April 13, 2024

Happy Statehood Day, Ohio!

Celebrating the State’s Rich and Diverse Past

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

Ohio’s heritage is on display as the Buckeye State marks 219 years since its founding.

On March 1, 1803, our first governor, Edward Tiffin, and the General Assembly met in Chillicothe to conduct state business for the first time. Zanesville also was home to the state’s capital before the establishment of Columbus in 1816.

More than a century later, thanks to the Wright Brothers, Ohio made its mark as the “Birthplace of Aviation.” 

Todd Kleismit, director of government and community relations for the nonprofit Ohio History Connection, pointed out there is a lot more to the state’s rich and diverse past.

“A lot of people associate Ohio history with things like the eight different presidents; we have a lot of astronauts; and pretty amazing American Indian heritage here,” Kleismit outlined. “But we also have hundreds, perhaps thousands of smaller stories, some stories that aren’t as well-known.”

A statehouse event today will showcase the importance of Ohio history and preservation efforts. It starts at 10 a.m. and will be livestreamed at ohiochannel.org.

Kleismit noted Statehood Day is also a chance to promote investments in protecting Ohio history, such as the Historic Preservation Tax Credit in Senate Bill 225. They will highlight Ohio’s role in the upcoming U.S. Semiquincentennial.

“At the national level, there’s a commission that is encouraging a lot of history related activities leading up to the 250th birthday of the United States July 4, 2026,” Kleismit emphasized. “Ohio is just starting that process to form a commission.”

The Ohio History Connection manages more than 50 historic sites and museums. Kleismit added understanding your community’s past can be relevant to your life. 

“Ultimately it comes down to personalizing the history,” Kleismit stated. “It’s probably something locally, it could be your own family genealogy, or it could be something that happened in your community at the local level.”

Chillicothe also will celebrate Statehood Day with an event Saturday.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.