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Ohio History and Timeline For Kids

Ohio is located in the Midwest of the Great Lakes Region and is the seventh most populous state in the United States. It has been an important part of American History since it was part of the Northwest Territories. It played a significant role during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

It is the home of eight presidents of the United States and many significant heroes that changed the course of history.

There have been 70 Ohio Governors since its statehood.

Ohio History Facts

Ohio Flag

State Capital: Columbus

Largest City: Columbus

Size: Ohio is the 34th biggest state at 44,825 square miles.

Population: 11,689,442

Name for Residents: Ohioans

Origin of State Name: The name Ohio comes from a Seneca Tribe word ohiːyo’ which meant “good river”. The Ohio River creates the southern border of Ohio.

State Nickname: The Buckeye State

State Motto: “With God, All things are possible”

State Song: “Hang on Sloopy”

State Bird: Cardinal

State Tree: Buckeye Tree

Ohio Timeline

European Expeditions to Statehood

1492: Christopher Columbus discovered the West Indies and began the Age of Exploration in the New World.

1607: The first permanent English colony, Jamestown is established.

1670: Robert de La Salle, a French explorer and the first European in the Ohio Country discovered the Ohio River.

1748: The Ohio Company formed in Virginia to settle the Ohio River Valley.

1754-1763: Colonial America is thrown into the French and Indian War. Ohio was still considerably further west than most of the developed colonies but would see some action.

1763: France and England end the war with the Treaty of Paris. This would cede much of its land in the New World to England.

1768: The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was signed which ceded all lands south and east of the Ohio River to the British.

1774: Lord Dunmore’s War begins and ends. It would be a precursor to the American Revolutionary War.

1775: The American Revolution begins with the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts Bay Colony. While this did not directly affect the frontier the war would eventually spread to the west.

1776: The 13 original colonies unite and sign the Declaration of Independence.

July 11, 1779: Led by traitor Benedict Arnold the British burned the city of Norwalk, Connecticut. These citizens would be given land grants in northern Ohio that would become known as the Firelands. Many of the cities located in the former Firelands still carry the names of the Connecticut towns from which the founders came.

1781: General Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington at the siege of Yorktown.

March 8, 1782:  Pennsylvania militia killed Christian Native Americans near Tuscarawas River. Colonel William Crawford was burned at the stake in retaliation for the massacre. The massacre became known as the Gnadenhutten Massacre and a memorial can be found in Gnadenhutton, Ohio.

1783: Treaty of Paris officially ended the American Revolution. England recognized American independence and ceded all lands in the Ohio Country.

1785: Land Ordinance of 1785 established methods for surveying and dividing land in the Ohio Country.

1786: Ohio Company of Associates formed in Massachusetts to sell land in what is now southeast Ohio.

1787: Confederation Congress appointed Arthur St. Clair as the first governor of the Northwest Territory.

1787 – 1789: United States Constitution drafted and eventually ratified which would replace the Articles of Confederation.

1787: Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, establishing the Northwest Territory, which included modern-day Ohio.

1788: Marietta became the first permanent American settlement founded in the future state of Ohio.

1790-1794: There were various Indian Wars that took place during this time. Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair saw defeat at the hands of the Native Americans. President George Washington then assigned General Anthony Wayne to take care of the Indian problem. He was successful at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which many consider being the final battle of the American Revolution.

August 3, 1795: General Anthony Wayne along with William Henry Harrison, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, William Wells, and Caleb Swan met with Native American leaders from the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Miami, Kickapoo, Wea, and Kaskaskia tribes and signed the Treaty of Greenville which ended the Ohio Indian Wars.

1800: Chillicothe becomes the first capital of the Northwest Territory.

April 30, 1802: The Enabling Act passes through Congress. This began the process to admit Ohio to the United States.

November 1802: Constitutional Convention met at Chillicothe to draft Ohio’s first constitution. Thomas Worthington presented the Ohio constitution to Congress for approval.

March 1, 1803: Ohio was admitted into the Union as the 17th state. Thomas Jefferson was president during this time.

Early Statehood

February 18, 1804: Ohio University is chartered and becomes the first college in the state.

1812: the city of Columbus was founded and named the new state capital.

1812-1814: The War of 1812 begins and Ohio plays a critical role during the war.

April 28 – May 9, 1813: William Henry Harrison stands firm during the Siege of Fort Meigs. His ability to hold his position and force the British and Tecumseh to abandon the siege caused the British to retreat north. It would be the furthest the British would penetrate into Ohio during the War.

September 10, 1813: Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeats the British at the Battle of Lake Erie. The victory would turn the tide in the west for the Americans. It cut off the British supply lines and forced them to abandon Detroit.

