Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4






The second secretary and acting governor of the

Northwest Territory, the first United States judge for

Ohio district, has had almost nothing printed of his life

and endeavors. Not ten lines can be found in the his-

tories of Ohio.

His bones now lie forgotten in a little township

cemetery back of the new school house at Sinking

Springs, Highland County, Ohio. He was born at West-

over, Charles County, Virginia, July 26, 1770. He

came to Kentucky in 1794 and achieved a reputation as

a lawyer. On the resignation of William Henry Har-

rison, secretary of the Northwest Territory, Charles

Willing Byrd was appointed secretary on October 3,

1779, and took his oath of office before Governor St.

Clair, February 26, 1800. When St. Clair was removed

from office by President Jefferson, Byrd became acting

governor from November 22, 1802, until March 3, 1803,

when Edward Tiffin was duly elected governor of the

State of Ohio. Byrd was also a member of the Con-

vention which framed the first Constitution of Ohio.

At this time he was but 32 years old, and was appointed

the first United States district judge for Ohio.

Charles Willing Byrd evidently lived in Cincinnati

at least three years, and probably seven, before he

bought from his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Massie,

Buckeye Station in June, 1807. Buckeye Station was