Ancestors in The Buckeye State: Ohio Research Guide

Posted by Amy Johnson Crow on March 13, 2014 in Research
1827 map of Ohio by Anthony Finley.

1827 map of Ohio by Anthony Finley.

Ohio has a place in many of our family trees. Whether they were just passing through or they put down roots, many of our ancestors (mine included) called Ohio “home.”

As an original gateway to the west, Ohio drew in people from across the east and south. Connecticut claimed much of the northeastern part of the state, including a section called the “Firelands,” used to compensate people who lost property to the British during the Revolution. Virginia claimed much of the southwestern part of the state in an area called the Virginia Military District. Revolutionary War veterans could claim bounty land there. Many of them did and moved with their families. Others sold their claims to land speculators.

Ohio’s early fortunes rose with easy transportation. The Ohio River and its tributaries made for natural pathways. In 1825, Ohio began building canals, which aided the transportation of goods and people and opened up the area to outside markets. Later, railroads crisscrossed the state and spurred even more migration and industry.

Our new free guide “Ohio Resources: Family History Sources in the Buckeye State” gives an overview of Ohio history, as well as resources to help you research your Buckeye ancestors. Be sure to look at the other state guides that are available.

I’ve always considered myself fortunate to have so many Ohio ancestors because of the richness of Ohio’s records. The diversity shown throughout Ohio history also means there is always something new to explore and learn.



About Amy Johnson Crow
Amy Johnson Crow is a Community Manager for She's a Certified Genealogist and an active lecturer and author. Her roots run deep in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. She earned her Masters degree in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. Amy loves to help people discover the joys of learning about their ancestors and she thinks that there are few things better than a day in a cemetery. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and No Story Too Small.


1 Roy E. ThompsonMarch 14, 2014 at 5:38 am

Ohio was where born and raised and still here.

2 AdrianaMarch 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

A lot of my ancestors lived in and passed through Ohio, but not for over 150 years. Still, though, I find myself looking at Ohio records a lot. If your ancestors have been in the United States since 1800, there’s a semi-decent chance at least one of them lived in Ohio.

3 Joanna BrzozowskiMarch 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Lima Ohio is where many of my relatives migrated to until settling in Pa. The churches had great records for baptisms, confirmations etc. Wish other states were this thorough.

4 Linda FetteMarch 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Thank you for this information. Do you have additional insight for farmers who received patent from Steubenville Land Office and settled in West Township, Columbiana County Ohio? I am researching Philip Brenner. Thank you for your insight.

5 Amy Johnson CrowMarch 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Roy – Good to hear from a fellow Buckeye!

Andriana – You’re exactly right. There are so many migration trails through Ohio. Couple that with Ohio being an economic draw, and you end up with Ohio being high on the list of possibilities for ancestral residences.

Joanna — Yes, church records can be awesome, depending on the denomination.

Linda – Take a look at his records from the Steubenville Land Office. Some are at the Ohio Historical Society; many are on microfilm and might be available through interlibrary loan. The purchase of land usually lists the person’s residence. It’s fairly common for a person to buy land a year or two before settling in that area. (This was to give time to prepare the land for cultivation, build a house, etc.)

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