Ohio Company, organization formed (1747) to extend settlements of Virginia westward. The members were mostly Virginia planters interested in land speculation and the fur trade. A royal charter (1749) granted the members 200,000 acres around the forks of the Ohio River, and in 1750 the company employed Christopher Gist to explore the Ohio valley. The first organized group to develop the region W of the Alleghenies, the company embarked on vigorous British colonial activity. The company's colonizing activities, however, were viewed by the French as a challenge to their claim to this region. The immediate rivalry helped to bring on the final French and Indian War. Later the Ohio Company merged its interests with another land company, but the American Revolution obstructed its plans.
See K. P. Bailey, The Ohio Company of Virginia and the Westward Movement, 1748–1792 (1939); A. P. James, The Ohio Company (1959).