Connecticut Western Reserve

The Connecticut Western Reserve was an area in the Northwest Territory owned, sold and distributed by the State 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 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 Connecticut Land Company sent General Moses Cleaveland to survey the territory and lay out townships. In federal 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. Many people moved into the Western Reserve because it was accessible from Lake Erie. In the early years of settlement, many people from New England came to the Western Reserve.

Settlers in the western part of the reserve faced struggles with American Indians over ownership of the land. The westernmost part of the Fire Lands had been granted to American Indian groups as part of the Treaty of Greenville of 1795. As the population increased, American Indians were forced from the region.


Maps of the Connecticut Western Reserve were created by the original Connecticut Land Company survey teams in 1796-1978 and long after the region was assumed into the Northwest Territory in 1800 and the State of Ohio in 1803.

Maps are mirrors of an aspect of the real world. Maps, as graphic representations, describe symbolically a place in time. Importantly, as symbols maps tell us much about political, social, and cultural assumptions and practices of the time and place in which they were and are created. Thus maps may reveal much about the inhabitants' senses of place and identity.

For an excellent brief history of maps of the Western Reserve, see "First Maps of Cleveland the Western Reserve," part of Cleveland Memory, at

A "zoomable" 1826 map of the Western Reserve--the iconic Savery map--is available via the David Rumsey Map Collection at

"Connecticut Western Reserve." Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005,
Hatcher, Harlan. The Western Reserve: The Story of New Connecticut in Ohio. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1949; Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.
"The Western Reserve--What, Why, and Who?" Western Reserve Historical Society,
Wheeler, Robert. Visions of the Western Reserve: Public and Private Documents of Northeast Ohio, 1750-1860. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1990.