Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History

The free online books and other resources below are about Ohio Indians, or Native Americans. See the right column for more info about this website.

Early Indian migration in Ohio. Read before the State Archeological Society of Ohio, in Sept. 1878

Cleveland: 1878
Baldwin, Charles CandeeGo to Book

The author used many sources, beginning with accounts by French explorers and missionaries of the 1600s, to trace migrations of numerous tribes in and around Ohio country. In doing so he noted which tribes were related ethnically or linguistically, which were located near each other and appeared to have good relations, and which were in conflict. Because of the large number of tribes discussed in the paper it is not an easy story to follow. However, it conveys a good sense of how, largely as a result of trade with the European colonial powers, many or most tribes had been dislocated from their ‘home’ regions during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Native American migration, Ohio, Ohio River Valley, Native American tribes, American Indian history, U.S. history, free ebooks

Ohio Indians

“Journal of Samuel Montgomery through the Indian Country beyond the Ohio, 1785”

The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. 2 (1915-16) 261-73

Urbana, Ill: Mississippi Valley Historical Association
Bushnell, D. I. Jr., ed.Go to Article

In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War and the concluding peace treaty, which conveyed the Northwest Territory to the new United States, representatives of several tribes in the region came together at Fort McIntosh, near Pittsburg, to negotiate with U.S. commissioners. The Treaty of Fort McIntosh of Jan. 25, 1785 resulted. The Shawnee, one of the largest and most hostile tribes in the Ohio River Valley, did not participate in that treaty process. The U.S. realized the need for another treaty that included the Shawnee, so four agents of the government departed Pittsburg in August 1785 for a Shawnee village where the Miami meets with the Ohio River. One of the government agents was Samuel Montgomery, who wrote this account of the expedition.

Treaty of Fort McIntosh, Indian Treaties, Northwest Territory, Shawnees, Native American history, ebooks free

“American Aborigines and their Social Customs”

Ohio History XVI, October 1907/Number 4, 421-44

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Easton, J. A.Go to Article

This paper on Native American culture was written from an anthropological perspective. The author based much of the paper on studies in two academic publications of the late 19th century; Annual Reports of the Bureau of Ethnology, and Contributions to North American Ethnology. There are also references to an 1881 book entitled Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines. All these were publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology, then under the direction of the explorer John Wesley Powell. A portion of the paper refers to the controversy over the question of who were the mound-builders. In the mid-19th century it was widely believed that Native Americans could never have had the type of complex, large-scale agricultural civilization suggested by the construction of the mounds. The ethnographers differed, explaining how the culture of the mound-builders could have adapted over time from that of the mound-builders to the more migratory, hunter-gatherer village life that typified many 19th century Indians in the region.

For works on the mound-builders, see:
– Shetrone, Henry Clyde, The Mound Builders; A reconstruction of the life of a prehistoric American race in Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes
Fowke, Gerard, Archaeological History of Ohio: The Mound Builders and Later Indians in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Moorehead, Warren K.,“The Indian Tribes of Ohio – Historically Considered” in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Randall,Emilius Oviatt,The Masterpieces of the Ohio Mound Builders: The Hilltop Fortifications, including Fort Ancient in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Throop, Addison J. ,Mound builders of Illinois … in Illinois Indians – Native Americans in Illinois History

Native American culture, indigenous, anthropology, ethnology, Mound Builders, free online books, First Nations

Archaeological History of Ohio: The Mound Builders and Later Indians

Columbus, Ohio: Press of F.J. Heer 1902
Fowke, GerardGo to Book

The author was an archaeologist who had worked on excavations around the Midwestern, Southeastern and northeastern U.S., as well as in Vancouver and Siberia. He had also published numerous articles in scientific and archaeological periodicals. This book was sponsored by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, and is a survey of archaeological works and findings throughout the state, written for a general audience.

