Ohio has a history full of interesting people, places and firsts that match our natural landscape of rolling hills, rich farmlands, and thick forests. Early in Ohio's history the area was a destination spot for people coming from someplace else. That means many of the city and county names are names that came from someplace else. It was also a place where Native Americans lived and when French and English explorers came here they used those names on their map. That's why so many names are almost unpronoucible to those visiting. Don't worry if you're not from Ohio, everyone mispronounces words that Native Ohioans have been saying all their lives.
We have been called the Mother of Presidents, the Birthplace of Aviation, and the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad. In 1984 the slogan "Ohio, the Heart of it All" was forced upon every Ohio registered automobile as a way of promoting Ohio tourism. That particularly ingratiating phrase (what actually are we the Heart of?) was replaced with a more descriptive phrase "Ohio, So Much to Discover." For my taste, I like the simple Buckeye State, a descriptive phrase that actually predates The Ohio State University, which has co-opted the phrase and have probably copyrighted it.
As Ohioans, we have a rich heritage that we enjoy sharing with the rest of the country and the world. The following items are little pieces of Ohio trivia that some people may not know about Ohio.
Ohio's was the 17th state admitted to the Union and its official birthday is March 1, 1803. It was the land carved out of the expansive Northwest Territory to become a state. Two of its borders are natural boundaries (Lake Erie and the Ohio River). The southern border is actually at a point out in the river about 20 feet or so. That point is where the Ohio River's low water mark on its northern side on 1792-1793. Since that time the river has been expanded by building a series of dams and locks to make it more navigable year-round. Its eastern boundary is the western edge of Pennsylvania. Ohio's western border is formed from a line running due north from the confluence of the Ohio and the Great Miami River to a point that intersects an imaginary line running from the southern extreme of Lake Michigan.
This purely horizontal line that was established in the legislative act known as the Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1787. When Ohio petitioned the government for statehood, that line was shifted north to include the Maumee River. When the government accepted Ohio's petition, they also accepted this new boundary line. However, many years later when Michigan petitioned for statehood, they discovered that the true Northwest Ordinance boundary line had been altered, which when discovered, almost led to war between Ohio and Michigan.
When Ohio petitioned the government for statehood, they decided to make the official northern border to include all of Toledo and the Maumee River. When the state was admitted to the Union in 1803, that was the boundary accepted. Thirty-two years later, when Michigan was making its petition to the government for admission as a state, its surveyors discovered that the actual east/west line should be south of Toledo which at that time had already become a major shipping terminus on the Miami-Erie Canal.
Many threats were tossed back and forth between Michigan and Ohio politicians. Surveyors tried to determine the true border based on the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which declared that the Michigan Territory extended as far south as the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The dispute heated up, mostly in the bars of Toledo, but nothing came of the threats and the only casualty of the brief conflict was Michigan's Monroe County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Wood, who was wounded when he tried to arrest a man at a bar and he was stabbed in the leg.
As 1835 dragged on, residents of Toledo organized an election to transfer the political jurisdiction of the lower Maumee from the Michigan Territory to Ohio. After this, Michigan Gov. Stevens T. Mason, sent troops into the area. Ohio Gov. Robert Lucas called out the Ohio militia.
Ultimately, the dispute was settled by President Andrew Jackson in favor of Ohio. In 1836 the U.S. Congress compensated Michigan for the loss of the Toledo Strip by awarding Michigan the Upper Peninsula and admission to statehood a year later after further political wrangling. As a result of this, the Ohio state legislature organized most of the disputed area into Lucas County and firmly established Ohio's northwest border where it currently exists.
When the Ohio state convention agreed to petition the Union for admittance on November 29, 1802, they felt they had everything in order. Congress also believed everything was in order and approved Ohio's petition on February 19, 1803. However, the 8th United States Congress missed a critical step. Adding a state to the Union required the congressional ratification of Ohio's State Constitution. The Constitution of Ohio had been presented to congress, but for whatever reason congress failed to take the necessary ratification step. Without congressional approval of the state constitution, Ohio technically remained part of the Northwest Territory.
From 1803 onward that fact got lost in the dust bin of history and there it would have remained were it not for some legal eyed, history minded Representatives in the 83rd Congress that raised the issue of Ohio's statehood. They brought up the fact that there were some illegal members of the Senate and the House now occupying seats in Congress that they should not legally occupy.
After some discussion, Ohio Representative George H. Bender introduced some legislation in January 1953 to retroactively grant statehood to Ohio. On May 19, 1953, the House voted to approve legislation that ratified the original state constitution, effectively admitting Ohio to the Union as of March 1, 1803. President Dwight Eisenhower signed this legislation into law on August 7, 1953.
