A Brief History of the Firelands

The Firelands of Ohio is geographically a half-million acres of land off the western end of the Connecticut Western Reserve in northern Ohio. It was first called the Fire Sufferers Land, a name that was soon shortened to the Firelands. This tract was given by the Connecticut Legislature in 1792 to citizens of nine towns which were invaded and damaged by British troops during the American Revolution. The British were attempting to destroy manufacturing and shipping which aided the Continental Army.

The nine towns which suffered losses were Norwalk, New Haven, East Haven, Greenwich, Danbury, Ridgefield, Groton, New London, and Fairfield. The War ended in 1781. Compensation claims were not approved until 1792 and land ownership wasn’t secured by treaty until 1805. Surveying was completed in 1808. Thus, most of the original sufferers had passed away or had become too old to travel to Ohio. Most of the early settlers were opportunists looking for cheap land and mild winters. The majority of the Firelands was bought up by land speculators who then sold to the actual settlers.

Permanent settlement started in 1808 but was hindered by the remoteness of the tract. The area was organized and named Huron County in 1809 but did not have its own government until after the War of 1812, which ended in 1815. By this time there was sufficient population to support a local county government. To this day of the original townships, nineteen remain in Huron County. Erie County was established to the north in 1838 and 1840, Danbury Township became part of Ottawa County and Ruggles Township was made part of Ashland County in 1846.