Some of the topics included are:

Paleolithic Man: the evidence for his existence
Theories of the origin and migrations of North American Indians
The Mound Builders. Ohio mound builders. Theories as to their affiliation with historic tribes.
The Enclosures of Ohio. Works at Newark, Marietta, Portsmouth, Pike County, Ross County etc.
Smaller Enclosures. Works of irregular construction (i.e. houses)
Hill-top Enclosures. Fort Ancient, Spruce Hill, Fort Hill, Glenford Fort, Fort Miami etc.
Graded Ways, Terraces, Effigies, anomalous structures
Structure and Content of Mounds (a survey of mounds in a number of counties)
Stone Mounds, stone graves, cemeteries, village sites
Manufactured Articles. Axes, celts, gouges, pestles, mullers, hammers, mortars
Stones for Decorative or Ceremonial Purposes. Gorgets, pipes
Chipped Stone Articles. Arrows, perforators, scrapers, serration.
Other Manufactured Articles. Bone, shell, pottery, fabric, mica, copper.

There are 300 illustrations, of a wide variety of mounds, archaeological works and collected artifacts.

Mound Builders, Native American history, Ohio mounds, archaeology, books online free

Ohio Indians

A True History of the Massacre of Ninety-six Christian Indians, at Gnadenhuetten, Ohio, March 8th, 1782

New Philadelphia, OH, 1870
Gnadenhuetten Monument SocietyGo to Book

“This account is made up from ” Zeisberger’s Journal,” ” Holmes & Loskiel’s Missions,” “Willett’s Scenes in the Wilderness,” and “Doddridge’s Notes.” The actors in this foul transaction consisted of about one hundred men, from the western parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, under the command of Col. David Williamson. The murder was premeditated, for their purpose was to proceed as far as Sandusky, in order to destroy all the Moravian Indians, whom they claimed had committed depredations upon the Ohio settlements.” Peter G. Thomson, A Bibliography of the State of Ohio (1880)

Gnadenhutten massacre, Moravian massacre, Lenape, Delaware tribe, Moravian missionary, Gnadenhutten Ohio, American Indian, Revolutionary War, ebooks online

A Discourse on the Aborigines of the Ohio Valley …

Cincinnati: 1838
Harrison, William HenryGo to Book

(title continued) “…in which the opinions of the conquest of that valley by the Iroquois, or Six nations, in the seventeenth century, supported by Cadwallader Colden, Governor Pownal, Dr. Franklin, the Hon. De Witt Clinton and Judge Haywood, are examined and contested ; to which are prefixed some remarks on the study of history. Prepared at the request of the Historical Society of Ohio.

This article is of interest partly because of the identity of the author. Harrison’s amazing government and military career included appointment as Governor of Indiana Territory at age 27, where he would manage the entire Northwest Territory minus the new state of Ohio. Two years after he gave this address he was elected U.S. President, where he would die only a month after inauguration.

Harrison addresses the question of where tribes in the Ohio valley had been located prior to inter-tribal wars with the Iroquois, and which lands had been conquered by the Iroquois. He had on a number of occasions between 1795 and 1815 negotiated treaties for peace and for land. These negotiations often meant days or weeks of meetings with tribal chiefs, where they narrated the history of their occupation of particular lands, in order to establish their claims of possession. Harrison’s arguments in this paper were based on that knowledge he had personally gained from these Indians of the tribes’ history in the region.

Iroquois six nations, Iroquois history, Ohio River Valley, Northwest Territory, books online free, William Henry Harrison, Native American history

“The History of the Northern American Indians, by David Zeisberger”

Ohio History XIX, January-April 1910/Numbers 1 & 2, 1-189.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Hulbert, Archer B., ed.,Go to Article

This book-length article contains an English translation of a manuscript by Moravian missionary David Zeisberger, preceded by a 10-page introduction by the editor and followed by 300 endnotes, also by the editor.

As described in the first pages of the article, the Reverend David Zeizberger (1721-1808) was something of a legend among missionaries to the Indians, and left behind a large and valuable body of written works. He served as a missionary for 62 years, except for a few short intervals – mostly in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He was a linguist who came to know several tribes extremely well, and recorded what he learned. The editor said that this manuscript, written in 1779-80, should properly have been entitled “Notes on the History, Life, Manners, and Customs of the Indians”.

