The early hunting and gathering people live in the area now known as Ohio in the last centuries of the Ice Age, hunting now-extinct species such as mammoth and mastodon.
8000– 500 BCE
Archaic hunters and gatherers find new ways to harvest Ohio’s bounty as the climate warms and thick forests grow across the area.
800 BCE –100
The Adena people become Ohio’s first farmers, growing plants such as sunflowers and squash. Many of their thousands of burial mounds have survived in Ohio—the Serpent Mound in Adams County is the largest effigy mound in the U.S.
Tribes living in the area include the Iroquois, Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, and Miami. During this time, the Beaver Wars, a series of conflicts between the Iroquois and Algonquin tribes over territory and the fur trade, erupt. The Ohio country is nearly emptied of Native Americans, who flee west to escape Iroquois warriors.
French explorer René-Robert Cavelier explores and claims the Ohio region for France.
1750–1774 EARLY EUROPEAN EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT
The Ohio Company of Virginia, a land speculation company organized for the colonization of the Ohio Country, claims region for England, sowing the seeds of the Seven Years’ War, which erupts four years later.
The governor of Virginia calls a meeting to discuss the eviction of British settlers from homesteads west of the Appalachian Mountains by French-Canadian soldiers. Major George Washington offers to deliver an ultimatum to the French forces at Fort Le Boeuf, reiterating Britain’s claim to the entire Ohio River Valley. The French rebuff Britain’s claims.
The French take over Fort Prince George at the Forks of the Ohio from British soldiers and frontiersmen and rename it Fort Duquesne. The conflict over the territory between the Mississippi and the Appalachian Mountains sparks the Seven Years’ War.
The Seven Years’ War ends with France surrendering its Ohio claim to Britain in the Treaty of Paris.
John Chapman, later known as Johnny Appleseed, collects apple seedlings from western Pennsylvania and introduces apple orchards and nurseries in Ohio and Indiana from seed.
1775–1799 REVOLUTIONARY OHIO
(June 30) The Revolutionary War. The Gnadenhutten Massacre (also known as the Moravian Massacre) takes place when American militiamen from Pennsylvania kill 96 "Christianized" Native Americans near what is now the town of Gnadenhutten, Ohio. The Native Americans are killed in retaliation for Pennsylvania raids carried out by other Native Americans in previous years.
Ohio becomes part of the Northwest Territory. The area encompasses modern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and northeastern Minnesota.
Founded by General Rufus Putnam and named in honor of French queen Marie Antoinette, Marietta becomes Ohio’s first permanent settlement. Settlers are comprised mostly of Revolutionary War veterans.
(August 3) The Treaty of Greenville ends the Northwest Indian War (1785–1795) between the U.S. and Native Americans over control of the Northwest Territory. In exchange for $20,000 worth of goods, Native Americans turn over large parts of present-day Ohio to the U.S.
1800–1849 STATE OF OHIO
The Division Act divides the Northwest Territory into two separate governments, creating the Indiana Territory.
(March 1) The southeastern portion of the Northwest Territory becomes the 17th state when it is admitted to the Union as Ohio. Chillicothe is named as the state capital.
The Ohio Legislature passes "Black Laws" restricting the legal rights and movement of free African Americans. Under the laws African-Americans cannot serve in the militia, attend common schools, or testify against whites in court. The laws are expanded in 1807 to require African Americans to pay a $500 bond guaranteeing their good behavior. The Black Laws are abolished in 1848.
The War of 1812 begins. Fort Meigs, a strategic fortification along the banks of the Maumee River, is constructed to protect Ohio from invasion.
The city of Cincinnati earns the nickname "Porkopolis" when it becomes the center of America’s meatpacking industry.
The Ohio and Erie Canal is completed to carry freight traffic. The construction of railroads rapidly diminishes river freight in the second half of the century, so the canal serves as a water source to industries and towns. By 1913 much of the canal system is abandoned.
Oberlin College is founded as the first interracial and coeducational college in the U.S. Until 1938 boys and girls study together in the primary and secondary programs and young women study at the female seminary. In 1938 Oberlin admits four female students and becomes the first institution of higher learning to admit women to its college programs on an equal basis with men.
Boundary disputes over a 468-square-mile region between Michigan and Ohio result in the Toledo War; the bloodless conflict is settled the following year when Michigan surrenders claim to the land.
(March 27) The first Mormon temple is dedicated in Kirtland under the direction of church founder and president Joseph Smith.
Proctor & Gamble is formed in Cincinnati. William Proctor and James Gamble build their business manufacturing soap and candles from the tallow produced by the city’s thriving meatpacking industry. In 2009 the company reports earnings of $79 billion.
The Wyandot, the last Native American tribe in Ohio, leave the state. Most had already been displaced to Kansas through the U.S. policy of "Indian removal."
1850–1899 THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION ERAS
Ohio leads all other states in corn, horse, sheep, and wool production.
Activist Sojourner Truth addresses the first Black Women’s Rights Convention in Akron. Men in the audience heckle the female delegates. Truth’s famous speech "Ain’t I a Woman?" turns the "sneers and jeers" into words of respect and admiration. The speech is published a month later by a newspaper owner and editor who is in the audience.
Ohio is the first state to enact laws protecting working women, making it illegal for women and children under 18 to work more than 10 hours a day.
