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possessed many of the fantastic ideas as to the Unknown Western Land, common to the age in which he lived. For instance, he had a firm belief that the Mississippi River emptied itself into the Vermillion Sea, and he thought that by floating on its bosom to its mouth he could finally reach China and India. Full of that spirit of dash and daring, partaking of religious enthusiasm, he mixed with it the keen and shrewd sense of a commercial trader. His residence was at Montreal, which he named La Chine (China), with the idea of his ultimate point to be reached in discovery. At his home at La Chine, there came to visit him in 1667 the Iroquois, who told him glowing stories about a great river, which, on account of its beauty, the Indians called Oyo. They told of its wonderful length and width, of its rare splendor, of the rich valley through which it passed as it flowed, unvexed, on its long, long way to the sea. La Salle's ambitions were aroused. He saw for himself and France new conquests and enlargement of territory. His passion for new fields of discovery was as strong as his youth was fresh, and at the age of twenty-six he started to find the beautiful river of the Iroquois — the Ohio.
He sold La Chine, and equipping himself with the proceeds, he started on his journey. This was in the summer of 1669. He has left no record of his wonderful mission, but it is settled beyond dispute that on this trip he discovered the Ohio River, and descended upon its waters to the falls, or where Louisville now stands.
This, and other discoveries by La Salle, with those of his contemporary adventurers, vested in France the title of the Mississippi Valley; and on the ninth day of April, 1682, he asserted its ownership by right of discovery and possession. In honor of his sovereign, Louis XIV, he named the immense territory Louisiana France claimed the area of what now constitutes Ohio under that title, and held it until the treaty of Paris in 1763, when it came into possession of Great Britain. Thus ended a century and a half of intrigue, bloodshed, and continual strife between the French and the English over the occupancy of and title to the Northwest Territory.
The object of the early expeditions of the French into the territory northwest of the Ohio River was not that of permanent settlement. Their purpose, and their trading stations, always temporary, were simply for commerce. They established trading posts as early as 1680 on the Maumee River, near where Toledo now stands. “La Salle had for several years,” before 1679, "employed canoes for his trade on the rivers Oyo (Ohio) and Oubache (Wabash ) and others in the surrounding neighborhood which flow into the river Mississippi.” He went to France in 1677, and secured from the king the monopoly of the purchase and sale of buffalo skins, and was the first extensive fur trader of the West.
French trading stations were established at various points in Ohio, along Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Soon came the conflict of the two races of powers, the old story of the two civilizations. As early as 1730, the English commenced establishing stations on what the French claimed was their territory. In 1745, the Pennsylvanians and the Virginians began to roam into the territory of Louisiana. Gradually rivals for territory were approaching each other, and with French and English, this meant war. It always has. Subsequent events proved that history is simply a repetition of the past.
The first English-speaking settlement ever made in Ohio, was established at the mouth of Laramie's Creek on the Great Miami River, in what is now Shelby County. It was called Pickawillany, and was settled in 1749, but lasted only until June, 1752, when the French with their allies, the Chippewas and Ottawas, attacked the post. The result was the first massacre of white settlers in Ohio. All the traders, with the exception of two, were either killed or captured, and their Indian friends, the Miamis, were treated likewise.
In 1748, a party of English and Virginia gentle· men organized the “Ohio Land Company” for the
purpose of settling the newly discovered Ohio Valley. The Virginians were Lawrence and Augustine Washington and Thomas Lee, and the principal Englishman was a Mr. Hanberry, of London. This was the first intelligent effort to bring that country into usefulness. This company must not be confounded with the celebrated and more successful “Ohio Company” of a later date. Christopher Gist, a young Virginian, headed the first exploring parties of the “ Ohio Land Company” in 1750.
His journey must be looked upon as a striking piece of adventure and romance. The record of his strange tour has been published as “A Journal of Christopher Gist's journey from Colonel Cresap's at the old town on the Potomac River, Maryland, October 31, 1750, continued down the Ohio within fifteen
miles of the falls thereof; and from thence to the Roanoke River in North Carolina, where he arrived in May, 1751." The immensity of the undertaking can scarcely be realized at this late day. To be fully appreciated, it must be remembered that he journeyed through a pathless forest, much of which was unknown even to the Indian tribes of that day. The feeble traces of an Indian trail were all he had to guide him. The subsequent adventures of Indian fighters, accompanied as they were by armed companions, seem tame to the brave explorations of Christopher Gist. He came over the mountains from his starting point, and crossed the Ohio River at about Pittsburgh, striking for the interior of Ohio, and following a trail, he passed the Muskingum River at Dresden, where an Indian town was then located; crossing the Licking and Hockhocking Rivers, he traveled down the Scioto, until he reached Shawnee town, which was an Indian settlement below where Portsmouth now stands. This town of a once famous tribe, was located on both sides of the Ohio River. It was composed of “about forty houses on the south side of the river, and about a hundred houses on the north side, with a kind of state house about ninety feet long, with a tight cover of bark, in which councils were held.”
He reached this point on the 28th day of January, 1751, thence he continued his journey westward, until he reached the falls of the Ohio, when he returned by way of the Cumberland Mountains to his home in North Carolina. Strange to say, he was peacefully received by the Indians through whose territory he passed. He reported to his principals the story of
his travels; the most seducing tales of the country and rich romances failed, however, to start settlements north of the Ohio River. Thus the wild and romantic journey of Christopher Gist, worthy of much good results, was barren of everything except that of publishing to the Virginians that the wilderness of the northwest was worth attention. His travels, however, had the effect of producing among the Indians a kind and friendly disposition toward the white man.
These journeys and attempted settlements by the English colonists aroused the attentions, as well as the jealousies, of the French. They regarded the territory within the limits of what is now Ohio, as their own. As early as 1749, to fix formally their boundaries, they implanted all along the Ohio River, leaden inscriptions assertive of their authority. It was but natural, then, that they viewed with concern the reckless inroads of the English, or, more properly speaking, the American Colonists. The result of this conflict of authority was the determination of both parties to assert their dominion over the disputed territory.
Upon the complaint of the Ohio Company to Lord Dinwiddie, Governor of Virginia, Washington, in 1753, then a young man of twenty-two, was sent to negotiate with the French. The result was unsatisfactory. The next year the Ohio Company, still tenacious of its rights, sent a Captain Trent with thirty-three men to build a fort where Pittsburg now stands. This, of course, was war to the French. Accordingly, a thousand Frenchmen under Captain Contrecoeur came down the Alleghany, and capturing