Local history of Ohio places. Histories of Ohio counties, cities and regions, free online. History of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton …
Ohio History Pages on Century Past
Go to section:
This website has links to numerous free online histories and biographical collections published in the late 19th and early 20th century. For Ohio there are 5 state-wide biographical collections, 4 regional collections, and histories, with biographies, of all the counties listed below. For some counties there are several histories.
Allen County, Ashland County, Ashtabula County, Athens County, Auglaize County, Belmont County, Butler County, Carroll County, Champaign County, Clark County, Clinton County County, Columbiana County, Coshocton County, Crawford County, Cuyahoga County, Darke County, Defiance County, Delaware County, Erie County, Fairfield County, Fayette County, Franklin County, Fulton County, Geauga County, Greene County, Guernsey County, Hamilton County, Hancock County, Hardin County, Harrison County, Henry County, Highland County, Hocking County, Holmes County, Huron County, Jackson County, Jefferson County, Knox County, Lake County, Licking County, Logan County, Lorraine County, Lucas County, Madison County, Mahoning County, Marion County, Medina County, Meigs County, Mercer County, Miami County, Monroe County, Montgomery County, Morrow County, Muskingum County, Noble County, Ottawa County, Perry County, Pickaway County, Pike County, Portage County, Preble County, Putnam County, Richland County, Ross County, Sandusky County, Scioto County, Seneca County, Shelby County, Stark County, Summit County, Trumbull County, Tuscarawas County, Union County, Van Wert County, Vinton County, Warren County, Washington County, Wayne County, Williams County, Wood County, Wyandot County.
See the list of resources on this website for: Genealogy & Local History Research
The Cincinnati Directory, Containing the Names, Profession and Occupation of the Inhabitants of the Town…
Also, an Account of its Officers, Population, Institutions and Societies, Public Buildings, Manufactures etc., with an interesting sketch of its Local Situation and Improvements. Illustrated by a copperplate engraving, exhibiting a view of the city.
Cincinnati: Farnsworth 1819
The first 102 pages contains, in addition to the features described in the title and subtitle, an Almanac for 1820; a breakdown by category of Cincinnati’s 1,890 buildings; descriptions of principal businesses and information about every trade and industry; statistics on commerce; descriptions of 63 steamboats; canal and road projects; statistics about sale of public lands; and essays and information on other topics. The Constitution of the Agriculture Society is reproduced.
The directory of residents on pages 103-151 includes the occupation and address of heads of household. Beginning on page 151 are one-paragraph descriptions of a variety of topics, including newspapers, paper mills, fire engines, a museum, and more.
a condensed history of Cincinnati, combined with exposition guide for 1875, fully illustrated, together with a description of Pictures and Works of Art, exhibited at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition, 1875
Austerlitz, Emanuel H.
Cincinnati: Bloch 1875
The exposition guide contains a catalogue of exhibitors that is a directory of many manufacturers in Cincinnati (and other places) listing the category of goods to be exhibited. The exposition also had a fine arts department, and the paintings and painters are listed. There is also a “Merchants and Manufacturers Review” that provides descriptions of a number of Cincinnati manufacturers that produced various types of goods.
The second part of the book is entitled “Cincinnati”. Chapter headings are:
1. Early History and Settlement, Geological Formation, &c. – 2. Situation of the City and General Aspect – 3. Bridges, Public Buildings, Parks, &c. – 4. Peace and War Times, Population, Occupation, Business, etc. – 5. Charities of the City – 6. Public Schools, Schools and Libraries – 7. City Government, Courts of Justice, Newspapers, etc. – 8. Rail-road Depots, Street Car Lines, etc. – 9. The Hotels of Cincinnati – Cincinnati Suburbs – Societies and Associations
There are lists of other businesses, buildings etc. throughout the book that are outside the chapters above, including express companies, omnibus and stage lines, telegraph offices, hospitals, cemeteries, mail boat and packet lines and ferries.
New England Magazine Vol 20, Issue 3 (May 1899) 344-352.
Cabot, C. E.
Boston: New England Magazine Company
This article conveys some of the flavor of life in Ohio for the pioneers who arrived in Miami country around 1800. It includes extensive quotes from descriptive letters written by the Carter family to their friends and relatives back home in Massachusetts.
