The Buckeye Tree will always be associated with Ohio because the Ohio Territory was the first area to be settled after the Revolutionary War. When these early settlers arrived here, one of the things they first noticed were the buckeye trees.
Buckeye trees did not grow east of Ohio and so this was a new tree for the early pioneers. The tree requires a moist soil that was commonly found throughout much of Ohio. The name for the tree originates from the seed the tree produces each fall. It is a glossy dark brown color that resembles the eyes of deer, hence the "buck" eye.
Some might think the Buckeye tree is only found in Ohio. This is mostly true, but it is found elsewhere, just not in as great of numbers as here. This was particularly true back in the days when explorers, surveyors and settlers were first arriving here.
The term buckeye is an Anglicized form of an Indian term for the nuts. They called them "HETUCK” which meant "eye of the buck" because of the resemblance in color and shape between the brown nut and the eye of a large deer.
In the early days of the state, the term was used as a slam against those living in Ohio, like being called a "hick" or a "rube" those living in Ohio were called "buckeyes." When William Henry Harrison began his run to become President, his opponents went out their way to make him look like a hick. They printed illustrations of Harrison sitting in a rocker in front of a log cabin. Harrison decided to turn this attack into a positive and he rolled out his Log Cabin campaign. He had some amber bottles made in the shape of a log cabin, filled them with whiskey and gave them away as he campaigned for office. He also gave away buckeyes, so if someone wasn't lucky enough to get a bottle of whiskey, they probably got a buckeye. During the convention, all of his associates wore buckeye necklaces and Harrison walked around with a can made from a buckeye tree. Harrison eventually won the election, but unfortunately, he died shortly after taking office. Thanks to his presidential campaign the buckeye became a permanent part of Ohio tradition.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the Buckeye Tree seeds were historically thought to bring good fortune, plus, it held could cure rheumatism and other minor ailments. "Pioneering farm families also made soap from the kernels of buckeye seeds, and many a child's cradle was carved from the wood of this tree. Before the advent of synthetic materials, buckeye wood was used to make artificial limbs."