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Ohio History
© 2005 Rickie Lazzerini

Page 2

Historical Review 1.10   
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Getting Ready for Settlement

     In order for the Ohio area to be settled properly, the various states claiming the area had to give up their stake. According to different charters, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia all claimed the Ohio area, but they all eventually surrendered their claims to Congress. Deciding how to govern and settle the Northwest was difficult. In 1784, Thomas Jefferson offered a resolution that would have created ten states out of the Northwest Territory, but Congress hesitated because of the possibility that the new states, combined with Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont, could hold more voting power than the original thirteen. In the 1785 Land Ordinance the land of the Northwest was divided into townships, and the surveyed land was to be sold by the acre. The Ordinance also set aside 1/7 of the land for veterans. In July of 1787 the Northwest Ordinance was passed creating a way to govern the territory, and called for the creation of three to five states. A governor would be appointed by Congress and when 5,000 free male voters inhabited the territory they could elect a legislature, and when the population reached 60,000, they could apply for statehood.

The First Authorized Settlers

     The Ohio Company of Associates was created to buy Ohio land to settle, and in 1788 the settlers went out into Ohio and created the town of Marietta, and two years later Cincinnati was founded. Pennsylvanians, Virginians and immigrants all came to settle in Ohio. Deeds were sold to a group of French immigrants, but when they arrived they found that their deeds were not valid. Some of the settlers returned to France, and some stayed and settled on land owned by the Ohio Company land. Those who stayed created a permanent settlement called Gallipolis. Settlers from the British Isle of Guernsey immigrated to Ohio and founded Guernsey County. Scotch-Irish Virginians accounted for a large segment of the settlers as well. Welsh immigrants coming to Ohio impacted certain areas such as Butler County, the French town of Gallipolis and the Welsh settlement on the Jackson County and Gallia County border. Some immigrated to Ohio to escape Calvinist Methodist extremes as well as to join other Welsh immigrants. Cincinnati soon emerged as the leading city in Ohio and was populated with people from New Jersey, Kentucky, New England and Virginia as well as free blacks and Irish immigrants. In the 1830s a flood of German immigrants settled in Cincinnati becoming the dominate ethnic group.

Early Industry

     Early on Ohio developed a strong manufacturing core within many different industries. Lumber, farming, minerals, clay, meatpacking, iron and steel all proved to be important industries for Ohio. The busy industries created a constant and chronic labor shortage in Cincinnati during the first half of the 19th century. This labor shortage drew a stream of Irish and German immigrants who provided cheap labor for the growing industries.


     Ohioans were a devoutly religious group of people, and their religious beliefs varied greatly. Presbyterianism was the best organized pioneer religion in Ohio, and was particularly strong in the Miami Valley, the Scotch-Irish settlements in eastern and southern Ohio, and among the New Englanders. The Episcopalians, also known as the Anglicans, had a small number of followers in the Ohio Valley, but were influential because they attracted people of position and wealth. The Methodists were a very aggressive sect and by 1850 they had grown to be the largest denomination in Ohio. The Lutheran Church was also popular, especially among the German immigrants and some English. The Catholic Church catered to some German immigrants, as well as to the Irish Catholic immigrants. Some Old Order Amish settled in the backcountry of Ohio, and still live there today. An interesting piece of Americana comes from the Church of Jerusalem, of which John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was a member. Johnny Appleseed roamed the Ohio frontier planting apple orchards and befriending isolated Natives and settlers, earning himself a position in American history and folklore.

The War of 1812

     Ohio played its own part in the onset of the War of 1812 because of the constant conflict between the settlers and the Native Americans. The amount of land that the Native Americans had to live on continued to dwindle as more settlers moved in, and the younger Native American men were upset with the policies of the old chiefs who kept making deals with the settlers and ceding land. Among these young men were Tecumseh and his brother Lalawethika, later known as Tenskwatawa, or the Prophet. They believed that it was time to get rid of the white men's ways, such as whiskey and Christianity, and return to their own traditions. Tension rose between them and the settlers so they moved their village to Tippecanoe (in present-day Indiana) and named the settlement Prophetstown. From this point Tecumseh rallied other tribes with a goal to push the settlers eastward. Governor William Henry Harrison kept track of Tecumseh's movements and tried to weaken his power through treaties, looking for ways to break up his troops. In 1811 Harrison led an army of 1,000 combined soldiers and frontier militia along the Wabash and camped near Prophetstown. Tecumseh told his brother not to begin a conflict with Harrison, but Tenskwatawa did not listen and told his warriors that they would be immune to bullets. With this false sense of invincibility, the Natives attacked the camp. Fighting ensued and the Indian warriors sustained many injuries. This battle forced Tecumseh to realize that an Indian confederation could not take on and push back the settlers alone, so he turned to the British. This Indian-British alliance along with conflict in the Northwest and the maritime conflicts with the British, prompted the Americans to declare another war on England. The victory of this war cemented the United States' place as an independent country.

Continuing to Populate the Northwest

    Ohio became a state in 1803 and its population continued to grow. In 1810 there were 231,000 people living in Ohio, in 1820 that number rose to 581,000 and by 1830 there were 938,000 people inhabiting Ohio. So where did all of these people come from? Most of the settlers moved west by water, using the Ohio River, Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes. Many man-made canals were constructed to facilitate this migration, and between 1825 and 1842 over 1,600 kilometers of canal were built in Ohio alone, mostly by Irish immigrant laborers.

     As mentioned before, the people who populated Ohio were both immigrants from Europe and migrants from other states, but more specifics are needed to understand why so much domestic migration occured. The settlers coming from New England migrated because of hard times brought on by British blockades and also because of bad weather. New England suffered through a "year without summer" where snow and freezing temperatures hit every month for a year. After that year Ohio and its advertised "moderate temperatures" sounded particularly appealing and most New England migrants settled on the Western Range. Small communities of Quakers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania settled on land owned by Congress. It was the Pennsylvanians who dominated the post-Revolution population flow, especially the Pennsylvania Germans, also known by their popular misnomer, the Pennsylvania Dutch. These Germans settled heavily in Stark, Wayne and nearby areas. Jewish immigrants were present in pre-Civil War Ohio, mainly settling in Cincinnati. The first Jewish congregation was formed in Cincinnati in 1824.

Significant Indigenous Religious Movements in Ohio

     There were some important religious movements that originated in America and effected Ohio, specifically the African American Methodist Episcopal Church, the Campbellites and the Mormons. Methodism did not originate in the United States, but churches were set up specifically for the black population, and were the leading church for blacks in Ohio. The Campbellite following was a truly American movement. This sect was founded in 1820 by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Scotch-Irish Presbyterian ministers who were shut out of local churches. They called for Christians of all denominations to join them in giving up special doctrines that divided them. The Campebllites joined with the "Christians" of Kentucky to form a new sect called the Disciples of Christ, popularly referred to as the Christian Church. This denomination had ninety-two churches and organized Hiram College in Ohio by mid-century.

     The Mormons spent a short period of time in Ohio when Sidney Rigdon, a Campbellite and religious seeker invited Joseph Smith and his followers to move to Ohio. Smith moved his community to the Western Reserve of Ohio in 1831, and in 1833 a Mormon Temple was built in Kirtland. From there Smith acquired as many as 25,000 followers, but rumors of odd sexual behavior made some people hostile to the Mormons so they decided to move out west.
By Rickie Lazzerini

BA History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Index of Historical Reviews

2005 Rickie Lazzerini, All Rights Reserved
This page may be freely linked to but may not be reproduced
in any form without prior written consent from the author.

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