For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History
This small tract gives the “Record of the distribution and sale of lots in the town of Losantiville, [now Cincinnati,] 1789-90,” together with the Names on the Record of the distribution and sale of lots in the town of Losantiville, 1789-90.
Drake, Benjamin and Mansfield, Edward D.
This is a city directory, with an index of topics at the beginning. Note that some pages appear twice and some others are not in order. Chapter headings, with some of the topics within chapters, are:
-State of Ohio. Statistics (Rivers, climate, rivers, roads, canals, population etc.) – -Ohio River. Hamilton County. -Cincinnati. (Situation and Aspect, Public Buildings). -Religious Societies, and Public Charities. -Literary and Scientific Institutions. (Cincinnati College, Cincinnati Female Academy, Female -Boarding School, Western Museum, Newspapers & Journals, Academy of Fine Arts). -Municipal Government. (Courts of Judicature, Finances, City Prison). -Manufactures. (Steam Mills, Foundries, Paper Mill, Woolen Factory, Boat yards, Printing, Manufacturing Statistics) -Capacity of Cincinnati for Manufactures.
-Commerce. (Steam Boats, Imports and Exports) -Public Offices. (Post Office, Banks, Insurance Companies) -Value of Real Estate and Money. -Roads. -Summer’s Residence in Cincinnati. -The Fine Arts. -State of Society. -Miscellany. (Grand Masonic Hall, Public Square, Bridge over the Ohio, Military Academy, Canals, Future Importance of Cincinnati).
E.A. Seemann 1975
Goss, Charles F.
Cincinnati: Clarke 1912
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company specialized in city and county histories, including biographical sketches of residents, and they produced a very large number of such histories from the 1890s to the 1930s. Volume 1 of this set covers the history of Cincinnati to 1911 in the publisher’s standard approach to city history. Volume 2 covers city institutions, with an emphasis on their status at the time of publication, but generally with some historical background. Volumes 3 and 4 are entirely devoted to biographical sketches, mainly of men alive at the time of publication rather than historical figures. Volumes 1 and 2 have Tables of Contents at the front of those volumes. An index for all the biographical sketches is found at the end of Volume 4.
Reverend Charles Frederic Goss (1852-1930), the editor and the author of the first volume, was a native of New York and the pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati from 1894. He wrote a number of religious works of fiction, including the 1900 best-seller, Redemption of David Corson. For more about him, see the glowing biographical sketch on page 24 of Volume 4.
A Summary of its Attractions, Advantages, Institutions, and Internal Improvements, with a Statement of its Public Charities
Stevens, Geo. E. (George E.)
Cincinnati, Ohio : G.E. Stevens, 1869
Cleveland State University Library
A digital collection of texts, maps and images concerning the history of greater Cleveland and the Western Reserve region of northeastern Ohio.
an alphabetical list of all business firms and private citizens; a classified business directory, and a directory of the public institutions, together with a map from the latest surveys; and a complete street guide
Cleveland: Cleveland City Directory Company
The Cleveland City Directory was produced annually. Copies from this and other publishers covering various years from 1837 to 1974 are at this link.
Cleveland State University Library
Contains a wide variety of digital collections; including 19th century engravings of Cleveland locations, bridges of NE Ohio, clips and photos from the library of the Cleveland Press, and extensive collections on Cleveland’s ethnic heritage.
Case Western Reserve University & Western Reserve Historical Society
An online encyclopedia with thousands of articles, images, historical maps and multimedia files.
Cherry, P. P.
