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MAKING OF MONROE
by R.E. Harrington
(You can search any file or page on this web site by
following the steps found by clicking on Search.)
Prior to the Formation of Monroe
the early 1800s, essentially no one lived in what is now Monroe County, Ohio
-- not even Indians. It is true that
American Indians inhabited the North American continent long before the
Europeans began to arrive. However,
their population was sparse consisting of a number of tribes distributed over a
vast wilderness. They subsisted on meat
that they hunted with bows and arrows, spears, and traps. The Indians were also farmers in that they
planted corn, beans, and squash. They
lived in small villages of usually no more than a few hundred individuals. Being surrounded by vast areas of wilderness,
they had no concept of owning land as the Europeans knew it.
came the British and French who had been fighting each other in Europe and on the seas for centuries. Through early contact with the Indians of the
St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes area
the French had discovered a rich resource in the form of animal pelts that was
available by trading with the Indians.
So, the primary interest of the French was to establish a partnership
and trade with the Indians. For this
purpose, they cultivated the friendship of the six tribes who lived in what is
now upper New York
State. These tribes became known as the six nations
or the Iroquois League. The French built
trading posts and provided the Indians with blankets, guns, gunpowder, cooking
utensils, axes and tomahawks, whisky, cloth, and other European
commodities. In exchange they took
animal pelts and skins for leather that were in great demand in Europe.
French encouraged more and more trapping and exploitation of the animal
population for furs and leather. The
Indians of the Iroquois League were only too glad to comply because animal
pelts were the money with which they could buy the white man's goods that over
the decades had gradually become necessities for their newer way of life. Trade was the only source of such commodities
as metals, guns, gunpowder and whisky.
the population of animals diminished to the point that they were insufficient
for the Indians of the Iroquois League to meet their trading requirements. Again, the French came to their Indian
partners' "rescue" by encouraging and helping them to become
aggressors of their neighboring tribes.
So the Iroquois League moved westward into new hunting and trapping
areas along the Great Lakes. In this process, they eradicated the Erie Indian Tribe and under the tutorage of the French,
appointed themselves as the leading tribe over all other tribes in what would
become known as the Northwest Territory. Several of the tribes submitted to the administrative
domination by the Iroquois League, but a number of others such as the Shawnee and Miami
south on the North American continent the British were interested in settling
and farming the land. While the British
also traded with the Indians for animal pelts, the major income from their
colonies came from food, tobacco and taxes imposed on the expanding
population. This policy encouraged the
expansion of settlements and the colonies grew ever westward as more settlers
came and the demand for land increased.
For nearly a century the land east of the Allegheny
Mountains was sufficient for the growing population. The King of England
had established the Allegheny Mountains as the
dividing line between settlers and the Indian lands, a boundary that was
honored by the settlers for several decades.
the middle of the 1700s the relationship between France
on the American continent had deteriorated even further. To support the French trading enterprises to
the north in 1749 the French sent a military expedition that claimed most of
the area that we now call the Northwest Territory. In so doing their claim included the lands of
the Shawnee, Cherokee, Miami, Mingo, and other tribes. The British viewed these claims as a trespass
on their Pennsylvania and Virginia colonies. In addition, the British had established
their own trading posts among the Shawnee
and other Indian tribes in this area.
When the French arrived these British traders were told to leave.
new claims of the French to the Ohio
country fanned the flames of antagonism that led to the French and Indian
War. The Indians viewed the squabble
between the French and British as being between two white tribes from across
the ocean. Most of the Indian tribes preferred to remain neutral in the
squabble. However, the French were the trading partners of the Iroquois
League who had become dependent on trade for their survival and
prosperity. So, eventually they agreed
to join with the French in their war with the British.
