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Revised 27 December 2010


Ohio settlement dates back to some of the earliest documented records in America.  Some 3,000 years ago, the Adena and Hopewell people left a number of ceremonial mounds behind in and around the southern areas of the state.    By the time the European explorers had arrived in the area, these cultures were long gone and in their place lived the Algonquin and Iroquoian tribes.  

French explorer, Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle explored the Ohio River valley in 1670 and may have traversed further into Ohio itself.  La Salle claimed the region for France, but Great Britain also staked their claim on the area.  This area   was subject to a continuing conflict between the French and the British as there was a discrepancy in who owned the area between the Ohio River and Canada.  When France rescinded all claims to the territory and transferred ownership to the British, the United States claimed ownership by virtue of its Revolutionary War victory over Britain

There was a thought that the boundary lines of the original colonies should be extended to include the new territory but this idea was discarded.  The Government passed the Ordinance of 1787 as bounty land for the soldiers of the Revolution and this became known as the Northwest Territory.  The Northwest Territory was broken off later into five full states and part of a sixth state.

In 1747, the Puritans of Massachusetts and Connecticut formed the Ohio Company and purchased about a million acres of land for two-thirds of a dollar per acre.  This area later formed Athens, Gallia  Miegs, Morgan, Noble,  and Washington counties.  Four and a quarter million additional acres were set aside between the Scioto and the Little Miami Rivers as settlement by Virginians and Kentuckians in about 1800.  The Chillicote section in Ross county drew more Kentuckians and a group of Tenneseans.  There was one portion of the Ohio valley which was called the Western Reserve, so called because it had been "reserved" for future expansion of Connecticut.  Connecticut sold its holdings in 1795.  

The next two districts thrown open to settlers brought large groups of Scotch-Irish, Germans and Quakers from Pennsylvania.  A later migration brought settlers down the Ohio River from New Jersey.  These last people settled in the area between the two Miami Rivers.  Added to that mixture were more Scotch-Irish and a group of Dutch settlers.

After the U.S. forces under General Anthony Wayne moved the Indian tribes from the Lake Erie section in 1794, another four million acre tract was opened for settlement and was known as the Western Reserve.  This area included the northeast corner of Ohio along Lake Erie.  Into that area came former Connecticut residents, many of whose prior holdings had been burned out by the British during the Revolutionary War.  This land was often referred to as the Fire Lands".  

A new section, called the Refugee Tract was set aside for Canadians who had aided the American cause and lost their lands as a result.    This occurred in 1801.  In 1815, the north-west area was opened for settlement and people came in from the South and the Eastern areas.  The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 increased accessibility to the inland regions and people traveled west via the new waterways.  Although 95% of Ohio was wooded land at the time of the arrival of the settlers, much of this was cleared for farmland.  

Ohio is defined by its waterways, and waterways, as we know, were used by the frontier settlers like today's travelers use the local freeways, to get from here to there as quickly as possible.  The Ohio river winds from Pennsylvania to Ohio's southeastern boundary, which borders Kentucky and Indiana and forms the state's entire southern border.  In the north of Ohio, we have Lake Erie, which has more than 230 miles of frontage.  Lake Erie is part of an international waterway that provides access from the Atlantic Ocean into the North American interior.  Another aspect that makes water a highly probable route of travel is that it drains into the Mississippi River, the source of much of the frontier commercial enterprise.

