Ohio History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

Ohio history

Much like the US state of West Virginia, Ohio was originally inhabited by the Adena Culture, also known as the Mound Builders. These people have lived in the Ohio Valley for centuries, and remnants of their fascinating culture remain to this day as an integral part of Ohio history. A number of Indian tribes followed the Adenas into this fertile landscape; they lived happily on local animals, beans and grains, but their idyllic lifestyle is about to change forever.

In 1669 the French explorer Robert de la Salle traveled through the Ohio River Valley ; he demanded the whole region of France, and its king, Louis XIV. Soon the flood gates opened and this land outside Allegan proved insurmountable, especially to the British.

In 1750, Christopher Gist, surveyor for the British “Ohio Company” reported that “This Ohio Country is fine, rich, level land, well timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees… it is well watered and full of beautiful natural meadows, teeming with turkeys, deer, elk and most kinds of game are especially deceiving. In short, it only wants cultivation to make it the most delightful country.” Enticing evidence indeed to would be settlers and entrepreneurs.

This land claimed by France and which was the object of the desire of Great Britain, was soon ground zero during the French and Indian War (1754-1763) as both European powers fought for full control of North America. In the end, the British inflicted crushing blows on the French and their Indian allies.

Shortly after the end of that conflict, the British placed this land above the Ohio River within the borders of Canada. That action and the new taxes imposed by England on the original thirteen colonies were the sparks that ignited the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

  • Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in Ohio, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the state.
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During the Revolutionary War, the remaining Native Americans fought on both sides of the conflict. When the British army finally surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, the British (under the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris) ceded all claims to the Ohio Territory.

In 1787 the United States formed a government area called the Northwest Territory. This encompassed all of its land west of Pennsylvania and northwest of the Ohio River, including present-day Ohio as well as present-day Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern edges of Minnesota.

With vast amounts of choice land now available, thousands of settlers (many from Pennsylvania and New York) arrived in barges and punts along the highly navigable waters of the Ohio River.

By 1801 the Ohio Territory’s population had grown to almost 50,000. By 1802, due to its rapid growth, the US Congress authorized residents to form Ohio and join the Union. A state treaty drafted a constitution, and in 1803, Ohio entered the Union as the 17th state, with Chillicothe as its first capital; in 1816 Columbus became a permanent capital.

Ohio timeline


  • (1670) French explorer, René-Robert Cavelier, discovered Ohio area claimed by France


  • (1748) Ohio Company formed by the Virginians
  • (1750) Ohio Company claimed land for England
  • (1754 – 1763) French and Indian War
  • (1763) France ceded all rights of the Ohio Territory to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris
  • (1768) Iroquois Indians ceded all lands south and east of the Ohio River to the British in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix
  • (1775 – 1783) War of Independence
  • (1783) Treaty of Paris ended war of independence; England ceded all land in Ohio
  • (1785) Methods of consideration when dividing land for Ohio established by the Land Ordinance of 1785
  • (1787) Ohio became part of the Northwest Territory
  • (1788) First permanent white settlement in Ohio founded at Marietta
  • (1790 – 1794) Ohio Indian Wars
  • (1795) Treaty of Greeneville ended Ohio’s Indian Wars; Indians abandoned most of the land


