According to this record, the number of original parties was thirty-five, although it is generally represented as thirty-six. There were this number of bonds given to the State by them, for the above stated sums; which were secured by personal security at first, and afterwards mortgages upon the land. The first purchasers, however, represented other persons who were also constituted members of the company, fifty seven in number.
The different grantees in the deeds from Connecticut, gave the Trustees a list of the persons whom they represented, and the accordance with the articles of the association. Some of those who had given their bonds failed; and others persuaded the State to accept bonds and mortgages from them individually. They gave a bond to the Treasurer or State, and a mortgage of the lands which were aparted to them in severalty under the draft of 1798, east of the Cuyahoga.
They gave also another style of security, called the “Trust and benefit mortgages,” covering their interests in common then undrawn. These were so worded, that the Trustees of the Land Company, after draft, made another mortgages to the State, in which the original purchasers had the right of redemption. [Leonard Case.]
A partnership, or association, was immediately formed by the purchasers; who called themselves the “Connecticut Land Company”; all of whom joined in a deed of trust, to John Caldwell, Jonathan Brace, and John Morgan, covering the entire purchase. As special corporate powers were not given them by the Legislature, and doubts existed as to the validity of their political franchises; this course was necessary for the convenient management of their business. The trust deed bears date September 5, 1795, and with few exceptions, the deeds of the Trustees are the source of title, to lands on the Western Reserve. As late as 1836, all of the original Trustees were living and joined in deeds of lands within this city.
Oliver Phelps, John Livingston, and others, proposed to take the remainder, being the “excess,” lying between the three million, and the five hundred thousand acre tracts. This scheme finally took the form of what is called the “Excess Company,” of whom Gen. Hull, afterwards conspicuous at Detroit, was the principal owner. Shares in this company were sought after with as much eagerness as those in John Laws company of the Indies, having about the same basis of value.
The State guaranteed nothing either as to title or quantity. She only transferred all the rights she possessed, as well political as those of property under the patent of Earl Warwick, and the charter of Charles the Second. So little was known at this time, of the respective powers of the States and the United States, under the Constitution of 1787, that many of the parties thought the Land Company had received political authority, and could found here a new State. They imagined themselves like William Penn, to be proprietors, coupled with the rights of self government.
Articles of association, fourteen in number, were signed by the proprietors, on the same day with the trust deed. These articles are very elaborate, providing for the government of the company, giving extensive powers to the directors, pointing out in detail the mode of survey, partition and sale; authorizing transferable certificates of stock, and determining the manner of proceeding at meetings of the company. These articles of agreement were so full and particular that, no changes were found necessary, in order to carry on and complete the business of the company.
For the purpose of voting and assessments, the concern was divided into four hundred shares. Provision was made, in case one-third of the interest should demand it, to set off to the applicants one-third of the property in a body, but not such demand was made.
The affairs of the company were entrusted to the management of seven directors, and the gentlemen below named were elected to for the first board:
OLIVER PHELPS, of Suffield.
HENRY CHAMPION, 2nd, of Colchester.
MOSES CLEAVELAND, of Canterbury.
SAMUEL W. JOHNSON.
SAMUEL MATHER, Junior, of Lynn.
ROGER NEWBERRY, of West Windsor.
The annual meetings of the company were to be held in Hartford, in October, from whence New Connecticut was to be governed, as New England had been by the “Council of Plymouth” in England. It would be exceedingly interesting to reproduce the official transactions of the company, while it held the soil of the Western Reserve, from 1795 to 1809, if the limits of this book would admit. I can only touch upon their most prominent acts and proceedings.
They determined to extinguish the Indian claims, and survey their possessions into townships, of five miles, square, bounded by lines crossing each other at right angles, to be run north and south, east and west. The proprietors were required to club together and draw by townships, as in a lottery; after which the owners received a deed, and made their own sub-divisions into lots. Twelve thousand nine hundred and three dollars and twenty-three cents of purchase money, represented a township in the first draft. To equalize the townships, a committee was appointed to explore them.
Moses Cleaveland, one of the directors, was made general agent, to conduct the surveys. Augustus Porter, of Salisbury, who had been engaged in surveys for Gorham and Phelps, in the Holland purchase since 1789, was made principal surveyor. Seth Pease, of Suffield, was given the place of mathematician and surveyor. He went to Philadelphia for instructions and instruments, to be procured of the astronomer, David Rittenhouse. The other surveyors were John Milton Holley, Richard M. Stoddard and Moses Warren, Jr. Their journey from Old Connecticut to New, with their boatmen, chainmen and axemen, is fully described in the extracts which I give from the journals of Cleaveland, Holley and Pease.
It has not been practicable to procure their diaries in full, or to insert them entire where they have been obtained.
The mode of dividing the property among its owners, was cumbrous; but was made so by a jealous regard to justice in the distribution. Six townships east of the Cuyahoga, were to be subdivided for sale, for the general benefit of the Company. Four more townships of the next best quality, were to be surveyed into four hundred lots, of one hundred and sixty acres each: equal to the numbers of shares, to be drawn by lot; three thousand dollars purchase money representing a share.
What remained on the east of the Cuyahoga, was to be divided into as many portions, to be called a draft, as there townships of equal value. To come at this much coveted equality, the committee on partition, were required to select the best full tracts and lots, to all the others, until the less desirable ones, were made in all respects equal to the best.
The avails of the six townships, sold for the general benefit, after the general expenses were paid, were distributed in subsequent drafts.
In the first draft the committee on partition made ninety-two parcels, each equal in value to the best township, which parcels covered all the territory to be drawn east of the Cuyahoga.
By foreclosure or by arrangement, the State of Connecticut became the private owner of some lands on the Western Reserve, which were sold by her agents. The late Leonard Case, of Cleveland, transacted a large part of this business. Thus through forms and proceedings that are complicated, a simple and safe system of titles has been secured.