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Glossary of words used in the 1800s.

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The Beginnings of our time era.
History Part Nine


Hamilton County was the second county settled in Ohio. Washington County, the first, had its settlement at Marietta, April 7, 1788. The country between the Great and Little Miami Rivers had been the scene of so many fierce conflicts between Kentuckians and Indians in their raids that it was called the “Miami Slaughter House.” In 1788, the Revolutionary War era, Captain Byrd, in command of 600 British and Indians with artillery from Detroit, came down the Big Miami, crossed the Ohio River to enter the Licking River opposite Cincinnati on his expedition into Kentucky to destroy several stations. Later that year, Gen. Rogers Clark, with his Kentuckians, marched from the site of Cincinnati for the Shawnee towns on Little Miami and Mad Rivers, which he destroyed. He had erected two blockhouses on the north side of the Ohio which were the first structures known to have been built on the site of the city.

The beautiful country between the Miamis was inhabited by so many Indians, that it was avoided by the settlers Its settlement might have been many years later, except for the discovery of the area by Major Benjamin Stites from New Jersey. In the summer of 1786, Stites headed a party of Kentuckians in pursuit of Indians who had stolen some horses. They followed for some days as far up as the site of Xenia but the Natives escaped. Stites did discover the rich valleys of the Great and Little Miami Rivers. He traveled back to New Jersey, and revealed his discovery to Judge John Cleves Symmes, of Trenton, at that time a member or Congress and a man of great influence. This began the formation of a company of twenty-four gentlemen, similar to that of the Ohio Company, as proprietors of the proposed purchase of the Miami Rivers area. Among these were General Jonathan Dayton, Elias Boudinot, Dr. Witherspoon, Symmes and Stites. Symmes, in August of next year, 1787, petitioned Congress for a grant of the land, but before the bargain was closed he made arrangements with Stites to sell him 10,000 acres of the best land.


Under the contract with Symmes, Stites, with a party of twenty, landed in November, 1788, and laid out the village of Columbia below the mouth of the Little Miami which is now within the limits of Cincinnati, five miles east of Fountain Square.

Two or three blockhouses were first erected for the protection of the women and children,and then log cabins for the families. The flat boats in which they had come from Maysville, then Limestone, were broken up and used for the doors, floors, etc., to build these crude buildings. The boats were made of green oak plank, fastened by wooden pins to a frame of timber, and caulked with tow, or any other pliant substance that could be had. They had at that time no trouble from the Indians, due to the fact that they were then gathered at Fort Harmar to make a treaty with the whites. Wild game was plenty, but their flour and salt soon ran out, and as a substitute they occasionally used various roots, taken from native plants such as bear grass. The fine bottoms on the Little Miami had long been cultivated by the Indians, and were more easily worked. The men worked in divisions, one-half keeping guard with their rifles while the other worked, changing their employments morning and afternoon.

Turkey Bottom, on the Little Miami, one and a half miles above Columbia, was a clearing of a square mile, and for a long while supplied both Columbia and the garrison at Fort Washington at Cincinnati with corn. From nine acres at Turkey Bottom, the tradition goes, the enormous crop of 963 bushels was gathered by the very first season. Before this the women and children from Columbia early visited Turkey Bottom to scratch up the bulbous roots of the bear grass. The roots were boiled, washed, dried on smooth boards, and finally pounded into a species of flour, which served as a tolerable substitute for baking. Many of the families lived entirely on the roots of the bear grass; and there was great suffering for provisions until they could grow corn.

Judge Stites was visited by a number of Indians from a camp in the neighborhood of Stites’ settlement. One of them, a Shawnee chief, had many complaints to make of frauds practiced on them by white traders, who had no connection with the pioneers. After several conversations, and some small presents, he was said to be satisfied with the explanation he had received, and gave assurances that the Indians would trade with the white men as friends.

In one of the conversations, Stites told the Shawnee Chief that he had been commissioned and sent out to their country, by the thirteen fires, in the sprit of friendship and kindness and that he was instructed to treat them as friends and brothers. In proof of this he showed them the flag of the Union, with its stars and stripes and also his commission, having the great seal of the United States attached to it exhibiting the American eagle, with the olive branches in one claw, emblem of peace, and the instrument of war and deathin the other.

He explained the meaning of those symbols to their satisfaction, though at first the chief seemed to think they were not very striking emblems either of peace or friendship but before he departed, he gave assurances of the friendliest character. Yet, when they left their camp to return to their towns, they carried off a number of horses belonging to the Columbia settlement, to compensate for the injuries done them by wandering traders, who had no part with the pioneers. A party was sent out in pursuit, who followed the trail of the Indians a good distance, where they found fresh tracks, and sent Captain Flinn, one of their party, to scout the area.