Akron, O: Fouse 1921
This is a heavily-illustrated popular history in which the author “has tried to present a true picture of the Pioneer days of the Reserve.” Chapter headings are:
-The Pre-Historic Races of America – The Eries -The First Naval Battle on Lake Erie -The French in Ohio -Pre-Territorial Military Expeditions -The Western Reserve -Organization and Early Boundaries of the Western Reserve -The Pioneers of the Western Reserve -Early Schools of the Western Reserve -The Common School Fund -Early Spelling School -Pioneer Colleges of the Western Reserve -The Home of Mormonism -Colonial Activities of the Western Reserve -Colonial Resources -Early Outfits -The Old Man of the Woods -Will ‘o Wisp -First Post Masters and Early Post Routes -Indians of the Cuyahoga Valley and Portage Lakes -Indian Trails -Noted Indian Chiefs on the Reserve -Tecumseh-The Last of Ohio’s Great Chieftains -Indian Eloquence -Indian Religious Festivals -Moravian Missions on the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas -Smith’s Captivity on the Reserve -Indian Holmes -Strange Adventures of Christian Fast
-Hunters of Indians -Brady’s Fight and Leap -Adventures of Capt. Delaun Mills -Adam and Andrew Poe’s Famous Fight -Boundary Lines of the McIntosh Treaty -Military Expeditions into the North-West Territory -Gen. Wadsworth’s Army of Occupation -Troubles of Early Constables -Early Counterfeiters of the Cuyahoga Valley -Building Perry’s Vessels -New Portage as an Early Port -The Underground Railway -John Brown of Ossawatomie -Hunters of Indians
Kent State University 1991
Ohio History VII, January 1899, Number 2, 259-73.
Hutchins, F. E.
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
This paper was originally an address given by the author. It provides the story behind the creation of the Western Reserve in the late 1780s and early 1790s, and gives some background on the land survey and early land sales. He discusses the origins of township names, and the unusual situation of early government, then describes settlement of the region and the lives of the pioneers.
MacCabe, Julius P. Bolivar
Cleveland: Sanford & Lott 1837
with a story of three states leading to the latter, from Connecticut, by way of Wyoming, its Indian wars and massacre, with illustrations and maps
New York: Appleton 1902
The author’s thesis is that, while the early settlement of Ohio included a wide variety of people from many places, the somewhat later settlement of the Western Reserve was carried out almost exclusively by Connecticut puritans. This volume traces the westward migration of pioneers from Connecticut to an earlier settlement at Wyoming, PA, which nearly met in disaster. The Connecticut group then obtained the Western Reserve and moved there, with far more success than at Wyoming. In addition to narrating these events, the author makes a case that these Connecticut men assumed a leading role in Ohio political and cultural life, particularly in the anti-slavery movement.
Mills, William S.
New York: Brown and Wilson Press 1900
This book is as much a directory to the Western Reserve as a history, with brief entries on a wide variety of topics. It contains a sizable section on the Native Americans that had inhabited the region and another on geographical facts. One chapter provides the dates for the creation of counties and explains how to trace which counties a particular farm had been within. There is a chapter on land surveys, and some information about early education and churches. The final third of the book is devoted to biographical sketches of early prominent settlers.
Morton, Marian J.
Cleveland: Cobb, Andrews 1881
This book begins with a few short chapters on the early history of the Ohio Valley, then tells the story of the creation of the Western Reserve, followed by the early history of Cleveland. From that point the book becomes less of a history and more a collection of incidents and stories. The author wrote in the Preface that his principal aim was “… to portray such remarkable incidents in the experiences of the original pioneers of the Western Reserve as he has been able to gather from sources which seemed worthy of credence.”
Boston, Lee and Shepard 1887
Incidents and ‘traits of character’ in the historical development of the Western Reserve.
Rose, W G.
Cleveland: Clark 1896
This is entirely a photo album, with no text at all except an index and the legends beneath the photos. It contains hundreds of portraits of individuals and dozens of photos of buildings, which are apparently Cleveland landmarks of the late 19th century. Unusually for history books of this period, it contains numerous portraits of women as well as men.
Ohio State University 1992
Upton, Harriet T, and Cutler, H. G.
Chicago, New York: Lewis 1910
This massive 3-volume history of nearly 1,900 pages follows the pattern often used in County histories around the turn of the 20th century. The first volume is the history, which contains brief biographical info for a large number of the early residents. The second and third volumes are devoted to biographical sketches, mostly of people who were living at the time of publication in 1910. The purpose of this approach was to sell books to the people within, and possibly also to charge people for including biographies of them.
