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Congress Lands

Congress Lands, which extended west from the Great Miami River, were surveyed by the federal government under the land act of May 18, 1796. Included was land within the future Butler County, including what would become Ross, Morgan, Reily, Hanover, St. Clair, Oxford, Milford, Wayne and Madison townships. The western and northern boundaries of the Congress Lands followed the Greenville Treaty Line, running northeast from the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Kentucky River (at Carrollton, Ky.) to Fort Recovery in Mercer County, and then east along the southern part of Mercer and Auglaize counties to the Great Miami River in Logan County. The area included parts of the Ohio counties of Hamilton, Butler, Montgomery, Miami and Shelby; all of Preble and Darke counties in Ohio; and parts of the present Indiana counties of Switzerland, Dearborn, Franklin, Union and Wayne. Because the land had to be surveyed before it could be sold, sales didn't begin until the spring of 1801. By that time, Congress had passed another land law in May 1800, known as the Harrison Land Act, after William Henry Harrison, the delegate to Congress from the Northwest Territory. The 1800 law established land offices at Chillicothe, Marietta, Steubenville and Cincinnati, with the latter responsible for handling sales west of the Great Miami River. The same law reduced the minimum purchase to half a section, or 320 acres, and retained the minimum price of $2 an acre. It liberalized payment, ending the requirement for full payment at the time of the sale. The Harrison Act required a fourth paid within 40 days of the sale, another fourth within two years and similar payments within the third and fourth years.

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