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Explorations - Surveys - Land Grants


Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 5 June, 2003

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter III. Explorations - Surveys - Land Grants
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


The first white man on record who explored the Miami region, and probably passed within or near the present limits of this county, was Christopher Gist, agent and explorer for the Ohio Land Company of Virginia. Traveling with horses and accompanied by one or two woodmen, Gist passed into the interior of what is now the State of Ohio, in the winter of 1750-51. He had a conference with the Miami Indians, at Piqua, their chief town, and thence passed down the Miami Valley to the Ohio. At that time the buffalo, whose original range seems to have been nearly the whole of North America, was an inhabitant of the Miami country, and was seen by Gist in droves of thirty or forty. “Nothing is wanted,” he wrote, “but cultivation to make this a most delightful country.” This journey was made eighteen years before Daniel Boone first saw the valley of the Kentucky.

A knowledge of the fertility of the soil and delightful character of the region of the Miamis was spread abroad by various means, one of the most important of which was the reports of the soldiers in the campaigns against the Miami Indian towns. Col. John Bowman, in 1779, Gen. George Rogers Clark, in 1780 and in 1782, and Gen. Harmar, in 1790, all marched from the site of Cincinnati northward through the Miami Valley. Gen Harmar certainly passed through the entire county of Warren from southwest to northeast. His route was readily traced at the beginning of this century and passed north of Mason, near Lebanon and crossed the Little Miami not far from the mouth of Caesar’s Creek.

Adventurous whites, too, singly or in small parties, had traversed this whole region years before the first settlements were made. In the record of land entries in this county, reference is made to a beech tree on the bank of the Little Miami, and then supposed to be six miles below the mouth of Caesar’s Creek, marked Robert Connerly, R. A., 1787. As the entry (No. 737) of the land on which this tree stood was made August 7, 1787, the tree must have been marked prior to that date. It was six years afterward found by Gen. Massie with the same mark upon it, while he was surveying lands east of the Little Miami. There was seen sixty years ago a beech near the mouth of Caesar’s Creek marked W. G., 17085 – no doubt intended for 1785. Caesar’s Creek and Todd’s Fork both received their present names prior to August, 1787.

In the winter and spring of 1787, the Virginia Military District, between the Little Miami and the Scioto, was explored by Maj. John O’Bannon and Arthur Fox, two enterprising surveyors of Kentucky. Their object was to obtain a knowledge of the lands for the purpose of making entries as soon as an office should be opened for entries, which was done on the 1st day of August, 1787. They explored the whole extent of country along the Ohio and passed some distance up the Scioto and the Little Miami, and some of the smaller streams which flow into these rivers. It was probably from this exploration that O’Bannon Creek received its name. A white oak tree at the mouth of this stream was marked O’B. Cr. as early as 1787, as is shown by the record of land entries.

Maj. Benjamin Stites was one of the earliest explorers of the region, which became Symmes’ Purchase. Some have believed that he was the prime mover

in the inception of the purchase. According to the narrative of Dr. Ezra Ferris, Benjamin Stites was originally from Essex County, N. J., and, after emigrating to Western Pennsylvania, became a Captain in the militia, and took an active part in the frontier struggles with the Indians. In the spring of 1787, he descended the Ohio from Redstone with a flat-boat load of flour, whisky and other wares, to Limestone Point, now Maysville. Having little success in the disposal of them, he bushed back in the interior to Washington, where a marauding party of Indians fan off some of his horses and stole other property. He organized a pursuing party and followed the trail down the Kentucky shore to a point opposite the mouth of the Little Miami, where he constructed a raft, crossed the Ohio and followed the trail up the Little Miami Valley to the vicinity of Old Chillicothe, a few miles north of Xenia. The Indians being in camp there in considerable force, he deemed it prudent to return, and doing so at his leisure he had opportunity to observe the beauty and fertility of the country. On his return to the Ohio he decided to come back to the valley with a colony and make a permanent settlement. Some time afterward he met in Trenton, N. J., Judge John Cleves Symmes, and became interested with him in the grand speculation known as the Miami Purchase. Undoubtedly Symmes received much information from Stites concerning the lands between the Miamis. Maj. Stites became the owner of 10,000 acres near the mouth of the Little Miami. He also received deeds, dated May 14, 1795, for about 10,000 acres of land in the vicinity of the sites of Lebanon and Deerfield and between those points.

According to the author of Western Annals, the exploration of the Miami lands by Stites was made at an earlier date than that given in the preceding paragraph. The statement in Western Annals is that Symmes was led to visit the Miami region “by the representations of Benjamin Stites, of Redstone (Brownsville), who had examined the valleys of the Shawnees soon after the treaty of January, 1786. Symmes found them all and more that all they had been represented to be.”

FOOTNOTES: [a place to add additional information that you might want to submit]

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