After becoming a state in 1803, settlers began to flood into western Ohio. In their wake, they built and named towns that stand to this day. In our region, the first towns sprang up along the Great Miami River, starting with Cincinnati, followed by Hamilton, then Dayton and others. The Mad River Road was cut in 1795 and became the first overland route between Dayton and Cincinnati. This opened up “Mad River Country” to settlers. This was followed by the construction of the National Road (U.S. Route 40) between 1811 and 1834, which brought more people to the area, and encouraged the founding of new villages along the route to support travelers. From 1825 to 1833, development of the Miami and Erie Canal brought further growth to the region, and new towns along the towpath. This was followed by extensive railroad building in the region in the 1850s, again bringing new towns with it.
Of course, even before statehood was granted, settlers had been in the area for some time, not to mention the Continental Army, which built a number of forts in the area in the 1790s, a British trading post near modern-day Piqua that dates back to between 1793-1795, and, for more than 13,000 years before, Native Americans from several traditions.
All of these things, along with the United States Post Office and the country’s admiration for its Founding Fathers, come into play when discovering how our towns got their names, and when they got them!
Note: The following timeline is based on the platting/laid out dates and/or founding/established dates of each community. This is not meant to be a complete list and is for entertainment purposes only. Thank you to Judy Deeter for clarifying several dates on this list. Also, maps featured in this article and created by Rebecca Bayman are for entertainment purposes only. Roads do not reflect a timeline of their construction and are not a complete representation. Only cities in the timeline are displayed. Click each map to enlarge. Photos in the public domain.
Cincinnati – 1788 | Hamilton County
Settled in 1788 and named Losantiville. One year later, Fort Washington is built at this location. Another year later, it is renamed Cincinnati, after Cincinnatus, a Roman military leader.
Hamilton – 1794 | Butler County
The town grew up around Fort Hamilton, which was built to serve as a supply station for troops of General Arthur St. Clair during his campaign in the Northwest Indian War. It was named in honor of Alexander Hamilton.
Dayton – 1796 | Montgomery County
Founded by 12 settlers known as the Thompson Party. The town was named in honor of Jonathan Dayton, an American politician and Revolutionary War veteran.
Livingston – 1796-97 | Miami County
The town of Livingston was established at the mouth
of Honey Creek (east of Tipp City) in 1796 or 1797, making it the first town laid out in Miami County. Its founders were Samuel Morrison, David Morris and a third gentlemen named Livingston, whom the town was named after. However, due to its location in a flood plain, the town only lasted a few decades before being abandoned.
Pictured at left is a drawing of Cincinnati in 1840. At right is a drawing of downtown Troy in 1888.
Urbana – 1805 | Champaign County
Founded by Revolutionary War Colonel William Ward, who purchased 160 acres and successfully lobbied to establish a new county seat for Champaign County on his land.
The origin of the name is unclear, but it may be based off of the Latin word “urbs,” which means city. However, of the 12 cities in the United States named “Urbana,” Ohio’s was the first.
Staunton – 1806 | Miami County
A small fort was built just east of what would become Troy in 1798. It was never attacked. In that same year, Jacob Knoop becomes the first non-native person born in Miami County at this location. Staunton eventually becomes part of Troy. According to the book, “Troy The Nineteenth Centery” a man named Fielding Lowry surveyed the town. He named it after Staunton Academy in Staunton, Virginia, where he received his schooling.
West Milton – 1807 | Miami County
Settled by Quakers in 1796 and named Milton, in honor of John Milton, the author of “Paradise Lost.” It was officially plotted in 1807. A post office called “Milton” was established in 1824. The name was changed to West Milton in 1829.
Piqua – 1807 | Miami County
In 1780, Piqua was the capital town of the Shawnee. The name translates as “man who arose from the ashes.” The name of the town was originally “Washington,” in honor of George Washington. In 1816, the state legislature, acting on citizen petition, had the name changed to Piqua.
Troy – 1807 | Miami County
Early residents named the town after the ancient city of Troy. According to historian Thomas Wheeler, no one is certain who suggested the name, but it was noted at the time that Homer, the author of “Illiad,” was a favorite poet of early settlers. The city of Troy plays a prominent role in “Illiad.”
West Charleston -1807 | Miami County
First town developed in Bethel Township. Platted by and named after a man named Charles Friend and originally named Friendtown.
Greenville – 1808 | Darke County
A fort built here named Greene Ville in 1793 was named in honor of Nathanael Greene, a friend of American General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. It was later shortened to Greenville.
After being founded in 1808, the town grew very slowly. There were only 800 people there in 1840. However, a flood of German immigrants sped things up during the next several decades.