Yet, is Ohio really a state? That depends. If Ohio wasn't legally a state, was Representative George H. Bender who had been serving as a US Representative since 1938, and who would later become an Ohio Senator, legally a US Representative when he introduced that specific piece of legislation? Could this be a case for the Supreme Court? We will probably never know the answer to that question.
So if you missed celebrating Ohio's birthday on March 1, you can always send a card on August 7.
Ohio's state flag is really not technically a "flag"— it's a burgee! A burgee is a triangular shaped pennant that is more often associated with maritime flags.
We're not sure that John Eisemann was aware of this or not when he first presented his flag to fly over the Ohio Building pavilion in 1901, but our guess is that he did. Coming from Cleveland and being around Lake Erie, John probably was aware of this distinction, however, the Ohio legislature probably didn't realize the distinction when the adopted his design.
John Eisemann was the architect that designed the Ohio Building for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. His flag was simply an ornamentation to top off his design. The Ohio Legislature liked it, and finally adopted the flag's design as the official Ohio State Flag in 1902. More about the Ohio State Flag>>
Speaking of flags, back in the late 1950s the United States was in need of a new flag. We as a country were growing. Alaska had just been added as our 49th state, and Hawaii was just about ready to be admitted. The old 48 star flag need updating.
That's when 17 year old Bob Heft decided to give it a try for a class project. He later told a UPI reporter in 1988 that he spent about 12 hours or so on the project. His teacher, Stanley Pratt, gave him B- for his efforts which Bob felt wasn't good enough considering all the effort he had put in and he told his teacher so. After some discussion between student and teacher, it was agreed IF Bob could convince the United States Congress to accept his flag design as the official flag of the country, his grade might be reconsidered.
Did you know that the current American flag was designed by Robert Heft who was living with his grandparents in Lancaster, Ohio. It was just before Alaska's admission to the Union in 1958 and before Hawaii was admitted in 1959.
The 17 year old Heft was in search of a class project when he thought of redesigning the American Flag in light of the recent addition of Alaska as a state. His teacher, Stanley Pratt, told Heft that his design lacked originality and gave him a -B on the project. Pratt told him, he could improve that -B grade if he would submit the flag to their local U.S. Congressman Walter Moeller. Bob felt that was fair enough and simple enough to do, so he did it and got his grade bumped to an A. But that wasn't the end of the story.
Congressman Moeller after receiving Bob's flag, passed it on to the chairman of the Congressional Flag Design Committee, who also liked it. Based on the recommendation from the committee, President Eisenhower made the design the official American flag on July 4, 1960.
Since it's adoption as the official U.S. 50-star flag, that particular flag that Robert Heft created back in 195i as a class project has flown over all 50 state capitals and is the only flag in American history to have flown over the White House for under five different administrations.?
Robert Heft, the teenager from Lancaster, Ohio, would become famous and travel the country giving speeches about his accomplishment. He would also become Mayor of Napoleon Ohio. Robert Heft died in 2009. In 2003, an Ohio Historical Marker #5-23 titled The Fifty Star Flag: A Symbol of America was placed in front of Robert's old high school in Lancaster commemorating his accomplishment as a student at the school.
You've probably heard this law at some time:
"If something can go wrong, it will go wrong"
While the saying can be attested to a team of Air Force engineers conducting tests at what is now Edwards Air Force Base in California, the name Murphy's Law was in reference to Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr. stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.
Captain Murphy was one of the engineers working on the rocket sled tests being conducted in California. When one of the lab technicians improperly wired a sensor being used in the experiments, Captain Murphy commented:
If there is any way to do it wrong, he will.
Thus was created Murphy's Law.
Thomas Edison born in Milan Ohio, developed not only the first light bulb, but also the phonograph, motion picture camera.
Wilberforce University became the nation's first college owned and operated by African-Americans in 1856.
The Wright Brothers became the first men to fly in a powered airplane that they designed in their bicycle shop in Dayton.
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. His boyhood home is in Cambridge Ohio.
Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon in 1969. Neil was from Wapakoneta.
That phrase was created in 1984 by the Ohio Division of Travel and tourism to promote Ohio tourism. The phrase was adopted for several reasons, chief among them was that the geographic shape of the state has a heart shape. Also, because Ohio offers so much to do and see, they figured "it" best described everything.
The phrase was replaced in the early 2000s by a new slogan: "Ohio, So Much to Discover." Another politically correct phrase equally forgettable. We prefer the phrase: "the heart of America". Now we don't have any say over what the Ohio tourism department says or does, but we think our phrase says everything you need to know about Ohio.
