Ohio Company (1747-1779)

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The Ohio Company, founded in 1747, represented the trading and land prospecting interests of a handful of Virginia planters. Thomas Lee was appointed president, Nathaniel Chapman served as treasurer, and John Mercer was both secretary and general council. In that year, John Mercer's son, George Mercer, was appointed the company's representative in England. In 1748 the British Crown approved a land grant to the company to be administered by the Colony of Virginia. The grant covered the Ohio territory, a colloquial term for what is now modern day West Virginia, much of Ohio, western Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland. Governor Robert Dinwiddie, a member of company, required that the company develop trade with the Indians, erect forts, and settle one hundred families to secure the grant. The company employed frontiersman Christopher Gist to survey the area of the grant in 1750. Two years later, Iroquois leaders signed a treaty at Loggstown, Pennsylvania, a large Native American settlement on the Ohio near the forks. Gist was representative of the Ohio Company and Colonel Joshua Fry represented the colony of Virginia at the negotiations. The Ohio territory was also claimed by the French, who began erecting forts in the Ohio Valley in reaction to the Treaty at Loggstown and other factors. By the beginning of the French and Indian War in 1754, the Ohio Company's efforts were largely stymied, despite its continued existence until its formal dissolution in 1779. Other members of the company included Virginians George Mason, brothers Lawrence, Augustine, and George Washington, Governor Robert Dinwiddie, and British merchant John Hanbury. The Ohio Company and Pennsylvania frontier history was of great interest to a handful of late nineteenth century American scholars, among them William M. Darlington. Darlington acquired the papers in this collection in the 1870s, and published a volume of Christopher Gist's journals. Multiple copies of the Gist journals have been published, the earliest as an appendix to Thomas Pownall's 1776 A Topographical Description of North America. In the 1950s, there was a second upsurge of interest in the frontier history of the eastern United States. In the 1940s and 1950s, Lois Mulkearn, the first Darlington Memorial Librarian, took up an extensive study of the Ohio Company papers collected by William Darlington. Mulkearn wrote the George Mercer Papers, the authoritative volume on the Ohio Company Papers, particularly the Case of the Ohio Company compiled by George Mercer.

From the description of Records of the Ohio Company, 1736-1813 [electronic resource]. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 671392003

By the Treaty of Lancaster, 1744, the Iroquois nation deeded a substantial portion of the Ohio Valley to the British crown. Three years later in 1747 a group of prominent Virginians organized the Ohio Company and then petitioned for the grant in 1748. After deliberation by the Privy Council and Board of Trade, the grant was approved and issued on July 13, 1749. The following year the Company sent Christopher Gist to survey the territory. His activities, including further negotiations with the Indians and a small settlement, alerted the French who immediately began fortifying the Ohio River, precipitating the French and Indian War in 1755.

From the description of Petition to the King for settling the Ohio River valley, 1748. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 56133287

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn James, Alfred Procter, b. 1886. Papers of Alfred P. James, 1946-1956. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Addington, Luther F. (Luther Foster), 1899-. Virginia's Frontier Trail Blazer, or the Great Scout, [manuscript], 1945? University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn William Petty, 1st Marquis of Lansdowne, 2nd Earl of Shelburne papers, Shelburne, William Petty, 1st Marquis of Lansdowne, 2nd Earl of, papers, 1665-1885 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Order of Council, 1754 Feb 10. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
referencedIn Mercer, George, 1733-1784. Letters: London, to James Mercer and George Mason, 1771. Library of Virginia
referencedIn Darlington, William M. (William McCullough), 1815-1889. Papers related to William M. Darlington's book, Christopher Gist's Journals, 1882-1893 [electronic resource]. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Darlington, William M. (William McCullough), 1815-1889. Papers related to William M. Darlington's book, Christopher Gist's Journals, 1882-1893. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Ohio Company (1747-1779). Petition to the King for settling the Ohio River valley, 1748. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Mercer, George, 1733-1784. [Part of the Ohio River, with notes by G. Mercer relating to the Ohio Company's lands] / G. Mercer. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Peele family. Peele Family Papers, 1753-1871. Peabody Essex Museum
creatorOf Ohio Company (1747-1779). Indenture re articles of agreement, 1751. Library of Congress
creatorOf Ohio Company (1747-1779). Records of the Ohio Company, 1736-1813 [electronic resource]. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf James, Alfred P., 1886-1971. Papers 1932-1963 (bulk, 1960-1963). Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
referencedIn Mulkearn, Lois. Research files of Lois Mulkearn, 1937-1956. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Northwest, Old. Papers and documents, 1721-1802 (bulk 1780-1801). Indiana Historical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Addington, Luther F. (Luther Foster), 1899- person
associatedWith Carlisle, John, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith Chapman, Nathaniel, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith Craik, James, 1730-1814. person
associatedWith Crawford, William, 1730-1814. person
associatedWith Crawford, William, 1732-1782. person
associatedWith Cresap, Thomas, 1694?-1790?. person
associatedWith Cresap, Thomas, 1702-1790. person
associatedWith Cressap, Daniel, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith Croghan, George, ca.1720-1782. person
associatedWith Darlington, William M. (William McCullough), 1815-1889. person
associatedWith Fairfax, George William, 1724-1787. person
associatedWith Giles, Jacob, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith Gist, Christopher, ca.1720-1782. person
associatedWith Gist, Christopher, d. 1759. person
associatedWith Gooch, William, Sir, 1681-1751. person
associatedWith Great Britain. Board of Trade. corporateBody
associatedWith Hanbury, John, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith James, Alfred P., 1886-1971. person
associatedWith James, Alfred Procter, b. 1886. person
associatedWith Lansdowne, William Petty, Marquis of, 1737-1805 person
associatedWith Lee, Thomas, 1690-1750. person
associatedWith Mason, George, 1725-1792. person
associatedWith Mercer, George, 1733-1784. person
associatedWith Mercer, James. person
associatedWith Mercer, John, 1704-1768. person
associatedWith Mulkearn, Lois. person
associatedWith Nelson, Thomas, 1716-1782. person
associatedWith Nimmo, william, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith Northwest, Old. corporateBody
associatedWith Peele family. corporateBody
associatedWith Stephen, Adam. person
associatedWith Thornton, William, fl. 1748. person
associatedWith University of Pittsburgh. University Library System. Digital Research Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Washington, Augustine, 1720- person
associatedWith Washington, Lawrence, 1718-1752. person
associatedWith Woodrup, James, fl. 1748. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ohio River Valley
United States
Loggstown (Pa.)
Maryland, Western
Pennsylvania, Western
West Virginia
United States
Ohio River Valley
Indian traders
Anglo--French War, 1755-1763
Land speculation
Indians of North America--Social life and customs
Real estate development--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775

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