When Columbus was created on the east bank of the Scioto River by the state legislature in 1812, most of the land was still covered with dense hardwood forest. On the west bank of the river, the village of Franklinton, established in 1797, was settled by families from Virginia and Kentucky. To the north of Columbus, along the High Trail Indian path (later High Street), the village of Worthington was founded by New Englanders in 1803. Positioned between these early villages, the area of North Columbus became a popular trading center in central Ohio. By the 1840s, Columbus entrepreneur William Neil owned at least part of all of the stagecoach lines that ran through North Columbus and the rest of Ohio as well.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Columbus became Ohio’s main mobilization and training hub for Union soldiers. Camp Thomas was established in North Columbus to train new regiments for service in the Western Theater. A year later, General Lew Wallace (later the author of Ben Hur) established Camp Wallace near Camp Thomas.
Another important development during the Civil War permanently changed the city of Columbus: the Morrill Act. Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act authorized each state to received federal land to be used to supported colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts. The Ohio General Assembly accepted the offer in 1864 and in 1870, the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (later renamed the Ohio State University) received its charter. Classes begin in 1873 on the new campus, erected on the site of the old William Neil farm.
Ohio’s New Learning Standards: K-12 Social Studies
Content Statement 3: Local communities change over time.
Content Statement 5: Daily life is influenced by the agriculture, industry and natural resources in different communities.
Content Statement 7: Systems of transportation and communication move people, products and ideas from place to place.
Content Statement 3: Various groups of people have lived in Ohio over time including prehistoric and historic American Indians, migrating settlers and immigrants. Interactions among these groups have resulted in both cooperation and conflict.
Ohio’s Learning Standards: Social Studies
Content Statement 1. Events in local history can be shown on timelines organized by years, decades, and centuries.
Content Statement 2. Primary sources such as artifacts, maps, and photographs can be used to show change over time.
Content Statement 3. Local communities change over time.
Content Statement 3. Various groups of people have lived in Ohio over time including prehistoric and historic American Indians, migrating settlers and immigrants. Interactions among these groups have resulted in both cooperation and conflict.
Content Statement 14. Ohio’s location and its transportation systems continue to influence the movement of people, products and ideas in the United States.
Content Statement 15. The movement of people, products and ideas resulted in new patterns of settlement and land use that influenced the political and economic development of the United States.
Identify the first groups who settled along Alum Creek and describe the evidence of their settlement.
Identify the first white settlers to arrive in the Alum Creek area and discuss their contributions to the area.
Analyze the significance of the National Road in local and national history.
Explain how the Bexley area has changed over time and how it has stayed the same.
1. Who were the first inhabitants of the area along Alum Creek? What evidence of settlement did they leave behind?
2. Who were the first white settlers to arrive to in the Alum Creek area? What contributions did they make to the area?
3. When did the National Road arrive in Columbus? Why was the National Road significant in the development of the American West?
4. What evidence of Bexley’s past remains today? How was the Bexley area of the past different from modern-day Bexley?
Have students create an illustrated timeline showing the settlement of the area along Alum Creek beginning with the Adenas and ending with the creation of the National Road. Students can create their timeline on paper or using an electronic timeline builder such as Time Toast or Read Write Think.
Have students research the population growth of cities along the National Road. Students can create bar graphs showing the population of cities and draw conclusions about the relationship between the National Road and population growth in these cities.