Early Ohio Events



(Source:  Early Ohio Events - by Harley Barnes - Publ. Painesville Telegraph Print, 1886)


     Few libraries, public or private, contain any reliable data concerning the history of our own State.  This little list of interesting events is not claimed to be complete.  We have only aimed at giving in cheap, compact form, and as accurately as possible, a fund of information not readily obtainable by the general reader.
     Should circumstances permit, and the demand justify it, this will be followed by a series of tracts on various special topics of Ohio History.
     PAINESVILLE, OHIO, January 1, 1886.             H. B.


     From the death of Marquette to the close of the Revolution, was a century of exploration, intrigue and open warfare.  French, English and Indians fought valiantly, but vainly, for the dominion of the Ohio Valley and the great North West.  Their bold ventures, deadly contests and varying fortunes are beyond the limits of our plan, for little fruit of that century of struggle fell directly upon Ohio soil.  The first permanent Ohio settlements were made under the American flag.  The first United States military post in Ohio was a small fort, built in 1778, near "the carrying place" at the forks of the Tuscarawas and the Muskingum, in Coshocton County.  It was named Fort Laurens, in honor of the President of Congress; no treaty had then been made with the Indian owners and it was soon deemed expedient to abandon the location.  The building of Fort Harmar, the first permanent U. S. military post in Ohio, was commenced in the fall of 1785 and completed the following spring.  This fort was located on the Ohio just below the mouth of the Muskingum.  Major John Doughty, who commanded the expedition, named the fort in honor of the Colonel of his regiment.

Sept. 3 - "Treaty of Paris," by which England surrendered her claim of title to the North West Territory.
March 1 - Virginia transferred to the U. S. all her claims upon the North West Territory, except a few thousand acres retained for pensions, bounties, &c.
Oct. 27 - "Treaty of Fort Stanwix," (near Rome, N. Y.,) by which the Six Nations ceded to the U. S. Their claims upon the Territory.
Jan. 31. - "Treaty of Fort McIntosh" with four other tribes, who surrendered all of the North West except that lying between the Cuyahoga and the Maumee, and extending about half way to the Ohio.
Jan. 10 - Rufus Putnam and Benjamin Tupper called a delegate meeting of those interested in settling the Ohio country, for the purpose of forming a colonization society, to be known as "The Ohio Company."
March 1. - The meeting was duly held at "The Bunch of Grapes Tavern," in Boston, and the association organized with a proposed fund of $1,000,000.
Sept. 14. - Connecticut relinquished her claims in the North West, reserving only a strip of land lying north of the 41st parallel, and extending westward 120 miles from the Pennsylvania line.
July 13. - "An ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States, northwest of the river Ohio," enacted by the last Continental Congress.
July 27. - Ordinance passed, providing for the sale of 1,500,000 acres to the Ohio Company, and 3,500,000 to private speculators at an average price of seventy cents per acre.
Aug. 29. - John Cleves Symmes petitioned Congress for a purchase of lands between the Great and Little Miamis, upon terms similar to those of the Ohio Company purchase.
Oct. 2. - Symmes' petition was referred to the Board of Treasury to take order, and a contract of purchase for one million acres was soon after executed.  Owing to delinquencies in making payments, much of this land afterwards reverted to Congress.
Oct. 5. - Congress elected the following officers for the new government: Governor, Arthur St. Clairk Judges, James M. Varnum, Samuel H. Parsons and John Armstrong; Secretary, Winthrop Sargent.  Mr. Armstrong declined and John Cleves Symmes was appointed to fill his place February 19th, 1788.  August 20th, 1789, Messrs. Parsons and Symmes were re-appointed, and Wm. Barton.  September 12th, 1789, George Turner was appointed in place of Wm. Barton, who declined.  March 31, 1790, Rufus Putnam in place of Judge Parsons, deceased.  Dec. 22d, 1796, Joseph Gilman in place of R. Putnam, who was appointed Surveyor General.  Feb. 12th, 1798, R. J. Meigs, Jr.,  in place of G. Turner, resigned.  In 1798 William Henry Harrison succeeded Sargent as Secretary.  Harrison was in turn succeeded Dec. 30th, 1799, by Charles W. Byrd.
Oct. 27. - The contract of the sale to the Ohio Company was executed.  The lands selected were on the Muskingum and Scioto.
Dec. 1 - The first detachment of the Ohio Company pioneers left Danvers, Mass., for the Ohio Valley.
