The Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) is proud to announce the formation of its fifth lineage society, The Society of Families of the Old Northwest Territory (SFONT). This new lineage society will be open to both members and non-members. Applications will be accepted starting on January 1, 2016 with the charter induction ceremony to be held during the 2017 annual conference in Sandusky, Ohio.
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 1787 and 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.
This new lineage society will not only honor 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 this territory becoming a part of the United States.
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 and then the territory become a part of the United States after the Revolutionary War.
The 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 when the Indiana Territory was created on 7 May 1800;
B) Your ancestor must have lived in what is now Ohio or Michigan between 13 July 1787 and when Ohio became a state on 3 March 1803;
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) An American who illegally settled within the Old Northwest Territory and who later took up legal residence. These settlers are commonly called “squatters.”
A member of SFONT may also be a descendant of one of the following men who were civil officers in the Old Northwest Territory: 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.
Supplemental applications may be submitted after the original application has been approved for the original applicant. Deadline for applications is 31 December of each year. Applications must be delivered to OGS or be postmarked by that date.
Applicants who are not accepted during the year in which they apply will have their applications filed at OGS headquarters for a five-year period. Applicants will have five years in which to submit sufficient documentation for acceptance. After this five-year period, a new application and application fee must be submitted.
All applications must be signed by the applicant or by a person who compiled the application for the applicant. Unsigned applications will not be reviewed. Final acceptance is up to the committee chair. Illegitimacy is not grounds for denial. However, only blood lines are eligible. Adoptive lines are not eligible.
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. Applicants do not have to be members of the OGS.
OGS members will be able to join this Society for a fee of $40. Non-OGS members will have an application fee of $60. Application fees are non-refundable. All files and documentation submitted in the application become the property of the Ohio Genealogical Society.
Approved applicants will receive a certificate and a medal at an annual banquet to be held in conjunction with the yearly spring OGS conference. Only one pin will be issued to each approved member. You are encouraged to attend the banquet to receive your recognition.
For many applicants this will be a challenging undertaking in order to prove ancestry since they will not only be dealing with American records but also French and British colonial records. The application form, rules & guidelines will be available on the OGS website by the end of the year.