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Native American History of Henry County, Ohio

Tecumseh crossed through Henry County, Ohio and even spent some time in a village site called Snake Town located in Florida, Ohio. There are no original images of Tecumseh.

American Indians played an important role in shaping the history of both Ohio and the nation. Ohio served as a leading center of trade and commerce for early American Indians during the prehistoric era (a period for which there are no surviving written records), and as the battleground of the frontier during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Ohio can lay claim to many of the most influential early American Indian leaders, including Tecumseh (Shawnee), Little Turtle (Miami), and Blue Jacket (Shawnee). The state was an important staging point for the conflict between the United States, Great Britain, France and the local inhabitants or American Indians. Ohio’s native peoples played a vital role in shaping the policy of the U.S. government toward the settlement of land west of the Allegheny Mountains, and in its treatment of the land’s indigenous peoples. They left their mark in the place names, landscape, and culture of Ohio.

Ohio had a particularly rich and thriving community of American Indians during the prehistoric era, beginning with Paleoindian nomadic hunters who arrived in the area around 15,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. The subsequent Archaic cultures (8000-500 BC) continued a hunting and gathering lifestyle, although the environment in which they were living had changed with hardwood forests and modern game animals replacing the Ice Age species.

Beginning around 800 BC, some American Indian groups began to cultivate crops such as squash and sunflowers and, since they were beginning to settle down near their gardens, started to make pottery for food storage and cooking. Archaeologists refer to these groups as the Woodland cultures, and they continued to occupy much of Ohio until at least AD 1200. The Adena people constituted one Early Woodland (800 BC-AD 100) group. They are particularly well-known for the conical burial mounds they constructed throughout central and southern Ohio, and their name comes from the Adena estate of Thomas Worthington in Chillicothe, on which was located a mound where archaeologists first found evidence of their culture. The Middle Woodland Hopewell Indians (100 BC-AD 500) continued to build burial mounds. However, they also constructed large earthen enclosures in geometric shapes (circles, squares, and octagons) to mark where their people gathered periodically to participate in many social and ceremonial events. Some of these sites were quite large—the Newark Earthworks complex spreads over an area of four square miles. The Hopewell people also maintained a large trade network extending as far as the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, the Florida coast and Appalachians, and northern Lake Superior. For reasons that archaeologists are still trying to fathom, the Late Woodland Indians (AD 500-1200) discontinued the building of mounds and earthworks. However, they lived in larger settlements than those of the earlier Woodland people, perhaps in part because they began to cultivate corn, along with their other crops.

Beginning around AD 900 in some parts of Ohio, Late Prehistoric groups established permanent villages occupied by as many as 100-200 people each, in locations conducive to growing corn. These groups included the Fort Ancient people in southern Ohio, the Sandusky people in northwestern Ohio, the Whittlesey people in the northeast, and the Monongahla people in the eastern part of the state. These cultures existed until around AD 1600. The events between the end of the prehistoric period and the earliest European explorations in the early 1700s are not clear. The spread of European diseases and intertribal warfare may have caused the people who survived these onslaughts to move out of the Ohio area. The tribes known from the historic period—the Shawnee, Lenape (Delaware), Miami (Myaamia), Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandot, and others—moved into this region from farther east, north, south, and west. However, some scholars believe that the Fort Ancient people were the ancestors of the Shawnee.

American Indians and Early America

The first historical records of American Indians in Ohio come from French missionaries who entered into the region in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. From these missionaries, historians know that six major groups settled in Ohio and its neighboring states: the Shawnee (in southern Ohio), Seneca-Cayuga (in central and northwest Ohio), Lenape (in eastern Ohio), Wyandot (in northern Ohio), Ottawa (in northwest Ohio), and Myaamia (in western Ohio). French land surveyors and fur traders had contact with American Indians for many years, trading guns and weapons for furs and other supplies to send back to Europe. Yet France never had firm control over the Ohio territory and had no permanent settlers attempting to farm and live in Ohio. As a result, the French traders and American Indians lived more or less peacefully for decades.

In the mid-18th century, however, the British began to compete with French traders for commercial supremacy. British surveyors began to move into what would become Ohio and Kentucky, and to threaten American Indian land much more aggressively than the French had. There were many struggles between France and Britain leading to the Seven Years War, known in North America as the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The American Indians, though disenchanted with the French, preferred them to the more forceful British land agents. The British won the French and Indian War, and assumed control over all former French lands east of the Mississippi River. Consequently, treatment of American Indians in Ohio began to change for the worse.

