Know Ohio: Settling Cincinnati

WE’RE TAKING ON THE QUEEN CITY NEXT… KNOW OHIO’S MARY FECTEAU TAKES US DOWN SOUTH TO TELL US HOW CINCINNATI BECAME CINCINNATI.

WAY BEFORE THERE WERE THE REDS, THE BENGALS, RIVERBOATS, AND THAT SPECIAL CHILI THAT SOME OF US LOVE…AND THE REST OF US LOVE TO HATE, CINCINNATI WAS A JUST PRIME PIECE OF REAL ESTATE, INHABITED BY NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBE, IN THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF WHAT IS NOW OHIO.

LOCATED ON THE NORTHERN BANKS OF THE OHIO RIVER, BETWEEN THE GREAT MIAMI AND LITTLE MIAMI RIVERS – THIS TERRITORY WAS ABUNDANT IN WATER WHICH MADE IT A HOT COMMODITY FOR PIONEERS IN THAT TIME. SO IT’S NO WONDER THAT IN 1788 A GROUP OF THREE MEN BANDED TOGETHER TO BUY UP 800 ACRES OF LAND IN THE HEART OF WHAT IS NOW CINCINNATI...AT WHAT I THINK IS A PRETTY FAIR PRICE: $500.

JOHN FILSON, MATTHIAS DENMAN, AND ROBERT PATTERSON TEAMED UP TO MAKE A CITY ON THE SPOT. MATTHIAS WAS THE MONEY MAN WHO PUT DOWN THE CASH; ROBERT FOUND PEOPLE WILLING TO MOVE THERE, AND JOHN MAPPED OUT THE TERRITORY. UNFORTUNATELY, WHILE HE WAS OUT SURVEYING THE LAND, JOHN DISAPPEARED — SOME BELIEVE HE MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED BY SHAWNEE INDIANS.

STILL THE MEN PUSHED FORWARD TO BUILD THEIR CITY ON THE OHIO RIVER. ISRAEL LUDLOW REPLACED JOHN AND DIVIDED THE LAND INTO SUITABLE LOTS. TO EACH OF THE FIRST 30 SETTLERS THEY GAVE A COUPLE FREE LOTS.

THE MEN NAMED THE TOWN LOSANTIVILLE, WHICH IS A MESS OF DIFFERENT WORDS MEANING “TOWN ACROSS FROM THE MOUTH OF THE LICKING RIVER.” NOW, I HAVE A MOUTH – AND YOU HAVE A MOUTH, BUT THE MOUTH OF A RIVER IS A BIT DIFFERENT: IT’S THE PART OF A RIVER THAT FLOWS INTO A LAKE, RESERVOIR OR OCEAN. IN THIS CASE, IT’S WHERE THE LICKING RIVER FLOWS INTO THE OHIO RIVER.

IN 1789, FORT WASHINGTON WAS BUILT JUST WEST OF LOSANTIVILLE TO PROTECT SETTLERS IN THE AREA FROM NATIVE AMERICANS WHO LIVED AND TRAVELED THROUGH THE AREA. THIS WAS THE WILD WEST OF THE TIME. WITHOUT A VERY ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENT IN THE TOWN, THINGS COULD GET A BIT CRAZY AND OFTEN THE MILITIA FROM THE FORT HAD TO KEEP THE PEACE IN THE TOWN.

ONE DAY, THE GOVERNOR OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY, WHICH LOSANTIVILLE WAS A PART OF, ARTHUR ST. CLAIR CAME TO VISIT THE CITY IN 1790. ONE THING HE DIDN’T LIKE? THE NAME LOSANTIVILLE. INSTEAD HE DECLARED THAT THE CITY WOULD BE RENAMED “CINCINNATI” AFTER THE ANCIENT ROMAN STATESMAN, CINCINNATUS.

SOON CINCINNATI GREW IN SIZE AS MORE PEOPLE TRAVELED WEST TO SETTLE NEW TERRITORY. MANY PEOPLE SAW THE CITY AS THE PERFECT SPOT TO SELL SUPPLIES TO THOSE TRAVELING EVEN FARTHER WEST ALONG THE OHIO RIVER. WAREHOUSES WERE BUILT TO HOLD THESE GOODS AND, EVEN THOUGH FORT WASHINGTON CLOSED, THE CITY CARRIED ON. IT BECAME THE SPOT FOR HOTELS AND BUSINESSES. FARMERS WOULD BRING THEIR CROPS HERE TO SELL DOWN THE RIVER.

BY 1803, THE YEAR WHEN OHIO BECAME A STATE, THERE WERE ABOUT 1,000 PEOPLE LIVING IN CINCINNATI. TODAY IT IS THE THIRD LARGEST CITY IN OHIO.

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