The Ohio River brought a lot of strong men and women into the Ohio frontier. If your ancestors were part of that group, you have a lot to be proud of. Some of our ancestors came through the mountain passes into Kentucky and headed north across the Ohio River to settle the land of the Northwest Territory which was formed in 1787. Others came from the eastern states thru Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River on flatboats to establish settlements on either side of the river. This week at the First Families of Ohio banquet on Saturday night we will honor the memory of those pioneers who made Ohio possible.
At first most of these first families stayed in Kentucky, occasionally bravely slipping in and out of Ohio. After the Treaty of Greenville with the indians in August 1795, it was safer to settle in Ohio and many pioneers made the move to land located along the banks of the Ohio River. Eventually they made their way inland and established the first homesteads on the hills of southern Ohio.
Many pioneers passed through this area, some stopping briefly, on their way west; others stayed and established the families that have been in the area for generations. The first settlers were mainly of English ancestry and came from the original colonies. Land was the big draw in this area and many settlers were Revolutionary War soldiers who were given land in the Virginia Military District to the east of Cincinnati.
Cincinnati was first Ft. Washington, then Losantiville and finally the name was changed to the word that people have so much trouble spelling. Remember there is only one T in Cincinnati! The tiny settlement grew rapidly due to its location on the river which flowed into the Mississippi. By the 1840's it was the largest inland city and became known as the Queen City - the gateway to the westward settlement.
Around 1830 German immigrants began to arrive. They established what is known as the Over-The-Rhine District. They were followed by Irish, Jews, African Americans, Appalachians, and Hispanic all looking for a chance to make a new life for their families. This rich heritage is a haven for genealogists. For information on these ethnic groups and their effect on the community, there is a great website that has been designed for students, but can be very useful for genealogists. cincinnati-cityofimmigrants.com.
Although records can go back to the late 1790's, many have been lost in fires and floods. This should make research in Hamilton County and the surrounding area difficult. Fortunately, thanks to the local genealogical and historical societies in the area, there is an enormous amount of data that has been reconstructed and fills many of the gaps in research.
One last thing about research in the Hamilton County area. Here, Kentucky is almost an extension of Ohio and vice versa. People lived on both sides of the river so if an ancestor disappears, look across the river. When people moved from Kentucky to Ohio, they left family behind. This is the case with my Perkins ancestors. I always have to go back and forth across the Ohio. This is a place where knowing the local history is essential in family research.
Here are some places online that I recommend for research in the Cincinnati area:
See you in Cincy!