New Carlisle – 1810 |Clark County
Originally named Monroe, after James Monroe. The present name is a transfer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where some of the settlers were from.
Covington – 1816 | Miami County
Founded as Friendship, and also named Newberry and Stillwater before becoming Covington. Was built at the site of Fort Rowdy, built in 1793. According to the book “Covington – 1835-1885,” the town is named in honor of Brigadier-General Leonard Covington by town officials at the time of its incorporation in 1835. Covington had been in Greenville when the Treaty of Greenville was signed. He died from injuries in the War of 1812. At least 21 American cities, towns and counties are named in his honor.
Christiansburg – 1817 | Champaign County
The town was known as Addison before being incorporated in 1915. Named after the town of Christiansburg, Virginia, the native home of the first settler.
Pictured at left is a drawing of Piqua in 1886. At right is poet John Milton, for whom West Milton is named.
Sidney – 1819 | Shelby County
A man named William Stewart was the first person to settle the area of Sidney. Later, residents established the town and named it after Sir Philip Sidney, an English poet and scholar.
Versailles – 1819 | Darke County
Originally named Jacksonville, in honor of Andrew Jackson, when a large number of French residents moved in, the name was changed. “Versailles” became the official name in 1937.
Fort Jefferson – 1823 | Darke County
This unincorporated community had a post office established in 1823, but people had been living around the former site of Fort Jefferson, built in 1791, for many years.
Frederick – 1828 | Miami County
Also once known as Frederick Town and Fidelity, the town was named after Frederick Yount. Interestingly, as pointed out by historical writer Judy Deeter, the land that makes up Frederick is located in two counties (Miami and Montgomery) and three townships (Butler, Monroe and Union).
Fletcher – 1830 | Miami County
The village was named after Samuel Fletcher, a local storekeeper. A post office was in operation in village from 1831-2010 before closing.
St. Paris – 1831 | Champaign County
Founded by David Huffman, who originally named his town New Paris after Paris, France. However, after learning there was a town of the same name in Ohio, he changed it to St. Paris.
New Madison – 1831 | Darke County
Platted in 1817 by a man named Zadock Smith for the purposes of land speculation, but the venture failed. Two years later, another man, Ernestus Putnam bought the land. In 1831, he replatted the land, and this time it worked. Putnam previously lived in Madison, Indiana and named the town after it.
Lena – 1830 | Miami County
Originally called Elizabethtown and named after the first settler’s wife, Elizabeth Robbins. However, another variant name of the town was Allen’s, named after a local postmaster. A post office called “Allens” was established in 1830. It became Lena in 1883.
Minster – 1832| Auglaize County
Founded as Stallostown, after its founder, Francis Stallo. The name was changed in 1836 due to the fact that many settlers were from Munster, Germany. It is now home to the world’s largest yogurt plant!
Casstown – 1832 | Miami County
Originally called Trimmensburgh, after its founder. The present name honors Lewis Cass, an American military officer, politician and statesman who has two other towns and a river named after him.
Pictured at left is Sir Philip Sidney, an English poet and scholar for whom Sidney is named after. In the middle is Lewis Cass, an American military officer, politician and statesman for whom Casstown is named after. At right, a monument that remains at Fort Jefferson in Darke County.
Ithaca – 1832 | Darke County
Founder John Colville named his town Twinsborough, but it was later changed to Ithaca after Ithaca, New York.
Hyattsville – 1833 | Miami County
Founded by and named after Henry Hyatt. It was platted as 27 lots with a post office, tavern, church and several stores. It was incorporated into Tipp City in 1874.
Palestine – 1833 | Darke County
Founded by Samuel Loring and given the Biblical name. The town has never grown beyond its 1870 population of 264 people. (In 2010, there were 200 people).
Houston – 1833 | Shelby County
Houston was platted in 1838 by Harvey Houston and named for him. According to postal historian Jim Forte, the current community comprises three towns from the past – North Houston, South Houston and Mount Jefferson. In 1957 the communities blended and took the name of Houston.
Wapakoneta – 1833 | Auglaize County
Fort Au Glaize was built near the modern town by the French in 1748 and was abandoned after 1794. The town was named the county seat of Auglaize County in 1848. Its name means “The Place of White Bones.”
Celina – 1834 | Mercer County
Established in 1834 by James Riley. According to legend, while traveling through the state of New York to get his new town in Ohio lithographed, he came across a town called Salina, located near a lake. Seeing similarities, but not wanting to cause confusion, he named his town Celina.
Rossville – 1835-40 | Miami County
Platted between 1835 and 1840 and named after a Mr. Ross, who was the original owner of the town site. The freed Randolph slaves settled in Rossville during the 1830s after being refused settlement elsewhere in the region.
