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Ancient burial mounds and forts throughout the region showed evidence of the Hopewell Indians. In the 1600's, European explorers found the Delaware, Shawnee, Mingo, Wyandot, Miami and other Indian tribes living there. At one time both France and Great Britain both held claims to the Ohio area. After the Northwest Territory was established, and the Treaty of Greenville signed, thousands of settlers came to the Ohio region. Among the early settlers were Revolutionary War soldiers who had been given bounty lands in southeast Ohio for their military service.
To connect with trade to the East, Ohio built a 1,000-mile long canal system of eighty-three locks called the Ohio and Erie Canal, opening in 1825. This made an outlet for the Ohioan’s farms, forests and mines to conduct trade with the outside communities. The railroad arrived in the mid 1800's, turning Ohio into a crossroads for trade and migration.
Ohioans were instrumental in smuggling freedom seeking slaves to Canada by using the Underground Railroad. This resulted in a scattering of small African American communities serving as temporary safe havens in southeastern Ohio.
The following important events in the history of Ohio affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.
The following are important dates in the history of Ohio that affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements:
- 1656: Iroquois Confederacy claimed Ohio lands after defeating the Erie Indians.
- 1763: The British took possession of the area but discouraged settlers.
- 1772: Moravian misson at Schoenbrunn
- 1777: Moravian mission at Coshocton
- 1772-1824: Moravian Indian land grants, 4,000 acres along the Tuscarawas River in Tuscarawas County.
- 1787: The United States government established the Northwest Territory with the intent to open the land to Revolutionary War veterans and other settlers.
- 1788: The first permanent white settlement was established at Marietta.
- 1794: (August 20,) Battle of Fallen Timbers near Miami River. General Wayne commanding the U.S. forces, this victory ended Indian Wars in the area.
- 1799: Ohio Territory
- 1803: (March 1,) Ohio gained statehood.
- 1805: Land ceded by Ottawa, Wyandot, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Shawnee and Delaware Indians.
- 1807 & 1808: Land ceded by Chippewa, Ottawa, Wyandot, an Potawatomi
- 1817: Land ceded by Ottawa, Wyandot, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca
- 1818: Land ceded by Ottawa, Shawnee, Wyandot and Seneca
- 1818: Land ceded by Wea
- 1818: Land ceded by Miami
- 1843:Wyandot removed to Kansas
- 1861-1865: 310,000 Ohio men served in the Union armed forces during the Civil War.
- 1898: Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
- 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
- 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
- 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
- 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
- 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
- 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.
Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:
Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies.
You may want to study local histories for areas such as the Maumee, Miami, Hocking, Muskingum, Scioto, and Mahoning Valleys.
Bibliography of Local Histories
- Adams, Marilyn, comp. Ohio Local and Family History Sources in Print. (Clarkston, Georgia: Heritage Research, 1984.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 977.1 H23o
- Filby, P. William. A Bibliography of American County Histories. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 H23bi
- Kaminkow, Marion J. United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. 5 vols. (Baltimore: Magna Charta Book, 1975-76.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 A3ka
State Histories Useful to Genealogists
Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. Some examples for the State of Ohio.
Several multi-volume histories of Ohio were written between 1890 and 1945. Two examples are:
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio. Two Volumes. (N.p.: The State of Ohio, 1908, c1888.) FHL film 1698149 Item 5; book 977.1 H2hh 1908 The set has been produced by a number of publishers since 1847 and many editions exist.
- Day, Sandra H., comp. Index to Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio. (Wintersville, Ohio: S.H. Day, 1987-89.) FHL fiche 6003182 (first of 3); book 977.1 H22d
- Wittke, Carl F., ed. The History of the State of Ohio.Six Volumes. (Columbus, Ohio: The Society, 1941-1944.) FHL book 977.1 H2wi
United States History
The following are only a few of the many sources that are available:
- Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. (Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2almThis book provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
- Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976.) At various libraries (WorldCat), FHL book 973 H2adIncludes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations.
- Van Doren, Charles Lincoln; Robert McHenry, Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. (Springfield, Mass.: G and C Merriam, 1971.) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 H2v Includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.
- American Historical Association, Writings on American History (Washington, D.C.:American Historical Association,1960-1960) At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 H23wFull text available at Google Books
Family History Library
To access histories available through the Family History Library Catalog, use the Place-names Search for:
- OHIO - HISTORY
- OHIO, [COUNTY] - HISTORY
- OHIO, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - HISTORY
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Ohio Cuyahoga County Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Ohio Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Ohio Tax Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Ohio, Stark County Coroner's Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)