By Ralph and James Boggs (1953)

Col. Abraham Wood

HE ENGLISH SETTLERS were content to remain on the Atlantic side of the Appalachian fence until the streams of German and Irish immigrants diluted the English strain in the blood of the colonists. As the tides immigrants flowed in the Germans and Irish, to find free land had to push on beyond the settled valleys. Early journeys over the Appalachians were led by Col. William Mayo, Col. Abraham Wood and Doctor Thomas Walker, who first opened new routes over the mountain barrier.

What is now Ohio was at this time almost entirely covered with forests of oak, walnut, sycamore, maple, chestnut and beech with an under growth of lesser shrubs of dogwood, wild plum, crab apple, red bud, pawpaw, blueberry and raspberry, all inter twined with heavy hanging grapevines. Through this virgin forest came the first white expeditions. In 1749, a French expedition under CELERON, which almost defined the present boundaries of Ohio, attempted to keep the English from settling the Ohio Country. Celeron completed a journey of about 3000 miles which took him to the Miami Indian town of Pickawillany where he dispersed the English traders. His trip, in the name of France, did not retard the English advance.

In 1750, the Ohio Company, which was formed in Virginia, instructed Christopher Gist to investigate the Ohio country. During this journey one of his stops was at Pickawillany where he made a trade agreement with the Miami Indians and English traders.
The French, allied with the Miamis, Wyandots and Ottawas engaged in a war with the English in 1752 which lasted until 1763. The English were allied with the Shawanoes, Delawares, Cherokees, Catawbas, Munseys and Senecas and finally emerged victorious, thus driving the French farther into the northern part of the Ohio Country.

After the French and Indian War the Fort Stanwix treaty was formed in which the Delawares, Shawnees and Mingoes refused to sign, therefore creating the disturbances which started the Border Wars and led to a large expedition of frontiersmen under the command of George Rogers Clark, who was sent into the Shawnee country for the purpuse of retaliation and for the destruction of the Indian villages and crops. It was in the summer of 1780 when Clark’s army attacked the Shawnee town of Piqua, four miles west of Springfield, and after quite a battle the Indians were defeated, 500 acres of corn destroyed and the village burned. Clark then returned to Kentucky. Instead of Clark’s expedition causing a cessation of hostilities, the Indians, embittered by defeat, became more aggressive in their plundering excursions. They became such. a menace that in 1782 another expedition by General, Clark was organized. Leaving Cincinnati, fording Mad River in Dayton, he marched up the east bank of the Miami River and crossed the stream about four miles below present Piqua, Ohio. The Indians were congregating at Piqua for a general pow wow and it seems that such was the terror inspired by the name of Clark that the Indians fled at his approach. After destroying everything possible Clark led his army back to Kentucky.

The Revolutionary War

THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR demolished the Proclamation Line of 1763, which gave the English all the territory east of the Mississippi, and ushered in a perod of tremendous western expansion. Even while the fighting went on, a spirited migration began to fill the upper reaches of the Ohio River Valley. In 1776 only about 5,000 Americans lived west of the Alleghenies and by 1790 there were over 100,000. One of the major achievements of the post war period was the famous Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the law which established a whole pattern of government for the western territories. The Ordinance provided that the territory was to be divided into not less than three nor more than five states, eventually, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. It included an area of 1,887,850 square miles.

The desired effect of Clark’s last expedition, however, was only temporary, and in a few years the Indians we’re again on the warpath. In 1790 General Harmar was ordered, to proceed against the hostile tribes on the Miami and Wabash Rivers. He proceeded from Cincinnati up through Miami County on Clark’s former route and marched on to Fort Wayne. Here he was defeated by the Indians under Chief Little Turtle.

In 1791 General St. Clair was appointed in command and marched against the Indians but while encamped on the Maumee River was attacked and defeated with a loss of 600 men.

George Washington then appointed “Mad Anthony” Wayne to plan and organize a campaign to counteract the obvious errors of the St. Clair debacle. Wayne organized an army in Pittsburgh in June of 1792 and spent nearly a year in drilling and equiping it. In 1793 Wayne’s army left Cincinnati (Fort Washington) and pushed north into the Indian Country. He co-ordinated his advance by establishing forts and blockhouses one of which was a log and earth breastwork, erected at the junction of Stillwater River and Greenville Creek, just north of the present Covington Water Works. This fort was called Fort Rowdy which proved to be a very strategic point along the important waterways. Canoes and flat boats carried supplies up the Miami River to Dayton, thence up the Stillwater River to Fort Rowdy, thence up Greenville Creek to Fort Greenville where Wayne went into winter quarters in 1793-1794. Fort Rowdy, including the outposts, probably was contained in the area north of the present water works, south of Route 36, east of the Stillwater River and west of present Main Street. Named either after one of Wayne’s officers or after the behavior of the men, Fort Rowdy was short lived and ended with the Treaty of Greenville.

Moving north from Fort Greenville Wayne engaged in battle and defeated the Indians on August 20, 1794 in the Battle of Fallen Timbers on the Maumee River. The army then returned to Fort Greenville where on August 3, 1795 Wayne concluded a peace and signed a treaty with all the tribes of the Northwest. In June 1795 the members of various tribes met at Fort Greenville for the purpose of negotiating peace with the victorious Americans. A treaty was signed by General Wayne, William Wells the interpreter, William Henry Harrison the aide-de-camp, William Clark, lieutenant, Meriweather Lewis, ensign, David Jones, chaplain, Henry DeButts, captain and John Mills, captain, on behalf of the United States; and on the part of the Indians by chiefs of the following tribes: Delawares, Shawnees, Chippewas, Ottawas, Miamis and Eel Rivers, Weas, and Piankashaws, Kickapoos and Kask askias, Potawatomies and Wyandots. Those chiefs signing were: Tarhe the Crane (Wyandots), Little Turtle (Miamis), Blue Jacket (Shawnees), Buckongehelas (Delawares), Black Hoof (Shawnees), Leatherlips (Wyandots), Bad Bird (Chippewa), White Pigeon (Potawatomi), The Sun (Potawatomi) and Isaac Zane a Wyandot by adoption. The final treaty was signed on August 3, 1795, exchanged August 7, laid before the United States Senate on December 9 and ratified on December 22, 1795.

By this treaty the Indians ceded about 25,000 square miles of territory to the United States, besides 16 separate tracts, including land and forts. The Indians received in consideration of these cessions, goods to the value of $20,000 and were promised an annual allowance of $9,500 to be distributed equally to the parties of the treaty. Chief Blue Jacket had to be bribed with a $300 annuity. Never after that treaty, to their honor be it remembered, did the Indian tribes violate the limits which it established. It was a grand tribute to General Wayne that no chief or warrior who gave him the hand at Greenville ever lifted the hatchet against the United States.

The Treaty of Greenville was the signal for the spread of settlement up the river valleys into the interior of Ohio. Thus we find that the French ceded in 1763, the English ceded in 1783, the Northwest Territory formed in 1787, the Indians ceded in 1795 and the way is now clear for the formation of the State of Ohio.

The year following the Treaty of Greenville found the citizens of the Ohio Country clamoring for statehood. Subsequently the population was sufficiently strong to win this recognition from Congress and in 1803 Ohio became the 17th state of the Union and the first to be carved out of the Northwest Territory.