Society of Families of the Old Northwest Territory
The Old Northwest Territory, officially called the United States Territory Northwest of the Ohio River, was created by the U.S. Congress through the Northwest Ordinance, and it existed between 13 July 187 to 3 March 1803. The territory encompassed today’s Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota.
It was the first organized area within the United States to outlaw slavery, establish freedom of religion, create public education, and provide inheritance laws for widows and their children. The Northwest Ordinance foreshadows the first ten amendments to the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The French established Cahokia (Illinois) in 1699 and Detroit (Michigan) in 1701. Other settlements were also founded by the French. The British received this territory after the French and Indian Wars. After the Revolutionary War, the territory became a part of the United States.
In 2015, the Ohio Genealogical Society formed a new lineage society – The Society of Families of the Old Northwest Territory. This is the only OGS lineage society that is open to members and non-members of the Ohio Genealogical Society.
This lineage society not only honors the memory of American ancestors living within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory, but also those of Native American, French, and British ancestry who were living in this area prior to the territory becoming a part of the United States.
Applicants must prove one of three conditions for membership: A) Your ancestor must have lived in what is now Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, or eastern Minnesota (east of the Mississippi River) between 13 July 1787 and 7 May 1800 when the Indiana Territory was created; B) Your ancestor must have lived in what is now Ohio or Michigan between 13 July 1787 and 3 March 1803 when Ohio became a state; C) Your ancestor must have lived in what is now Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin or eastern Minnesota prior to 13 Jul 1787 as a citizen of either France or Great Britain, or as a Native American.
Applicants are also eligible for admission to SFONT under the following conditions: 1) A Native American who is a legal member of an existing Indian tribe which once lived within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory prior to 3 March 1803; 2) A citizen of France who lived within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory prior to 10 February 1763 (Treaty of Paris); 3) A subject of Great Britain who lived within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory prior to 29 February 1796 (Jay Treaty); 4) A citizen of the State of Virginia who lived in the County of Illinois between October 1778 and 1 March 1784; 5) A soldier from the armies of either France or Great Britain who was stationed within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory prior to 10 February 1763 for a French veteran and prior to 1 March 1796 for a British veteran; 6) A soldier from the United States Army who was stationed within the boundaries of the Old Northwest Territory prior to 3 March 1803; 7) A American who illegally settled within the Old Northwest Territory and who later took up legal residence. These settlers are commonly called “squatters.”
Descendants of early civil officers of the Old Northwest Territory are also encouraged to apply. Those early civil officers would be: Arthur St. Clair, Territorial Governor; John Cleves Symmes, Supreme Court member; James Mitchell Varnum, Supreme Court member; Samuel Holden Parsons, Supreme Court member; Winthrop Sargent, Secretary; William Henry Harrison, Secretary and later a non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress; Charles Willing Byrd, Secretary; William McMillan, non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress; and Paul Fearing, non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress.
Applicants eighteen (18) years or older, who can prove satisfactory lineal descent of one who lived in the Old Northwest Territory according to the Society’s rules and guidelines shall be eligible to join this Society.
For the application form, rules and guidelines click here.
This is one of five lineage societies of the Ohio Genealogical Society. For information on all of the lineage societies, click here.
If you have any questions pertaining to SFONT, you can contact the judge here.