Visiting and touring Ohio

Ohio's Rich Heritage

Ohio's Living Heritage

Two centuries ago, the Ohio's lands were a mix of prairies and forested wilderness crisscrossed with Native American hunting trails and villages. In fact, it is estimated that there were some 15,000 Native Americans living on this land from 5 different peoples: Miami, Shawnee, Ottawa, Wyandot and Delaware.

Today the same land that supported those 15,000 Native Americans, supports over ten million people. That's more people than live in Sweden, Greece or Austria.

Today, Ohio is made up of half urban dwellers and half rural dwellers and it has 7 major metropolitan areas: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton and Youngstown.

The early settlement of Ohio was divided into 2 camps: northern and southern. The northern camp were made up mostly of transplanted Yankees from New England. The southern camp was actually part of the Virginia Military District with lots of soldiers from the American Revolutionary War laying claim to lands as payment for services in the war. These were the farmer warriors of the day-- land loving people that appreciated the rich soils of southern Ohio.

The New England Yankees were primarily merchants and manufacturers-- the industrial complex of the 18th Century.

As time progressed, the northern half of the state became less northern and the southern half became less southern.

American became a land of immigrants looking for all that America had to promise. Those promises were sought in the then called lands of the Northwest Territory which Ohio was a key player.

This was Ohio's heritage, the people that made us what we are today. They were resourceful and strong--the Ohio wilderness was no place for the gentry minded folks or for those not willing to pitch in and work.


A state divided

In the mid 19th Century, Ohio found itself divided, politically. In the beginning the state was made up predominately settlers from New England in the northern regions and the southern half were predominately southern farmers. As these two groups aged, they mingled together, but each group still held firm to their political views.

It seemed there was no middle. Folks were either pro Union (anti-slavery) or pro state's right (pro slavery). Ohio was a non-slave state, so the issue was more about state's rights and anti-slavery.

Southern counties had cultural and economic ties to Kentucky and Virginia, northern counties had strong spiritual ties to New England's culture and tradition. We were a microcosm of the entire country.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."

This is what President Lincoln said to Harriet Beecher Stowe upon their meeting in 1862. Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her book was the best-selling novel of the 19th Century and is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s which ultimately led to the Civil War. Stowe lived along the Ohio River and she witnessed 100s of slaves that passed by her house in their escape to freedom. Her house in Ripley, served as stop on the Underground Railroad. It was the stories she heard from runaway slaves that served as the basis for her book.

For $35 you could buy a boat to paradise

Early settlers had to cross the Allegheny mountains, an arduous journey that seemed to last a lifetime for those making the trek. When these pioneers reached Pittsburgh where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers joined to form the Ohio, boat builders were there to take the money of these pioneers in a promise to ride in the lap of luxury along with your cattle and horses for just $35. These were the flatboats, or more commonly called "broad horn" boats. They were actually like floating barnyards.


Once they set off from Pittsburgh, their next stop was Wheeling where they load up on supplies of salt, pork, dried fruits, cornmeal and molasses. Then it was off again into the Ohio Valley. When they reached their destination, the flatboat would be dismantled and used to build a cabin until a proper cabin could be constructed.

Ohio's promise fulfilled

In less than a lifetime, Ohio changed from a wilderness to a busy state in a fast-growing nation. Between 1800 and 1820, Ohio multiplied its population seven times. By 1850 Ohio was the third most populous state in the nation.

Lake Erie to the north and the Ohio River to the south, let the farmers and manufacturers of Ohio ship their goods and crops to the entire world. With their bare hands they dug the canals that allowed them to quickly bring their goods to people wanting to buy those goods. So important to our economy, we built two canal systems at the same time. One to serve the eastern half (Ohio & Erie Canal) of the state and another the western half (Miami & Erie Canal). When these canals opened, land prices skyrocketed from $15 an acre to over $200 an acre. Ohio was in business to stay.

