Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where Are We Going?

I told you in my last post how I came to be interested in the history of this region and now I will tell you a little about my origins and plans for this blog.
In case you were wondering, I don't have any American Indian blood in me. Not one drop as far as I know. I'm also not originally from Ohio or the Midwest US. I am the classic American mongrel of European origin. My ancestors came here from various European countries and periods of time. I identify with my Danish ancestry because of my surname but in actuality, I have more French and German ancestry. I suppose identifying with the Danish heritage makes me feel more unique in this melting pot. I was born in California where I lived until I was 7, moved to the South for most of my childhood and then moved to Ohio with my parents as a teenager 30 years ago. I am a mutt and an adopted Buckeye.

One of my favorite photographs.
Otto Armleder Park in Cincinnati

I also wanted to be clear that Gehio will not just be about Indian or frontier history. You will however see it a lot here because it is a huge part of early Ohio history. Much more than I could have ever imagined a couple of years ago. There are other interesting items like how the canal system of the 19th century became the first man made highways connecting Ohio to the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico, inventors and pioneers of aviation like the Edison, Wright Brothers, Glenn and Armstrong, the part Ohio played in the Civil War, the frontiersman who first settled here to escape poverty in the East, prehistoric burial mounds of the Adena, the Underground Railroad, the original French explorers, birthplace of seven U.S. presidents and on and on. I'll also dip into the history of Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan on occasion and I hope you enjoy reading about it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How It All Began

Despite my long interest in general history, my interest in the Old Northwest frontier history began fairly recently. In fact, I know the exact date and place this began. It was March 21st 2010 in Greenville, OH.
#6-19, the sign that started it all (sort of)

My family and I were at my daughter's gymnastics meet 2 hours away from Cincinnati, OH in Greenville and I was just about 10 months into my hobby of Geocaching. While gymnastics warm-ups are going on I typically have a couple of hours to myself so I began the habit of planning geocaching runs during this time and saw that there were a few in the nearby Darke County Shawnee Prairie Preserve, a beautiful 118-acre park of trails, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands in. At the entrance of the preserve was an Ohio Historical Marker for Tecumseh and Prophetstown that tells what happened here in the late 18th and early 19th century. I had run into these markers all over Ohio even before geocaching but this time it was different. Upon reading that Tecumseh sign and walking around in that beautiful park that chilly morning, it was as if a veil was lifted and I suddenly became aware that entire societies, alliances, and struggles took place right here in my backyard that I never fully appreciated. I wanted to know more and have since become enamored by all the history of this region.

Pioneer Log Cabin - Shawnee Prairie Preserve - Greenville OH
I had been aware of Native American history as much as the average person and had heard of Tecumseh but I never really understood the timeline very well or how it all played out. Like most Americans, I tended to associate Indians with the Plains and Southwest region in modern history because of the movies and the photography of the late 19th century but that's only a tiny part. I didn't really understand their role in the early days of our country after the Pilgrims. American history seems to be and still is taught very poorly in my opinion by jumping from roughly Columbus and the Mayflower to the Revolutionary War, perhaps a mention of the War of 1812 and then it's off to the Civil War and beyond. If you followed that syllabus you wouldn't think much of anything happened prior to European contact and then from the 1660s to 1775 and then again from 1783 to 1860! It's not as if people were just sitting around minding their own business. Depending on where you lived in the country you may learn a little more about the Spanish and the French but that leaves quite a few gaps in time and doesn't give one a real sense of how Ohio history helped shape our early nation.

this is what I sometimes look like when I geocache
Geocaching, introduced to me by my friend Mark Fischer, allows me to explore and learn more about my world beyond finding hidden containers in the woods and has expanded my interests in many ways. As a matter of fact, I went from Geocaching runs with a little history on the side to planning History runs with a few geocaches on the side. Sometimes there is no planning and the two just naturally come together. My daughters sometimes even seem to enjoy both and I hope it gives them a better sense of the world. I pretty much go into any area now with the idea of finding something new. I really hope you enjoy learning along with me about how things came to be.

Next post...Where Are We Going?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome to the Gehio Blog!

Ohio's first Statehouse in Chillicothe, OH
The purpose of this blog is to share my relatively recent interest in the history of the Ohio Valley and the surrounding region with my focus on the prehistoric Woodland Indian period up through the 19th century. Those who know me are aware that I have a particular fondness for the Native American history of the Old Northwest territory, however, all history of the area is fair game as all of it leads us to the present. The history of my adopted home goes way beyond "Porkopolis" and German immigrants and I have found that many life-long residents only have a vague notion of the French, British, Native American and frontier stories that shaped this region over hundreds of years. Understanding this history more fully has brought me a greater appreciation and sense of my current surroundings.

Now, about the name "Gehio"...I had a vision and I saw a man on a flaming pie, and he said "You are Ohio with a 'Ge'," ...sorry, bad joke, only big Beatles fans will get that...

Actually, it just struck me that Geocaching led me to my interest in Ohio regional history so the word "Gehio" (pronounced Gee-Hio) popped into my head and it seemed like a good combination of Geocaching, Ohio, and History. It was short, it was available and it sounds a bit Native American too so that's a plus.

At any rate, I hope people enjoy reading my write-ups and photographs as much as I will enjoy visiting these locations and writing about them.

next post...How It All Began