A biography of Rev. Zeisberger can be found on this site, at the Great Lakes Religion page: De Schweinitz, Edmund Alexander, The Life and Times of David Zeisberger, the Western Pioneer and Apostle of the Indians (1870).

American Indian life, Native American culture, David Zeisberger, Moravian, free ebook, American history

Ohio Indians

“Indian Land Cessions in Ohio”

Ohio History XI, October 1902/Number 2, 249-55.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Knabenshue, S. S.Go to Article

This concise article locates, with the help of two maps, all of the Indian land cessions made by treaty in Ohio after the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. There had been prior agreements, including the Treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, but the terms of those agreements had been generally ignored during due to continuing warfare with Indian tribes in the region.

Indian treaties, Battle of Fallen Timbers, Ohio history, Treaty of Fort McIntosh, free ebooks, Native American history

“The Indian Tribes of Ohio – Historically Considered”

Ohio History VII, October 1898/Number 1, 1-109.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Moorehead, Warren K.Go to Article

Warren K. Moorehead (1866-1939) was an important archaeologist of ancient Indian cultures in Ohio. This article was written fairly early in his professional career, although he had been studying Ohio Indians and the mounds since he was a high-school student. This long paper was intended, he wrote, as a preliminary draft of a history of Ohio Indians from 1600 to 1840, based on a study of, “…nearly all that has been written by travelers, historians, captives, ethnologists, missionaries, etc. upon Ohio tribes.”

Native American history, Ohio Native Americans, Ohio tribes, Ancient Indian culture, ebooks free, Mound Builders

Primitive Man in Ohio

NY: Putnam 1892

Moorehead, Warren KingGo to Book

Archaeological excavations at a number of Ohio sites.

“The Ohio Frontier in 1812: Diary of ‘the Indian Congregation at Goshen on the River Muskingum’ for the Year 1812”

Ohio History XXII, April 1913/Number 2, 205-66.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Mortimer, BenjaminGo to Article

This is a journal kept by Rev. Benjamin Mortimer, who was a Moravian missionary for a small Native American congregation at the Goshen settlement. Note that this was not in the present-day town of Goshen, OH, but was south of Akron, apparently between present-day Uhrichsville and New Philadelphia. This journal is of interest largely because it portrays events in the region early in the War of 1812, and the reactions of this group of Indians, who wished to remain neutral but were very much in fear of being massacred by American militiamen. There is also commentary on other events, such as severe earthquakes in the area, an invasion of locusts, etc.

Native American history, Goshen settlement, Moravian Indians, Muskingum River, Ohio history, Moravian missionaries, ebooks online

“The Western Indians in the Revolution”

Ohio History XVI, July 1907/Number 3, 269-91.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Notestein, WallaceGo to Article

In 1905 a historical organization called the “Ohio Sons of the Revolution” held an essay contest, with the assigned subject being the Western Indians in the Revolution. This was the prize-winning essay. Here’s a summary of the author’s theme:

In the early 1770s white American settlement in Kentucky and along today’s western Pennsylvania border and in the West Virginia panhandle enraged the Ohio country Indians, provoking their attacks on settlers. When the Revolution began the British recognized that this issue was paramount for the Native Americans, and promised to help the Indians expel the settlers and preserve their hunting lands in return for their assistance against the Americans. American military efforts throughout the war were mainly aimed at self-preservation from Indian attacks, even including American offensive operations. That preoccupation with fighting Indians, along with the American military command’s shortage of resources, prevented the Americans from mounting a sustained offensive against the British in the western theatre of war.