From The Ohio Gazetteer in Columbus, 1841:


"(We) challenge the world to contradict the assertion, that this great and rowing state possesses more of the essential ingredients of future greatness and more self-sustaining and self-creating principles than any other territory of equal size on the face of the globe."

Earlier, Ohioans had a different reputation as so eloquently stated by then governor of the Northwest Territories, Arthur St. Clair when Ohio was being considered for statehood:

"(Ohioans) are a multitude of indigent and ignorant people... ill qualified to form a constitution and government for themselves... and too far removed from the seat of government to be much impressed with the power of the United States"

Fortunately, Arthur St. Clair's opinions were not shared by many Ohioans and through their efforts, they successfully forced President Thomas Jefferson to remove St. Clair as governor of the territory, and our move toward statehood advanced quickly.

In 1803 we became the first state in the Northwest Territory. Through the efforts of 35 delegates, in 25 days, we created the most democratic constitution seen to that point in history.

Ohio was a land for adventurers seeking a better quality of life and existence than what they knew from living in the east.


The Great Seal of Ohio

Ohio's Heritage Events

Carnival Glass: The First Decade
During this on-going exhibition, visitors can enjoy a display of some of the first Carnival Glass ever produced. This glassware was initially called "Iridescent Ware" by the Fenton Art Glass Company when it produced the first items in late...
100 Years of Hoover Legacy
Historical review in Victorian farmhouse with elegant Victorian decor of 100-year legacy of Hoover?s contributions to the vacuum cleaner industry. August 8, 2008 marks the 100-year anniversary. Victorian farmhouse with elegant Victorian decor View...
Miami Valley Flute Circle
Members of the Miami Valley Flute Circle play at SunWatch.  Open to anyone interested in the Native American flute.  Get instructions and tips on how to play, and enjoy traditional, and some not so traditional, American Indian flute music...
Freedom?s Sisters
Dare to dream. Take a stand. Make a difference. These are just some of the messages embodied in Freedom's Sisters, a thought provoking new collaboration between SITES and Cincinnati Museum Center. Dynamic and profoundly moving, Freedom's...
A Proud Tradition: Cleveland Baseball History
This exhibit features rare photographs from the Louis Van Oeyen, Andy Kraffert and Janet Macoska collections. Images in the exhibit cover a wide spectrum of Cleveland Baseball from the early 20th century to the glory years at Jacobs Field.&#160...
?Simply Quaker: Women in Plain Dress?
More than 100 years have passed since the wearing of plain dress by members of the Society of Friends. Traditional historic costume for Quaker women included the gown, fichu or neckerchief, shawl, day cap and bonnet. ?Simply Quaker: Women...
"Wooster-A Community of Progress-200 Years" Exhibit
Join the Wayne County Historical Society for the "Wooster-A Community of Progress-200 Years" Exhibit from April 6-July 20.  This unique exhibit looks at the history of the people, businesses and organizations that have made Wooster,...
A Period of Perspective: The Art of Gertrude Penfield Seiberling
The wife of F.A. Seiberling, Gertrude Penfield Seiberling was a prolific painter of many genres; she has become one of the better-known Akron women painters from the era of the 1930s and 1940s. On display are 25 of her paintings with subjects that...
Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs
See the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs ever shown in the United States.
Capture the Moment The Pulitzer Prize Photographs
The largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, ?Capture the Moment?, presents powerful images that have changed lives and the way we think. The 138 photographs include the Pulitzer winners from 1942 to 2007....
Iconology (Gravestone Interpretation) Class
The Pike County Genealogical Society will sponsor a class on Iconology (Gravestone Interpretation) on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at the Garnet Wilson Public Library 207 N. Market Street in Waverly.  The workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m. and...
Wright Memorial Ranger Talk
Discover the past and present of this park designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Topics include the area?s ancient past, the history of the Wright Memorial, the Miami Conservancy District and the development of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.