This is a comprehensive guide to Ohio History that is a helpful resource for:
- Teachers looking for interesting facts to teach their students
- Students who are studying Ohio History
- Roadtrippers who enjoy local history or traveling old historic byways
- Family Researchers looking for information about local historical societies
- History lovers who want to learn more about the Buckeye State
First Inhabitants of Ohio
It is believed that the first inhabitants of the Americas traveled through the Bering Strait which is located near Alaska and Russia. These people are known as Paleo-Indians and settled throughout the Americas, including Ohio.
These were hunter-gatherer cultures that depended on animal meat, nuts, and berries to sustain them.
The most significant remnant left behind from these pre-historic cultures were the burial mounds that they made. The Serpent Mound can be visited in Adams County
The French explorer Robert de La Salle was the first explorer to set foot in the land that became Ohio. He discovered the Ohio River and established positive relationships with the Natives. His diplomatic efforts with the natives of Ohio allowed the French to have easy access to the wildlife.
The Ohio Territory was always viewed as an excellent piece of land that provided excellent hunting grounds. The territory saw military action during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, various Indian Wars, and the Civil War. However, it was during the French and Indian War and American Revolution when Ohio's borders began to take shape.
The Ohio River created a natural border as did The Great Lakes to the north. By 1802 many influential Ohioans met in Chillicothe to write a state Constitution. That Constitution was presented by Thomas Worthington before Congress later that year.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made Ohio the 17th State of the Union.
Ohio Statehood Quick Facts:
- Statehood: March 1, 1803 (See List of Governors since Statehood)
- Capital: Columbus
- Nicknames: Buckeye State
- State Motto: With God All Things Are Possible
- State Song: Hang on Sloopy
- State Bird: Cardinal
- State Flower: Scarlet Carnation
- State Tree: Buckeye Tree
ADAMS ∣ ALLEN ∣ ASHLAND ∣ ASHTABULA ∣ ATHENS ∣ AUGLAIZE ∣ BELMONT ∣ BROWN ∣ BUTLER ∣ CARROLL ∣ CHAMPAIGN ∣ CLARK ∣ CLERMONT ∣ CLINTON ∣ COLUMBIANA ∣ COSHOCTON ∣ CRAWFORD ∣ CUYAHOGA ∣ DARKE ∣ DEFIANCE ∣ DELAWARE ∣ ERIE ∣ FAIRFIELD ∣ FAYETTE ∣ FRANKLIN ∣ FULTON ∣ GALLIA ∣ GEAUGA ∣ GREENE ∣ GUERNSEY ∣ HAMILTON ∣ HANCOCK ∣ HARDIN ∣ HARRISON ∣ HENRY ∣ HIGHLAND ∣ HOCKING ∣ HOLMES ∣ HURON ∣ JACKSON ∣ JEFFERSON ∣ KNOX ∣ LAKE ∣ LAWRENCE ∣ LICKING ∣ LOGAN ∣ LORAIN ∣ LUCAS ∣ MADISON ∣ MAHONING ∣ MARION ∣ MEDINA ∣ MEIGS ∣ MERCER ∣ MIAMI ∣ MONROE ∣ MONTGOMERY ∣ MORGAN ∣ MORROW ∣ MUSKINGUM ∣ NOBLE ∣ OTTAWA ∣ PAULDING ∣ PERRY ∣ PICKAWAY ∣ PIKE ∣ PORTAGE ∣ PREBLE ∣ PUTNAM ∣ RICHLAND ∣ ROSS ∣ SANDUSKY ∣ SCIOTO ∣ SENECA ∣ SHELBY ∣ STARK ∣ SUMMIT ∣ TRUMBULL ∣ TUSCARAWAS ∣ UNION ∣ VAN WERT ∣ VINTON ∣ WARREN ∣ WASHINGTON ∣ WAYNE ∣ WILLIAMS ∣ WOOD ∣ WYANDOT
Only Virginia has been the birthplace of more Presidents than Ohio. It was the birthplace of seven, with eight of them calling Ohio home:
- William Henry Harrison - War hero during the War of 1812 and was born before the United States existed. He was born in the colony of Virginia but called Ohio his home by the time he was elected President. He is listed as a President from both states. He was the last President to be elected that was alive during the American Revolution.
- Benjamin Harrison - Was born in North Bend, Ohio, but served in Indiana state politics. Both states claim him.
- Ulysses S. Grant - General that defeated Robert E. Lee to end the Civil War. Born and raised in Ohio. He died and was buried in New York.
- Rutherford B. Hayes - A major general during the Civil War. His home is now a base for local historical research.
- James A. Garfield - One of two Ohio Presidents that were assassinated. He was also a major general during the Civil War.
