History of Auglaize County
One hundred years ago the whole territory from the Alleghany to the Rocky Mountains was a wilderness, inhabited only by wild beasts and Indians. The Jesuit and Moravian missionaries were the only white men who had penetrated the wilderness, or beheld its mighty lakes and rivers.
While the thirteen old colonies were declaring their independence, the thirteen new States, which now lie in the western interior, had no existence, and gave no sign of the future. The solitude of nature was unbroken by the steps of civilization. The wisest statesman had not contemplated the probability of the coming States, and the boldest patriot did not dream that this interior wilderness should soon contain a greater population than the thirteen old States with all the added growth of one hundred years.
Ten years after that the old States had ceded their western lands to the General Government, and the Congress of the United States had passed the ordinance of 1785 for the survey of the public territory, and in 1787 the celebrated ordinance which organized the Northwestern Territory, and dedicated it to freedom and intelligence.
Fifteen years after that, and more than a quarter of a century after the Declaration of Independence, the State of Ohio was admitted into the Union, being the seventeenth which accepted the Constitution of the United States.
It has since grown up to be great, populous, and prosperous under the influence of those ordinances. At her admission in 1802 the tide of migration had begun to flow over the Alleghanies into the valley of the Mississippi, and although no steamboat or railroad then existed, not even a stage coach helped the immigration, yet the wooden "ark" on the Ohio, and the heavy wagon slowly winding over the mountains, bore these tens of thousands to the wilds of Kentucky and the plains of Ohio. In the spring of 1788—the first year of settlement—4500 persons passed the mouth of the Muskingum in three months, and the tide continued to pour on for half a century in a widening stream, mingled with all the races of Europe and America, until now the five States of the Northwestern Territory, in the wilderness of 1776, contain over twelve millions of people, enjoying all the blessings which peace and prosperity, freedom and Christianity, can confer upon any people. Of these five States, born under the ordinance of 1787, Ohio is the first, oldest, and, in many things, the greatest State in the American Union. Ohio is just one-sixth part of the Northwestern Territory—40,000 square miles. It lies between Lake Erie and the Ohio River, having two hundred miles of navigable waters, on one side flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other into the Gulf of Mexico. Through the lakes its vessels touch on six thousand miles of interior coast, and through the Mississippi on thirty-six thousand miles of river coast; so that a citizen of Ohio may pursue his navigation through forty-two thousand miles, all in his own country, and all within navigable reach of his own State. He who has circumnavigated the globe has gone but little more than half the distance which the citizen of Ohio finds within his natural reach in this vast interior.
Looking upon the surface of this State, we find no mountains, no barren sands, no marshy wastes, no lava-covered plains; but one broad, compact body of arable land, intersected with rivers, and streams, and running waters, while the beautiful Ohio flows tranquilly by its side. From this great arable surface, where upon the very hills the grass and the forest trees grow exuberant and abundant, we find that underneath this surface, and easily accessible, lie ten thousand square miles of coal and four thousand square miles of iron—coal and iron enough to supply the basis of manufacture for a world! All this vast deposit does not interrupt or take from that arable surface at all. There you may find in one place the same machine bringing up coal and salt water from below, while the wheat and corn grow upon the surface above. The immense masses of coal, iron, salt, and freestone deposited below have not in any way diminished the fertility and production of the soil.
The first settlement of Ohio was made by a colony from New England at the mouth of the Muskingum. It was literally a remnant of the officers and soldiers of the Revolution. Of this colony no praise of the historian can be as competent or as strong as the language of Washington. He says, in answer to inquiries addressed to him: "No colony in America was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum. Information, property, and strength will be its characteristics. I know many of the settlers personally, and there never were men better calculated to promote the welfare of such a community;" and he adds, "that if he were a young man, he knows no country in which he would sooner settle than in this western region." This colony, left alone for a time, made its own government, and nailed its laws to a tree in the village; an early indication of that law-abiding and peaceful spirit which has since made Ohio a just and well ordered community. The subsequent settlements on the Miami and Scioto were made by citizens of New Jersey and Virginia, and it is certainly remarkable that among the early immigration there were no ignorant people. In the language of Washington, they came with "information"—qualified to promote the welfare of the community.
Soon after the settlement on the Muskingum and the Miami, the great wave of migration flowed on the plains and valleys of Ohio and Kentucky. Kentucky had been settled earlier, but the main body of immigrants in subsequent years went into Ohio, influenced partly by the ordinance of 1787, securing freedom and schools forever; and partly by the great security of titles under the survey and guarantee of the United States Government. Soon the new State grew up with a rapidity which, until then, was unknown in the history of civilization. On the Muskingum, where the buffalo had roamed; on the Scioto, where the Shawnees had built their towns; on the Miami, where the great chiefs of the Miamis had reigned; on the plains of Sandusky, yet red with the blood of the white man; on the Maumee, where Wayne, by the victory of the "Fallen Timbers," had broken the power of the Indian confederacy, the immigrants from the old States and from Europe came in to cultivate the fields, to build up towns, and to rear the institutions of Christian civilization, until the single State of Ohio is greater in number, wealth, and education than was the whole American Union when the Declaration of Independence was made.
From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880