Jan. 1. - Another party, chiefly proprietors and surveyors, left Hartford, Conn., for the same country.
Feb. 14. - The two companies, according to previous arrangement, met at Sumrill's Ferry, on the Youghiogheny, in Pennsylvania, where they proceeded to build a galley of 50 tons, called the Mayflower, also a flat-boat and three canoes.
April 1. - The pioneers embarked at Sumrill's Ferry on their voyage down the Youghiogheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio.
April 7. - The party, forty-eight in number, under the leadersihp of Gen. Rufus Putnam, landed at the mouth of the Muskingum, where they made the first permanent settlement in Ohio, named Marietta, after the unfortunate Marie Antoinnette, of France.
July 4. - The first regular Fourth of July celebration in Ohio was held at what is now Marietta.  Judge James M. Varnum was the orator of the day.
July 9. - Governor St. Clair arrived at Marietta.
July 15. - Civil government was first formally established on Ohio soil at Marietta, by Governor St. Clair, Judges Parsons and Varnum, and Secretary Sargent.
July 25. - The first law of the Governor and Judges was published at Marietta.  It provided for the establishment and regulation of militia izing Washington county, the first county erected in the Territory.  It extended from the Ohio to Lake Erie, eastward to the Pennsylvania line, and westward to the Cuyahoga, the Tuscarawas and the Scioto, including nearly half of the present State.
July 29. - Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper and Winthrop Sargent were commissioned the first Justices of the Peace within the Territory.
July 30. - Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Archibald Crary, Isaac Pierce and Thomas Lord were appointed Judges of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter sessions.  Also Return Jonathan Meigs, the first Clerk of Courts.
Aug. 23. - A law was published establishing courts of Common Pleas and Courts of Quarter Sessions.
Aug. 30. - Law published establishing a court of probate.
Sept. 1. - Ebenezer Sproat was commissioned Sheriff.
Sept. 2. - First Court of Common Pleas in the N. W. Territory opened at Marietta with imposing ceremonies.  Rufus Putnam and Benjamin Tupper, Judges; Return Jonathan Meigs, Clerk, and Ebenezer Sproat, Sheriff.  Paul Fearing, Esq., was admitted to practice - the first lawyer in the Territory.
Sept. 6. - The first criminal law was published at Marietta.  Flogging, confinement in the stocks and pillory, binding out to labor, forfeiture of estate, and death, were among the penalties imposed.  This act contained the earliest temperance law within present Ohio limits, viz.:  "If any person shall be convicted of drunkenness before one or more justices of the peace, the person so convicted shall be fined, for the first offense in the sum of five dimes, for each succeeding offense, and upon conviction, in the sum of one dollar; and in either case, upon the offender's neglecting or refusing to pay the fine, he shall be set in the stocks for the space of one hour."
Sept. 22. - Mathias Denman and others, purchasers from Judge Symmes, arrived at the mouth of the Licking river, opposite which they proposed to lay out a town to be called "Losantiville."  Alarmed, however, by the loss of one of their party, John Filson, they retreated to Limestone - now Maysville, Ky.
Oct. 28. - Rufus Putnam was appointed the first Probate Judge in the Territory.
Nov. 7. - Return J. Meigs was commissioned the first Recorder of Deeds.
Nov. 23. - The first marriage law was enacted.  Judges, ministers and Quakers were authorized to perform the ceremony.  Publication of bands must have been first made, or a license procured from the Governor.
Nov. (about middle) - Mayor Stites and a colony of about twenty familes established a settlement, called Columbia at the mouth of the Little Miami; this was the first settlement in the Miami country, and its site is now inclosed within the corporate limits of Cincinnati.
Dec. 17. - Governor St. Clair issued the first Thanksgivving proclamation naming Thursday, Dec. 25, as a day of solemn thanksgiving and praise, and the people may, with one voice and sincere hearts, express their grateful  sensations, and consecrate themselves to the will and pleasure of their Devine Benefactor; and that together with their acknowledgments, they may unite in humble supplication to Almighty God, that he would be graciously pleased to prosper this infant settlement, (Marietta), and the whole Territory, in their husbandry, trade and manufactures, and by his own nurturing hand mature and bring to perfection all seminaries of learning, and the promotion and enlargement of piety and true religion, amongst all the nations of the earth.  And I do prohibit all servile labor on that day."
Dec. 28. - Mathias Denman and party returned and began a settlement upon the present site of Cincinnati. Within ten days they completed the survey of a town which they called "Losantiville." A free distribution of town lots followed but not until Sept. 9, 1789 were any sales of lots made. The land is said to have been paid for in Continental certificates at a specie value of about thirty cents per acre.  The first statute was enacted, limiting the time of the commencement of civil actions and criminal prosecutions.