On 1 March 1803, Ohio became the 17th state in the Union with its state capital being Columbus.  Ohio continued expansion with the completion of the Erie Canal and was a Union sympathizer during the Civil War.  At the end of the Civil War, Ohio pulled such notable entrepreneurs as John Davison Rockefeller, who founded the Standard Oil Company in 1860 and Benjamin F. Goodrich, who began the manufacture of rubber goods in Akron, making Ohio home to many tradesmen and laborers, a position which it continues to hold today.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Adams 1797 1 of 4 Original counties West Union
Allen 1820 Mercer, Indian Territory Lima
Ashland 1846 Wayne, Richland, Huron, Lorain Ashland
Ashtabula 1807 Trumbull, Geauga Jefferson
Athens 1805 Washington Athens
Auglaize 1848 Allen, Logan, Darke, Shelby, Mercer, Van Wert Wapakoneta
Belmont 1801 Jefferson, Washington St. Clairsville
Brown 1817 Adams, Clermont Georgetown
Butler 1803 Hamilton Hamilton
Carroll 1832 Columbiana, Start, Harrison, Jefferson, Tuscarawas Carrolton
Clark 1817 Champaign, Madison, Greene Springfield
Clermont 1800 Original County Batavia
Clinton 1810 Highland Wilmington
Columbiana 1803 Jefferson, Washington Lisbon
Coshocton 1811 Muskingum Coshocton
Crawford 1820 Old Indian Territory Bucyrus
Cuyahoga 1810 Geauga Cleveland
Darke 1908 Miami Greenville
Defiance 1845 Williams, Henry, Paulding Defiance
Delaware 1808 Franklin Delaware
Erie 1838 Huron, Sandusky Sandusky
Fairfield 1800 Franklin Lanaster
Fayette 1810 Rosa, Highland Washington C. H.
Franklin 1803 Ross Columbus
Fulton 1850 Lucas, Henry, Williams Wauseon
Gallia 1803 Washington Gallipolis
Geauga 1805 Trumbull Chardon
Greene 1803 Hamilton, Ross Xenia
Guernsey 1810 Belmont Cambridge
Hamilton 1790 1 of 4 Original counties Cincinnati
Hancock 1818 Wood, Indian Lands Findlay
Hardin 1820 Indian Lands Kenton
Harrison 1814 Jefferson, Tuscarawas Cadiz
Henry 1820 Wood Napoleon
Highland 1818 Athens, Ross, Fairfield Logan
Holmes 1824 Coshocton, Wayne, Tuscarawas Millersburg
Huron 1809 Indian Lands (Firelands) Norwalk
Jackson 1816 Pike Jackson
Jefferson 1797 Original County Steubenville
Knox 1808 Fairfield Mt. Vernon
Lake 1840 Geauga, Cuyahoga Painesville
Lawrence 1816 Gallia Ironton
Licking 1808 Fairfield Newark
Logan 1817 Champaign Bellefontaine
Lorain 1822 Huron, Cuyahoga, Medina Elyria
Lucas 1835 Wood Toledo
Madison 1810 Fayette London
Mahoning 1846 Columbiana, Trumbull Youngstown
Marion 1824 Crawford Marion
Medina 1812 Portage Medina
Meigs 1819 Gallia, Athens Pomeroy
Mercer 1820 Darke Celina
Miami 1807 Montgomery Troy
Morgan 1818 Washington McConnelsville
Morrow 1848 Knox, Marion, Delaware, Richland Mt. Gilead
Muskingum 1804 Washington, Fairfield Zanesville
Noble 1851 Monroe, Washington, Morgan, Guernsey Caldwell
Ottawa 1840 Erie, Sandusky, Lucas Port Clinton
Paulding 1820 Indian Lands Paulding
Perry 1817 Washington, Fairfield, Muskingum New Lexington
Pickaway 1810 Ross, Fairfield, Franklin Circleville
Pike 1815 Ross, Highland, Scioto, Adams Waverly
Potage 1807 Trumbull Ravenna
Preble 1808 Montgomery, Butler Eaton
Putnam 1820 Old Indian Territory Ottawa
Richland 1813 Knox Mansfield
Ross 1809 6th county from the Northwest Territory Chillicothe
Sandusky 1820 Huron Fremont
Scioto 1803 Adams, Washington Portsmouth
Seneca 1824 Wayne, Franklin, Delaware Tiffin
Shelby 1819 Miami Sidney
Stark 1809 Old Indian Lands Canton
Summit 1840 Portage, Medina, Stark Akron
Summit 1840 Portage, Medina, Stark Akron
Trumbull 1800 Jefferson, Western Reserve Warren
Tuscarawas 1808 Jefferson, Muskingum New Philadelphia
Union 1820 Franklin, Madison, Logan, Delaware Marysville
Van Wert 1820 Indian Territory Van Wert
Vinton 1850 Gallia, Athens, Ross, Jackson, Hocking McArthur
Warren 1803 Hamilton Lebanon
Washington 1788 Original County Marietta
Wayne 1796 Original County Wooster
Williams 1820 Henry Bryan
Wood 1820 Indian Lands Bowling Green
Wyandot 1845 Marion, Crawford, Hardin, Hancock Upper Sandusky