The list of illustrations is 3 pages long. The index, which includes both subjects and persons, is located after the Table of Contents at the front of Volume 1. Chapter headings for Volume 1 are:
-Men and Women Colonizers -Connecticut Stretches Westward -Pioneers of New Connecticut -Surveyors of the Western Reserve -Reserve Settled and Mapped -Organization of Counties -Mail Routes and Post Offices -Roadways and Waterways -Famous Men of the Reserve -Judicial and Legislative -Defense of the Reserve -Men and Women of the Civil War -Religious Organizations -The Old Western Reserve Bank -Press of the Western Reserve -First Cemeteries of the Reserve -Schools of the Reserve -Medicine and Surgery -Trumbull County -Lorain County -Lake County -Geauga County -Summit County -Medina County -Erie County -Huron County -Cuyahoga County -Ashtabula County -Mahoning County -Portage County
Van Tassel, David D. and Grabowski, John J.
Indiana University 1987
Relating to the Adjacent Country, with Biographical Notices of the Pioneers and Surveyors
Cleveland: Fairbanks, Benedict 1867
This early history covers the period up to about 1812 and is drawn from many years’ collection of documents and correspondence. The author’s approach was to let the pioneers speak for themselves wherever possible. He wrote in the preface that, “…I am more ambitious to preserve history than to write it, and have therefore freely transcribed from papers, letters, verbal statements, and casual publications, relating to the early times. The originals are certainly more authentic, and more entertaining, than a reproduction would be, in the language of another.”
Chapter headings, with a few of the topics contained within, are:
-Pre-Adamite History. (Geological Foundation, Fossils of the Drift, Alpine and Greenland Glaciers)
-Pre-Historic Inhabitants. (Ancient Earth Works and Fortifications, Implements and Weapons)
-White Men not Recognized in History. (Ancient Ax Marks)
-Race of Red Men. (Eries and Andantes, French on Lake Erie, Iroquois Champions)
-Chronological Order of Events (from 1535 to 1786)
-Early Maps of the Lake Country. (Champlain’s Maps 1634, Lewis Evans Map 1755)
-Expeditions of Rogers, Wilkins and Bradstreet. (Major Rogers 1760, Parkman, French Fort at Sandusky)
-Disasters of Wilkins and Bradstreet, by Dr. J. P. Kirtland (Location of the Shipwreck, Wilkins Expedition, Bradstreet’s Expedition and Shipwreck 1764, Major Israel Putnam)
-First Whites in Cuyahoga County. (James Smith, Baptiste Fleming, Joseph Burrall)
-Moravians in Cuyahoga County 1786-7. (Schooners Beaver and Mackinaw, Zeisberger and Heckewelder, Massacre on the Muskingum 1782)
-Origin of Title. (Early Claims of European Nations, French and English, Patent of Connecticut, Attempts to Sell in 1786, Mode and Terms of Sale 1795)
-The Connecticut Land Company. (Deeds, Bonds and Mortgages, Articles of Association, Plan of Survey)
-Surveys of 1796. (Journal of John Milton Holley, General Cleaveland at Canandaigua, Capt. Brant, Red Jacket, Farmers Brother, Journal of Moses Cleaveland)
-Mode of Execuuting the Surveys. (Township Lines, Character of the Country, Commence Running the first four Meridians, The Lake Shore Survey)
-Holley’s Journal on the Parallels. (Surveys on Township Lines, Variation of the Compass, Atwater’s Diary and Statement Relating to the Surveys)
-Fall of 1796 and Winter Following. (Unfinished Work, Dissatisfaction of the Men, Sales of Lots, Settlement by the Canandaigua Company)
-Quantity of Land in the Purchase. (Collapse of the Excess Company, Computations of Leonard Case and Simon Perkins)
-Surveying Party of 1797. (List of the Party, The Land Party to Buffalo, Orders to the Surveying Parties, Magnetic Variation)
-Statement of Amzi Atwater. (Passage of Oswego Falls, Death of Eldridge, Sickness and Deaths in the Party)
-Sketches of the Surveyors and Pioneers. (Ezekiel Morley, Oliver Culver, Seth Pease)
-The Year 1798. (Proceedings of the Land Company)
-The Year 1799. (Doan’s Corners, Early Settlers)
-The Year 1800. (Erection of Trumbull County, First Election, Murder of Kribs)
-The Year 1801 (Fourth of July Celebration, Samuel Huntington and Family)
-The Year 1802. (Tavern Licenses in Cleveland, Original Owers of Cleveland)
-The Year 1803. (Murder of Menompsy – a medicine man, Chippewas and Ottawas bent upon Revenge)
-The Year 1804. (Military Election and Remonstrance)