Feb. - John Cleves Symmes and party reached North Bend where they
soon formed a third Miami settlement known for a time as "Miami City."
June 1. - Major Doughty with 140 soldiers arrived at "Losantiville" and commenced the erection of Fort Washington.
Aug. 7. - The ordinance of 1787 was ratified, with slight change, by the Federal Congress.
Jan. 2. - Governor St. Clair and party arrived at "Losantiville," and on the 4th issued a proclamation establishing civil government, erected Hamilton county, and made "Cincinnati" its county-seat, thus officially abolishing the awkward name of "Losantiville" which had already fallen into disrepute. Hamilton county as thus created included all the territory between the Great and Little Miamis.
Sept. - General Harmar's expedition against the Miami Indians left Cincinnati—thirteen hundred strong. They destroyed a number of villages and valuable crops, but themselves suffered considerable loss.
Sept. 17. - Governor St. Clair, with about two thousand men, started from Ludlow's Station near Cincinnati on an expedition against the Indians. November 4th, he was surprised in camp and defeated with great lobs near Fort Recovery, Mercer County.
May - Connecticut granted half a million acres from the west end of her Reserve to certain Revolutionary sufferers. This tract was for this reason called "The Fire Lands."
Sept. 18. - Secretary Sargent, acting for Governor St. Clair, issued at Cin­cinnati an order reciting that "the practice of assembling for public worship without arms may be attended with most serious and melancholy consequences. It presents the opportunity to an enemy of the smallest degree of enterprise to effect such fatal impresssion upon our infant settlement" as posterity might long in vain lament," and requiring all good citizens and especially
militia officers to report delinquents for punishment.
July. - Regular mail service established between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Row boats were used between Cincinnati and Wheeling, making the trip every two weeks and calling at Marietta and Gallipolis. Beyond Wheeling the mails were carried on horseback.
Aug. 20. - General Anthony Wayne, with three thousand men, defeated an immense Indian force near the Maumee Rapids. This was the decisive battle of a long and bitter campaign.
May 30. - At a meeting of" the Legislature," and Judges, the first application for divorce was made by one Wm. Lemond.
July 15. - The first divorce law of the Territory was adopted from the statutes of Massachusetts. Divorce a vinculo was allowed "where either of the parties had a former wife or husband alive at the time of solemnizing the second marriage; or for impotency, or adultery, in either of the parties." Divorce from bed and board was also allowed in cases of extreme cruelty. Exclusive jurisdiction was vested in the general and circuit courts.
Aug. 3. - The Treaty of Greenville was concluded with eleven of the leading Indian tribes resulting in general peace between the races. The boundary line then agreed upon ran up the Cuyahoga River, down the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum to Fort Laurens, thence due west to Fort Recovery, thence southerly, striking the Ohio near the mouth of the Kentucky.
Sept. 5. - Connecticut deeded to John Caldwell and others, trustees for the Connecticut Land Company, organized on that day, the remainder of the Western Reserve, 3,000,000 acres, at forty cents per acre. This was only a quit-claim, however, and left the Company to extinguish the Indian title.
June 23. - Agreement made at Buffalo by the Connecticut Land Company with the Six Nations for the purchase of the claims of this great confederation upon the Reserve lands.  The price paid was, "500 pounds, N. Y. currency, to be paid in goods," two beef cattle and 100 gallons of whisky, besides some other gifts and provisions.
June 27. - General Moses Cleveland and party, fifty-two in number, left Buffalo, some by water and others by land, to explore and survey and "New Connecticut" land.
July 4. - The land party of General Cleveland's expedition crosssed the Pennsylvania line with three cheers" precisely at five o'clock, p.m."  Half an hour later they reached Conneaut creek where the lake party soon landed, and the first celebration of National Independence on the Western Reserve was then held.
July 22. - The surveying party reached the mouth of the Cuyahoga and laid the foundations of Cleveland.
Dec. - The first election in the Territory was held on the third Monday of this month for the purpose of choosing delegates to the first General Assembly.  Complaints of fraud were made and on this ground a new election was ordered in Wayne county, and held on the 14th and 15th of the following January 1799.
