THE CENTENARY OF SANDUSKY COUNTY.
BY BASIL MEEK.
(Read at the centennial celebration of Sandusky county, August 2, 1920.)
Sandusky county has a wonderfully interesting history, but
only a few of the more important facts will be attempted to be
given by me on this occasion of its centenary of years. The
time allotted will necessarily preclude the mention of many of
the romantic incidents in its aboriginal and early civil and mili-
tary history. Reference to these is hereby made to an article by
the writer, entitled "The Evolution of Sandusky County", pub-
lished in the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications,
Vol. 24, page 138, where a fuller history appears.
The region of country, comprising what is now Sandusky
county, is within what has been, since the discovery of the New
World by Columbus, under the dominion of the several powers
of Spain, France, England, and of course the United States. And
it is not saying too much to add, the dominion of what may be
called the Republic of Virginia, for to this power, rather than
the greater ones mentioned, we are more directly connected, in
our history; and to this our more particular attention will be
given, with some facts as to the aboriginal occupation.
Virginia's claim to all the vast domain later known as the
Northwest was based on the charter of 1609, granted her col-
onists by England, which in its area of country included all
within defined boundaries, West and Northwest from the Atlantic
coast, from "sea to sea", i. e., from the Atlantic to the Pacific
oceans, but which was subsequently, by treaty with contending
powers, limited in its western boundary by the Mississippi river.
Virginia formed counties whose western boundaries ex-
tended to the Mississippi river, and in which our region was
embraced, in the order following: Orange county, in 1734;
Augusta, in 1738; Botetourt, in 1769; and the county of Illinois
formed from Botetourt in 1778. This latter county was created
as the result of the conquest from England, of the country west
456 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
of the Alleghanies and north of the Ohio river to the Mississippi,
by George Rogers Clark, under the authority of Virginia, in
1778, then a defacto republic, and claiming that England, by the
act known as the Quebec Act, in 1774, was violating the rights of
Virginia granted by the charter of 1609, in annexing this region
to the Province of Quebec and prohibiting settlements therein
by her people.
In 1784 Virginia ceded all the region named to the Federal
Government, and we accordingly came under the jurisdiction of
the United States. Counties were formed including the region
of what is now Sandusky county, as follows: Hamilton county,
which came into existence in 1790. It did not then, however,
embrace our county, but in 1792 its boundaries were extended to
include the same; Wayne county was formed in 1796. The latter
was not the present county by that name in Ohio. It was and
is Wayne county, of which Detroit, in the state of Michigan, is
the county seat. It included all of northwest Ohio, part of
Indiana, including Fort Wayne, part of Illinois, including the
site of Chicago, and all of Michigan. Thus it will appear that
we were then in a county with Detroit its seat of justice.
Ohio state was admitted into the Union in 1803; since when
Sandusky county has been during the periods mentioned, em-
braced within the county of Franklin, 1803-1808; within the
county of Delaware, 1808-1815; and in the county of Huron,
Long ages prior to the advent of civilized man this region
was inhabited by a pre-historic race, long since wholly vanished
from the earth, leaving no evidence whatever of their existence
save only structures known as "earthworks" or "enclosures",
found here along the Sandusky river, one of which was within
what is now the city of Fremont, two south of the city, several
between the city and Sandusky Bay, and two near the mouth of
Pickeril Creek, a total in all, in the county, of eighteen of these
pre-historic sites (History of Sandusky Co.--Meek, p. 38.)
The aborigines of authentic history here were, first, the Erie
or Cat Nation, from whom Lake Erie is believed to have derived
its name. They, about the first of the seventeenth century, in
The Centenary of Sandusky County. 457
war with the Indians from east of the Niagara country, known
as the Five Nations, were completely exterminated and their
region, left a solitude, thus continued until about the first decade
of the eighteenth century, when it was reinhabited by the Wyan-
dots, with Ottawas and remnants of dispersed western tribes,
which had been driven into exile westwards by the Five Nations,
about the middle of the seventeenth century. It seems that the
Five Nations had lost or abandoned their absolute supremacy,
but still claimed some rights in the region.
Thereafter the Wyandots became the dominant aboriginal
power, but other tribes on friendly relations with them shared in
occupation of the region, which was an important one for them
all. The beautiful Sandusky river, which flows through the
entire county, teemed with fish, and its marshes and valleys
abounded in fowl and large game. It was, indeed, a suggestion
to them of their happy hunting ground, in their hoped for "Land
of the Hereafter".
All pretended dominion over the Northern Ohio country, by
the Five Nations, then the Six Nations, was by treaty, in 1784,
abandoned in favor of the Federal Government.
By a treaty in 1795 (there were previous, but unsatisfactory
treaties), with the Wyandots and all other tribes in any way
claiming to be interested, known as the "Greenville Treaty", all
lands south of the treaty line, together with the two-mile square
tract at the lower rapids of the Sandusky river, now the city of
Fremont, were ceded to the United States; and all the lands
north thereof except certain reservations, which we need not
mention, were conveyed to the tribes "to live and hunt on", being
the extent of title recognized by civilized governments in favor
of native savage tribes.
