In 2009, on the 150th wedding anniversary of my great-great-grandparents, whose weathered-lined faces and rural-landscaped lives I have only imagined, I created this website. The timing was purely coincidental.
It's is about them of course, Henry and Maria, but it was also designed to try and find relatives doing genealogy research on the web, particularly on Henry. It's hard to find information about him. My brother and I are pretty sure he was an orphan. At least that's what we've been told. About a year later, a distant cousin of mine from Europe found the site and contacted me. It was a quite a surprise. We traded lots of emails and I received some information, but nothing on Henry. The search goes on.
I noticed after awhile though, through my analytic program, that not many people were really interested in reading about Henry and Maria. Hard to believe, huh? So, I began adding historical documents of Cincinnati from the same time period and the site has been growing in interest every since.
The site contains an extensive collection of old maps. The earliest map of Cincinnati is the 1802 plan by Israel Ludlow. John Filson and Israel Ludlow were the surveyors that laid out the town's first streets. They say the soldiers from the fort raced their horses where Race Street is and that's how the street got its name. As for the other streets, I imagine when John began the initial survey work, dragging his chains through the forest in what is now downtown Cincinnati, he came upon a small grove of plumb trees and named the street to be there accordingly and did the same when he was among the Elms, Walnuts, Sycamores and tangled rash of vines.
Most of the maps are large digital files which allows for close inspection and easy reading. Many of the maps are hand-colored and true pieces of artwork. Make sure you take the time to notice the romantic outter egdes. Excellent art work can often be found there. I'm constantly adding maps, so, come back.
Thinking about the soldiers that raced through the trees, whipped along the way by their verdant fringes, I'm left to wonder if passing Indians ever happened upon them by accident and quietly watched from behind the giant hardwoods, bemused.
Cincinnati's First Newspapers
Twenty-seven-year-old William Maxwell stepped onto Cincinnati's muddy shoreline in 1793 with his printing press, papers and aspirations in tow. The town's fort was the launching point for the Indian war, and it was now in full swing. William was here for the struggle, the ripping away and the tearing apart, the blood spattered and spent.
The first issue of the paper is here on the site for viewing. It's easy to read, except for a slight anomaly in the font style. There's a letter in the font that is often substituted for a lower case s and looks alot like a lower case f. Typographers call it a Long "s'. It was used for centuries starting with the Roman's and fell out of favor in the early 1800's. The Long "s" was seldom placed at the end of a word. In the example, notice how the cross-stroke does not go all the way across in the words 'those' and 'souls.'.
After the war ended, William sold his paper and left town. He must have felt his work was done and it was time to press on. Maybe time to look for another struggle to overcome.
The first life of the city came into being, suddenly, within the boundless luminosity of John Filson's fertile imagination. Standing on its shoreline his eyes quietly lifted to the timbered fortress upon him. He wondered wonders that swirled like dandelion spores in the wind then they landed and grew in the crystalline architecture of his creative conscious. The canopy rang of diatonic bells and a different way of life fell from the trees and seeded in the forest floor. This is how the city began. It was imagined. Then along the river up on higher ground he drove the first survey stake and stretched the first line. "This will be the first street," he thought stepping backward in the thick, wet underbrush, unrolling his metal chain and fishing it between the trees. "I'll call it First Street." Then in a midsummer sweat of thirst and hard work came second, third, fourth and fifth.
Sadly, a few months later, deep inside the forest just north of the new city, he was pursued and killed by Indians. Once, he wrote about what it was like to be chased by the American native. "No human warrior more violently pursues the unhappy objects of their rage, than savages." "In flight I often turned my eyes from behind some ancient friendly tree, to view some bloodthirsty savage, in full chase, with his terrible right hand, to lodge me in the land of silence." And into that land he was violently hurled in the fall of 1788 while mapping and exploring the northern basin of the Great Miami River.
You've probably never heard of John Filson. Not many have. Words of his courage and selflessness, his dedication, the bravery and all of the passion that went with it go unspoken by the city he tossed from his mentality.