Feb. 4. - First meeting of Representatives to the General Assembly of the Northwestern Territory for the purpose of nominating ten persons from whom the President was to select five, who should constitute a "Legislative Council."  The Representatives, 22 in number, assembled at Cincinnati; they had been chosen by the inhabitants of the Territory the preceding December, preparatory to entering upon the second stage of territorial government provided by the Ordinance. After making the nominations they adjourned to meet at the same place September 16th. Not until September 23d or 24th, however, were a sufficient number of Representatives present to warrant the organization of the House and the transaction of business. December 19th this lengthy session was prorogued by the Governor, at the request of the members, until the first Monday of the following November.
May. - The St. Clair an ocean-going brig of no tons burden, cleared from Marietta, where she had just been built—"the first full-rigged vessel built on the river." Loaded with flour and pork, she passed down the river, across the Gulf of Mexico, and was finally sold in Philadelphia.
May 7. - By Act of Congress, the Territory was divided by a "line beginning on the Ohio, opposite the mouth of the Kentucky river; thence running to Fort Recovery; thence north until it intersects the territorial line between the United States and Canada." The eastern division remained under the existing territorial government, with its seat temporarily at Chillicothe.
May 30. - Connecticut, by deed of cession, relinquished her claims upon the Reserve lands, thus settling the question of jurisdiction over the new northern settlements.
July 10. - Trumbull county, including the entire Reserve, was erected by the proclamation of Gov. St. Clair.
Aug. 26. - First court on the Western Reserve opened at Warren.
October. - On the second Tuesday of this month the inhabitants of Trumbull county held their first election, for the purpose of choosing a Representative in the Territorial Assembly. The votes, forty-two in number, were cast viva voce, and were nearly unanimous in favor of Gen. Edward Paine.
Dec. 9. - The second session of the First Territorial Assembly was prorogued by Gov. St. Clair. He gave as a reason that his own term as Governor expired on that day, and there was no provision of law by which the Secretary should in such case become Acting Governor.
Nov. 23. - The new Legislature convened at Chillicothe.
Jan. 1. - By act of the Legislature, the seat of government was removed to "the town of Cincinnati, in the county of Hamilton."
Jan. 23. - The Legislature was adjourned by the Governor to meet at Cincinnati on the fourth Monday of the following November. No subsequent session was ever held however.
April 30. - "An act to enable the people of the eastern division of the Territory, northwest of the river Ohio, to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such State into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, and for other purposes," was passed by Congress and became a law.
Nov. 1. - The Constitutional Convention, authorized by above act, assembled at Chillicothe.
Nov. 22. - An order was made by President Jefferson removing Arthur St. Clair from his position as Governor of the North-Western Territory.  No successor was ever qualified;  Charles W. Byrd, Secretary, remained Acting Governor until the State organization was completed.
Nov. 29. - The Constitution was ratified and signed by the members of the convention.  It was never submitted to a vote of the people.  On the same day the convention also passed a resolution accepting, with some modifications, the terms and conditions imposed by the enabling act of April 30th.
March 1. - The first session of the first General Assembly of the State of Ohio opened at Chillicothe in the stone state house erected in 1801 for the use of the Territorial Legislature.  The body was composed of fifteen Senators and thirty Representives.
March 3. - Edward Tiffin was inaugurated first Governor of the State of Ohio.  On the same day Congress enacted a substantial acceptance of the modifications suggested by the Constitutional Convention, and recognized Ohio as a State.
- David Heaton built the first blast furnace in Ohio, on Yellow Creek, Mahoning county.
- Coal was first mined in Ohio, by stripping the vein, near Talmadge, Summit county.
- Ninth General Assembly opened at Zanesville, which enterprising town, hoping to obtain the permanent capital, had erected and proffered to the authorities a state house.  Subsequent sessions, however, were held at Chillicothe until 1816.
October. - The Orleans, the first western steamboat, passed down the Ohio river on her trial trip. The distance of 480 miles, between Pittsburgh and Louisville, was made in four days. The boat was built by Robert Fulton, and on this first trip was in charge of his agent, Mr. Roosevelt, of New York. From this time steam navigation of the great western rivers was an assured success.
Feb. 14. - By an act of the Legislature, the proposition of Lyne Starling and others was accepted, and a plateau owned by them opposite the little town of Franklinton, on the Scioto, was selected as the 4 permanent capital of the State. These gentlemen, as an inducement to the choice, gave the State twenty acres of land, and erected thereon, gratuitously, a capitol building and penitentiary at a cost of fifty thousand dollars.
Feb. 20. - The name of "Columbus" was given to the new capital. Gen. Joseph Foss, an old member from Franklin county, is credited with having made the suggestion.
