Ohio History

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Ohio > Ohio History


Ancient burial mounds and forts throughout the region showed evidence of the Hopewell Indians. In the 1600's, European explorers found the Delaware, Shawnee, Mingo, Wyandot, Miami and other Indian tribes living there. At one time both France and Great Britain both held claims to the Ohio area. After the Northwest Territory was established, and the Treaty of Greenville signed, thousands of settlers came to the Ohio region. Among the early settlers were Revolutionary War soldiers who had been given bounty lands in southeast Ohio for their military service.

The Harrison Land Act in 1800 which enabled common people to purchase land in the Northwest Territory, which they did rapidly helping Ohio to become the 17th state on March 1, 1803.

To connect with trade to the East, Ohio built a 1,000-mile long canal system of eighty-three locks called the Erie Canal, opening in 1825. This made an outlet for the Ohioan’s farms, forests and mines to conduct trade with the outside communities. The railroad arrived in the mid 1800's, turning Ohio into a crossroads for trade and migration.

Ohioans were instrumental in smuggling freedom seeking slaves to Canada by using the Underground Railroad. This resulted in a scattering of small African American communities serving as temporary safe havens in southeastern Ohio.


The following are important dates in the history of Ohio that affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements:

Several multi-volume histories of Ohio were written between 1890 and 1945. Two examples are:

Many editions exist. An index to this book is:

  • Index to Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio. [2]

You may want to study local histories for areas such as the Maumee, Miami, Hocking, Muskingum, Scioto, and Mahoning Valleys.

A bibliography of local histories is:

  • Ohio Local and Family History Sources in Print [4]

Family History Library

For an every-name index to the biographical sections of Ohio county histories, see the Ohio Surname Index, described in the "Biography" page.

Histories are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:


Web Sites


  1. Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio. Two Volumes. N.p.: The State of Ohio, 1908, c1888. (Family History Library book 977.1 H2hh 1908; film 1698149 Item 5)
  2. Day, Sandra H., comp. Index to Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio. Wintersville, Ohio: S.H. Day, 1987-89. (Family History Library book 977.1 H22d; film 1698149 Item 5;  fiche 6088090.)
  3. Wittke, Carl F., ed. The History of the State of Ohio. Six Volumes. Columbus, Ohio: The Society, 1941-1944. (Family History Library book 977.1 H2wi.)
  4. Adams, Marilyn, comp. Ohio Local and Family History Sources in Print. Clarkston, Georgia: Heritage Research, 1984. (Family History Library book 977.1 H23o.)