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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Early Migration Into The Ohio Country

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 4 Oct 2004
Source:
The following is is an original article written by Dallas Bogan
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About the middle of the decade, Chillicothe was established on the west bank of the Scioto, about forty-five miles north of the Ohio. This pattern down the Ohio and up the valleys of its tributaries continued until whole towns were filled with individuals, families and small groups of settlers.
Ohio was not fully settled until Washington called on Anthony Wayne, then Commander in Chief of the United States Army, to suppress the Indians in the west central portion of the State. Until a total victory over the Indian was achieved, the pioneers were defenseless.
A victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1784, and signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, opened the door for further migration.
Prior to this achievement, a string of forts had been built near the western border of the State. This was further guarantee that migratory progression was in a forward mode.
Settlement routes followed the waterways and those lands that required less demanding labor. It must be remembered that primeval Ohio was almost a continual wilderness of giant oaks, maples, beeches, buckeyes, ash, elm, hickory and walnut trees. Also dominant was the existence of huge saturating swamps.
Rafts, flatboats and barges all contributed their part in the establishment of the fertile plains that bordered the inland waterways.
"Squatters" were among the early settlers, that is, those who were too poor to pay the fees and enter their land properly. They would settle on some tract and - trust to luck - until they could raise enough money to make their supposed purchase. In some cases they remained undisturbed and eventually succeeded in gaining a title to their lands; but in other instances they were forced to vacate after making considerable improvements.
Governor Jeremiah Morrow was wandering through the woods one day in the area of Foster which he thought was unoccupied by man. A stranger who had totally surprised him suddenly frightened him. The man, unshaven with his hair long and uncombed, had with him a hunting knife and a gun. His hands and wrists were covered with blood.
After a few startling moments a conversation evolved and explanations were made on both sides. The stranger was a squatter on a forfeiture and had just killed a deer that he was dressing. He lived alone a short distance away in a small hut, supporting himself mainly by his rifle. His name was Peter Tettrick.
There were numerous land venturers on the lookout for opportunities to make money out of government lands. They were a class of people despised by the early settlers, who called them land-sharks, or land-grabbers. Sometimes one of these deceivers, finding that a poor man had made a good improvement, but had not yet entered his land, would go to the land office and secure a title to it, thus defraud the settler whose labor had greatly increased the value of the land.
In 1793, William Maxwell had ridden horseback from the East through the woods to the new settlement of Cincinnati with a small printing press strapped to his back. He began publishing a newspaper called "The Centinel of the Northwestern Territory," the first in the Miami country. In the issue dated April 2, 1796, appeared the following editorial:
"It is with great satisfaction that we can announce to our readers the rapid strides of population and improvement on the frontiers of this country. The banks of the Mad (or as called by the Indians - Chillekothi) river, display at this moment hopeful appearances. But yesterday that country was a waste, a range of savages and prowling beasts; today we see stations formed, towns building, and the population spreading. At the mouth of the river on the eastern side now stands the town of Dayton in which are already upwards of forty cabins and houses, with certain prospect of many more."
At this time Dayton was but eight months old. Swinging axes, a busy band of pack saddles, flat-boats, all exercised their role as part of the settlement of the new town.
Under the protection of Fort Hamilton, which had been laid out in December the preceding year, small groups of individuals and families made their way upward toward the head-waters of the Great Miami and Mad Rivers.
Through the water routes had come a continuous stream of migrants; staking claims, buying cheap land, ultimately establishing the laying out of towns that progressed at a rapid pace.
Some families combined their efforts and would build one or two rafts or flatboats, and float their household wares to their destination. A short time after establishing their home on these waterways, communications became fashionable, and soon traces were cut through the forest, first a path for a horse and his rider, next a wagon track, and soon a mud road.


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This page created 4 Oct 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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