-The Year 1805. (Indian Cession of Lands West of the Cuyahoga, Abram Tappen’s account of the Treaty)
-The Year 1806. (Tappen’s Proposition, Surveyors at Cleveland, The Fire Lands)
-The Year 1807. (Murder of Nickshaw, Seneca’s Ideas of Justice)
-The Year 1808. (Shipwreck of Plumb, Gilmore, Gilbert, Spafford and Mary Billinger)
-The Year 1809. (Description of Cleveland by Stanley Griswold, Settlers in Newburg)
-From 1810 to 1812. (The County Organized, Map of Cleveland 1814, Early Lake Craft 1679-1810)
-Pioneer River Men. (Batteaux Navigation, Port of Entry in 1805, first Canal Boat, Postmasters)
-Fluctuations of Level in Lake Erie. (Annual Rise and Fall, Sudden Oscillations)
Columbus Metro Library and Columbus Historical Society
Contains over 6,000 images related to Columbus history, searchable or browsable by subject or time period.
Columbus, Ohio; Illustrated Guide to the City and Pleasure Resorts with Map and Street Railway Directions
Columbus Railway Company 1900
History of the City of Columbus, Ohio from the Founding of Franklinton in 1797, through the World War Period, to the Year 1920
Hooper, Osmond Castle
Columbus: Memorial 1920
This contains a biographical section of about 200 pages.
Hunker, Henry L.
Ohio State University 2000
Hunker, Henry L.
Columbus: Bureau of Business Research, Ohio State University 1958
Lee, Alfred E.
NY: Munsell 1892
This 2-volume history is a little unusual for city histories of that era in that the second volume is not devoted to biographies. Both volumes are mainly devoted to the history of the city and its institutions and organizations, with biographies of prominent citizens scattered throughout.
Monkkonen, Eric H.
Harvard University 1975
Studer, Jacob H.
Columbus: Studer 1873
Lucas County-Maumee Valley Historical Society
A virtual museum for Toledo and Northwest Ohio, with a focus on the region’s commercial, industrial, and social history from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. Includes genealogy resources, essays, images of historic Toledo, videos, and many useful links.
Historical Facts and Incidents of the Early Days of the City and Environs
Doyle, John Hardy
Bowling Green: Van Tassel 1919
A brief, concise history by a Toledo judge. Find the detailed Table of Contents at the back of the book.
Gunckel, John E.
Toledo: Hadley 1902
This small, heavily illustrated volume is mainly about warfare in the Maumee Valley from about 1790 to 1815. The author emphasizes the dramatic and heroic sacrifices of the participants rather than providing a chronological narrative, and uses photos and descriptions of the region to show the locations of significant events.
Hosmer, Hezekiah L.
Toledo: Hosmer & Harris 1858
This 60-page volume starts with a sympathetic look at the Indians in the region up to about 1790, then narrates some of the military history. The last 10 pages recounts the history after 1815, when the wars with the Indians and the British had ended, and mostly consists of extended quotes from a Major Stickney, who provides background on the altercation between Ohio and Michigan over the border between the two. It was Major Stickney’s son, Two Stickney, who shed the only blood in the Toledo War when he stabbed a Michigan militia officer as the officer tried to arrest him.
Knapp, Horace S.
This volume of nearly 700 pages contains much more than a standard history of the valley. About the first half the book is a history of the region from 1680 to almost the mid-19th century. Beginning at about the mid-point of the book there are substantial sections on Fort Wayne, biographical sketches of early pioneers, the early courts, Mercer County, Auglaize County, Wyandot County, Seneca County, Sandusky County, Allen County, Lucas County, Henry County, Defiance County, Hancock County, and Toledo.
a narrative account of its historical progress and development from the first European Exploration of the Maumee and Sandusky Valleys and the adjacent shores of Lake Erie, down to the present time
Winter, Nevin Otto
Chicago: Lewis 1917
About half of Vol. 1 is a history of the region, and the second half of that volume consists of separate chapters for each of the 20 counties there. Vols 2 and 3 are devoted entirely to biographical sketches. Use the name index in Vol 1, after the Table of Contents. All three volumes have many photos.
