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Ohio Genealogy Research

Where to Find Records, Plus Tracking Migration Patterns


The records created by various county courts and offices can be found in different places. Some still sit in the courthouse (possibly in the attic). Some counties have opened county record centers that house the older records of various county agencies.

Ohio also has a network of region archives called the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers (ONAHRC). Researchers will find the county records of a region of Ohio. Obviously, this can make researching mobile ancestors a bit more convenient.

The archives and libraries in the ONAHRC are:

Whence They Came: A Look at Migration Patterns

Ohio was an early gateway to the west. Land and resources were plentiful and relatively cheap. These factors, along with claims in the state made by Virginia and Connecticut, enticed settlers to the Buckeye state.

The first permanent white settlement in the Northwest Territory was at Marietta, Washington County in 1788. Located in the Ohio Company Purchase, Marietta drew people from New England. As the land opened up a bit more, the rest of southeastern Ohio drew people from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

Northeastern Ohio is home to the Connecticut Western Reserve. This land, once claimed by the state of Connecticut, became home to many New Englanders and later to Pennsylvanians. Southern and southwestern Ohio saw a great influx of people from Kentucky and Virginia.

Northwest Ohio was the last part of the state to be settled. After the great swamps were drained, the area became home to people from all over Ohio, as well as New England and the mid-Atlantic states.

Immigrants also made their way to Ohio. Germans settled throughout the state, settling in both urban and rural areas. The center of the state became home to many English and Canadians. Irish settled in various places, especially in areas where they could find work in factories, mines or on the canals and railroads. Immigrants from eastern and southern Europe came in the later part of the 19th century and settled in industrial centers, such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Youngstown.

Ohio's license plates read, "Ohio: The Heart of It All." In many ways, this is true in a genealogical sense. With a long history, a diverse population and multiple migration trails, Ohio has a variety of records. Even better, these records are open and available. Researchers are fortunate if they have Ohio ancestors.

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