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?

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