Stratton House Inn :: Early Ohio: A Brief History, Part 1 -- Table of Contents / Discovery, Exploration, and First Settlement by Europeans.
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by Henry Howe.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EARLY OHIO: A BRIEF HISTORY, Part 1 -- Discovery, Exploration, and First Settlement by Europeans (this entry)
Part 2 -- From the Ordinance of 1787 to the State of Ohio
Part 3 -- From the War of 1812 to the Civil War, 1861-1865

The territory that now comprises the state of Ohio was formerly a part of that vast region claimed by France -- between the Allegheny and the Rocky mountains -- first known by the general name of Louisiana. In 1673, Marquette, a zealous French Missionary, accompanied with Monsieur Joliet (from Quebec) and five boatmen, set out on a mission from Mackinac to explore the regions lying south of that historic site. They passed across Lake Michigan to Green Bay, from there down the Fox River, made a portage to the Wisconsin River, and followed it down to its junction with the Mississippi River. They descended this mighty stream a thousand miles to its confluence with the Arkansas River. On their return to Canada, they strongly urged the immediate occupation of the vast and fertile regions watered by the Mississippi River and its branches.

On 7 August 1679, M. de la Salle, the French commandant of Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, launched the Griffin on Lake Erie. The Griffin was a substantial craft of about 60 tons, with which he proceeded through the Lakes to the Straits of Michillimackinac. Leaving his large boat at this place, he proceeded by canoe down Lake Michigan, and from there to the southwest, until he arrived at Peoria Lake, in Illinois. At this place he erected a fort. After sending Father Lewis Hennepin on a further exploring expedition, La Salle returned to Canada. In 1683, La Salle went to France and convinced the French Government to fit out an expedition for the purpose of planting a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River. This expedition failed, and La Salle was murdered by his own men.

This disaster did not deter the French in their great plans for taking possession of the vast region that lay to the west of the English colonies. A second expedition sailed from France, under the command of M. D'Iberville. This officer entered the mouth of the Mississippi River, and explored the river for several hundred miles. Permanent settlements were made at different points; and from this time the French colony west of the Allegheny Mountains steadily increased in numbers and strength.

Prior to the year 1725, the colony had been divided into quarters, each having its local governor -- or commandant -- and judge, but all subject to the superior authority of the council general of Louisiana. One of these quarters was established northwest of the Ohio River.

At this time the French had erected forts on the Mississippi, Illinois, and Maumee rivers, as well as on the Great Lakes. Still, however, communication with Canada was through Lake Michigan. Prior to 1750, a French post had been fortified at the mouth of the Wabash River, and communication was established through that river -- via a portage to the Maumee River -- with Canada.

About the same time, and for the purpose of slowing the progress of the French, the Ohio Company was formed, which made several attempts to establish trading houses among the Indians. The French, however, established a chain of fortifications back of the English settlements and effectively maintained control over the great Mississippi valley. The English government became increasingly alarmed at the encroachments of the French, and attempted to settle boundary disputes by negotiations. These efforts failed, and both parties were determined to settle their differences by force.

The claims of the different European kings to large portions of the western continent were based upon the first discoveries made by their subjects. In 1609, the English king granted to the London Company all the territories extending along the Atlantic coast of North America for two hundred miles north and south from Point Comfort, and "to sea, west and north-west." In 1662, Charles II granted to certain settlers upon the Connecticut River all the territory between the "parallels of latitude" which include the present state of Connecticut, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. The claims that Massachusetts advanced during the American revolution to an interest in the western lands, were founded upon a similar charter, which was granted thirty years later.

When the king of France held claims in North America, the entire old Northwest Territory of the United States -- everything northwest of the Ohio River -- was included in the province of Louisiana. The north boundary of this area, as established between France and England by the Treaty of Utrecht, was fixed at the 49th "parallel of latitude" north of the Equator. After the conquest of the French possessions in North America by Great Britain, this tract was ceded by France to Great Britain in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris.

The primary basis for the English claim to land lying beyond the Allegheny Mountains was as follows: The Six Nations (Iroquois Indians) had owned (controlled) the Ohio valley, and had placed it along with their other lands under the protection of England. Some of the western lands were also claimed by the British as having been actually purchased, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1744. This was a treaty between the colonists and the Six Nations, which is also known as the fraudulent "Walking Purchase."

