EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The war history of Hancock County has long neglected one chapter whose record has not received much attention over the years. Yet it is important and as deserving of interest as all the other chapters. It is related to a significant episode in the history of the Buckeye State.
Ohio and Michigan were on the verge of war with each other in 1835, only seven years after Hancock had become an organized county. The issue at stake was the boundary between the two states in the vicinity of Toledo and westward to the Indiana line. Troops were called out and were ready to engage in actual combat, when a settlement was reached.
A company of Findlay and Hancock County men responded to the call for troops and left their homes for the “front.”
The various county histories that have been published through the years provide no information about this phase of Hancock County’s military record. The only reference we have ever come across concerning this situation is found in the historical writings of the late Miss Florence Blackford, who for two or three years contributed to the columns of the old Morning Republican each week articles dealing with interesting phases of Findlay and Hancock County history. This was just prior to the turn of the century, some 65 years ago (from 1963). Her grandfather, Price Blackford, had settled in Findlay, and much of what she wrote came directly from his recollections, as passed along through the family. Her father was the late Jason Blackford, a prominent Findlay lawyer for many years.
The boundary dispute of 1835 became known as the Toledo War, even though there actually was no embattled engagement fought. Histories of the state of Ohio give a number of pages to the disagreement, which had to be finally settled by presidential action at Washington to avoid bloodshed.
No formal record exists of the names of the members of the Hancock County company that left home to join other Ohio forces to defend the state’s claims. Miss Blackford was able to obtain the names of a number of the participants, though, from pioneers still living in the 1890s in the local community. The company was commanded by Capt. Jonathan Parker, who was one of the early settlers here and who became one of the city’s leading citizens. A number of his descendants still reside here.
The whole controversy grew out of the establishment of a line between Ohio and Michigan at the time they were becoming states. On the outcome hinged the important matter of whether Toledo was going to be located in Michigan or Ohio. Involved also was the location of other Ohio areas further east.
The famous ordinance of 1787 made the first reference to boundary lines in the region; and when Ohio became a state in 1803, Congress further defined the boundary between Ohio and what was then the territory of Michigan. Portions of the boundary descriptions referred to lakes Michigan and Ohio. But there was little authentic information then as to exact measurements of geographical positions of the lakes. So when it came to actually running the boundary line, Michigan thought Ohio took in too much territory that she thought belonged to the northern area.
The strip that was in controversy measured five miles in width at the extreme western end and eight miles at the east end. It was rich farm land, but its chief “charm,” as one history says, was the harbor where Toledo is now situated. Michigan’s claims, if allowed, would have made the city of Toledo a part of that state. Further east, parts of Ohio’s northern counties in that area would have been taken from the Buckeye State.
So the controversy developed and grew in intensity. It was not until 1835 that it was finally settled. Further details of the argument will be covered in succeeding articles.