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Volume 4, Number 2 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 January 25, 2012
This article revolves around the information that can be found from the Territorial Papers of the United States. If you have ancestors that were in this area after 1787, you might be able to find out some interesting information about them as well as the time period in which they lived. Hopefully, this can help you in your never ending genealogy search.
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James L. Douthat
Territory North of the River Ohio
Being a southern researcher, I often forget that there were two different divisions of the United States in the latter portion of the 18th century. There was the Territory South of the River Ohio and also the Territory North of the River Ohio. Most all of our records are for the Territory South of the River Ohio, but we do not want to ignore those areas north of the river.
This area North of the River is often called the Northwest Territory and includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. From the time the Northwest Territory was created, it took 71 years for all of those states to progress from various territories to statehood. Here is brief history of the area:July 1787 - Northwest Territory established. It included the states mentioned above and that portion of Minnesota east of the Mississippi River.During these years as people were heading west and staking claims in these areas, one of the best resources is the Territorial Papers of the United States. These papers consist of 28 volumes and contain official documents, letters and other papers from various federal agencies. These papers include documents pertaining to the economy, politics, geography, citizensí concerns, militia muster rolls, appointments of civil and militia officers, petitions to Congress, requests for roads, etc. These records also included lists of voters, jurymen, landowners and merchants.
May 1800 - Indiana Territory was created and included Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Eastern Minnesota and Western Michigan. At this time Ohio and Eastern Michigan remained the Northwest Territory.
March 1803 - At this time Ohio achieved statehood and Eastern Michigan was given to the Indiana Territory.
June 1805 - Michigan Territory was created.
February 1809 - Illinois Territory was established and included Illinois, Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota.
December 1816 - Indiana achieved statehood.
April 1818 - Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota were attached to the Michigan Territory.
December 1818 - Illinois joined the ranks of statehood.
June 1834 - The portion of the area between the Mississippi and Missouri - White Earth Rivers, north of the state of Missouri was made part of the Michigan Territory.
July 1836 - Wisconsin Territory was created and included the present Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and parts of the Dakotas and Montana.
January 1837 - Michigan became a state.
July 1838 - Iowa Territory was created and included Wisconsin Territory between the Mississippi and Missouri-White Earth Rivers.
December 1846 - Iowa was given statehood.
May 1848 - Wisconsin was made a state.
March 1849 - the Minnesota Territory established as a legal land entry.
May 1858 - Minnesota finally became a state.
The State Department originally began publishing these papers, but it later moved to the National Archives. The project began in the 1920s and the volumes were published until the mid-1970s. Volume 1 provides the history, scope, and rationale of the project, along with basic information about periods covered and territorial officials.
Each volume covers one of the specific areas:Vol. 1 - General RecordsYou may be able to find these volumes in large libraries and some may have access to them online. The National Archives also created supplements to these printed volumes with three series of microfilm. These are M236 [122 rolls]; M325 [102 rolls]; and M1050 [11 rolls].
Vol. 2 and 3- Northwest Territory 1787-1803
Vol. 7 - Indiana Territory 1800-1810
Vol. 8 - Indiana Territory 1810-1816
Vol. 10 - Michigan Territory 1805-1820
Vol. 11 - Michigan Territory 1820-1829
Vol. 12 - Michigan Territory 1829-1837
Vol. 16 - Illinois Territory 1809-1814
Vol. 17 - Illinois Territory 1814-1818
Vol. 27 - Wisconsin Territory 1836-1839
Vol. 28 - Wisconsin Territory 1839-1848
If you have family in this area, these records could help follow their migration through various territories. The petitions could help you in finding other relatives or in comparing signatures, if any are included. The letters and documents also give you a good idea about the general history of the area.
Northwest Territory Books
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