John Mercer Langston is one of the first African Americans elected to public office when he becomes town clerk of Brownhelm. In 1888, he becomes the first African American elected to Congress, representing Virginia.
Dr. George Bickley organizes the first local branch of the Knights of the Golden Circle in Cincinnati. The Knights of the Golden Circle is a secret society organized in the American Midwest to promote the extension of slavery and the interests of the South.
The Civil War begins. Ohio fights for the Union but the state shows mixed feelings toward slavery. The 23rd Ohio Infantry, a volunteer regiment, includes two future presidents (Hayes and McKinley), a future U.S. Senator, a future U.S. Congressman, an army commander, and the owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. The regiment contains more names that would be famous than any other regiment in the Northern Army.
The "Ohio Idea," adopted by Democrats at their 1868 convention, calls for the payment of national debt with paper money, or "greenbacks." The 1869 Public Credit officially repudiates the "Ohio Idea" with its provision for the payment of government obligations in gold.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings become the first professional baseball team.
W.F. Semple of Mount Vernon patents the first chewing gum.
James Ritty invents the first cash register to combat stealing by bartenders in his Dayton saloon.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) is founded at a convention of union leaders in Columbus, representing 25 labor groups. It is one of the first federations of labor unions in the U.S.
The first Goodyear factory opens in Akron. The thirteen original employees manufacture bicycle and carriage tires, rubber horseshoe pads, and poker chips.
1900–1929 EARLY 20TH CENTURY
A.C. Williams Co. of Ravenna becomes the world’s largest producer of toys and still banks.
Goodyear begins flying its Akron-built blimps.
A Constitutional Convention is held, reflecting a belief that the current state constitution is outdated. The revisions echo concerns of the Progressive Era that the government should protect its citizens and the nation’s moral values in an era of changes caused by industrialization, immigration, and urbanization.
(March 26) The city of Dayton is nearly destroyed when the Scioto, Miami, and Muskingum Rivers reach flood stage simultaneously. The spring flood kills 428 people.
The U.S. enters World War I. Goodyear manufactures airships and balloons for the U.S. military effort.
(June 16) Ohio becomes the sixth state to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
The Bing Act passes, requiring students to stay in school until graduation from high school or age 18.
Steel becomes the state’s number one industry.
1930–1949 THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II
(January–February) Severe winter storms result in the Ohio River Flood, leaving nearly one million people homeless.
Approximately 839,000 Ohioans, or roughly 12 percent of the state’s population, serve in the armed forces during World War II. Ohio civilians also actively participate in the war efforts by joining scrap drives or planting victory gardens.
1950–present Modern Ohio
Congress discovers that Ohio’s statehood has never been officially recognized; it passes a resolution declaring Ohio’s entry into the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is created in an effort to eliminate employment discrimination.
(May 2) Student protesters of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia burn down the campus ROTC building at Kent State University. Governor James Rhodes orders the National Guard to take control of the campus. On May 4, a small group of guardsmen fires into a group of unarmed protesters, killing four students and wounding 10 others. Four million students across the country strike in protest, and hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools close as a result. The event further divides the country along political lines.
(June 30) The 26th Amendment, which lowers the minimum voting age to 18, is ratified when Ohio becomes the 38th state to approve it.
Honda, the first Japanese automaker to start production in the U.S, announces it will build the first passenger-car assembly plant in Ohio. In 1982, Honda begins manufacturing the Accord at Marysville.
(December 14) The Bosnian Peace Agreement is signed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The agreement divides Bosnia into two autonomous territories, granting 51 percent of to the Muslim-Croat federation and 49 percent to the Serbs.
(April 28) The Cincinnati City Council votes 5–4 to sue 16 handgun manufacturers for millions in damages due to gun violence. The city claims that the gun industry makes firearms too easily available to children and criminals. In April 2003 the city council votes to drop the lawsuit because of the uncertain outcome and mounting legal costs.
The Ohio State Legislature approves a ban on same-sex marriages and bars benefits to both homosexual and heterosexual domestic partners.
(March) Severe tornadoes sweep through the southern and midwestern United States, causing damage and deaths in several states, including Ohio. Two hundred tornadoes were reported in six states. At least 340 deaths in the region are attributed to the storms.
Click to enlarge an image
13,000 BCE: Mastodon Skeleton
1650: Europeans are fascinated by explorers' accounts of their encounters with native peoples.
1750: Thomas Lee, organizer of the Ohio Company of Virginia
1754: Fort Duquesne (originally called Fort Du Quesne)
1774: Johnny Appleseed, illustration from Harper's New Monthly Magazine
1788: Arrival of Rufus Putnam and the pioneers on April 7, 1788
1795: General Anthony Wayne presented this flag to Miami chief She-Moc-E-Nish at the Treaty of Greenville
1831 Cincinnati sometimes known as "Porkopolis", a lithograph in Harper's Weekly
1833: Oberlin College campus in 1909
1835: Richard Rush of Pennsylvania brokered a compromise in the Toledo War
1842: The present-day banner of the Wyandots (Hurons)
1851 Sojourner Truth, photograph by Mathew Brady
1854: John Mercer Langston, whose early career was in Ohio
1869: Cincinnati Red Stockings
1879: Early cash register
1898: Former Goodyear factory opens in Akron factory, photo 2009