The Northwest Territory
Part of the Illinois Trails History and Genealogy Project

©Illinois Trails History and Genealogy


December 20, 1783.
The legislature of Virginia passed the Virginia Act of Cession, which yielded the state's claims to lands in the western part of the country to the United States.

March 1, 1784.
The United States Congress accepted the Virginia Act of Cession.

April 23, 1784.
Congress approved the Territorial Ordinance of 1784, written by Thomas Jefferson, to serve as a plan for temporary government of the western territories. Although it was never put into effect, this plan influenced the content of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance.

May 20, 1785.
Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785, which was a plan for dividing and selling land in the western territories.

May 9, 1786.
A committee of Congress, headed by James Monroe of Virginia, made a report about a plan for governance of the Northwest Territory that would be the basis for the subsequent Ordinance of 1787.

July 13, 1787.
While the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, the Congress of the Confederation enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which was a plan for governing the territory north and west of the Ohio River. Freedom of religion, right to trial by jury, and public education were asserted as rights of the people. Slavery was banned.

October 5, 1787.
Congress selected a governor and other officers for the Northwest Territory according to the terms of the Ordinance of 1787. The first governor was Arthur St. Clair.

April 7, 1788.
Veterans of the War of Independence founded Marietta, at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingam rivers. This was the first permanent settlement of the Northwest territory after it was organized under the Ordinance of 1787.

May 7, 1800.
A law was enacted by the federal government that established the Indiana Territory.

February 19, 1803.
The 17th State
Ohio became the first state formed from the Northwest Territory.

January 11, 1805.
An act of Congress created the Territory of Michigan.

February 3, 1809.
An act of Congress created the Territory of Illinois

June 29, 1816.
Delegates to the Indiana Constitutional Convention signed the new constitution

December 3, 1818.
was admitted to the Federal Union as the twenty-first state.

April 20, 1836.
An act of Congress created the Territory of Wisconsin.

Welcome To The Northwest Territory, part of the Illinois Trails History and Genealogy Project

Our goal is to provide the researcher with as much data as possible on ancestors living within the boundaries of the Northwest Territory, including early information on all States encompassed within those boundaries. These States include Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. We have also included some early pioneer records for the State of Kentucky, as many early settlers came through this route to the Territory.

This will be an ongoing project and if you have data to contribute, please contact




Illinois' Abstract of Title

Important Events Timeline

Maps of Territorial Boundary Changes

Michigan Gazetteer - The History of the NW Territory and Michigan NEW!

Slavery in the Territory

The Illinois Bounty Land Newspaper

Migration and Life in the Northwest Territory


Trails Taken by the early pioneers

Old Kaskaskia Trails

Wilderness Road - New Additions

1818 Emmigrant Guide into the Territory

The River System and Travel

The Ohio River Route vs The Wilderness Road


1743/44 Births, Marriages and Deaths at Ft. Charters NEW!

Land Grants to the French and American Settlers

1777/78 Marietta Ohio Settlers

1787 contract between the French, the Americans and Tardiveau

1787 Census of Kaskaskia

1787 Census Prairie du Rocha NEW!

List of Americans in Illinois in 1787

List of Vincennes Land Grants, Transfers and Ownership 1788-1790 NEW!

Captain Gamelin's Men at Post Vincennes 1790

Donators to the Wilderness Road Improvement 1792

1798 Land Grants in Cahokia

1802 Indiana Territory Election

Clark County Indiana Residents Petition with Signatures

1807 Territorial Election

1807 Knox County Territorial Census

1811 Land Petitions

1818 Census of Crawford County

American Fur Company Employees 1818-1819

The 1820 Census of St. Clair County

1825 Randolph County Territorial Census


The Bethel Baptist Church - Illinois

Marriage of the First White Couple in the Territory - Later to become Sangamon County Illinois

Pisgah Church to 1818 - Kentucky

Old Maria Creek Church - Indiana Territory

Early Presbyterianism in East Central Illinois


The Earthquake of 1811/1812, including first hand accounts

The McMahon Family Massacre

The Indian Creek Massacre

The Abduction of the Hall Sisters

Fort Dearborn Massacre

Territorial Criminals


Revolutionary War - Illinois

Bounty Lands

The War of 1812
- Illinois

Oddities in Early Illinois Laws - Portions include the NW Territory

The First Two Counties in Illinois Territory and Their People


Illinois' Abstract of Title

Illinois State Constitution and it's signers

Signers of the Ohio Constitution

Signers of the Indiana Constitution

Michigan Gazetteer - The History of the Territory and Wisconsin NEW!

Slavery in the Territory


The War of 1812 - Illinois

Revolutionary War - Illinois

- coming soon

Forts of the American Bottom

The Jesuits


The Fur Trade - American Fur Company and Employees from 1818-1819

List of Traders 1820-1822 - coming soon

BIOGRAPHIES - coming soon

Illinois Trails Counties that were part of the Northwest Territory

Kaskaskia Illinois Trails

Randolph County Illinois Trails

St. Clair County Illinois Trails