Much debate has been had on when and where the first pro football game occurred. What can be said is that there were a lot of amateur and collegiate football clubs learning the fine points of a new game that was basically a combination of rugby and soccer that was called football. Most of these football clubs were located in the east. In 1903 pro football gained popularity in Ohio when the Massillon Tigers, a strong amateur team, hired four Pittsburgh pros to play in the season-ending game against Akron. This was at a time when professional football had been declining in the Pittsburgh area. It was this move that sparked a new interest in the game that help boost the game from the semi-pro / amateur status. Over the next 17 years the sport would grow and began attracting more skilled players, especially in Ohio. In September, 1920, the American Professional Football Association (which would be the direct forerunner of the National Football League) was formed in Canton, Ohio just down the road from where the Massillon Tigers played their games. Today Canton is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1948 her parents immigrated from China just before the Communist takeover. Less than 10 years later the young family arrived in Athens, Ohio so her father Henry could teach at Ohio University. A year later Maya Lin Ying was born. She would later speak of her days in southern Ohio as a solitary time where she spent most of her free time playing and exploring in the university's art department learning the science of metal casting.
In 1975 the Vietnam War ended for the United States. Four years later the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was established to create a memorial for American Veterans that fought and died in that war. Congress authorized setting aside 3 acres of land to be used for the memorial and in December of 1980 a design competition for that memorial was opened. Of the 1500 entries, Maya Lin Ying, the little girl who spent her free time studying sculpture in Ohio University's art department, had submitted the winning design.
Maya Lin was just 21 years old when she was notified that her design had been selected. Her black cut-stone masonry wall would have the names of 58, 272 soldiers. The V-shaped wall is set below ground level symbolizing an open wound in America. Today the site has become a pilgrimage site for survivors of the war, for families of the victims, and for those wishing to pay homage to the sacrifices made. Read more about the memorial and Maya Lin Ying >>
What makes Geraldine special, besides being a wife and mother with 3 children, it's not that she was manager of Columbus' Port Columbus, that she was a pilot, and it's not that she once complained to her husband about not having anything interesting to do to occupy her time. What makes Geraldine special is that with only 500 hours of solo flight time under her belt, that she decided to fly around the world solo at the suggestion of her husband.
Geraldine Mock (Jerrie) became the first woman to solo around the world in 1964 flying an old 1953 Cessna 180 that she christened "The Spirit of Columbus". The flight took a total of 30 days and she covered 22,858 miles in 158 actual flying hours.
Jerrie Mock set the record for the first woman to fly solo around the world, she also set some other unofficial records: first woman to fly from the US to Africa via the North Atlantic, first woman to fly across the Pacific in a single engine aircraft, the first woman to fly the Pacific from west to east, and the first woman to fly both the Atlantic and the Pacific
Today her plane is located in in the National Air and Space Museum.
According to meteorologists who track such things, the snowiest big city in the United States is actually... Denver Colorado. I know, I know, you thought maybe I was going to say something like, say Cleveland. Actually, Cleveland is the 2nd Snowiest Big City in the United States according to Forbes who has the time to compile such meaningful lists. With 59.3" of snow falling in Cleveland each winter on average over the last 50 years, gives it the dubious title of 2nd Snowiest Place in the United States (that includes Alaska and Hawaii). How much more snow does Denver average than Cleveland to garner that Number 1 Ranking you might ask? Well, 7 tenths of an inch is all it takes. Don't worry Cleveland, there's always next year.
In 2010, in Forbe's Top Ten List of "America's Worst Winter Weather Cities, "Cleveland was awarded the number ranking.
When cities of all size are considered in the contest, a town probably nobody ever heard of, Valdez, Alaska, came in first with 27' falling annually. Cleveland dropped out of the top 10 listing to 11th position.
Two Standard Oil men, B.A. Mathews and H.S. Hollingsworth, recognized the opportunity the new horseless carriages meant for the new century. To take advantage of this opportunity, the 2 men created America’s first ever service station in Columbus.
Not too many years ago (1998) Ohio had its FIRST WOMAN GOVERNOR. She actually only held office for less than a month, but she was officially the governor of Ohio. Her name: Nancy Putnam Hollister and she was sworn in as our 66th governor on December 31, 1998.
Hollister was governor George Voinovich's Lieutenant Governor. Voinovich's term was almost up and he wanted to be sworn into office as a US Senate so he resigned his governor's office so he could be sworn in on January 1, 1999. Upon Governor Voinovich's resignation, Hollister became Ohio's chief executive. Hollister was the first woman to become governor. Her term was a short one, however, lasting only eleven days from late December 1998 to early January 1999. Bob Taft, whom voters elected in November 1998, took office in January 1999.
Besides being the birthplace of aviation, the Mother of Presidents, Ohio has also been the Mother of lot of other folks whose names have been put in the history books and the lights of the silver screen.
Here's some you may or may not have heard about:
Dean Martin--born in Steubenville in 1917, was a high-school drop out, a whiskey runner, a boxer, and a steel mill worker. He went on to become one of the most famous singers, movie actor and TV personality of the 50s and 60s.
