land were mostly unsuccessful. In fact, only 1000 people have settled in the region by 1800.

The other problem that beset the company and hurt land sales was political uncertainty surrounding the Connecticut Western Reserves. The political confusion concerned the right to govern the land and the legitimacy of the land titles. There were disputes between the Northwest Territory and the state of Connecticut over who had the right to govern the land purchased by the company. In addition, the company wanted Connecticut to guarantee the land titles that the company issues, but Connecticut refused. As a result of this uncertain surrounding the legality of land titles and jurisdiction, many would-be settlers decided not to come. Making settlement even less attractive was the fact that the US government did not recognize the Western Reserve as part of the Northwest Territory until 1800. In practice this means that the US government did not provide settlers with legal or military protection. Then, on April 28, 1800, the Quieting Act was signed by President Adams into law. The Quieting Act established Connecticut’s right to govern the land and guaranteed the legality of the land titles granted by the Connecticut Land Company. This was meant to encourage and speed up settlement and development of the region. Although this act resolved the problem of political uncertainty, continued poor company management meant that few settlers came. More significant development of the region would have to wait until after the War of 1812.

Company Bankruptcy

As a result of weak land sales stemming from company mismanagement and political uncertainty, the Connecticut Land Company failed to reach profitability. In 1809, a mere fourteen years after incorporation, the company faced bankruptcy and was dissolved. All of the remaining land was divided evenly among the investors of the company. At that time, the company still owed a large amount of debt and was delinquent in its interest payments.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b DeRogatis, Amy (2003). Moral geography. Columbia University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-231-12789-9. 
  2. ^ Meinig, Donald W (1986). The Shaping of America. Yale University Press. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-300-03882-8. 
  3. ^ Shepard, Claude L (1916). The Connecticut land company and accompanying papers. Cleveland, OH: Western Reserve Historical Society. pp. 135–136. ISBN 1-153-33782-7. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 

"Connecticut Land Company", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=873

 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Moses Cleaveland", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=86
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Moses Cleaveland", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=86
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 Sue Batke. "Hinckley Township Small Town, Big Hearts." The Connecticut Western Reserve. Hinckley Historical Society, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Connecticut Land Company", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=873
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Connecticut Land Company", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=873
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Connecticut Land Company", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=873
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
 "Connecticut Land Company", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=873
 "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CONNECTICUT LAND CO. Case Western Reserve University, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.