In 1748, the "Ohio Company" was formed for the purpose of establishing trade with the Indians. In 1749, the English built a trading house upon the Great Miami River, at a spot subsequently called Loramie's Store. In 1751, Christopher Gist, an agent of the Ohio Company, who was appointed to examine the western lands, made a visit to the Twigtwees who lived upon the Miami River, about one hundred miles from its mouth.

Early in 1752, the French, having heard of the trading house on the Miami River, sent a party of soldiers to the Twigtwees and denounced the English traders as intruders upon French lands. The Twigtwees refused to deliver up their new English friends. The French, assisted by the Ottawas and Chippewas Indians, then attacked the trading house -- which was probably a block house. After a severe battle in which fourteen of the natives were killed and others wounded, the English captured and destroyed the trading house, and took the captured English traders to Canada. The English called this fort, or trading house, Pickawillany. This was the first British settlement in the Ohio valley, of which we have any record.

After Braddock's defeat in 1755, the Indians pushed their excursions as far east as the Blue Ridge. In order to repel them, in January 1756, Major Lewis was sent with a party of troops on an expedition against the Indian towns on the Ohio River. Lewis's apparent objective was the upper Shawnee town, which was situated on the Ohio River about three miles above the mouth of the Great Kanawha River. The attempt proved a failure, it is said, because of the swollen state of the streams and the treachery of the guides.

In 1764, Gen. Bradstreet was able to disperse the Indian forces besieging Detroit. He subsequently passed into the Wyandot country by way of Sandusky Bay. He ascended the bay and river as far as it was navigable by boat, and there made a camp. There, a treaty of peace was signed by some of the Indian chiefs and head men.

However, the Shawnees of the Scioto River, and the Delawares of the Muskingum River, still continued hostile. In 1764, Col. Boquet and a body of troops marched from Fort Pitt into the heart of the Ohio country on the Muskingum River. This expedition was conducted with great prudence and skill and suffered little loss of life. It also achieved a treaty of peace with the Indians, who restored the prisoners they had captured from the white settlements.

The next major conflict with the Indians occurred in 1774, and generally is known as Lord Dunmore's War. In the summer of that year, an expedition, under Col. M'Donald, was assembled at Wheeling, (West) Virginia. From there it marched into the Muskingum country and destroyed the Indian town of Wapatomica, which was a few miles above the current site of Zanesville. In that fall, the Indians were defeated after a hard fought battle at Point Pleasant, on the Virginia side of the Ohio River. Shortly after this event, Lord Dunmore made peace with the Indians at Camp Charlotte, in what is now Pickaway County.

During the American Revolution, most of the western Indians were more or less united against the Americans. In the fall of 1778, an expedition against Detroit was projected. As a preliminary step, it was resolved that the forces in the west, under Gen. M'Intosh, should move up and attack the Sandusky Indians. In preparation for this campaign, Fort Laurens, so called in honor of the President of Congress, was built upon the Tuscarawas River, a short distance below the site of Bolivar, Tuscarawas County.

The expedition to Detroit subsequently was abandoned and the garrison of Fort Laurens, after suffering much from both the Indians and famine, was recalled in August 1779. A month or two prior to the evacuation of this fort, Col. Bowman headed an expedition against the Shawnees. Their village, Chillicothe, which was three miles north of the current site of Xenia, Ohio, on the Little Miami River, was destroyed. The warriors, however, fought aggressively, and the whites were forced to retreat.

In the summer of 1780, Gen. Broadhead led an expedition from Wheeling against the Indian towns at the forks of the Muskingum River. This expedition, known as "the Coshocton campaign," produced insignificant results. In the same summer, Gen. Clark led a body of Kentuckians against the Shawnees. Chillicothe, on the Little Miami, was burned on their approach. At Piqua -- their town on the Mad River, which was about six miles below the current site of Springfield -- the Indians gave battle to the whites and were defeated. In September 1782, Gen. Clark led a second expedition against the Shawnee. Their towns, Upper and Lower Piqua, which were on the Miami River within what is now Miami County, were destroyed, along with the store of an Indian trader.

There also were other, later expeditions into the Indian country from Kentucky. In 1786, Col. Logan conducted a successful expedition against the Mackachack towns, which were located on the head waters of the Mad River in what is now Logan County. In 1787, Edwards led an expedition to the head waters of the Big Miami River; and, in 1788, Todd led one into the Scioto valley. There were also minor expeditions at various times into the present area of Ohio.