Clark Gable-- born in 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio.
Paul Newman-- born in 1925 near Cleveland.
Roy Rogers-- famous TV cowboy, was born in 1911 in Cincinnati.
Pat Brady -- born in Toledo was Roy Rogers sidekick on the Roy Rogers TV show
Bob Hope -- although Bob Hope wasn't actually born in Ohio (he was born in England) he and his family moved to Cleveland when he was 5 years old.
Sarah Jessica Parker-- was born in Nelsonville in 1965.
Anne Heche-- born in Aurora in 1965.
Martin Sheen-- born 1940 in Dayton.
Steven Spielberg-- was born in Cincinnati in 1947.
Halle Berry-- was born in Cleveland in 1966.
Katie Holmes-- born in Toledo in 1978
Drew Carey-- was born in Cleveland, but in 1958.
Jamie Farr-- known for his character Klinger in the TV show MASH, was born in Toledo.
Henry Mancini-- born in Cleveland in 1924.
Erma Bombeck-- the great American humorist was born in Dayton in 1927 and is buried under a big rock in Dayton that was brought back to Ohio from her home in Arizona.
Toni Morrison-- this Pulitzer Prize winning author was born in Lorain Ohio in 1931.
Gloria Steinem-- founding editor of MS Magazine and co-founder of the modern feminist movement was born in Toledo in 1934.
Jack Paar-- host of the Tonight Show before Johnny Carson, was born in Canton in 1918.
Phil Donahue-- was born in Cleveland in 1935 and was the first to introduce talk-tv with his show The Phil Donahue Show in Dayton Ohio, which became the longest continuous run syndicated talk show in U.S. television history.
Paul Lynde-- a long time TV and movie comedian was born in Mount Vernon in 1927
Margaret Hamilton-- a name that most people won't recognize until you mention a character she played in the movies: The Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz movie with Judy Garland. She was born in Cleveland in 1902.
Gordon Jump-- is another actor whose name you probably don't recognize, but will recognize the character he played from hit TV show WKRP in Cincinnati which aired in the mid 70s. He played the role of the station manager, Arthur Carlson. Later in his life, he also played the lonely Maytag Repairman role in many television commercials. Gordon was born in Dayton in 1932.
Allison Janney-- played the press secretary C.J. Cregg on the television series The West Wing and a staring role in the TV comedy CBS Mom was also born in Dayton in 1960.
Doris Day-- was born in Cincinnati in 1924. Known as the ""All-American Girl." Her movie career began in 1948 which established her as both an accomplished singer and movie star.
Ted Turner-- founder of CNN, TCM, and TNT was also born in Cincinnati in 1938.
Gates McFadden-- she played the chief medical officer Beverly Crusher in the TV series: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Born in Cuyahoga Falls in 1949.
Nancy Wilson-- has recorded over 60 albums, half of which have appeared on the Billboard charts, was born in Chillicothe Ohio in 1937, but grew up in Columbus where she graduated from West High School.
Rosemary Clooney-- singer, movie actress, and TV host. Born in Kentucky, but moved with her family to Cincinnati when she was 13. She is George Clooney's aunt.
Phyllis Diller-- female comedienne, stage performer and actress, was born in Lima Ohio in 1917.
Lillian Gish-- movie actress, stage performer and the first female director in 1920 was born in Springfield in 1893.
Annie Oakley-- born in Woodland Ohio (now known as Willowdell) in 1860 became known as a highly skilled sharpshooter. "Little Sure Shot" was the name that Sioux Chief Sitting Bull gave her when he saw her shooting skills.
Ruby Dee-- born in Cleveland in 1924. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen productions.
Teri Garr-- television and movie actress was born in Lakewood, Ohio in 1947.
Luke Perry-- actor, directory and producer was born in Mansfield Ohio in 1965.
Jim Backus-- was born in 1913 in Cleveland. Although he played in numerous movies and television productions, he will probably be best remembered for his role on Gilligan's Island as Thurston Howell III.
Joel Grey-- singer and actor, was born in Cleveland in 1932.
Tim Conway-- born in 1933 in Willoughby. He is both a well known actor and writer.
Joe Flynn-- born in Youngstown in 1924, perhaps best known as "Old Leadbottom" on the hit TV series McHale's Navy that first aired in the early 1960s.
Molly Shannon-- who gained fame on Saturday Night Live in 1975 was born in 1964 in Shaker Heights.
Ernest Tidyman-- a novelist and screenwriter, best known for his screenplay The French Connection. Ernest was born in Cleveland in 1928.
Chad Lowe-- was born in Dayton in 1968. He is the younger brother of Rob Lowe and he is an actor, director and producer.
Michael Pataki-- born in Youngstown in 1938, had an acting career that spanned 50 years on both the silver screen and television.