- William McKinley - Elected as President at the turn of the century. McKinley was assassinated and replaced by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
- William H. Taft - Known as the fattest President ever elected. After his presidency, he served as a Supreme Court Justice.
- Warren G. Harding - Served as President, but endured many scandals. He died while still in office.
War of 1812
The land around the Great Lakes was battlegrounds during the War of 1812. After the fall of Detroit to the British, many Ohioans feared what would happen to them. Ohio was considered a frontier state during this time and was open to Indian attacks.
There were several battles fought in or around the state of Ohio, but the most significant was the Battle of Lake Erie.
The Battle of Lake Erie was a naval battle that took place near modern-day South Bass Island. Commodore Oliver Perry led the Americans to victory which would set up the victory at the Battle of the Thames.
The Civil War
The Civil War affected every part of the United States. Ohio was unique due to how many leaders it produced:
- Ulysses S. Grant
- William T. Sherman
- James B. McPherson
- Philip H. Sheridan
- Edwin M. Stanton
- Salmon Chase
- Jacob D. Cox
- James A. Garfield
- Rutherford B. Hayes
- William S. Rosecrans
- George A. Custer
- Clement Vallandigham
- Don Carlos Buell
- George Crook
- Alexander M. McCook
- John A. Bingham
Many of these men were influential to the Union cause and strategy during the Civil War. Three of the men would go on to become Presidents.
The World Wars were fought in Europe and in the Pacific. It affected millions of families throughout the state of Ohio.
World War 1: Ohioans, like many other Americans, participated actively in World War I. The state hosted Camp Sherman, one of the largest military training camps in the United States. Over 154,000 Ohioans were drafted into the military during World War I, and a total of 200,293 draftees, volunteers, and Ohio National Guardsmen represented the state in the military.
Approximately 6,500 Ohio troops died from battle wounds or disease during the war.
Not all Ohioans were in favor of the war. Numerous conscientious objectors refused to serve in the military, and other pacifists, such as Ohio representative Isaac Sherwood, were vocal in their opposition.
In spite of these objections, most Ohioans viewed support of the war and the United States government as their patriotic duty.
World War 2: Approximately 839,000 Ohioans, roughly twelve percent of the state's entire population in 1940, served in the armed forces during World War II. Of these men and women, twenty-three thousand of them died or were missing in action by the war's conclusion.
Ohio civilians also actively participated in the war effort, joining in scrap drives and growing victory gardens. Tens of thousands of people also flocked to Ohio, seeking jobs in defense industries. Many of these workers came from Appalachia. Women also found ample opportunities for employment in defense plants and in the armed services.
Local historical societies are great places to learn more about how each military conflict affected the local community.
Ten Tourist Attractions In Ohio
- Cedar Point: Nicknamed "America's Roller Coast" and the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World." From the beginning of May to the end of October Cedar Point provides visitors with more record-breaking roller coasters found anywhere in the world.
- Kings Island: Owned by Cedar Fair, Kings Island is also known for its excellent roller coasters and large waterpark. It is also home to the classic wooden coaster, The Beast.
- Lake Erie Islands: Over the years the islands that dot Lake Erie have become great getaways for good times. Put-in-bay is the most popular of the islands and attracts so much tourism that it has elevated the economy of Sandusky, Port Clinton, and the surrounding areas during the summer.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame: The goal of every professional football player is to one day make it to Canton Ohio and be named as one of the greatest football players of all time. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton and always hosts the first Preseason game of the NFL Season.
- The Ohio Zoos: If you ask an Ohioan what the best zoo in Ohio is you will get four different answers: Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Cleveland zoos each provide a unique experience.
- Ohio Scenic Byways: The department of transportation has created 28 historical byways that travel throughout the state. Some of these byways are national highways that span multiple states and some are local that only span a couple of counties, but all are scenic and take the traveler a different route that explores the quieter side of the Buckeye state.
- Ohio Wines: The regions around the Great Lakes are known for the grapes that they produce. The state of Ohio boasts a large number of wineries and many of the best wines in the heartland. Many local wineries have become popular places for a relaxing night out and cornerstones of the local community.
- Hocking Hills: Probably the most scenic area in Ohio. It is known for its waterfalls, wildlife, hiking trails, camping sites, and even hunting.
- Amish Country: Located throughout Ohio are various pockets of Amish communities. Within the communities, you will find excellent craftsmanship, unbelievable home cooking, and little gift shops. Amish country is popular with the older crowd and provides a great day along with excellent food.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It memorializes the greatest rockers that have ever participated in the world of Rock and Roll. It is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the state, especially in Cleveland.
To list every popular tourist destination would make this post much too long, but every county has its own unique attractions that tell their own story. Check out the local visitor's center or if it is a small town then check out the local library to learn more about local history.
Visit my guide to Ohio Genealogy to learn how to navigate through the local records to find your ancestor.