Early trading posts in Henry County, Ohio were located near the Damascus Bridge, James Girty operated his post on the northside of the Maumee River overlooking Girty’s Island, and another post in Snake Town, now present day Florida, Ohio.

British imperial policy reflected a desire to restrain settlers from moving into these new lands, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful. American colonists began to move into the western lands, provoking a series of wars that eventually pushed American Indians further west. The first of these was Lord Dunmore’s War (1774), led by the forces of Virginia’s Royal Governor John Murray, Earl of Dunmore. His army invaded Shawnee settlements in present-day West Virginia and pursued Shawnee armies across the Ohio River to modern Pickaway County, Ohio. There, in 1775, he signed a treaty with the Shawnee in which they agreed that they would not cross the Ohio River. Chief Logan, a Seneca-Cayuga chief from Ohio involved in Lord Dunmore’s War, lamented in a well-known speech that, as a result of the violence and bloodshed of this era, “Who is left to mourn for Logan? Not one.”

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War (1765-1783), American Indians supported the British, hoping that they could restrain land-grabbing colonists. The British attempted to lead a western campaign from Detroit, but were thwarted by American forces under George Rogers Clark. Repeatedly, American Indians were punished for their support of the British. Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnee was killed when he attempted to lead a peace mission to the Americans, and, most notably, seventy-eight innocent men, women, and children of the Christian Indians at Gnadenhutten were massacred by the forces of Colonel David Williamson because they were suspected of aiding the British.

General Anthony Wayne camped at two locations in Henry County, Ohio. Near Anthony Wayne Acres or Park and near the site of the present Henry County Hospital grounds. Upon his victory over American Indians outside Henry County at the Battle of Fallen Timbers Wayne burnt all of the American Indian villages and fields in Henry County to force the treaty signing of 1795.

After the Revolutionary War ended, and the Northwest Territory was organized under General Arthur St. Clair, the trend of forcibly moving American Indians continued. In 1785, the Delaware and Wyandot tribes were forced to sign the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, acknowledging their allegiance to the United States and limiting their movements to the northeast part of the territory. With British assistance, American Indians tried to fight the Americans to retain possession of their land. Governor St. Clair decided to use military force against them, but was soundly defeated on November 4, 1791, by a confederation of the Wyandot, Shawnee, Delaware and Miami under the leadership of Miami War Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee War Chief Blue Jacket. The defeat prompted the U.S. government to send General “Mad” Anthony Wayne to conquer the confederation. He succeeded by trouncing them at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August of 1794. American Indians then signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which limited all Ohio Indians to the northern portion of what would eight years later become the state of Ohio.

The American Indians, however, tried one last time during the War of 1812 to regain their land. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, with many others, mounted an American Indian revival, which led to fighting not only in Ohio, but throughout the west, in the hopes of defeating American settlers. William Henry Harrison defeated American Indian forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, and a combined army of Indians and British soldiers at the Battle of the Thames in 1813. These defeats spelled the end of Indian resistance in the Northwest; the remnants of Ohio’s tribes signed the treaties of Maumee Rapids (1817) and St. Mary’s (1818) limiting their land even further. By 1842, the remaining members of the Wyandot and Miami were forced to leave their reservation and move west across the Mississippi River.

Hundreds of tribes of American Indians have lived in North America. The United States government recognized 593 different tribes within the United States in 2005. Numerous tribal groups have either lived in Ohio or claimed land in the state. Among the Historic Indian Tribes occupying or claiming land in Ohio were the Shawnee Tribe, the Ojibwa Tribe (also called the Chippewa Tribe), the Delaware Tribe, the Wyandot Tribe, the Eel River Tribe, the Kaskaskia Tribe, the Iroquois Tribe, the Miami Tribe, the Munsee Tribe, the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, the Ottawa Tribe, the Piankashaw Tribe, the Sauk Tribe, the Potawatomi Tribe, the Seneca Tribe, and the Wea Tribe.

For additional information on the specific tribes that occupied Ohio and the American Indian lifestyle, please consult the Ohio History Connections website and utilize the search tab on their website.


