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100 Years Ago


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Why Shelby County, Ohio?

On March 01, 1803, the state of Ohio became the first state to be admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory. During the early 1800s, Shelby County, like the rest of Ohio, with its fertile soil, vast forests, rivers and plentiful game, was an inviting area for settlement by early pioneers.  Rugged hills in the south roll gently into a level uplands in the north. Shelby County constitutes the highest altitude for the railroad or canal within this area (1,078 feet above sea level). The highest point in Ohio is 1,550 feet in Bellefontaine (Logan County). Perhaps its most important natural resource is the Great Miami River, which, combined with many creeks, creates a very good waterway system. Because of these waterways, Shelby County settlers were able to successfully penetrate this heavily forested area by boat in their search for a place to live. Many of the initial settlers lived near Loramie Creek and the Great Miami River Basin.

canalboatwithrailroad.gif (131860 bytes)

Of course, other travelers simply passed through, venturing further south to settle in Kentucky and Tennessee or moving further west, tempted by the amount of land offered to them at extremely low prices. In these early years, Ohio was populated primarily by the animals who lived in the dense forests. Even the Indians had not stayed in one spot very long, finding the land too difficult to farm and stopping only to hunt. They hunted game such as bear, panther, wild cat, elk, deer, wolf, otter, beaver, porcupine and raccoon which were once here in abundant quantities.

The timber was so heavy that long years of labor would be required to cultivate the land. The large numbers of pigeons, blackbirds and crows also devoured seed almost as fast as the settler could plant it. Many early settlers found it more profitable to sell meat and pelts than to farm. Early pioneers not as experienced with a gun, or not having the proper munitions, would pay other settlers to shoot game to feed their family while preparing the land for crops.

Ohio’s major settlement boom came after the War of 1812, when there was no longer a great fear of the Indians. Prior to this, disgruntled tribes lurked about in defiance of the 1795 Treaty of Greene Ville, causing fear and distrust. During the ‘great migration’ to Ohio, in one 3 month period, over 800 wagons and all types of conveyances, crossed the Ohio River at Wheeling, West Virginia. Each family hoped to prosper on the fertile fields of Ohio.

'Pioneer' segment written in October, 1997 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge

 

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