The first land owned by the United States, embraced in
Sandusky county, clear of Indian claim, was this two-mile square
tract, now the county seat of the county. The next was the
Maumee and Western Reserve road lands, by treaty in 1808,
ceding a tract the entire distance through the county, from the
western line of the Western Reserve, and passing through the
site of what is now Fremont, in a northwesterly direction, 120
feet in width, for a road, and one mile adjoining the same on
458 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
either side for settlement; and also for a road tract 120 feet in
width, to run southwardly from Lower Sandusky to the Green-
ville treaty line.
By a treaty, September 20th, 1817, at the foot of the rapids
of the Maumee river, the tribes ceded all their title to all the
remaining lands in northwestern Ohio to the United States Gov-
ernment, which was in 1820, February 12th, carved by the Ohio
legislature into fourteen separate counties, of which Sandusky
was one. The act creating these counties took effect April 1,
The name of Sandusky county is derived from that of the
river, which in aboriginal expression is Tsaendosti, pronounced
San-doos-tee, and means "It is cold fresh (water)".
When created the county contained two townships only,
Sandusky on the west side of the river, and Croghan on the east
side, both organized by the county commissioners of Huron
county. The two embraced all the territory within the following
boundaries, viz.: East of the east line of Wood county and
Lucas county, as now existing, including the townships of Oregon
and Jerusalem in the latter, to the west lines of Huron and Erie
counties, as now organized, with a small part of Erie now ad-
joining Sandusky Bay in the northeast part of Margaretta town-
ship, and north, all within said east and west boundaries, from
the north line of Seneca county to Lake Erie. Seneca county
was attached to Sandusky county for judicial purposes, and thus
remained for four years. Our county, with Seneca attached,
contained only about eight hundred souls. At the first election
for county officers, the first Monday in April, 1820, there were
only 175 votes cast.
In 1840 Ottawa County was created, taken mostly from San-
dusky, and now includes all of the territory of the latter as
originally formed, lying north of the north boundary lines of the
townships of Townsend, Riley, Rice, Washington and Wood-
ville, as now existing, and extending thence to the original
boundary line in Lake Erie.
The seat of justice was located temporarily at Croghansville,
on the east side of the river, where it remained for the period
of two years. Here the common pleas court was held and
The Centenary of Sandusky County. 459
official business conducted in a house owned by Moris A. New-
man, at the northeast corner of Ohio Avenue and Pine Street.
The first term of the court was held May 8th, 1820, with Judge
George Todd presiding, and associate Judges David Harrold,
Alexander Morris and Israel Harrington sitting. David Todd,
the noted War Governor of Ohio, was a son of Judge George
At the May term, 1822, of the court of common pleas,
Charles R. Sherman, of the commission appointed by the legis-
lature to permanently locate the county seat, made his report for
the commission, establishing the same in the "Town of Sandusky"
on the west side of the river. The report was approved by the
court, which thereupon adjourned to a hewn log school house,
situated in the permanent seat of justice, thus located. This log
house stood near the site of the location of the present high
school building. Courts were here held, both common pleas and
supreme, for several years, until the erection of a frame building
as a permanent court house, on the grounds where Rev. W. A.
Bowman resides, on Court Street, then fronting on Arch Street.
It was first located and partly constructed where the M. E.
Church stands, and finally removed to its present location about
1828. Charles R. Sherman, who made the report on the perma-
nent county seat, was the father of a son named William Tecum-
seh, then about four years old, who became the distinguished
General Sherman in the Civil War. Mr. Sherman Sr. became
a supreme court Judge and, with Judge Burnet, held a term of
that court in this school house.
In 1829, by act of the state legislature, the two villages of
Croghansville and Sandusky were united by the name of the
"Town of Lower Sandusky." In 1849 the name was changed to
When this county was formed there was not a railroad in
existence in the United States. There were no telegraphs, tele-
phones, electric lights, grain reapers, mowing machines, sewing
machines, threshing machines, power printing presses, linotypes,
typewriters, automobiles or flying machines. All these with
many other inventions and discoveries, adding comfort and happi-
460 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
ness to the people, have come within the marvelous century of
the county's history.
The first year tax collection was $3,535. The last year's
collection is about one million dollars. Its population was 800,
with only 175 voters; now we have a population of 37,000 with
9,000 voters. Outside the two-mile square tract, the county was
comparatively a wilderness. A view now of the country com-
prising the county, with its splendid farms of broad and fertile
fields, productive orchards, sightly wood lands, its fair capital
city of 13,000 population with its great factories and successful
merchants, its thriving villages, its churches and school houses,
steam and electric railways, telegraphs, telephones, improved
roads, automobiles, flying machines passing over us daily, rural
mail delivery, and beautiful homes in the city, villages and coun-
try, inspire us with joy to say of our beloved county: Surely
"The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places; Yea, we have a