The Ohio Historical Society recently had a very good day at an auction held by Cowan’s Historic Americana in Cincinnati. On December 4, 2008 the Society successfully bid on a unique manuscript that documents the formation of government in the Old Northwest Territory prior to Ohio statehood. The large, hand written piece is dated October 11, 1798 and signed by territorial governor Arthur St. Clair. Just seven weeks before this document was signed, St. Clair created Ross County in southern Ohio. With this tract he appointed a group of local leaders as Justices of the Peace for Ross County. Additionally, the duties and expectations of those holding the position of justice of the peace are explained. The new justices included Thomas Worthington, who would become one of Ohio’s first U.S. Senators and the state’s sixth governor. The document was estimated to sell for $1,200 to $1,500 dollars. The Society’s purchase price was $1,410. Private funds from the Society’s Collections Acquisitions fund were used to purchase the document.
Click here to view the document in Cowan’s online auction catalog http://www.cowanauctions.com/upcoming_dates_view_item.asp?ItemId=66321. Looking at the document, you will see that it is in delicate condition. Damage has occurred along the fold lines in the paper. When it is delivered to the Society several steps will be taken to preserve the document and make it available to researchers. First, it will be photographed with our large format camera and a digital file of the document created. With this digital file, we can make the document available online and print a high quality replica that can be safely handled. Next, the original document will be fully encapsulated in clear polyester plastic that will support the paper and prevent further physical harm. Before assigning the tract a permanent and secure location in the archives stacks, it will be cataloged in our Online Collection Catalog (http://www.ohiohistory.org/occ/menu.htm). Stay tuned to the Collections Blog for more details.