News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


October 20, 2013

GENEALOGY: The colonies and their claims to unknown land

TERRE HAUTE — When the colonies were established in the 1600s and 1700s, the geography of North America was mostly unknown. Colonies on the East Coast often made claims to land extending west, not knowing what was actually there, and claiming land all the way to the West Coast. Some claims overlapped those of another colony and caused disputes. After the American Revolution, when the colonies became states, the problems with their westward claims were gradually resolved. In most cases, these lands were ceded to the federal government, often to help the states meet their war debts. Seven of the 13 states had made extensive land claims to their west.

1) One of Virginia’s western claims was the land that became Kentucky. Virginia did not cede this land to the federal government, but created a county out of it — Kentucky County, Va. Virginia used some of this land as bounty land for its soldiers who fought in the Revolution. In 1792, the state of Kentucky was created and admitted to the union. Virginia also had claims north of the Ohio River, which it did cede to the federal government. This land became part of the Northwest Territory.

2) New York and New Hampshire both laid claim to the land that eventually became Vermont. In this case, New York was claiming land to its east, while New Hampshire was claiming land to its west. Both colonies had made land grants in the disputed area for years prior to the Revolution. The citizens in the disputed area wanted to become a state and in 1791 Vermont entered the union.

3) North Carolina claimed the land to its west, which eventually became the state of Tennessee. In 1784 North Carolina ceded most of the land to the federal government after first setting aside a reserve of land to be granted to its Revolutionary soldiers as bounty land for their service. In 1790 Tennessee became part of the Southwest Territory and in 1796 it became a state.

4) Massachusetts claimed land in a swath from sea to sea. Realistically, New York was in the way, but Massachusetts had laid claim to the land that was western New York, and then directly west to a sector going through Michigan and Wisconsin. Massachusetts ceded its westernmost land to the federal government in 1785. This land became part of the Northwest Territory. The claim to western New York was resolved in 1786, with New York keeping the land. A modern map of Pennsylvania shows a small triangle of land in the northwest corner of the state, touching Lake Erie. This land had been claimed by Massachusetts. The so-called Erie Triangle was ceded to the U.S. government and then sold to Pennsylvania.

5) Connecticut claimed western lands in a band going across the tops of the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. This territory was ceded to the U.S. government in 1776 and 1800, all except the Western Reserve in Ohio. The reserve was used as bounty land for Connecticut Revolutionary War soldiers.

6) South Carolina claimed a 12-mile-wide strip of land extending across the top of what is now Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, to the Mississippi River. This was ceded to Georgia in 1787. The claim was later found out to be a surveying error and the land description in the survey did not actually exist.

7) Georgia claimed the land that now makes up the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Some of this land had been involved in scandals and fraud: the Yazoo lands and the Pine Barrens. The scandals involved Georgia officials selling land to political insiders and making multiple grants of the same land. The land was ceded by Georgia to the U.S. in 1802 in order for the federal government to take over the legal liabilities for the land. It took until 1814 for a full resolution of these issues.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010