Tshilikauthee- Chalaakaatha – Chelecothe – Chillicothe! A name with a special sound and meaning chosen from the Shawnee Indian language and denoting its meaning- “principal town.” Founded in 1796 by Colonel Nathaniel Massie, just above the confluence of Paint Creek and the Scioto River, he laid out the village to be called Chillicothe.
In 1800, the United State Congress designated Chillicothe as the capital of the “eastern section” of the Northwest Territory. Two years later the State Constitutional Convention was held in Chillicothe and in 1803, when Ohio entered the Union, Chillicothe became the first state capital. Consequently, Chillicothe is home to four of the State’s Governors, all four of whom are buried in Chillicothe at the beautiful Grandview Cemetery.
Ohio’s transportation systems were key to its prominent position in the State. The construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal in 1831 made Chillicothe a major canal port and offered Ross County farmers adequate shipping of their crops to market. The canal system combined with the construction of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad attracted many new settlers from Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. One of these settlers was Colonel Daniel Mead, who purchased a paper making plant in 1890 eventually becoming the nationally known Mead Corporation – now Pixelle Specialty Solutions.
The build up of World War I in 1917 resulted in the construction of Camp Sherman in Ross County. In three months, the city’s population jumped from 17,000 to 60,000. Much of the original Camp Sherman is currently occupied by the Veterans Administration, Hopewell Culture National Historic Park and two state correctional facilities.
Through the State Seal, Chillicothe and Ross County have left their mark on the state and its history. The first seal designed in 1803 was inspired by the sunrise coming from behind the hills east of Chillicothe as viewed from Adena State Memorial, Thomas Worthington’s hilltop estate. The recent designation of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks World Heritage Site, in which four of the major complexes are in Ross County, and the historical neighborhoods and downtown shopping district in the city make Chillicothe a great place to visit. Our rich historical past provides a source of pride for the community.
More information at the Ross-Chillicothe Visitors Bureau.