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Ohio Genealogy & Ancestry

The State of Ohio is bordered by PennsylvaniaWest VirginiaKentuckyIndianaMichigan. It has a land area of 44,828 square miles, making it the 34th largest state. As of 2017, its total population is 11,658,609.

Ohio’s capital – and also its largest city – is Columbus, with an estimated population of 879,170. Other major cities include Cleveland (385,525 residents), Cincinnati (301,301 residents), Toledo (276,491 residents), Akron (197,846 residents), Dayton (140,371 residents), Parma (79,167 residents), Youngstown (64,604 residents), Canton (70,909 residents), and Lorain (63,841 residents).

The origins of Ohio’s name can be found in the Iroquois Indian word Ohi:yo, which means good river or large river. Ohio’s nickname is The Buckeye State, owing to the buckeye trees which were plentiful in the region when it was first settled, and used to build some of the first log cabins in Ohio’s early settlements. The state motto is “With God, all things are possible.”

Ohio was the birthplace of several prominent U.S. Presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Harrison, and Warren G. Harding. Some have thus nicknamed the state Mother of Presidents. Other nicknames include The Birthplace of Aviation and The Heart of It All.

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History of Ohio

Among the first explorers to travel through Ohio was the French cartographer Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin, who mapped much of the region in 1641 for later explorers. In 1663, Ohio became part of New France; French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle – thought to have been the first person to see the Ohio River – explored the state further in 1669. Sieur de la Salle would later go on to claim the entire Mississippi River Basin for France.

Throughout the early 17th century, France established a system of trading posts in the region, which linked to their colonies in present-day Canada. In spite of these efforts, the region remained largely uncolonized until the formation of the 1747 Ohio Company of Virginia in Jamestown, organized by the British to take control of the Ohio River Valley.

This would eventually lead to the formation of the Ohio Land Company in 1749, followed shortly thereafter by the French-Indian War. Ohio was among the lands ceded by France with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, signed in the aftermath of that conflict.

Even after the British occupied Ohio, it primarily remained a region of trading posts and military installations. It was not until the establishment of Ohio’s Northwest Territory in 1787 that settlers truly began migrating to the region. Ohio’s first permanent settlement, Marietta, was founded on 7 April 1788 by Ebenezer Sproat, a Massachusetts-born army officer and shareholder in the Ohio Company of Associates and Rufus Putnam, organizer of the Ohio Company of Associates.

This led to a steady stream of migrants which included Scottish-irish from Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, New Englanders and Revolutionary War Soldiers from Massachusetts and Connecticut.

These were soon followed by settlers from Essex County, New Jersey, who settled in an area known as the Symmes Purchase – today the site of the Hamilton, Butler, and Warren counties of southwestern Ohio. From 1790 to 1791, French immigrants settled in Gallipolis in what is today Gallia County. Additional emigrants arrived from Connecticut and Vermont between 1796 and 1799, settling in the Connecticut Western Reserve and what would eventually become known as Geauga County.

Even more settlers arrived in Maine in 1796, alongside emigrants from Scotland. The American Revolution served to attract even more settlers with the establishment of The Refugee Tract in 1796, meant for Canadians who sympathized with the revolutionaries and wished to be free of the Crown’s influence. Three years later, in 1800, Ohio Territory was officially created and the first Ohio Territorial Census was carried out.

Ohio gained statehood in 1803. It played a key role in the War of 1812, and was the site of several noteworthy battles both on land and on the waters of Lake Erie. It also featured prominently in pre-war discussions about the conflict, given its location at the frontline of the western theatre of the war.

Settlers continued to pour into the region throughout the 18th century, particularly Germans and Welsh from Pennsylvania. German settlers primarily moved into the Brown and Tuscarawas counties from 1814 through 1824. The Welsh, meanwhile, established a vibrant settlement in and around Radnor in Delaware county around 1821. During this time, the United Society of Believers of Christ’s Second Appearing (Shakers) migrated to Warren County.

The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 represented even greater opportunity for those in the Northeastern United States to migrate to Ohio. English and Irish settlers arrived in the region to help construct railroads throughout the state in the 1840s. The end result of this influx was that by 1860, Ohio’s extensive railroad construction provided more miles of track than any other state.

Ohio was intensively involved with the abolitionist movement prior to the American Civil War, with considerable activity in the Underground Railroad occurring along Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Following the Civil War, the state gained a great deal of national political power, serving as the birthplace of no less than seven presidents. Though it began as an agricultural state, Ohio would in the 19th century make a rapid shift towards industrialization.

Early industries included barrel-making and meat-packing, though Ohio soon established itself as a leader in the steel industry, with Cleveland emerging as the third-largest producer of iron and steel in the entire country. During this time, Cincinnati became known as the national capital of pork processing, and Dayton established itself as a leader in Tobacco processing.

The American Federation of Labor was established in Ohio in the 1880s, an organization that would prove instrumental in the creation of the nation’s first labor laws.

Ohio’s industrialization and urbanization brought new residents from Eastern and Southern Europe and African Americans from southern states. Mining became increasingly important to helping maintain Ohio’s industrial strength, with rich deposits of coal, limestone, and salt. The twentieth century only saw the state further thrive under the guidance of powerful capitalists including Benjamin F. Goodrich, Charles Franklin Kettering, and John D. Rockefeller.

By the late 19th century, Ohio was more than an industrial center for the United States – it had become a global hub of manufacturing and production. As a result, Ohio was responsible for multiple inventions and innovations in industry, including the world’s first airplane, the first semi-automatic glassblowing machine, and the first automatic starter for automobiles.

Today, Ohio manufactures a diverse range of items from steam shovels to matches.