Guide to the Symmes Tract, North Bend, OH Records 1787-1792 MG 201
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The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by James Lewis, July 2001, as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. February 2006. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
John Cleeves Symmes was born in Southold, Long Island, New York on July 21, 1742. He was the eldest son of Mary Cleeves and Reverend Timothy Symmes and became a teacher and a surveyor. He married Anna Tuttle on October 30, 1760 and together they had Maria in 1762 and Anna in 1775. In 1776, Symmes’ wife Anna died and he married Mrs. Mary Halsey and after her death married Susanna Livingston.
John Cleeves Symmes served as Chairman of the Committee of Safety in Sussex County, New Jersey in 1774 and the following year he was appointed Colonel of the Third Battalion of the Sussex County Militia. Symmes was elected to represent Sussex in the Provincial Congress of New Jersey and was part of the committee to frame the State Constitution in 1776. That August, he was elected as a member of the State Legislative Council and then in September was appointed as one of the justices of the county of Sussex. The following year he was appointed the third justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey and was elected to serve a second term. He was also a member of the Legislative Council from 1780-1781. In 1781, Symmes moved to Morris County and four years later he was elected to represent Morris County in the Legislative Council and soon afterwards was elected a delegate in the Continental Congress.
While serving a second term in the Continental Congress Symmes heard of a New England company that had purchased land in what is now known as Ohio. He purchased 1,000,000 acres between the Miami rivers in Ohio (the tract later became known as the Miami Purchase or Symmes Tract) and in 1787, petitioned Congress to grant his purchase. The following summer he set off for Ohio even though Congress had not officially granted his proposal and, in 1788, was appointed by Congress as one of the three judges of the Northwest Territory, a position that he held until 1803. Symmes had planned to establish one township and three fractional townships but the federal government reduced his claim to 311,682 acres, the amount he had paid for by May 5, 1792. He did not receive his official land grant until 1794, long after he sold portions of the land. Symmes died of cancer in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1814 and was buried at his settlement in North Bend, Ohio.
This collection contains two volumes consisting of records kept by John Cleeves Symmes with dates from 1787-1792. The first volume, dating from 1787, is a French translation of Symmes’ Trenton Circular in which he describes the Symmes Tract and the conditions for selling land to buyers. The second volume contains survey for lands in the third range of townships within the Symmes Tract. Only James Hyndshaw and Abraham Drake purchased the right to survey these lands.
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.
Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.
The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 201, Symmes Tract, North Bend, OH
The source of this collection is unknown.
Charles H. Winfield, Esq. Life and Public Services of John Cleeves Symmes in Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society. Second Series, Vol. 5: 1877-1879 (Newark, NJ: The New Jersey Historical Society, 1879).