THE OHIO FRONTIER by R. Douglas Hurt


Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830
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 Hurt (Agricultural History and Rural Studies/Iowa State Univ.) draws a plodding timeline in prose, tracing the conquest and settlement of Ohio by Native and then European Americans. Before 1720, Ohio was mostly uninhabited. Only the Erie ``Cat Nation,'' Iroquoian-speaking Indians who lived along Lake Erie, occupied even a small part of the vast territory. When the lucrative and insatiable European appetite for beaver pelt exhausted the supply further east, however, Indian trappers from the Five Iroquois Nations attacked the Erie and gained control of their rich beaver source. The first whites to venture into the area were fur traders and missionaries, the former group plying the Indians with liquor and teaching them English, often swear words, while the missionaries attempted to save the Indians' souls. Many of the Indians did in fact convert to Christianity, although it didn't protect them from the brutality of their white neighbors. In one particularly gruesome incident, Christian Delaware Indians sang hymns as more than 90 men, women, and children were taken in groups of two and three and slaughtered by their American captors. Many broken treaties later, the Ohio territory was settled by an odd mixture of refined New Englanders and rough-and-ready frontiersmen, which made for an unusual--and uneasy--social mix. Eventually, however, the people of Ohio developed into a settled and fairly prosperous group, and the frontier continued westward. This isn't an inherently boring subject; in fact, it is filled with both harrowing and amusing aspects. But Hurt presents it as a litany of names, dates, and places--and sometimes crops, livestock, and diseases--with precious little of either analysis or drama. (20 b&w photos, 5 maps)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-253-33210-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996


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