Ohio History Journal






The Indian Boundary Line, sometimes known as the Green-

ville Treaty Line, or Wayne's Treaty Line, had its origin in the

closing events of the Revolutionary War. As an historical land

mark it has no equal in the early history of this country. Around

its history cling many of the most stubborn and sanguinary con-

flicts and border outrages, that so distinctly marked the closing

of the eighteenth century.

On every good map of Ohio it will be noticed that a line

starts on the northern boundary of Tuscarawas county, and passes

in a south of west direction through the county of Holmes and on

across the State to the counties of Shelby and Mercer. What is

this line? Why is it there? Who established it, and when, are

the frequent inquiries made, and which have not been heretofore

answered in such form as to come within reach of the general

reading public. To briefly answer these questions, in such form

as will reach the general public, is the sole apology for the prep-

aration of this article.

At the close of the Revolution, by the treaty of Paris com-

pleted on September 3, 1783, Great Britain relinquished all her

rights to the territory claimed by the thirteen original colonies,

and recognized the sovereignty of the United States of America.

The treaty of Paris did not extinguish whatever title the Indians

claimed to have within the colonies. And in order to establish per-

petual peace with the Indian tribes the Continental Congress

appointed Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee as

commissioners to make such treaty with the Indians as would

extinguish their title to the lands in the Northwest Territory.

The commissioners proceeded to Fort Stanwix, New York, and

there met the representatives of the Iroquois or Six Nations, who

claimed to have conquered all the western tribes and on October

22, 1784, entered into a treaty whereby the Iroquois relinquished


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Indian Boundary Line.                159


all their pretended claims and titles to the lands north and west

of the river Ohio. This treaty was approved by the Continental

Congress, but it was learned soon thereafter that the Iroquois

had falsely made claim to title to lands in the Northwest Territory,

and that their intrusion into said country had proved fruitless

to them.

Thereupon the Continental Congress appointed George

Rogers Clark, Richard Butler and Arthur Lee as commissioners

to meet the Indians claiming title to the lands in the western

country, and make, if possible, a treaty extinguishing their title

to the same. The commissioners at once proceeded to Fort Mc-

Intosh, at the mouth of Big Beaver Creek, in western Pennsyl-

vania. Here they met representatives of the Delawares, Wyan-

dots and other tribes, who, on January 31, 1785, entered into a

treaty with said commissioners whereby said Indian tribes relin-

quished all their right and title to all the lands situated south and

east of a line commencing at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River,

thence up said river to the portage between the Cuyahoga and

the Tuscarawas, thence across said portage and down the Tus-

carawas to the "Crossing Place" above Fort Laurens, near where

Bolivar now stands; thence in a westerly direction to the portage

between the Great Miami and Auglaize, near where stood Lora-

mie's store; thence down the Auglaize and Maumee to Lake Erie.

This treaty was afterward confirmed by the Continental

Congress under the mistaken belief that the Indian title to the

lands had been completely extinguished, to the territory covered

by the treaty. In pursuance to this belief, on May 20, 1785,

Congress passed an act providing for the survey and sale of the

lands northwest of the Ohio river, to which the Indian title had

been extinguished. As soon as this work was commenced, the

powerful Shawnee tribes appeared on the scene and contested the

right of Congress to lay claim to the lands in which they had an

interest. This resistance by the Shawnees caused Congress to

appoint another commission consisting of George Rogers Clark,

Richard Butler and Samuel H. Parsons, who met the Shawnee

chiefs at Fort Finney near the mouth of the Great Miami, where,

on January 31, 1786, a treaty was signed by the terms of which

the Shawnees relinquished their title to all their lands lying east

160 Ohio Arch

160      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

and south of the line established by the treaty of Fort McIntosh

with the Delawares and Wyandots.

Again it was believed that peace had been permanently estab-

lished between the western tribes and the United States. Emigra-

tion commenced to move rapidly toward the Ohio country, only

to be again annoyed by Indian resistance and merciless butcheries.

As an excuse for these depredations, the confederate tribes of the

northwest joined in a powerful remonstrance to Congress in De-

cember, 1786, wherein it was claimed that the treaties above

named were only partial treaties and did not bind the several

tribes which took no part in the several conventions, and sought

to justify their right to the whole country northwest of the Ohio,

by virtue of the old treaty of Fort Stanwix, made in 1768 with

the British Government.

The Continental Congress had now become exasperated at

the unfaithfulness and treachery of the confederate tribes, and

in order to meet the remonstrances squarely, determined to estab-

lish civil government in the Northwest Territory at the earliest

time possible. The ordinance of 1787 was passed and Arthur

St. Clair was appointed Governor. He arrived at Marietta on

July 9, 1788, and on July 27 issued his proclamation establishing

Washington county with the following boundaries: Beginning

at the Ohio river where the western boundary of Pennsylvania

crosses the same; thence north to Lake Erie; west to the mouth

of the Cuyahoga river; thence up said river, across the portage to

the Tuscarawas and down that river to the crossing place above

Fort Laurens; thence west to that branch of the Great Miami on

which stood the fort taken by the French in 1752; thence south

to the Scioto river; thence with said river and up the Ohio to the

place of beginning. Officers were appointed by the governor

and an attempt to establish civil government in the county was


This attempt to establish civil government seemed to incite

rather than allay the infractions by the Indians. And Governor

St. Clair found it necessary to make a further attempt to estab-

lish peace, and called the chiefs of the various confederate tribes

together at Fort Harmar, where on January 9, 1789, he succeeded

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Indian Boundary Line.                161


in obtaining separate treaties confirming the treaties made at Fort

McIntosh and Fort Finney.