  • (1800) Chillicothe became capital of the Northwest Territory; Division Act created the Indian Territory
  • (1802) Formation of regional government in Ohio authorized by Congress
  • (1803) Ohio became 17th state, first state west of Allegan; Chillicothe named state capital
  • (1810) Zanesville named state capital
  • (1812 – 1814) war of 1812
  • (1812) Columbus founded; Fort Meigs, built to defend Ohio from invasion
  • (1813) British failed in attempt to overtake Fort Meigs; Oliver Perry Hazard’s fleet defeated the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie
  • (1816) State capital moved to Columbus
  • (1832) Ohio and Lake Erie Canal opened
  • (1834) Anti-Slavery Society founded in Zanesville
  • (1835) Border conflict between Ohio and Michigan sparked the War of Toledo; Ohio granted contested lands around Toledo
  • (1840) William Henry Harrison chose the American President
  • (1842) The last Ohio Indian tribe, the Wyandots, abandoned all claims to land within the state; left Ohio
  • (1845) Miami and Erie Canal opened
  • (1851) Current Ohio Constitution adopted
  • (1852) Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written in Ohio by Harriet Beecher Stowe, increased racial tensions between North and South
  • (1859) To end slavery, abolitionist John Brown’s led raid on Harper’s Ferry
  • (1861 – 1865) civil war
  • (1863) Unite Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led troops on a raid across southern Ohio (Morgan’s Raid); The Battle of Buffington Island was the only Civil War battle fought in Ohio
  • (1864) President Abraham Lincoln promoted Ohioan Ulysses S. Grant to supreme commander of Union forces; Union forces of Ohioan William T. Sherman captured Atlanta; Sherman led troops on the “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah
  • (1865) Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant
  • (1868) Ulysses S. Grant chose the American President
  • (1869) Cincinnati Redstockings, first professional baseball team, founded; W.F. Semple of Mount Vernon patented chewing gum
  • (1870) John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil; Benjamin Goodrich discovered a rubber plant in Akron
  • (1876) Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, elected US president; Eshtabula train crash killed 83
  • (1878) First cash register developed by James Ritty
  • (1879) Ohioen Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb; Cleveland became the first city in the world to be lit by electric arc lamps; National Cash Register Co. based in Dayton
  • (1880) James Garfield chose the American President
  • (1881) President Garfield shot by Charles Guiteau
  • (1884) Three-day riot occurred at Cincinnati Courthouse after court verdict in murder case, 45 townspeople killed, 139 injured
  • (1888) Benjamin Harrison chose the American President
  • (1896) Ohioan William McKinley elected US President; first x-ray used in surgery by John Gilman
  • (1898) Roller bearing invented by Henry Timken


  • (1901) President McKinley assassinated
  • (1903) The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilber, began building airplanes in Dayton
  • (1908) William Howard Taft of Cincinnati elected US president; Collinwood school fire near Cleveland kills 173 students, two teachers, one firefighter
  • (1911) Automotive self-starter invented by Charles Kettering Loudonville
  • (1913) Flood of 1913 killed 428 people caused statewide destruction
  • (1914 – 1918) World War I
  • (1917) Camp Sherman built near Chillicothe to train WWI troops
  • (1918) 1,200 troops die from flu epidemic at Camp Sherman
  • (1920) William G. Harding chose the American President
  • (1921) Bing Act passed, required students to stay in school until graduation or age 18
  • (1925) Crashed Shenandoan airship, killed 14
  • (1929) Steel became Ohio’s number one industry
  • (1930) Ohio Penitentiary fire killed 322 prisoners
  • (1937) Ohio River flooded, 750,000 people left homeless; East Ohio Gas Co. explosion killed 131
  • (1938) Teflon invented by Ohioen Roy J. Plunkett
  • (1955) Ohio Turnpike completed
  • (1958) Lawrence Seaway completed
  • (1962) John Glenn of the New Accord first American to orbit the Earth
  • (1969) Neil Armstrong Wapakonety became the first man to walk on the moon
  • (1970) Four Kent State University students killed by National Guards during Vietnam War protests
  • (1973) Voters approved the lottery
  • (1974) Tornado in Xenia killed 33
  • (1979) Public schools began transporting students to eliminate segregation
  • (1986) Akron astronaut Judith Resnick, died in Challenger shuttle explosion
  • (1993) Lucasville prison riots resulted in nine inmates and one guard killed
  • (1995) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland; Bosnian Peace Agreement signed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • (1998) John Glenn (from Ohio) became the oldest American to travel into space (age 77)


  • (2001) New York terrorist attacks led to a flurry of anti-terrorism activity throughout Ohio; steam engine explosion at the fair, killed four, injured 49
  • (2002) Former deputy, James Trafficant, sentenced to eight years in prison for corruption
  • (2003) Electrical faults in Cleveland caused power outages to 50 million
  • (2006) Voters passed a ban on smoking in public places
  • (2009) Six bodies found in home of convicted sex offender in Cleveland; Nazi war crimes suspect John Demjanjuk, deported to Germany from Cleveland home; environmental activist, Marie Mason, sentenced to 22 years in prison for arson, property damage
  • (2010) Three Ohio pension funds filed a class-action lawsuit against American International Group for fraud, resulted in a $725 million fine
  • (2011) Exotic animals escape from Zanesville private zoo, owner commits suicide, police kill dozens of animals
  • (2011) Anthony Sowell found guilty of killing 11 women sentenced to death
  • (2012) A gunman killed three, injured others at a high school in Chardon
  • (2012) Tornadoes kill at least three, governor declares state of emergency

Ohio History