George Washington, Tristate Landowner
George Washington did not sleep here, nor did he likely ever set foot in Southwest Ohio. However, he did own land in the area for a time. He came into possession of that property as the result of his military service in the Revolutionary War. Well, sort of.
Washington served in the army of The Commonwealth of Virginia and was appointed the supreme commander of colonial forces by the Second Continental Congress. After the war, nine of the 13 states along with the federal government awarded land grants to soldiers and citizens in lieu of payment for their services during the conflict.
Virginia had an area of land called the Virginia Military District in what is now part of Ohio. This area was bordered on the west by the Little Miami River, on the south by the Ohio River and to the north and east by the Scioto River.
The amount of land awarded was consummate with military rank and length of service. As such, Washington was eligible for about 23,000 acres of land but refused to accept any. Instead, he bought land from soldiers who were eligible with one parcel in Anderson Township and three in Clermont County.
The plot of land Washington owned in Anderson was in the extreme northeastern part of that township in what is now the Ancor industrial area. What was the first president’s land is bordered on the south roughly by Broadwell Road and on the east by the railroad tracks, though the property line veers away to the northeast and ends near the confluence of the Little Miami and the East Fork Little Miami.
To the north, directly east of Camp Dennison, across the Little Miami River, Washington held another tract. That land is today owned by the Boy Scouts of America’s Daniel Beard Council.
The other tract was further east near where the Bullskin Creek flows into the Ohio River in Franklin Township.
As it turns out, Washington lost his claim to those lands through a paperwork mixup. While the titles to his land were properly recorded with the Commonwealth of Virginia, they needed to be re-filed with the federal government. They were not and Washington’s heirs eventually lost the land in the early 1800s, several years after his death.
His nephew was slightly more fortunate. Lt. George Washington received a tract of land along the Ohio River in the area between 9 Mile and 10 Mile Roads in Pierce Township. His was properly deeded by the federal government, though it was his heirs who would enjoy the land, as he passed away in 1809 of consumption (tuberculosis) right around the time the appropriate paperwork went through.
Interestingly, Washington had surveyed land in Northeast Ohio extensively while employed by the state of Connecticut which was interested in getting their Western Reserve sorted. He never owned land there though.
Virginia eventually gave back all unclaimed land to the United States government, but this wasn’t until late in the 19th century. The federal government, in turn, gave the land back to the states in which the land was located. In 1872, the Ohio legislature used the income from the sale of these tracts to create an endowment for The Ohio State University which had been established just two years earlier.
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