The Moravian missionaries, prior to the American Revolution, had a number of missionary stations within Ohio. The missionaries, Heckewelder and Post, were on the Muskingum River as early as 1762. In March 1782, a party of Americans under Col. Williamson, murdered in cold blood ninety-four of the defenseless Moravian Indians within the present limits of Tuscarawas County. In the following June, Col. Crawford, at the head of about 500 men, was defeated by the Indians at a site about three miles north of the current Upper Sandusky, in Wyandot County. He was taken prisoner, and was tortured and burned at the stake.

By a 1774 act of Great Britain's Parliament, the entire, former Northwest Territory was annexed to, and made a part of, the province of Quebec.

In 1776, the colonies renounced their allegiance to the British king, and assumed the status of free, sovereign, and independent states. Each state claimed the land and jurisdiction over the area defined within its original colonial charter. The charters of several of the states included large portions of western lands, which had not been sold or settled. However, the states that did not possess any western lands insisted that these lands ought to benefit all the states -- according to their population -- because the title to these lands would only be secured through the blood and treasure of all the states. Congress repeatedly urged the states that owned unappropriated western lands to cede them to the nation for the common benefit of all.

The claim of the English king to the old Northwest Territory was ceded to the United States by the treaty of peace, signed at Paris on 3 September 1783. The provisional articles that formed the basis of that treaty -- and especially related to the boundary -- were signed at Paris on 30 November 1782. During early discussions related to these provisional articles, Mr. Oswald, the British commissioner, proposed the Ohio River as the western boundary of the United States. However, through the unyielding efforts of John Adams, one of the American commissioners to the peace negotiations, the Mississippi River was established as the western boundary. It is likely that if Adams had not insisted upon the Mississippi as the boundary, the proposition of Mr. Oswald would have been accepted by the other American commissioners.

The states that owned western unappropriated lands, with a single exception, honored their respective pledges to cede them to the United States. In March 1784, Virginia ceded the right of soil and jurisdiction to the district of country embraced in her charter, situated to the northwest of the Ohio River. In September 1786, Connecticut also ceded her claim of soil and jurisdiction to the country within the limits of her charter, situated west of a line beginning at the conjunction of the forty-first degree north latitude and a point one hundred and twenty miles west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania. From this point, the affected land is defined by a line drawn north parallel to, and one hundred and twenty miles west of said line of Pennsylvania, and to continue north until it came to forty-two degrees and two minutes north latitude. The state of Connecticut, on 30 May 1800, also ceded her jurisdictional claims to all that territory called the "Western Reserve of Connecticut." The states of New York and Massachusetts also ceded all their claims.

These were not the only claims that needed to be discharged prior to settlements within the limits of Ohio. Numerous Indian tribes, by virtue of prior possession, asserted their respective claims. A treaty addressing these Indian claims was made at Fort Stanwix on 27 October 1784, with the Sachems and warriors of the Mohawks, Onondagas, Senecas, Cayugas, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras. By the third article of this treaty, the said Six Nations ceded to the United States all claims to the country west of a line extending along the west boundary of Pennsylvania, from the mouth of the Oyounayea River to the Ohio River.

A treaty was also concluded at Fort McIntosh on 21 January 1785 with the Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa, and Ottawa nations, by which the boundary line between the United States and the Wyandot and Delaware nations was declared to begin "at the mouth of the river Cuyahoga, and to extend up said river to the Portage, between that and the Tuscaroras branch of the Muskingum, thence down that branch to the crossing place above Fort Laurens, then westerly to the Portage of the Big Miami, which runs into the Ohio, at the mouth of which branch the fort stood which was taken by the French, in 1752; then along said Portage to the Great Miami, or Omee river, and down the south side of the same to its mouth; then along the south shore of Lake Erie to the mouth of the Cuyahoga river, where it began." The United States allotted all the lands contained within these boundaries to the Wyandot and Delaware nations, to live and hunt on. These rights were also granted to those members of the Ottawa nation who also lived on this land. However, the United States reserved the following locations for the establishment of trading posts: 1) six miles square at the mouth of the Miami, or Omee river; 2) the same at the portage on that branch of the Big Miami which runs into the Ohio River; 3) the same on the Sandusky River where the fort formerly stood; and 4) two miles square on each side of the Lower Rapids on the Sandusky River.

See next entry: Early Ohio: A Brief History, Part 2 -- From the Ordinance of 1787 to the State of Ohio.


This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 1998 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135001

 

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