For more about prominent Native American leaders in the Old Northwest, see:
– Various books and articles on Tecumseh, The Prophet, Logan, Cornstalk, Bluejacket and Joseph Brant in Biographies & Memoirs in Great Lakes History
– Thwaites, Reuben Gold, “Logan, The Mingo Chief 1710-1780″ in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Cole, Cyrenus, I am a Man: the Indian Black Hawk in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Quaife, Milo Milton, ed., The Life of Black Hawk; Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Ellis, Edward S., The Life of Pontiac, the Conspirator, Chief of the Ottawas in Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes;
Turner, F. N. (Dr.), “Chief Okemos” in Native Americans in Michigan History;
Matson, Nehemiah, “Sketch of Shau-be-na, a Pottawattamie Chief” in Native Americans in Wisconsin History;

Revolutionary War, Native American history, Ohio history, Revolutionary war in the Northwest, Native Americans in Ohio, U.S. history, free online books, First Nations

Ohio Indians

The Masterpieces of the Ohio Mound Builders: The Hilltop Fortifications, including Fort Ancient

Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological Society 1916
Randall,Emilius Oviatt Go to Book

Emilius Randall (1850-1919) of Columbus, OH was a Law Professor at Ohio State University and the official reporter of the Ohio Supreme Court. Appointed by the Governor as a Trustee of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, he also served as Secretary and Editor. He edited 28 volumes and authored several books and numerous articles for the Society.

The author wrote in the Preface, “This little volume makes no pretense of being a scientific or technical treatise on the Ohio Mound Builders or their works. Its aim is to briefly describe the chief relics of the Ohio Mound Builders as they now appear, and as they appeared when found in their original condition, or when first studied by archaeological students.”

This is heavily illustrated with drawings and photos. Chapters and sub-chapters are;

-Cahokia Mound
-The Ohio Mound Builders
—Spruce Hill Fort
—Highland Fort Hill
—“Stone Fort” at Glenford
—Miami Fort
—Butler County Fort
-Fort Ancient
—Location of the Fort
—The North Wall
—Parallel Walls and Pavement
—East Wall
—Great Gateway
—Old Fort
—The Cemetery
—Grand View Point
—Stones in Wall
—Theories Concerning the Fort
—Fort Village

For works on the mound-builders, see:
– Shetrone, Henry Clyde, The Mound Builders; A reconstruction of the life of a prehistoric American race in Native Americans in the History of the Great Lakes
Easton, J. A., “American Aborigines and their Social Customs” in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Fowke, Gerard, Archaeological History of Ohio: The Mound Builders and Later Indians in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Moorehead, Warren K.,“The Indian Tribes of Ohio – Historically Considered” in Ohio Indians – Native Americans in Ohio History;
Throop, Addison J. ,Mound builders of Illinois … in Illinois Indians – Native Americans in Illinois History

Mound Builders, Ohio Mounds, Ohio hilltop fortifications, Fort Ancient, Cahokia mound, American Indian history, ebook free

“The Indian in Ohio, with a Map of the Ohio Country”

Ohio History XXVII, July 1919/Number 3, 273-510.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Shetrone, Henry C.Go to Article

This ‘article’ of 230 pages was intended by the author, the Assistant Curator for the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, as a “briefly comprehensive account of the aboriginal inhabitants of the territory comprised within the State of Ohio”. It includes findings of archaeological research on the Mound Builders through the early 20th century, anthropological work done at the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the story of Indians in Ohio during the historic period (17th through 19th century) as presented in the writings of E. O. Randall.

For a more detailed, later work on prehistoric Native Americans in the region, see Shetrone, Henry Clyde, The Mound Builders; A Reconstruction of the life of a Prehistoric American race, through exploration and interpretation of their earth mounds, their burials and their cultural remains (1936) on the Great Lakes Native Americans page of this site.

Ohio Native Americans, Mound Builders, archaeology, ethnology, books free, Indian history

Ancient Man in Northern Ohio

Lorain, OH: McCahon 1941
Vietzen, Raymond C.Go to Book

Archaeology of the Erie Indians.

See other Ohio pages on this website for works about Native Americans, especially the pages entitled “Biographies & Memoirs”, “General History”, “Religion”, “Fiction”, and “War & Military”.


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