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Land for Settlement, Schools, and Religion

When Ohio was established, the minimum land purchase consisted of 160 acres at $2 per acre with a down payment of 25%, the balance paid in three annual installments. By 1820, it was $1.25 per acre with a minimum purchase of 80 acres, complete payment due at the time of purchase. In 1832, the minimum purchase was 40 acres in cash or land scrip (paper money used for temporary emergency purposes). By 1841, squatters who built homes and improved land were allowed to purchase one fourth of the land they occupied before it was offered for public sale. By 1850, land that had not sold for 10 years was offered at $1 per acre, and if not sold for 30 years, 12 1/2 cents per acre. All of these land agreements were designed to increase the flow of immigrants to Ohio, not only to farm and prosper, but to fill the state’s need for workers to operate the new machines of its growing industries. By now, the ‘Industrial Revolution’ had left the shores of England and penetrated Eastern Europe/North America. The federal government gave land to counties to build schools serving the new immigrants’ children.  The origin of such a proposition was based on language contained in the Land Ordinance of 1785 that concluded, "There shall be reserved the lot No. 16, of every township, for the maintenance of public schools within said township."

Ohio’s Constitutional Convention was able to take this 1785 ordinance and make a counter-proposal that Congress accepted March 3, 1803. The new law required the United States to: donate one thirty-sixth (2.77%) of the land area of Ohio for the support of schools, give the state not less than 3% of the net proceeds derived from the sale of public lands in Ohio, donate one township (23,040 acres) for an institution of higher education (now Miami University), and give the Ohio Legislature control of the donated lands, in trust, for the purposes Congress intended in making the grant. The new immigrants to Ohio became the recipients of this decision to promote public education.

Another Congressional action in 1787, giving away Ohio federal lands, was a decision that 640 acres in each surveying township (23,040 acres), "be given perpetually for the purposes of religion." Most of Ohio’s early immigrants were religious and this supported their desire to worship and teach their religious beliefs to their children. Ohio was the only state in the Union, other than a few small mission sites in the West, where Congress gave land for the support of religion. The lives of Shelby County’s early immigrants were greatly enhanced by these Congressional actions.

'Immigration' segment written in November, 1997 by David Lodge

 

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