On the 14th of February, 1811, a worn traveler, six weeks out from Cincinnati, arrived in Washington on a lame horse. In the rude new city just emerging from the Maryland forest he splashed through mud and alder swamps and drew up at the cluster of boarding houses around the half-built Capitol. There he found the two Ohio senators, Alexander Campbell and Thomas Worthington.
He introduced himself--the Reverend John W. Browne, native of Bristol, England, preacher to the Paddy's Run congregation in Butler County, Ohio, more recently editor of the weekly Liberty Hall in Cincinnati. Now he was beginning a tour of the East to raise a building fund for the Miami University.
Finally, on March 3, 1803, two days after Ohio attained statehood, Congress granted one complete township to be located in the District of Cincinnati under direction of the Ohio Legislature; if no township within the Symmes Purchase were offered in five years, then a township from federal lands was granted the State of Ohio to be held in trust for the establishment of a college. Now township was offered, since no unentered township remained between the two Miami rivers.
On April 15, 1803, the Ohio Assembly passed an act to provide for the locating of a college township and appointed three commissioners to choose the land. That summer Jeremiah Morrow and William Ludlow splashed through creeks of Butler County and selected a wild township on Four Mile Creek; it was not yet called Oxford Township. For five years, deer and foxes roamed the college lands. At the end of that waiting period the 23,000 acres became the possession of the State of Ohio, in accordance with the Act of Congress of March 3, 1803, to be held in trust to support a college.
So, in 1809, with its land grant finally and irrevocably made, the college could be legally created...
The Board of Trustees, now enlarged to twenty members, met on March 26th in Hamilton (population 260) and appointed a committee of five to select a tract one mile square for the college town. On March 29th, after tramping for two days through the woods a long Four Mile Creek, which was also known by the musical Indian name Tallawanda, the committee chose the site of Oxford, 640 acres of forest on a rounded hill crest. With auspicious foresight they reserved forty-six acres at its eastern end for the "University Square" and forty acres in the northeast corner for "Botanical Gardens." In May, in Hamilton, came the first land sale, eleven in-lots going for an average of twenty dollars, and eight four-acre out-lots at five dollars an acre. Bidders on the township land paid no purchase price but took a perpetual lease to their land, paying an annual rent of six per cent of the auction price to the University treasurer. The Board of Trustees had a trickle of money coming in.
(This excerpt is from The Miami Years by Walter Havighurst. Read it in its entirety at http://www.lib.MiamiOH.edu/my/index.html)
If you are interested in reading more about Miami History we recommend the following books.
Miami University: A Personal History
by Dr. Phillip Shriver
by Walter Havighurst
Men of Old Miami
by Walter Havighurst