He had not gone far before he was surprised, taken prisoner, and carried to the Indian camp. Not liking the way things were going, he made his escape, and joined his party. The Indians, fearing an ambush, did not pursue. The party possessed themselves of several horses belonging to the Indians, and returned to Columbia. In a few days, the Indians brought in Captain Flinn’s rifle, and begged Major Stites to restore their horses—claiming that they were innocent of their charges. After some further explanations, the matter was settled, and the horses were given up.


The Beginnings of our time era.
History Part Ten

Hunting Mastodons in Ohio during the Ice Age

Geologists discovered that four glaciers once moved southward across the Miami Valley. The first one covered the valley some 500,000 years ago, and the last one began melting 50,000 years ago. The time of the glaciers is known as the Ice Age.

The last trace of the Ice Age in the Miami Valley is found at Cedar Bog State Memorial Park, southwest of Urbana in Champaign County off route 68. This bog was formed over 10,000 years ago, as the Ice Age was ending. A lake fed by spring water developed in an old river valley filled with limestone gravel. Vegetation grew over the shallow lake's surface and some of the plants of the Ice Age continued to grow. Cool, alkaline springs provide the bog with an even temperature throughout the year and support the brook trout, the spotted turtle and the swamp rattlesnake.

Rare plants at Cedar Bog include yellow lady slippers, star flowers, alder-leaf buckhorn, bellwort, small native orchids and others. The sun dew and the pitcher plant feed on the insects of the bog. Wild fowl are found there such as the ring-neck pheasant, the American bittern, the marsh owl and the yellow rail.

In pioneer days Cedar Bog covered about 7,000 acres, but the settlers burned off the vegetation, cleared and drained the rich land for agriculture. By 1910 only 600 acres remained, and this was reduced to 50 acres before the State of Ohio realized it was losing a great natural resource. In 1942 the state purchased 100 acres of bog and forest land, and in 1971 added another 100 acres. A board walk trail has been built over the bog so that visitors may view this last, small piece of Ice-Age Ohio that is still with us.

One of the animals in Ohio during the last of the ice age was the great mastodon, who had replaced the wooly mammoth. An almost complete mastodon was found in Licking County, Ohio, December 12, 1989 while excavating for a pond on the Burning Tree Golf Course in Newark, Ohio. This mastodon was named the “Burning Tree Mastodon.” Being 11-foot tall, 15-foot long makes this one of the most complete mastodon skeletons found (95 percent of the bones were recovered—missing were the back leg, tail and most of the toe bones), it is the third largest mastodon ever found. Its stomach contained eight species of live bacteria once thought to be extinct, and DNA from its intestinal material is currently being sequenced so that it can be compared to DNA of present-day African and Asian elephants.

Flint markings on the Mastodon's ribs shows not only did humans exist during this era but were sophisticated enough to bring down a 10,000 pound beast. Scientific evidence indicates the 11,600 year old “Burning Tree Mastodon” was slain by Clovis people 9,600 years before humans were thought to inhabit the area. Weapons thought to be used were the Atlatl and spears. Long brown hair protected his body against the cold of the Ice Age, and this same fur coat probably protected early man. The mastodon, as well as the people of that time, lived along the edges of the retreating glaciers that moved down the Miami Valley.

Another example that shows us early people not only hunted but preserved the mammoth meat for use is found at the Heisler site in Michigan. Mastodon remains here show that the intestinal contents consisted of ovoid masses of sand and gravel (maximum diameter, ca. 30 cm) interspersed between plant debris. These ovoid masses occurred along with bones in a peaty area and are thought to be made by prehistoric humans. Such anchors were apparently used to help hold mastodon carcass parts on the pond bottom, or keep them tethered to a chosen area in the pond, as a primitive and effective plan for winter storage of meat. Hypothetically, these anchors were formed by filling short lengths of mastodon intestine with sand and gravel. Judging from their size, the anchors were presumably made from segments of large intestine. The plant material consisted of chewed and partly digested material that apparently lined the walls of the large intestine at the time sediments were placed into the intestinal lumen. Pollen analysis of intestinal contents from the Heisler site indicated autumn as the time of death.

Indian legends tell of the great beasts which once roamed the valley. Early pioneers finding the giant teeth of the mastodons thought that the molars belonged to a race of giants, as one 4-pound tooth had a cavity which held a pint of water.

Remains of mastodons have been found in various parts of the valley, with one found on a farm field near Urbana and partial remains of another discovered in Darke County. A mastodon's tooth was found near Franklin, Ohio.

Special thanks go to Brian Younce, Editor of Country Anglin’ Outdoor Guide newspaper who published an Ohio History article by Sharon Combs and our MVR schedules for the year in his bimonthly paper. The above article was published in the January/February 2008 issue.



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