France did a poor job supporting
their colonial forces in America
both militarily and in terms of providing supplies to trade with the
Indians. As the sources of trade
supplies dried up for the French, caused in no small part by the British, the
French traders began gouging and cheating the Indians. Deliberately playing to this French weakness,
the British offered better deals and in effect bought much of the Indians'
allegiance away from the French. This
had the effect of reducing military pressure on the British although the
hostility of the Indians over the encroachment by settlers still existed. Eventually the British prevailed in the
French and Indian War and in 1760 they were victorious in forcing the French to
withdraw from North American. As a result, the Indians found themselves
trading with the British instead of the French. Having won the French and
Indian War, the British laid claim to all the Northwest
Territory. This was one of
the terms of the Treaty of Paris
of 1763 that was made between the British and French but without the
participation of the Indians. With the French expelled from North America, the
King of England, in an
effort to appease the Indians, ordered that all of the land between the Great
Lakes and the Ohio River would be Indian land
and was not to be settled.
this time the land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Allegany Mountains
had become filled with farms and new land was needed for settlement. Settlers began to spill across the Allegheny
Mountains from Pennsylvania and Virginia. In addition, surveyors were being hired to
survey land in the upper Ohio
Valley with an eye to
future settlement. This encroachment of
the whites into the Indian hunting land cause justifiable concern among the
Indians that the lands of the Ohio Valley would soon be settled as the land east of the Allegheny Mountains had been.
an effort to accommodate the need for new land, the British convened a council
at Fort Stanwix with
the Iroquois League in 1768. They did
not invite the tribes who inhabited the Ohio Valley. From the Iroquois League they
"bought," for £10,000 worth of goods, the area to the west
of the Allegheny Mountains and south and east of the Ohio
River. In retrospect, it
seems clear that this negotiation with the Iroquois League was a ruse to claim
that the land had been bought, as opposed to being taken by force. Needless to say, the Indian tribes such as
the Shawnee, Cherokees, and Miami who claimed the area as their homes and
hunting grounds did not recognize the transaction.
the Indians who lived on and used the lands "purchased" by the
British of the Stanwix Treaty, the problem was the
continuing encroachment of settlers. To
some of these tribes the conflict between the French and British had been an
opportunity to push the settlers back across the Allegheny
Mountains. Indeed, the
French had encouraged this goal to help enlist the Indian forces to their side
during the French and Indian War. But
with the British being the winning side in the French and Indian War, the
problem of encroachment of settlers took on a more serious and sinister
The King's order to reserve the land north of the Ohio
River as Indian land stood for only a short period. The ruse of the British buying land from Indians
who did not own it was repeated several times.
Over the next two decades, the situation went from bad to worse with
both the whites and Indians becoming increasingly suspicious of the
other. Before long, this led to a state of open but undeclared war
between the white settlers and the Indians.
The Indians' objective remained that of forcing the whites to return
east of the Allegheny Mountains. Attacks were mostly relatively small
hit-and-run skirmishes in which both the whites and Indians committed
horrendous atrocities. Several times the whites were nearly driven from
the lands west of the Allegheny Mountains
where they were settling.
To make matters worse for the settlers, in 1776 the Americans declared their
independence from England. This precipitated the American Revolutionary
War that involved several years of war between England and the eastern
colonies. The new American government that was formed was weak. It had no money and was ill prepared to
provide protection to the settlers on the western frontier. As a result,
the undeclared war between the whites moving into the Ohio Valley
and the Indians who felt that they owned the land continued with disastrous
results for both sides, but mostly for the whites. [Capt.
John Baker, John Wetzel,]
the war between England and
the future United States,
reached a conclusion attention could be focused on the Indian problems at the
western frontier. The problem was that
the new American government was broke and tired of war. The result was a period of about a decade of
aggressive Indian attacks on the settlers.
The new Federal Government built forts and staffed them with minimal
troops but at best these were shelters for settlers if they had advanced notice
of Indian raids.
though the Revolutionary War had been concluded in the east with the surrender
of British Major General Charles Cornwallis to George Washington at Yorktown, the
British still held key forts in places like Fort Detroit, Fort Niagara, and
Fort Miami. They also continued to
operate trading posts with the Indians.
And while there was at least a pretense of observing the British
surrender while terms of the peace treaty were being worked out, these Canadian
and fort commanders continued the war by sponsoring the Indians as their
surrogate armies. From these positions
they continued to serve as military suppliers and advisors to the Indians and
encouraged them to continue attacks on the settlers in the Ohio Valley.