Sept. 10. - Com. O. H. Perry won a decisive victory over Com. Barclay in the western part of Lake Erie.
Aug. 1. - The whipping-post, pillory and stocks were formally abolished in Ohio as instruments of Justice.
- The first session of the Legislature held at Columbus was opened in the capitol building.
- The State Library, now containing 60,000 volumes, was founded at Columbus.
Aug. 25. - Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on the Great Lakes, arrived in Cleveland at 11 o'clock a.m., on her first trip from Buffalo to Detroit.  She was a queerly made craft of about 300 tons burthen, accommodating one hundred or more passengers, and capable of making eight or ten miels an hour in favorable weather.
Dec. 6. - The first "Committee on Schools" was appointed by the General Assembly.  For four or five years the idea of common schools had been agitated, chiefly in Cincinnati, Marietta and the Western Reserve.  In 1819 a bill for their establishment, introduced by Ephraim Cutler, of Washington county, had been defeated.
Jan. 31. - Bill passed by General Assembly "authorizing an examination into the practicability of connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River by canal." As early as 1784 Washington and Jefferson had dwelt upon the advantages of such a system.
Feb. 4. - The construction of two canals was authorized one from the Ohio to Lake Erie, by way of the Scioto and Muskingum; the other from Cincinnati to Dayton.  On the 4th of July, following, with impressive ceremonies, ground was broken for the main canal near Newark, Licking county.
Feb. 5. - A bill for the establishment of common schools became a law.
March 3. - The Cumberland, or National Road, was completed from Cumberland, Md., to the Ohio river at Wheeling; the road was subsequently extended westward across the State, and was a most important factor in the development of Ohio.
January - Joseph Smith, with thirty Mormon followers, arrived in Kirtland, where they gathered around them many believers, and remained for six or seven years in various stages of prosperity.
- The first Ohio railway company, " The Mad River & Lake Erie," was incorporated, to build a road from Dayton to Sandusky via Springfield. Work was begun in 1835, and a portion of the road opened in 1838. Not until 1848, however, was the line completed across the State. The first railway actually completed in Ohio was probably The Painesville & Fairport R. R., chartered Feb. 10,1835; it went into operation in the fall of 1837, extend­ing from Fairport, at the mouth of Grand River, to the village of Painesville, a distance of three miles. Steam was never employed, the cars being drawn by horses. The road "continued in operation to the great convenience of the public, but without any dividends to the stockholders," till the spring of 1841, when the Grand River Bridge was carried away by a flood, and the company collapsed. The old road bed is still visible.
Feb. 12. - The Michigan Territorial Legislature passed "an act to prevent the organization of a foreign jurisdiction within the limits of the Territory of Michigan," severely punishing any person who should assume official functions within the Territory of Michigan, unless. under the authority of that Territory or of the United States. The enabling act under which Ohio was admitted into the Union bounded the proposed State on the north "by an east and west line drawn through the southern extremity of Lake Michigan," and extending easterly "until it shall intersect Lake Erie." Later surveys proved that such an east and west line would pass from five to eight miles south of Lake Erie, and it was on this ground that Michigan claimed jurisdiction over the lake shore to the Pennsylvania line, and to enforce this claim the above act was passed.
Feb. 23. - The Ohio Legislature passed a law claiming their jurisdiction over the entire lake shore, erecting it into counties, and appointing commissioners to locate and mark the boundary line, on the ground that such was the manifest intention of Congress.
March 31 - Gov. Lucas, of Ohio, with staff, commissioners and six hundred armed men, arrived at Perrysburg and encamped in old Fort Miami, intending to establish a boundary line, known as the Harris line, passing through the north cape of Maumee Bay. Gov. Mason, of Michigan, with one thousand men, then hastened to occupy Fort Swan, a few miles below Perrysburg, bent upon resisting the Ohio claimants and enforcing what was called the Fulton line. At this juncture two Federal commissioners arrived and finally induced the belligerent governors to retire with their men, and await the arbitration of Congress, who, at their next session, June 15th, 1836, decided in favor of the Ohio claim, but mollified Michigan by a gift to her of what is now her Upper Peninsula.
- First iron manufactured with raw coal in Ohio, at Lowell, Mahoning county; the first in the United States having been made on the Pennsylvania side of the State line the previous year.
Feb. 1. - The old State House at Columbus was totally destroyed by fire.
March 11 - The Ohio Legislature adopted a "code of civil procedure," for the regulation of legal practice in civil cases.

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