Native American History of Stark County

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Before white settlers moved to Stark County, the area was home to Native American tribes, beginning in the Paleoindian Period, which was between 13,000 B.C. and 7,000 B.C. Paleoindians were small groups that moved often depending on season and climate and relied on hunting, gathering, and foraging. They used tools made of bone, wood, and stone. Paleoindians were hunting in Ohio approximately 11,000 years ago, as evidenced by the Nobles Pond site in Jackson Township. The Paleoindians that used this site were among the first inhabitants of Ohio. Here, campsites have been discovered, as well as artifacts such as spear points and stone scrapers, both of which were characteristic tools of Paleoindians. The unique way in which the spear points were made helps to identify around what time Paleoindians were living at Nobles Pond. There have also been mounds representing later cultures located in different parts of Stark County, including Lawrence, Lake, and Canton.

After the Paleoindian Era, Stark County was sparsely inhabited by other prehistoric groups of different cultures for hunting and gathering. In the historic period, the people inhabiting Stark County were the Delaware Indians. They were pushed west from their original area near the Delaware Bay and Delaware River by the British, Dutch, Germans and other tribes in the mid- 1700s. Other Native American tribes living in Ohio around this time included the Wyandots and the Shawnee. Eventually, white settlers began to move to Stark County from places like Maryland, Virginia, and states throughout New England. Some of the earliest contacts involving Native Americans in Ohio were with French explorers and traders, English traders, scouting parties, and military campaigns.

 The contact between Native Americans and settlers was not without conflict. In 1794, General Anthony Wayne defeated a Native American force at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. This led to the negotiation of the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. Many Native American tribes of the state, including the Wyandot and Delaware, surrendered much of their land under the treaty and had to move to western parts of Ohio. Eventually, these tribes were forced to move even further west to states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

The topic of Native Americans living in Ohio includes 13,000-15,000 years of prehistory as well as over 300 years of history. The history of Native American tribes is an integral part of understanding the history of Ohio, and therefore the history of Stark County.

Nobles Pond Site
Fluted Point found at Nobles Pond
Trianguloid End Scraper found at Nobles Pond

Underground Railroad in Stark County

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PODCAST

The Underground Railroad was a system of safe houses and hiding places in which white and free African American “conductors” would assist runaway slaves, or freedom seekers, from Southern slave states to freedom in Northern free states as well as Canada.

One of the most prominent Underground Railroad stops in Stark County is the Spring Hill House in Massillon. The Spring Hill house was built in 1821 and owned by Thomas and Charity Rotch, who were Quakers and abolitionists. They used their home as a stop for fugitive slaves escaping slavery to the North. Despite attempts by slave hunters, no fugitive slave was ever caught at Spring Hill. 

Spring Hill had a secret staircase that connected the basement kitchen to the servants’ quarters on the second floor. This allowed fugitive slaves to move between hiding spaces without being exposed to the main floor of the house.  Using the secret staircase, fugitive slaves could hide in the attic crawlspace. Additionally, the attic was at one time used to keep bees and make honey because The Rotch family did not want to buy sugar, which used slave labor in the Caribbean to produce.

Another stop on the Underground Railroad was the Haines House in Alliance. The house was owned by Jonathan Ridgeway Haines, a Quaker and abolitionist, and his wife Sarah. Jonathan Haines and his son John would stand guard while runaway slaves stayed in the upper story of the house.

There were several other citizens of Stark County that were involved with the Underground Railroad. Many of those who were involved used their houses as stations on the Underground Railroad. Some of these people were the lawyer Anson Pease and his family. Their home, nicknamed Roanoke, was a station on the Underground Railroad.

Some of the other people involved in the Underground Railroad were James Bayliss and George Harsh, who both used their houses as stations. There was also Jacob Gaskins, one of the first African American settlers in Stark County, and Robert Folger, the former mayor of Massillon in 1861 and from 1864 to 1866.