Several futile efforts were made by the white settlers to muster an effective
resistance. However, the armies used for
these efforts were largely collections of unorganized and untrained militia
from among the settlers. The Indians
with the help of the British effectively repelled most of these missions,
frequently with great loss of life among the militia. The Indians took refuge in what is now Central Ohio and were essentially immune from attacks by the
whites. [Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair]
this long and bloody period, war parties of Indians would leave their villages
and follow established trails to the Ohio River or they would canoe down one of
the rivers leading to the Ohio River. There they would lay in wait for boats to
come down-river with passengers and stores intended for the settlements or
forts. They would attack the boats, kill
or capture the crew, confiscate the cargo, and return to their villages. This became a profitable activity for the
marauding Indians although it was not without risk for the warriors. The fate of prisoners could range from being
adopted into the Indian tribe, to being sold to the British, to being killed
and scalped, or to be horribly tortured to death for reasons known only to the
Sisters, - Johnson Brothers, - Battle of Captina, - Drumm Family Massacre]
of the war parties would cross the Ohio River and set upon settlers' cabins
located in Virginia. The outcome would likely be about the same as
for the boats that they attacked on the river.
They would loot the cabins of anything that they found of value and
could carry. They would usually kill all
the livestock and destroy the crops. An
objective was to terrorize other settlers into returning east of the Allegheny Mountains.
horrendous, inhuman acts were not confined to the Indians. Whites frequently engaged in similar
activities, some motivated by revenge, others perhaps intended to dissuade the
Indians from their terrorist ways. The
result became almost a one-upmanship contest of who could be the more cruel.
people who were killed by an enemy on the frontier were scalped. A major factor in this practice was to
collect a bounty that had been placed on victims. The British, for example, paid the Indians a
bounty for each scalp taken. These were
bought by the British and stored. In
these wanton acts of murder even the unborn was not exempt. [Scalp shipment]
land that would eventually become Monroe
County was on one of the main routes
followed by Indian war parties intent on waylaying boats or crossing into Virginia. Trails that ran along Sunfish and Captina Creeks were used for these purposes.
after years of terrorist activities that resulted in white settlers and Indians
alike being massacred, the Federal Government mustered the resources to
assemble, equip and train an effective army on the western frontier. Under professional military leadership for
the first time, General Anthony Wayne marched an army of 2,500 trained men
north to do battle with the Indian tribes.
When the encounter between the Indians and whites finally occurred at
Fallen Timber, the effectiveness of St. Clair's army was hardly tested. It served its purpose, however. The Indians were sufficiently impressed that
they capitulated and most of the tribes sued for peace. The conclusion of this last major
confrontation resulted in the Treaty of Greenville
in 1795. [Greenville
of the Indian tribes had not signed the Greenville
Treaty, however, so even after the Treaty, attacks on some white settlements
continued but they were sporadic and claimed fewer casualties. Effective, organized resistance by the
Indians was never again achieved even though they tried; particularly, through
the efforts of Tecumseh.
Many details of the history of this period have been omitted in the brief
narrative above. But, it is not the purpose of this discussion to detail
the history of the Northwestern
it to say that following the Greenville Treaty
of 1795 the flow of settlers increased dramatically, particularly into the
region north of the Ohio River. The Greenville
Treaty had established a new boundary between the settlers and Indian
lands. The Indian lands were reduced to
what is now the northern half of the State of Ohio
and lands west of Ohio.
The Indians moved farther north and west making way for the new wave of
March 1, 1803 Ohio became the seventeenth
state in the United States. The Northwestern Territorial Government was
ended by the organization of the Ohio State Government on that date, as called for by the
provisions of the Ohio constitution framed at Chillicothe.
Ten years before the Greenville
Treaty, and 28 years before it became a county, Monroe
County was part of a block of land
that became known as The Seven
Ranges. The new
American Government established the Seven
Ranges to provide land to
pay soldiers and officers who had fought in the Revolutionary War. The
Government also intended to sell this land to individuals as a way of raising
money. The Seven Ranges
included all or major parts of what are now the counties of Carroll, Jefferson,
Harrison, Belmont, and Monroe. It also
included small parts of the counties of Columbiana, Tuscarawa,
Guernsey, Nobel, and Washington.
In order to have a method to identify and locate the individual land parcels, a
method of surveying was established in 1785 that became known as the Federal
Survey System. The Seven Ranges
were the first public lands to be surveyed using this system. This method is essentially a grid of squares,
six miles on each side, that could be overlaid on a map of the region much like
the system of latitude and longitude that is used on a worldwide basis.
