Perspectives change over the decades, and so it would follow that they change even more over the centuries. Today the United States of America looms large in our loyalties and fills our vision of who we are and puts the emphasis on UNITED and AMERICA – we are Americans, then Californians or Ohioans. In an earlier time, for instance 1800-1850 the title might look like this - the United STATES of America. The state where our ancestors lived loomed large on their horizon. Back then when Obediah Meredith, traveled to Washington D.C. (not that he did, we’re imaging here), and was asked where he was from he would respond with Ohio. He might even give his town or village – “I’m from New Castle, Ohio. And, then he might add – “That’s back in Coshocton County.”
For back then, if you lived in the great state of Ohio or Pennsylvania the county you resided in stood next to the state in your loyalties. Today, come to think of it, I often refer to my home as San Diego County, but that is the exception of a large metropolitan area. On average, if you are from Orlando, your response would not be – I’m from Orange County. If you are from Des Moines it is likely that you’ll never mention that you are a Polk Countian (there is such a word but spell check doesn’t even recognize it). I wonder how many people, a great number probably, would assume that Des Moines is in Des Moines County in Iowa. There is a Des Moines County but the City of Des Moines is in Polk County, named after a rather lack-luster president, James K. Polk.
In Ohio from 1800-1850 it was the time of county formations, town and village building, and the fight over which of those towns was to be the county seat. The county often stood beside the state in a farmer’s loyalties. They had a hand in clearing and farming the land. The county was the next tier up for the grass roots and held an important place in their everyday lives. They were from Coshocton, Brown, or Miami County, by golly.
|$1 Coin, Wikipedia|
It is only right that we turn our attention to the counties these hardy pioneers helped to establish. Here are the counties where our families were ‘first families’ and pioneers:
Ashland, Belmont, Brown, Clermont, Coshocton, Darke, Erie, Franklin, Hamilton, Harrison, Miami, Muskingum, Scioto, Shelby, Warren, and Washington. Last night, with our ever growing project, I added another – Wyandot.
Our families helped pioneer 17 of the 88 counties in Ohio. That is huge! County governments, not first to come to mind today, were extremely important to the pioneers as was the County Seat, where they often built imposing courthouses. There are exceptions to this rule – but the towns that became county seats most often rose like cream in a bottle of milk to the top – becoming the largest and most prosperous town in the county. (As I write this I realize that the majority of readers have never seen an un-homogenized bottle of whole milk with the cream sitting on the top – the layer that is ‘skimmed’ off for your non-fat milk.)
|Ashland County Ohio, Wikipedia|
Last night I worked on the structure of the book a bit more – setting up County History pages and grouping the families with their respective counties. In some cases families lived in more than one and are represented with the county in which they spent the most time. The county page (so far) includes a brief history, the flag and description, pertinent URLs – and most importantly – a map showing where the county is located within the state of Ohio. Ohio County flags are often quirky and sometimes beautiful. Often they are designed by contest winners, school children, old folks home residents – in short it is ‘the people’ who proudly create and fly the county flags.
|Ashland County Townships - Wikipedia|