The name popularly given to a region of country reserved by the State of Connecticut, at the time of the cession of the North-West Territory to the United States. Disputes arose, after the war of the Revolution, between several of the States, respecting the right of soil in this territory, which were only allayed by the cession of the whole to the United States, Connecticut reserving a tract of 3,666,921 acres near Lake Erie. In 1800, jurisdiction over this tract was relinquished to the federal government, the State reserving the right to the soil, and disposing of it in small lots to settlers, while the Indian titles to the rest of the soil were bought up by the general government. In 1799, the North-West Territory—over which Congress had exercised jurisdiction since 1787—was admitted to a second grade of territorial government. Shortly after, Ohio was detached from it, and erected into an independent territory; and, in 1803, it was received as a state into the Union.. — Webster, 1882
When Laura Ingalls and Ida Wright are to recite “the whole of American history, from memory” (see Little Town on the Prairie, Chapter 23, “Schooltime Begins Again”), Ida is glad that she doesn’t have to remember the longest part, which included the Western Reserve. This parcel of land in current-day northern Ohio was given to the state of Connecticut in 1786 after (in part) the state agreed to give up all claim to lands in Pennsylvania. It was sold in 1795 to the Connecticut Land Company for $1.2 million. The following year, Moses Cleaveland (correct spelling) settled the area that became Cleveland, Ohio.
1833 map of the Western Reserve is shown below. Description is from original map:
The Western Reserve is situated in the north east quarter of the state of Ohio between Lake Erie on the north, Pennsylvania East &c. It extends 120 miles from East to West and upon an average, 52 from north to south. The area is just 3,000,000 of acres, a body of 500,000 acres is stricken off from the west end of the tract and granted by the state of Connecticut, as a donation to certain sufferers by fire occasioned by the English during the Revolutionary War, the manner of which the state of Connecticut became possessed of the land in question, was the following: King Charles II of England, pursuing the example of his brother Kings, of granting distant and foreign regions to his subjects granted to the then colony of Connecticut in 1662 a charter right to all lands included within certain specified bounds. But as the geographical knowledge of Europeans concerning America was then very limited and confused patents for lands often interfered with each other. After the United States became an Independent Nation, these interfering claims occasioned much collision of sentiment between them and the State of Connecticut, which was finally compromised by the United State’s relinquishing their claim to the 3,000,000 of acres described. The United States however reserved to themselves the right of jurisdiction. They then united this tract to the Territory, now the State of Ohio. — William Savory, William Sumner and Allen Taylor, Map of the Western Reserve (Nelson, Ohio: Allen Taylor, Publisher, 1833).
Western Reserve (LTP 23)