Another important figure was Lucretia Mott. For a short time, her parents lived in Kendal, Ohio, which is now Massillon. Lucretia fought for women’s rights and slave emancipation, and in 1847 she delivered a lecture in Massillon on social reform. She would later help organize the First Women’s Rights Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

There were many active members of the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement in Ohio. In an article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle of Lisbon, Ohio, citizens of Massillon proposed an anti-slavery convention. Another article from the anti-slavery bugle features plans for anti-slavery conventions in Ohio in which prominent abolitionists Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison would be in attendance.

Ohio was an important part of the Underground Railroad. In Stark County, there were several routes though cities such as Canton, Alliance, and Massillon and many prominent figures that helped on the Underground Railroad.

Meet the Interns, Hannah Beach…

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My name is Hannah Beach. In the spring, I will be graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in History from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I grew up in a small town called Sugarcreek in northeast Ohio where I still live with my parents and my three sisters. Since I was in elementary school, history has been a fascination for me. As a kid I participated in the high school’s production of Annie Get Your Gun and after finding out the musical was based on a true story, I knew I had to know more and quickly fell in love with history. That experience paired with a series of remarkable history teachers all through school aided in my realization that history was something that I wished to pursue as a career.

For the last five years, on weekends and over breaks, I have put my love of history to use as I worked at David Warther Carvings, a non-profit museum in Sugarcreek. There I worked as a tour guide where I guided patrons through the various rooms explaining how the antique ivory carvings had been made and more importantly, told the history of the ships whose schematics had been used to make exact, miniature replicas. In those five years I learned so much. The experience inspired a growth in my passion for history and for sharing it with others. Along with serving as a tour guide, I worked in gift shop sales, created and ran the museum’s social media platforms, and served as the grant coordinator, giving me countless skills that will be useful as I head into the work field. I will forever be grateful for the time that I spent at David Warther Carvings and for the incredible tutelage of David Warther himself. As I look towards my future and my life outside of college, I am incredibly thankful for the way my past experiences have shaped me into who I am today and am very excited to be working at the McKinley Presidential Library this spring.

Preserve Your Now: Bury A Time Capsule…

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365 Reasons: Today let me give you a reason to bury a time capsule. When I first met my wife when I was 19 years old, she had a neighbor lady who finally died when she was 103 years old, oh the stories she had to tell. She told me about attending President William McKinley’s funeral in Canton Ohio. I wish she had buried a time-capsule and I could dig it up today. Why not preserve your now, which will become history for a future generation. Choose carefully what you include in your capsule, you want it to accurately represent your snapshot in time. Can you imagine what your great-grandchildren might think about today’s newspaper or CD or current best selling book? Go ahead, think beyond yourself, and invest into the future.

By Art Snow, Canton Native

Treaty of Greenville…

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In 2011 a boy named Zane visited our museum with his class. On his history tour he viewed a mural we have in our Stark County Story called The Treaty of Greenville “The Signing” by Ohioan Howard Chandler Christy. Zane went back to his school and created this one of a kind work based on our copy of this famous piece.

Then & Now Kobacker’s Department Store…

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Then Kobacker’s Department Store 1955 North West Corner of Market Avenue North & 5th Street NW. Now a Parking Lot at Market Avenue North & 5th Street NW.

Meet the Intern: Hamed Alwusaydi

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My name is Hamed Alwusaydi. I was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I am in the final semester to graduate from my BA at Walsh University in Communications. I have always wanted to be a part of the President McKinley Museum family because of my passion for learning about the history, interest in it and its care. I am currently working as a volunteer and seeking to learn and train and listen to the advice and guidance of Mr. Mark Holland, who has always made me feel his desire to train and mentor me. I am currently working on developing the visual aspect of the Walk with the President program, and I am working on adding some important pictures to present to those looking to understand the past and those interested in it.

Then & Now: Canton Palace Theater…

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A Little Then & Now on this Sunday Afternoon. Then, Canton Palace Theatre 93 years ago on Tuesday November 1st 1927. Now the North West Corner of North Market Avenue & Sixth Street.