Welcome to Henry County, Ohio!

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The Henry County Historical Society was formed in 1970 to protect, preserve, and perpetuate the history of Henry County, Ohio, to learn about and preserve the artifacts of the county, and to generate interest in the past of the county.

Today the HCHS operates two historic sites in Napoleon, Ohio.

The first being the Historic Complex at the Henry County Fairgrounds. This site contains several historic buildings and structures include the Nathaniel Hartman Log Home c. 1860-1866, the 1897 Emmanuel Lutheran One Room Schoolhouse, the Ag Building, Smokehouse, and our most recent addition the c. 1910 Historic Gazebo.

The HCHS’s primary location is the beautiful Victorian Queen Anne style Dr. John Bloomfield Home & Carriage House Museum located at  229 W Clinton St, Napoleon, Ohio across from the Napoleon Public Library. The Home was built c. 1879 and has been totally restored and serves as the main museum for the HCHS.

All of the HCHS facilities have been restored to their near original appearance and house large collections of period furnishings, textiles, china, silver, and more dating from the early 1800s through the 1930s.

So what are you waiting for? Check out and enjoy our website and we hope you visit our sites in person!

New Exhibit at Dr. John Bloomfield Home Museum

The Henry County HIstorical Society is proud to display a WW I exhibit in the Dr. Bloomfield Home museum.  The display features the uniforms and personal effects of Clarence Kemmer, Holgate, and Herman Frederick Haase, Okolona, Ohio. See the Events on the right of this page for hours of operation.

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The Henry County Historical Society website is undergoing major renovation.

Please be patient while we add pages and images from the old site.

Elery, Ohio

(This picture was taken in the early 1900’s of West Main Street, Elery, Ohio. Elery was actu­ally bigger then than it is now.)

Herrtown or Elery as it is usually called now, had more business places years ago.

There were 2 grocery stores, one near the Monroe Twp. House, operated once by a man named Vogel. It closed years ago — 60 yrs.? Probably more. The other one just east of the R.R. track closed seven yrs. ago. A Flea Mar­ket occupies the building now. This store was owned by quite a few different people through the years. Some were, Mr. Long, Rollo Foor, Clinton Rettig, Will Hoff, Harvey Hoffman, Walter Franz, Leonard Dachenhaus and Larry Myles, Herbert Meyers — owns the building now.

Elery had a post office years ago in part of this store building Henry Dett­mer was post master once. It was closed when rural routes started.

The saloon was owned by differ­ent people, some were Pete Sonni­chsen, Ferd Dettmer, Geo Bortz, Harold Blue, Paul Fletcher and now Leonard Sizemore. It carries some groceries these last years.

The tile mill was started by August Honeck I, and is still in the Honeck family, now making plastic tile instead of clay tile and known as the Advanced Drainage of Ohio, Inc. James Honeck has an interest.

The grain elevator was owned first by farmers; then it was sold to Okolona Grain Co. around 1940. A fire damaged it some and destroyed or spoiled 9,000 bu. grain year — 1969. Forrest Clady purchased it then 1969. It’s now known as Clady’s Trucking and Elevator.

Barber Shop. I understand this was located in the house east of the saloon; the barber was Geo. Behrman? It was discontinued many years ago.

The church was not used for sixty years or more; it was converted to other use and made into a garage by owner.

School — I heard that high school was once held in the twp. house building

Milliner shop — One, started by Rose Moerder in the east end of town only lasted a few months (70 yrs. ago?).

The Dance hall (we don’t know when it was built) closed 35 years ago and was torn down. It was directly behind the saloon.

Schutzenfest was held there every year for many years; people came from near and far. I think there were more businesses. A man in Elery called Miller used to make wooden shoes. (E. B. E.)

About 1910 William Gerken, Harold Gerken’s grandfather, had a tavern and grocery in Elery about the location where the Township House is (1974). (H. W. G.)

Herman Behrman ran the tavern. Ferd Dettmer ran the tavern about 1925 to the 30’s. (E. E. B. H.)

Stave Mill: The stave mill was probably the very first thing at Elery. (Was it called Herrtown then?) In fact the stave mill must have been the start of the town. (I. D.)

The above article is from Henry County, Ohio, Volume Two, A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society. Dallas, TX, Taylor Publishing Co., pp. 232-233.