Living in Columbus
From Toledo War to Nina West: A Brief History of Ohio

The state of Ohio is something special, as evidenced by its unique nicknames including “the heart of it all” and the Buckeye State. Ohio boasts a population of over 11 million people and a temperamental climate that produces both hot summers and snowy winters. Its location in the eastern portion of the Midwest gives it unique geography, with Lake Erie to the north, Appalachia in the southeast, and some of the most fertile ground in the country throughout. Below are a few of the most interesting moments in the state’s history, a small snapshot of the long history of our home state.

The Mound Builders. Before the arrival of European settlers, the Ohio River Valley was occupied by Native Americans. As far back as 2,000 years ago, these peoples left incredible mound structures, including the famous Serpent Mound which was built by either the Adena or Fort Ancient culture people. Serpent Mound is a 1,376 feet long effigy mound in the shape of a serpent, and it ranges from one to three feet in height. Archaeologists believe the mounds were a part of the cultural and religious beliefs of the native people of the land, although the exact creators cannot be identified. The Serpent Mound and other surviving mounds can still be visited today, so modern Ohioans can learn a little more about some of the earliest people to occupy this area.

Statehood. Prior to the Revolution, the French had trading posts in Ohio, but they ceded those claims as a part of the Treaty of Paris. In 1787, Ohio was made part of the Northwest Territory in an effort to settle the lands surrounding the Great Lakes. Once a territory gained 60,000 residents, it could become a state, which Ohio did by 1803. Interestingly, only President Thomas Jefferson signed the resolution for statehood, and in a few years, the formal custom would be to have Congress do so as well. This oversight was not discovered until 1953! President Eisenhower signed a joint congressional resolution in 1953 that retroactively dated Ohio’s formal admittance to the Union to March 1, 1803. Ohio was officially official!

The Toledo War. Did you know that Michigan-Ohio rivalry has origins in war? The “war” was basically bloodless, with only one person wounded in the entire dispute, but the event almost caused a schism in states years before the Civil War. The Toledo War began when the territory of Michigan began seeking statehood in 1833, and in their boundaries, they included the land around Toledo, which was called the Toledo Strip and formally a part of Ohio. The states deployed militias but the conflict was mostly without bloodshed, with only one casualty reported and no fatalities. Ultimately the federal government stepped in, not wanting such a conflict between a state and potential state, and brokered a deal. Michigan was in dire financial and economic crisis and needed to be accepted to the Union, so ultimately they accepted ceding the Toledo Strip to Ohio in exchange for the western two-thirds of the Upper Peninsula. Vestiges of this conflict can be seen in today’s Ohio State-Michigan university sports rivalry.

Industrial Boom. By the early 1800s, Ohio was an agricultural leader, but it needed a reliable means of transportation to move its goods to the thriving markets out east. To connect farmers to the plentiful rivers, almost one thousand miles of canals were constructed through the nineteenth century. Eventually, these canals were surpassed by railroads as the most popular means of transportation, but they remain a historical centerpiece of Ohio. Ohio also was home to the coal-mining industry, and famously home to industrial centers for manufacturing. Cities like Dayton, Springfield, Akron, Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati had booming populations because of the continual need for blue-collar workers in these factories. The changing economy and outsourcing of labor have certainly changed the shape of these cities, but they continue to embrace their new identities and be key players in our state.

Ohio Today. Ohio is the seventh most populous state, and for years it has flown under the radar, often overlooked as part of the so-called “Rust Belt.” However, Ohio continues to grow and adapt, garnering more headquarters for major companies and continuing to house some of the most popular universities in the country (O-H, anyone?). In particular, the state capital of Columbus is a millennial hub, due to its affordability and lively culture. Ohio has also been the birthplace of many famous figures in modern times – it’s nicknamed the “mother of modern presidents” because it has been the home of seven past presidents, the most out of any state! Other famous figures from Ohio include recent RuPaul’s Drag Race star Nina West and Columbus Zoo spokesman Jack Hanna.

Oakwood Management Company exclusively works in the state of Ohio. There’s something special about the people and the places here that make us proud to be Ohioans!

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