Defiance, Ohio

From Ohio History Central

Defiance, Ohio, is the county seat of Defiance County in northwestern Ohio, about 55 miles southwest of Toledo, Ohio. The city was named for Fort Defiance, the site of which is now Fort Defiance Park, a fort located at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee Rivers. United States General “Mad” Anthony Wayne ordered the fort’s construction in August 1794. At this time, Wayne was leading United States forces against American Indian tribes, who called this region of the Ohio Country their homeland, in what would be the end of the Northwest Indian Wars (1785-1795). The fort was a rough square with a blockhouse located on each corner. In addition to the stockade, an eight foot thick earthen wall and a ditch measuring eight by fifteen feet protected the fortifications.

Following the Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 1794), Wayne utilized Fort Defiance as his base of operations. He ordered the destruction of all American Indian villages and crops within a fifty mile radius of the fort. When many Ohio tribes, such as the Shawnee, Miami (Myaamia), and Wyandotte, and the United States signed the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795, American Indians permitted Anglo-American settlers to maintain Fort Defiance as a trading post and fort, although Anglo-Americans had ceded the right to settle this portion of Ohio. Until the War of 1812, Fort Defiance served as one of the western-most outposts in Ohio, guarding encroaching Anglo-America settlers from retaliation by American Indians already living in the area, such as the Ottawa and Miami Tribes. In the early 1810s, William Henry Harrison utilized the fort in his attacks against American Indians, as well as a staging area for attacks against the British in the War of 1812. In 1817, the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware (Lenape), Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Ojibwe (or Chippewa) Tribes relinquished their claim to four million acres of land in northwestern Ohio, including Defiance, by signing the Treaty of the Maumee Rapids. Modern-day Defiance, Ohio, was founded at the fort's location in 1822.

Defiance grew slowly, having approximately seven hundred residents in 1846. That same year, the town consisted of two churches and five retail stores. Over the next thirty-four years, Defiance's population increased dramatically to 5,907 residents in 1880. This growth resulted from two railroads passing through the town, as well as the need for businesses to meet the needs of farmers living in the surrounding countryside. In 1886, four newspaper offices, thirteen churches, and two banks existed in the community. The largest single employer in Defiance was the Turnbull Wagon Company, which employed 190 workers. Numerous other businesses produced wagons, carriages, and agricultural implements for local farmers.

During the twentieth century, Defiance continued to grow. In 2000, 16,465 residents lived in the town. Many of the local businesses continue to serve farmers living in the surrounding countryside. Founded in 1850, Defiance College also is a major institution in the community.

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