One of the most fascinating parts of historical research is that you start seeing the world around you in an almost four-dimensional way.
In addition to the usual dimensions of length, width, and depth, you begin to see things in terms of time, the past and present coexisting simultaneously.
Though the Indian Wars between settlers and the natives who occupied the Northwest Territory are long gone, it is possible to catch an echo of momentous events from long ago when driving in northern Knox County, because part of the county border follows a treaty line established in 1795.
After the end of the Revolutionary War, the new nation entered an expansionary phase. As settlers encroached further and further on Native American territory in what is now Ohio, hostilities kept breaking out. It finally flared up into an all-out war which ended with the Indian defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August of 1794 along the Maumee River in northwest Ohio.
The U.S. commander from that battle was General Anthony Wayne, known as “Mad Anthony” from his wild intensity in battle. He is remembered in this region in the name of Wayne County, in Mad Anthony Street in the town of Millersburg, and in Knox County's Wayne Township.
Having stopped the hostilities, Wayne negotiated a treaty with leaders of the Ohio native tribes at Fort Greenville on Aug. 3, 1795. Officers in General Wayne's retinue included William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, who who later to make a famous expedition exploring the Louisiana Purchase for then-president Thomas Jefferson. Future president William Henry Harrison was also part of General Wayne's staff.
Native attendees included the chiefs Tarhe, Leatherlips, and Roundhead of the Wyandots, Blue Jacket of the Shawnee, Little Turtle of the Miami, and Gomo of the Potawatomi. The treaty set a line running from the mouth of the Cuyahoga River south to Fort Laurens, then cutting southwest across the territory to Fort Recovery, then south to the Ohio River.
According to the terms of the treaty, lands north and west of the treaty line would “forever” belong to the Indians, while United States settlers would be free to move into the lands south and east of this line without hindrance.
This opened up what is now Knox County to settlement, which quickly flowed into the area.
Unfortunately for the natives, settlement quickly spilled over the treaty line, as well. Though the treaty line served as a northern border for what became Knox County, settlers also poured over the line into what was to become Richland County.
Those incursions led to new treaties, each one subsequently ignored as U.S. settlement continued. The American Indians were continually forced back and put on reservations. Then the reservations, too, were seized, with the natives being forced to move further and further west.
The last Indian reservation in Ohio, a Wyandot reservation in Upper Sandusky, was closed and the natives moved west in 1842. Less than 50 years had elapsed since they were promised they could keep their land forever.
In northwestern Knox County, Yankee Street runs essentially on the treaty line, and in fact was originally named Treaty Line Road. After entering the county, the treaty line passes just north of Batemantown. while Yankee Street dips south to go through the hamlet (or, more likely, since Batemantown wasn't founded until 1815, the road dipped south to cross Owl Creek at a 90-degree angle and the town was later put where the road was).
East of Ohio 13, Yankee Street again dips slightly south to enter Ankenytown, but Toms Road northeast of the village picks up the treaty line.
East of Butler Road, the Treaty of Greenville line becomes the Knox County/Richland County border all the way to the northeastern corner of the county.