Conover, Charlotte Reeve
Dayton: Greater Dayton Association 1917
A history of Dayton from the late 1700s to 1917.
Curwen, Maskell E.
Dayton: Odell 1850
Edgar, John Farris
Dayton: Shuey 1896
Sharts, Joseph W.
Dayton: Miami Valley Socialist
Joseph W. Sharts was a Dayton attorney and a leading member of the Socialist Party in the early 20th century, when the party was strong enough to win a couple of positions on the Dayton city council. This short history of Dayton from a radical perspective was published by the local socialist newspaper.
A Statement of its Resources, Industrial Growth and Commercial Advantages. Illustrated
Madison, WI: Brant & Fuller 1890
Pittsburgh: Myers Shinkle 1894
After you open the linked page with the button, you will find the link to the article near the bottom of the page, below ‘Contents’.
Logstown was a village of about 30 log cabins built by the French on the Ohio River, northwest of present-day Pittsburgh. According to the author, it was built for the Indians of western Pennsylvania and Ohio, and was a regional trade center where the Indians met with French and British traders before the French and Indian War. Of interest in the article are some accounts by early travelers of their visits to Logstown and the region.
Kent, OH: Kent Courier 1904
The author arrived in Portage County, Ohio in 1804 when the few white settlers were greatly outnumbered by Indians. This short book starts with many stories about the Indians and hunting; then moves on to stories about early settlers and histories of the growing communities.
First Universalist Church
Akron: First Universalist Church 1904
Booklet of photos.
Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society Publications 26 (1917) 43—51.
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
This article consists of translated excerpts of a memoir of one of the original French settlers of Gallipolis, along with an introduction and commentary by the historian author. His main purpose here is to demonstrate that the reason for the failure of the colony, in contrast to the standard explanation at that time, was that settlers decided to leave because they feared neighboring Indians.
Ohio History X, April 1902, Number 4, 435-451.
Laylin, Clarence D.
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Rather than describe the history of the early settlement and development of the region of the Firelands, this article explains the background of the Firelands Grant; how this particular area came to be reserved as compensation to Connecticut residents for losses suffered during the Revolution, how the Connecticut general assembly implemented this in an Act, and how lands on the Grant were made ready for settlement.
Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 48 (1939): 283-303.
McDermott, John Franci
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
“Gallipolis was settled in 1790 by French aristocrats known as the “French Five Hundred”. Escaping punishment in post-Bastille Day, pre-revolutionary France, the promise of a new life in the boundless American frontier was tempting. However, the French were swindled. The Scioto Company encouraged investors in France to purchase lands in Ohio by describing a virtual Garden of Eden. However, the deeds that they had purchased proved worthless upon their arrival via riverboat. The Scioto Company did not actually own the land, which was not the land of milk and honey that they anticipated. The Ohio Company sent a group of woodsmen from Marietta to build a log cabin settlement [for them] on what is now the city park.”
– Wikipedia, “Gallipolis, Ohio”
The author said of this article, “…it is not my purpose to write either a history of the founding of Gallipolis or of the early years of that town. I propose merely an account of the place as various travelers saw it during the first two decades, and for this I draw upon a number of sources…”
“A Settlement That Failed: The French in Early Gallipolis, an Enlightened Letter, and an Explanation”
Ohio History 94 (Winter/Spring 1985) 46-67.
Soltow, Lee and Soltow, Margaret
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
This is the third and last article on Gallipolis on this page, and by far the most recent. The authors point out that previous explanations of the failure of the French colony there point to several factors, including uncertainty about their titles, fear of Indians, and inexperience of most of the settlers with a frontier, rural environment. The authors then attempt to put that debate to rest with an explanation, and put forth evidence for it.
Summers, Thomas J.
Marietta, OH: Leader 1903