1816: After short stints in Chillicothe and Zanesville, the state legislature moved its headquarter to Columbus. Columbus was chosen as the state capital due to its central location.

1825: The National Road and canal system in Ohio began. The National Road would be the first paved road to cross the Appalachian Mountains.

September 2, 1833: Oberlin College was founded. It would be the first co-ed college in the United States. It also holds the distinction as the last college football team in Ohio to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes.

1833: The Ohio and Erie Canal are completed and begin operation.

1835 – 1836: A boundary dispute between Ohio and Michigan results in what became known as the Toledo War.

March 4, 1841: William Henry Harrison elected the 9th President of the United States. Although he was born in Virginia he is buried in North Bend, Ohio.

March 17, 1842: The Wyandot Indians, the last Native American tribe still residing in Ohio, agreed to relinquish all land claims within Ohio. It was known as the Treaty with the Wyandot.

1845: The Miami and Erie Canal are completed.

1846-1848: The Mexican War begins under President James Polk. Many future Civil War officers from Ohio see their first combat during this war. The war itself was unpopular in Ohio as the admittance of Texas as a result of the war would cause an imbalance of free and slave states in Congress.

February 11, 1847: Thomas Alva Edison is born in Milan, Ohio.

1849: Cholera outbreak throughout the United States and Ohio was also affected. Cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Columbus see outbreaks. Smaller cities such as Sandusky are devastated and their growth is stunted for quite some time.

1850: Cincinnati holds the first Ohio State Fair and the second Constitutional Convention is held in Chillicothe.

1851: The second Ohio Constitution is adopted.

1852: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, increased tensions between the North and South. The book depicted the horrors of slavery and the Underground Railroad that went through Ohio.

The Civil War

November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected as the 16th President of the United States. His elections cause many southern states to talk about secession.

1861: The Civil War begins and many in Ohio are called to serve. Ohio would go on to provide many men and leaders to the cause. The Ohio Statehouse is also finished this year

1862 – January 1, 1863: President Lincoln drafts and issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

May 18 – July 4, 1863: Ohio General Ulysses S. Grant begins a siege of Vicksburg that would end on July 4th, 1863. It was a vital victory as it cut the Confederacy in half and took control of the Mississippi River.

July 11 – July 26, 1863: Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led troops across southern Ohio in a daring mission.

March 1864: Ulysses S. Grant is promoted to the supreme commander of all Union Forces.

May 4 – June 24, 1864: Ulysses S. Grant begins his Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee. He would suffer many tactical losses, but due to his ability to reinforce his army quicker than Lee, he was able to sustain his push forward. At the end of the Campaign, he had Lee in a pinch. Lee was forced to set up defenses of Petersburg, one of the most industrial cities left in the south.

July 19, 1863: John Hunt Morgan is defeated by the Union Army at the Battle of Buffington Island. It was the only battle fought in Ohio.

July 22, 1864: Ohio General William T. Sherman captures Atlanta. On the same day, Ohio General James Birdseye McPherson was shot and killed during the final battle.

September 18, 1864: John Yates Beall’s plot to rescue Confederate prisoners from Johnson’s Island never comes to fruition due to problems within his men. He is later captured and put to death by President Lincoln when he is caught behind enemy lines trying to free Confederate prisoners in New York.

November 15 – December 21, 1864: General Tecumseh Sherman leads his troops from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. His “March to the Sea” destroyed what was left of the Southern economy in the region.

June 15, 1864 – April 2, 1865: Ulysses S. Grant begins his siege of Petersburg. The siege would last nine months and result in the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.

The Gilded Age – Roaring 20s

March 4, 1869: Ulysses S. Grant is elected and inaugurated as President. He serves two terms as the 18th President of the United States.

July 23, 1866: The Cincinnati Red Stockings, founded by Harry Wright, becomes the first professional baseball team.

1870: THE Ohio State University is chartered by the Ohio General Assembly. It would become the largest university in the state.

1870: Cedar Point opens. It would first open as a resort and would later become an amusement park.

March 4, 1877: Ohioan Rutherford B. Hayes is elected as the 19th President. His election was highly controversial and he would only serve 1 term.

December 29, 1876: The Ashtabula Train Disaster results in 83 deaths and becomes the worst disaster in Ohio History.

1879: Former Ohioan Thomas Edison invents the electric light bulb.

March 4, 1881: Ohioan James Garfield is elected as the 20th President. It would be the 3rd consecutive President that was from Ohio.

July 2, 1881: James A. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau. He did not die immediately.

