2017 June – Old Northwest Territory States

Research in the States of ‘Old Northwest Territory.’

Coordinator: Rev. David McDonald, DMin, Certified Genealogist®

Additional Instructor: Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, Accredited Genealogist®

This week-long course aims to introduce research researchers to the records and people of the upper Midwest, from the colonial era through to the 20th Century. If you are looking to join Ohio Genealogical Society’s newest lineage society “Society of the Families of the Old Northwest Territory,” this course should help you understand the research in this region.

9:00 a.m. Interior North America prior to the Federal Era (McDonald)
French explorations, native peoples, and the influx of British-connected merchants and settlers prior to the opening of this region to settlement from the former colonies of the eastern seaboard.

10:45 a.m. The Northwest Ordinance and the Public Domain (McDonald)
The enabling legislation that opened the region for settlement and the sale of public lands; discussion of the records of the surveying, platting and sales of the public domain, as well as considerations regarding various military and colonial reserves established in the states.

1:00 p.m. The Firelands, The Connecticut Western Reserve, and The Ohio Territory (Lauritzen)
The northeastern lands of Ohio are called “The Firelands” and “The Western Reserve.” How did they come to be called that? And, what connection do they have to the northeast section of our country?

2:45 p.m. Ohio, the Great Land Experiment (Lauritzen)
Patterns of settlement (geographic and ethnic), formulation of government and impact of the state’s constitutions; the state’s place in the Civil War; ethnic settlers, especially Germans; overview of vital records, courts and repositories in the state.

Homework assignment.

4 p.m. Pittsburgh: Point of Gathering, Point of Departure (McDonald)
Consideration of Pittsburgh as the jumping-off point to westward migration down the Ohio and overland into the interior of the region.


Review homework.

9:00 a.m. Early 19th Century Mormon Migration (Lauritzen)
The history and peoples of the region were contextually impacted by their neighbors, the Mormons. Their movement from New York to  Ohio to Missouri to Illinois, and finally to Utah, along with the influx of New Englanders into the region who came as converts to the tradition will be considered.

10:45 a.m. Indiana: Blended Migrants from the Seaboard and South (McDonald)
From the Ohio River northward to Lake Michigan, with settlers from both Southern and Northern backgrounds, and later large swaths of ethnic Europeans, the Hoosier state has resources and records to consider and include in genealogical efforts. Repositories, libraries, courthouse courtesies, as well as records created and available will be discussed.

1:00 p.m. Native Peoples (McDonald)
Discussion of the local tribes in the region, their confederacies and alliances, the skirmishes that populate 19th century literature and lore and the disposition of those peoples after being displaced from their lands.

2:45 p.m. The War of 1812 and Interior Expansion (McDonald)
The war itself played out in various theatres, and the soldiers of the region were generally a part of the southern and western sphere of the conflict. Following the conflict, a military reserve was established in western Illinois for bounty land claims of veterans. We’ll examine the war’s short- and long-term impacts on the region.

Homework assigned

4 p.m. Cincinnati, the Queen City (McDonald)
How Cincinnati proved a midway point in the antebellum development of the region, both as a center of commerce and as a multi-ethnic and mixed race environment.


Review homework.

9:00 a.m. Illinois: Butternuts, Yankees and Europeans (McDonald)
The Prairie State’s influences and arrivals from the upper south and the east coast, as they were staged through the years by migration paths, canals, and ethnic migrants from throughout Europe. Records, lingo, courthouse etiquette, repositories great and small will help researchers find their way in the Land of Lincoln.

10:45 a.m. Religions and their Records (McDonald)
Denominations and the records they create, with a nod to their utility in genealogical research; the social and political role of the churches as they expanded and grew; the Underground Railroad and votes for women as impacted by the place of religious communities and records.

1:00 p.m. Michigan: Extending New England’s and New York’s Influence (McDonald)
From the French settlements along the Great Lakes, to the expansive influence of the automobile industry, the large ethnic influxes and the many northeastern migrants headed west, Michigan has a variety of records, collections, and materials waiting for a researcher’s wandering interests.

2:45 p.m. The Civil War (McDonald)
The heart-wrenching and destructive course of conflict that drew thousands of men from their homes to battlefields throughout the South had a tremendous impact on the states of the region. We’ll consider the war, and the records created by state and federal agencies to support the armies of the “War of 1861,” and related to the veterans, soldiers’ widows and their orphans through the years.

Homework assigned.

4 p.m. National Cemeteries (McDonald)
Following the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s family home, a vast network of cemeteries reserved for the honored dead of battle, and their aged veteran compatriots, was established nationwide. We will note the cemeteries in the states of the Upper Midwest and the records available to researchers.


Review homework.

9:00 a.m. Wisconsin: Upper Europeans, French Canadians & Laura Ingalls Wilder (McDonald)
Research amongst the Cheeseheads includes reference to the French and Indian colonial-era traders, the badgers and miners who moved into the state for its rich mineral and natural wealth in the early years of the nineteenth century, and the varied ethnic groups—Germans, Norwegians, Poles and Swedes among them—who “crossed the pond” after century. We’ll examine the resources and records available via state offices and the amazing collections of the state historical society library and archives at Madison.

10:45 a.m. The Homestead Act and European Migration (McDonald)
After the murder of Abraham Lincoln and the close of the Civil War, the Homestead Act of 1862 proved a draw to the Great Plains, pulling many settlers from the “Old Northwest.” With the end of the rebellion, European migrations to the States which had been bottled up by the conflict were let loose with substantial numbers of those immigrants being freed to come to America.

1:00 p.m. Minnesota: Ten Thousand (and more) Lakes and a Whole Lot of Uffda (McDonald)
The last of the states established out of lands in the Old Northwest, this mid-century addition to the Union had, from the outset, a strong influx of northern Europeans working its mines and forests, in addition to homesteaders across the state. Resources at the Minnesota Historical Society and the influence of Native American communities on the area will be examined.

2:45 p.m. The Industrial Revolution and the Urbanization of the U.S. (McDonald)
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, the long-held connection of Americans as farmers began to fray, with many “extra” sons and daughters moving off the farm into the growing urban areas of the region. We’ll look at strategies for locating young, single women in domestic service and strapping farm boys who found jobs in factories, foundries and in slaughterhouses. Discussion of trade unions, their records and the publications they produced.



Review homework.

8:30 a.m. Case Studies (McDonald)
Research into and through the Old Northwest produces narrative case studies on two families. We’ll consider a compiled genealogy of a family which came into the region in the 1830s via the Erie Canal from the northeast, and parts of which removed to the west coast by the 1890s. In the other family, the arrival at the close of the eighteenth century along the Ohio River leads to a variety of records and lands across the region.

10:15 a.m. Researching Recent Ancestors (McDonald)
Two World Wars, the Great Depression, the 1940 Census all provide background fodder for our research in the twentieth century. We’ll examine population and cultural shifts which have drawn long-term Midwesterners to other parts of the country, and how those shifts will impact genealogical researchers’ efforts throughout the years ahead.

11:30 a.m. Presentation of Certificates before lunch