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Researching Land and Property in Gallia County

     In Gallia County the irregularities caused by the newness of the rectangular survey system were compounded by the irregular shape of many of the townships which was caused by the uneven eastern border cut out by the Ohio River. The system called for standard numbering of the sections in each township starting with number 1 in the northeast corner and progressing west and then south, but this was followed in only three of Gallia’s townships. This means that locating property within any given township requires one to know how the sections are numbered. Within the maps section of this website you will find individual township maps that will show the numbering.
     Two years after the survey was done, the Ohio Company purchased a very large tract of land that included the entire eastern half of Gallia County. The Ohio Company was a consortium of wealthy Eastern investors who bought the land from the US government for one dollar per acre on speculation that they would make a profit when the land was subdivided and sold off piecemeal. When the French immigrants arrived in 1790 they held certificates of land ownership which they had purchased from the Scioto Company, before they left France. The Scioto Company had not, however, ever acquired title to the land and these settlers were required to either repurchase the land from the Ohio Company or to move on. Some repurchased the land, some others left for other parts of the country, some returned to France, and some were eventually able to settle on lands set aside for them in Scioto County.
     The original land records in Gallia County therefore fall into one of two categories. In the eastern half of the county individuals purchased the land directly from the Ohio Company, while in the western half they purchased it from the US government through the survey, warrant and patent process. The patents that were obtained from the government can be obtained from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Copies of these original certificates, some actually signed by the president of the United States, can be printed directly from the web site of the BLM:
    The original records for the land obtained from the Ohio Land Company are located in a book in the Gallia County Recorder’s office. All transactions recorded after these original events are recorded in the deed books kept by each county’s Recorder’s office. Between the years 1787-1803 these records would be in the courthouse in Marietta, Ohio, the county seat of Washington County. Before statehood, Gallia was a part of Washington County. Gallia was established as a separate county at the same time Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803. The land records dating from 1803 to the present are in the Recorder’s Office in the Gallia County Courthouse.
     There are other records called “Tract Books.” They contain information identifying the original owners who obtained land from the federal government. These can be useful in identifying neighbors of the early settlers. Finding the information you are looking for in the tract books can be a complicated proceedure. They have to be obtained from either the National Archives or through the Family History Library. It is complicated because they have to be found through the land description and not the name. You can read more about this by going to this site (Tract books) in the Family History Library catalog.

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