September 19, 1881: James A. Garfield dies and Chester Arthur becomes President.

March 28 – March 30, 1884: The Cincinnati riots occurred due to a corrupt verdict in a murder case. It resulted in a riot of 10,000 people and led to over 70 deaths and many more injured.

March 4, 1889: Benjamin Harrison, the grandson of William Henry Harrison, is elected as the 23rd President.

1894: The first gasoline automobile in the United States is invented.

March 4, 1897: Ohioan William McKinley is inaugurated as 25th President of the United States.

September 6, 1901: Leon Czolgosz shoots President McKinley in the abdomen. Initially, the President seemed to be recovering, however, he took a turn for the worst and passed away on September 14, 1897. A memorial for him was created in Canton, Ohio.

1902: The Ohio state flag is officially adopted by the Ohio General Assembly.

December 17, 1903: Two brothers from Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright completed the first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

March 4, 1908: The Collinwood School Fire, near Cleveland, killed 173 pupils, two teachers, and one firefighter.

March 4, 1909: William Howard Taft becomes the 27th President of the United States.

1913: Ohio deals with a terrible flood that brings death around the state. 428 people died and millions of dollars were lost in damages.

1914 – 1918: World War I occurs. Camp Sherman is constructed to train army troops. During the encampment and training, approximately 1,200 troops died of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

March 4, 1921: Warren G. Harding becomes the 29th President. Unfortunately, his short presidency was mired in corruption and scandal. He died in office on August 2, 1923.

1925: The dirigible Shenandoah crashed while touring the United States. The crash occurred in Ava, Ohio, and killed 14 people.

The Great Depression – Civil Rights Movement

1929 – 1941: The Great Depression begins and throws the United States into the worst economic crisis in its history. Ohio would be affected by it as would all states.

April 21, 1930: The Ohio Penitentiary Fire kills 322 inmates. Speculation exists as to why the fire started, but popular belief is that 3 inmates started the fire to create a diversion. It was the worst incident to happen in any prison in United States history.

1935: Ohio puts its first sales tax into place.

1937: Southern Ohio is ravaged by the Ohio River Flood of 1937 that causes much destruction.

1941 – 1945: World War 2 takes place and many young men are sent off to war. Ohio, like all states, had many of its young men and women serve in the military during this time.

October 20, 1944: 131 Clevelanders are killed in the East Ohio Gas Company explosion.

1950 – 1953: The Korean War drafts and recruits many young men throughout the United States. Many Ohioans will be recruited.

October 1, 1955: The Ohio Turnpike completed. It would be the largest completed construction in Ohio at that time.

April 25, 1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway opens and is lined with ships that can now make the journey that Jacques Cartier never could.

1959: Ohio Civil Rights Commission is created.

1962: Ohioan John Glenn became the first person from the United States to orbit the earth. He makes his famous orbit three times.

1963: William O. Walker breaks the color barrier and becomes the first African-American cabinet member in the State government.

September 7, 1963: The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton officially opens.

1964 – 1974: America is thrown into the Vietnam War. Many Ohioans serve and die for their country in the war.

1967: Carl Stokes became the first African-American mayor of Cleveland. This would also be the first black mayor of a major city.

July 20, 1969: Ohioan Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

May 4, 1970: Four students are killed by the Ohio National Guard during the Kent State Shootings.

1972: Ohio passes its first Income Tax

1973: Ohio Lottery is approved by voters.

April 3, 1974: The Xenia Tornado rips through Xenia, Ohio, and kills 33 people. It still remains the deadliest tornado in Ohio History.

Modern Day

February 5, 1978: The Blizzard of 78 is the largest Winter Storm in history. It killed approximately 100 people, hurt another 4,500, and caused $520 million in damage.

1979: Public Schools across Ohio begin busing students to school to eliminate segregation.

January 28, 1986: Astronaut Judit Resnik, of Akron, died in the Challenger space shuttle explosion that shocked the nation on live television.

September 2, 1995: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens.

1995: The Bosnian Peace Agreement was negotiated neat Dayton, Ohio.

November 6, 1995: The Cleveland Browns, one of the first football franchises in the history of the game, left Cleveland for Baltimore. The news shocked and devastated the people of Cleveland who loved their team. It’s one of the worst moments in NFL history.

1998: John Glenn returns to space and becomes the oldest man to travel into space.

2003: The Ohio State Buckeyes win National Championship against the Miami Hurricanes in a huge upset.

2006: Ohio passes a smoking ban in public places.

2016: The Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA Championship.

2020: The Coronavirus sweeps through the nation and causes all 50 states to shut down. Ohio’s economy is adversely affected.

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