The system is still in use today. [Federal Survey System]
Using the Federal Survey System, soldiers of the Revolutionary War could be
given acreage in the form of "warrants." The owner of a warrant
could either settle on the land described by his warrant or sell the warrant if
he could find a buyer. The difficulty for the warrant holder, however,
was that at the time these warrants were issued in the late 1700s, the Indians
still thought that all the land north of the Ohio River
belonged to them. And since the war between the settlers and Indians was
raging, it was frequently worth a would-be settler’s life to try to claim and
settle on land covered by the warrant.
consideration was that most of the land in the southern part of The Seven Ranges
is hilly and on average a lot less desirable for farming than much of the other
land found in Ohio.
As a result, the land sold slowly and settlement of Monroe County
lagged behind the settlement of some of the choicest farmlands farther
down-river and in the center and northern part of the State.
Some of the lands in The Seven Ranges were offered for sale in New
York in 1787-9 and some in Philadelphia
in 1796. Some of the land sold at these
sales, but not much. It was not until
the land offices were established in July 1, 1800 that sales picked up.
Monroe County, Ohio is formed:
Monroe County was organized as a
county of Ohio by an act of the Ohio legislature on
January 29, 1813. Although established in 1813, its borders were modified
several times through 1851. It was named
for James Monroe who was then the United States Secretary of State (1811 -
1817) and later became the fifth president of the United States (1817 - 1825). The greatest extent of the County, east and
west, is twenty-six and a half miles, by twenty-two miles north and south. It contains 470 square miles.
the time that Monroe County became an Ohio county in 1813, it was beginning to be
actively settled. From a relatively slow start during the first decade of
1800 the population increased rapidly during the years between 1820s and
the late 1820s Monroe
County began to see a
rush of settlers eager to buy land and begin farming. Many came directly from Europe
enticed by the opportunity to own their own land in an environment largely free
of the politics and demands of government.
They came with their own religious biases but in most cases, not because
of them. Both the Protestant and
Catholic settlers brought their respective churches' customs and organizations
and it is to the record keeping systems of these churches that we are indebted
as major resources of data and information to help reconstruct much of what we
know about these settlers who are our Monroe County ancestors.
of our ancestors arrived in the decades between 1830 and 1850. Most bought farms and began their
families. It was the settlers of this
period that established the familial tone of the County with many of the
current residents being descendants of these early families. Many of the farms where they settled were
bought from holders of those early deeds or warrants. In some cases,
these farms already had houses and other improvements on them, but most did
1850 Monroe County reached it peak in
population. Over the next 60 years the
population remained about constant at around 25,000 people. This undoubtedly reflected the facts that the
available farms had become saturated with large, stable families that limited
further growth. Then, after about two
generations the original families began to age and with no more land available
and the coming of the automobile and railroad that made travel easy, the
younger population began to move elsewhere to seek their future. Over the decades of 1910 through the 1940s
the population of the County steadily declined to the present level of about
15,000. This new stabilized population
level reflects the relatively older community and the fact that the County offers
little opportunity other than farming as careers to younger people.
would be a serious oversight not to take note of the oil boom that occurred in Monroe County
at the turn of the 20th century. Oil had
been discovered in the late 1890s on both sides of the Ohio
River. This discovery
attracted developers, speculators, wildcatters and many others to Monroe County. Villages such as Lewisville, Graysville, Rinard Mills, and
elsewhere nearly burst at their seams as they tried to accommodate the sudden
burgeoning, albeit temporary, populations.
Oil brought jobs and money and unprecedented requirements for hotels,
restaurants, general stores, saw mills, saloons, livery stables and many other
supply and service oriented businesses.
Farmers became able to supplement their incomes by working in the oil
fields. Many of the young men entering
the work force for the first time had another option besides farming. All these factors combined to maintain the
higher population level through the decade of 1900. But as the oil boom fever passed and the
industry converted from exploration and drilling to production and maintenance,
most of which was done by the indigenous population, the County began to resume
much of its original familial flavor.
The difference was that the industry of the County had experienced a
change. Families who had settled as
farmers were now farmers and oil field workers.
Some of this vocational flavor can still be seen today in Monroe County. But, it is more likely to be seen by those
doing genealogy and peering into the past 100 years.
“Back-arrow” at the top of this webpage to return to the “Previous Page.”
CDs of important
Monroe County record books are now
available. Each page of dozens of Monroe County record books have been
photographed and made into CDs. For a
current list of available CDs click
modified 1 March 2011 by reh