These separate compacts were no more effective than those

that preceded them. Indian depredations continued, even more

cruel than before. Congress now realized that the only means

left by which peace could be secured and the settlers protected,

was by force of arms. An expedition was sent against the treach-

erous savages in 1790 under General Harmar which met with

defeat; and another was sent out in 1791 under Governor St.

Clair which met the same fate. General Wayne was then placed

in command, and in August, 1794, at the "Battle of Fallen Tim-

bers," he administered such a stinging rebuke to the Indian Con-

federacy and its British allies that they never recovered, and

Indian conspiracy in the northwest came to an end.

As a direct result of the victory of General Wayne, he re-

paired to Fort Greenville in what is now Darke county. There

the principal chiefs of the confederate tribes assembled, and on

August 5, 1795, a treaty was consummated which extinguished

forever the Indian title to the lands in the Northwest Territory

situated south and east of the boundary line described as fol-

lows: Beginning at the mouth of the Cuyahoga river; thence

up said river to the portage; thence across said portage and down

the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum to the crossing place

above Fort Laurens; thence in a westerly direction to that branch

of the Great Miami at or near which stood Loramie's store; thence

northwest to Fort Recovery; thence in a southerly direction to

the mouth of the Kentucky river.

President Washington, on December 9, 1795, reported

Wayne's Treaty by special message to the United States Senate,

which afterward confirmed the same.

The gateway to the northwest was now open, and on May

18, 1796, Congress enacted a law providing for the survey of

the outlines of the territory recently acquired from the Indians,

and among other things provided for the appointment of a sur-

veyor general, who was given power to appoint the necessary

number of deputy surveyors and administer the oath to them.

Another provision in said law was that the cost of surveying said

outlines should not exceed three dollars per mile.

Vol. XIV- 11.

162 Ohio Arch

162      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


The surveyor general appointed one Israel Ludlow a deputy

surveyor under said law, and he was assigned the task of survey-

ing the line agreed upon by Wayne's Treaty, and which had been

the subject of contention for so many years.

How Ludlow performed this task is herewith given, much of

which has been taken from his report of the survey to the gov-


The survey was under the personal direction of Israel Lud-

low, Deputy Surveyor of the United States. The chain carriers

were William C. Schenck and Israel Shreeve, both of whom were

duly sworn by the deputy surveyor.

A random line was first surveyed in order to ascertain the

true course of the Indian Boundary. This random line was

commenced on Sunday, June 18, 1797, at a sycamore tree four

feet in diameter standing at the fork of that branch of the Great

Miami river near which stood Loramie's store, with the magnetic

bearing of N. 4 degrees and 5 minutes E.; thence due east 131

miles and 50 chains to the Muskingum river, which was 8 chains

wide; thence up said Muskingum river with the meanderings

thereof 4 miles, 56 chains and 50 links to the confluence of the

White Woman and the Tuscarawas; thence up the Tuscarawas

branch with the meanderings thereof to a point opposite Fort

Laurens; thence across said river to said fort; thence up said

river about two miles to the "crossing place," above said fort,

"which was the place named in the late treaty by General Wayne

as a place from where a line is to run to that fork of the north

branch of the Great Miami at or near where stood Loramie's


The courses and distances up the Muskingum and the Tus-

carawas are given in Ludlow's notes. From the survey of this

random line, Ludlow determined that the bearing of the line con-

necting the crossing place above Fort Laurens with that branch

of the Great Miami at or near which stood Loramie's store and

which is near the western line of what is now Shelby county was

S. 78 degrees and 50 minutes W.

From Ludlow's report of the actual survey of the Indian

Boundary Line the following quotation is made: "Sunday, 9th

July, 1797, began a survey of Indian Boundary Line according

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Indian Boundary Line.               163


to treaty of Greenville by General Wayne of August 5, 1795, at

the crossing place of the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum

river above Fort Laurens at a bottom oak 10 inches in diameter

standing on the west bank of said fork, which tree is notched with

three notches on the north and west sides with this inscription:

'Surveyed according to Treaty by Gen. Wayne, a line to Loramie's

S. 78 degrees and 50 minutes W.'"

In tracing the boundary line southwesterly through what is

now Holmes county, Ludlow entered among his notes the follow-

ing, "19 miles, 32 chains, a water course running southwest, where

a flat ridge divides the waters of Sugar creek and Killbuck creek,"

"26 miles, 30 chains and 50 links, Killbuck creek 2 chains wide,

running south, 20 east current gentle." "40 miles, 17 chains and

50 links, White Woman creek (now called Mohican) runs south,

20 east, 4 chains and 50 links wide."

When Ludlow had surveyed the line to the distance of 119

miles and 59 chains, he ran a line south 480 chains when he found

the trace of the random line he had run east. He returned to the

camp on the treaty line and changed the course of the same from

S. 78 degrees, 50 W. to S. 88 degrees, 50 W. and at 153 miles

and 35 chains from the starting place, he came to a post 23 chains

and 50 links above the forks of Laramie's creek on a course S. 10

W. This report is dated August 29, 1797, and is signed by Israel

Ludlow, D. S.

The survey of the line from Loramie's to Fort Recovery, was

commenced by Ludlow on Saturday, August 3, 1799, at Loramie's,

and bears north 81 degrees, 10 minutes west, 22 miles, 51 chains

and 50 links to Fort Recovery, which was situated in what is now

Mercer county near the Indiana line.

The survey of the line between Fort Recovery and the mouth

of the Kentucky river was commenced by Ludlow on Tuesday,

10 o'clock, August 8, 1799, at Fort Recovery, and bears S. 11

degrees, 35 minutes W. Six miles of this part of the line only

is within the present limits of the State of Ohio.