In the wake of the American Revolution, the newly formed United States found itself in possession of a frontier empire that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from Maine to Georgia.
The new nation faced a number of challenges; not the least of these was that it owed a lot of people a lot of money.
Some were soldiers who had not been paid in many years. Others were people who had lost property and were owed compensation. Then there were the people and companies who had loaned large sums to the new government.
While the United States had little money to pay all these people, what it had was land -- thousands of acres of forested wilderness. So the government began to sell or give away much of that land.
As settlers came across the mountains to claim their land, they often were surprised to find other people already living there. These were the Native Americans, and they'd been there for some time. No one had asked them their opinion of the new allocations of real estate.
Understandably, they were not amused.
What began in 1789 later was referred to as "President Washington's Indian War." For the next several years, the United States raised armies and confronted the Native Americans of the Ohio Country. In several major confrontations, the Native Americans decisively defeated the armies sent against them.
It was not until 1794 that a large army led by Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne was able to defeat a coalition of Native Americans at a place called Fallen Timbers near what is now Maumee.
In the wake of that defeat, representatives of 13 Native American nations came to Fort Greenville in 1795 to sign the Greenville Treaty.
The treaty stipulated that a line would be drawn across what is now the northern third of Ohio. It essentially was the watershed line, with rivers north of the line emptying into Lake Erie and rivers south of it emptying into the Ohio River.
Land south of the treaty line was forever reserved to the new nation. Land north of the line was reserved forever to Native America. "Forever" in the latter case turned out to be until 1842, when the last of the Wyandots were removed from the state.
With the signing of the Greenville Treaty, hundreds of Native Americans left their homes in southern Ohio forever and moved to points west. In the wake of their departure, a large number of new settlers came into central Ohio.
But not all of the Native Americans had left.
The place where the Olentangy River meets the Scioto River had been the home of Native Americans for hundreds of years, from the prehistoric Mound Builders to the tribes of post-Revolutionary America. The area had seen Shawnee villages to the south and Wyandot and Delaware villages to the north. A Mingo village had been at the fork of the rivers until 1774 when it was burned in a raid by colonial militiamen.
An early history described the Native Americans who remained:
"After the Treaty of Greenville, the Indians mostly disappeared from the neighborhood but a few still lingered about. ... After Harrison's victory at the Battle of the Thames, in Canada (in 1813), bands of Indians from the villages on the headwaters of the Scioto frequently came to Franklinton to trade with ... storekeepers, as the merchants were then called.
"These Indians brought furs, skins, baskets, maple sugar, cranberries, dry venison, and other articles, for which they would accept pay only in silver. Having obtained the coin, they bought ammunition, tobacco, knives, 'squaw-axes,' 'squaw cloth' (broadcloth), pigments for tattooing, blankets, brightly-colored calicoes, and finally a supply of whisky for the 'high drunk' with which they usually closed their trading transactions (and was) accompanied with much singing, dancing, brawling and fighting. They no doubt contributed not a little to make Franklinton life interesting in a certain way.
"During one of these trading expeditions, a massive Indian named Bill Zane, while yet under the influence of his debauch, took offense at Mrs. Lucas Sullivant because of the accidental loosening of one of his bundles left at her residence, and was about to stab her with his hunting knife when Mr. Sullivant rushed in, seized (him) by the throat, and hurled him out of doors. The marks of Zane's hunting knife, with which he had angrily scratched the measure of a piece of calico on the chairboard, were for a long time preserved as family mementoes of this episode."
Other Native Americans bought land or worked on it for many years thereafter. Bill Moose, who made his reputation as "the last of the Wyandots," died at the age of 100 in 1937. He is buried on Wyandot Hill on Dublin Road overlooking the Scioto River.
Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As It Were column for ThisWeek Community News.