Webster – 1835| Darke County
Laid out in 1835. A post office called Webster was established in 1852, but closed by 1901. It was given the name by the post office.
Jackson Center – 1835 | Shelby County
Started as 22 lots and included a dry goods store, a shoe shop, a blacksmith shop and many other businesses. The post office gave the town its name, most likely in honor of Andrew Jackson.
Montezuma – 1835 | Mercer County
Named after the Aztec emperor. (pictured below left)
Port Jefferson – 1836 | Shelby County
Originally named Pratt, Port Jefferson started around the time the Miami and Erie Canal was extended to that point . It is located where the Sidney feeder canal connected with the Great Miami River. It is most likely named in honor of Thomas Jefferson.
New Knoxville – 1836 | Auglaize County
Named by/after the town’s post office. According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.89 square miles.
Fort Loramie – 1837 | Shelby County
A fur trading post was built at this location in 1776 by French-Canadian fur trader, Peter Loramie, but it was attacked and burned down. In 1794, a new fort was built at the site by the United States. A town near the former fort site was founded by German settlers and named Berlin, but it was changed to Fort Loramie in 1911.
Lockington – 1837 | Shelby County
Founded as “Locksport,” Lockington was named for its location next to a series of cascading canal locks and sat at the junction of the main canal and a feeder coming from Port Jefferson and Sidney.
New Bremen – 1837 | Auglaize County
A farming community started by Bavarians and Hanoverians, following a route from Bremen, Germany to America, through West Virginia and along the Ohio River to Cincinnati. There, 33 members of the City of Bremen Society purchased 80 acres to found a town. Malaria and swampy terrain stunted early growth, but this changed when the canal came through.
St. Henry – 1837 | Mercer County
The town was officially recorded on July 15, which is the feast of the Holy Roman Emperor and Saint, Henry II. Hence, the town name of St. Henry.
Vandalia – 1838 | Montgomery County
Founded by Benjamin Wilhelm, who also served as the town’s first mayor. The demand for horse-drawn vehicles and their repairs, and Vandalia’s location along the National Road (US Rt. 40), helped it grow in the 1870s. Named after Vandalia, Illinois.
Hollansburg – 1838 | Darke County
Plotted as “Union” by land owner James Stewart in 1838. According to historical records, when a Mr. William Hollaman attempted to purchase lots from Stewart, the two got in an argument. To seek revenge, Mr. Hollaman platted his own town one mile to the northeast of “Union.” A third landowner, Valentine Harland added to Hollaman’s plat. The community then, was named as a portmanteau of the owners’ names.
Coldwater – 1838 | Mercer County
Originally called “Buzzard’s Glory,” for a general store owner there named David Buzzard, the town currently takes its name from nearby Coldwater Creek.
Chickasaw – 1838 | Mercer County
Named after the Chickasaw Indian tribe.
Newport – 1839 | Shelby County
A predominantly Roman Catholic community that grew up along the Miami and Erie Canal. Named by Nicholas Wynant.
Brandt – 1839 | Miami County
Formed as a stop for travelers along the National Road and for toll-takers to live. A toll gate was located at the east end of Brandt where US 40 intersects with St. Rt. 202. According to the book “Settlement of the Old Northwest – Bethel Township and Miami County,” Brandt was laid out by the Voorhis brothers, who owned land on both sides of the National Road. It is not known how it got its name.
Tipp City – 1840 | Miami County
Founded as Tippecanoe along the developing Miami and Erie Canal and named after President William Henry Harrison, known lovingly as “Old Tippecanoe.” The original downtown is said to have included a
large number of bars and a red light district. Since another town in Ohio was named Tippecanoe, the Miami County town added City (Tippecanoe City), and then, in 1938, became Tipp City.
Laura – 1840 | Miami County
The village was named after the first postmaster’s daughter.
Potsdam – 1840 | Miami County
First called Georgetown, then New Lebanon, then renamed Potsdam by German settlers.
Englewood – 1841 | Montgomery County
Originally named Harrisburg, after Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Later named Iamton, after a postmaster there named Harvey Iams. However, during this time the capital letters I and J were the same in the alphabet and the town became known as Jamton. In 1898, local business owners held a contest to choose a new name. The suggestion of “Englewood” won.
Gettysburg – 1842 | Darke County
Founded by natives of Adams County, Pennsylvania in the 1820s but not officially platted until 1842. The town is named after Gettysburg, the county seat of Adams County, Pa.
Pleasant Hill – 1843 | Miami County
Founded in 1843 as Newton. However, a post office called “Pleasant Hill” was in operation just south of town since 1939. When it moved in town, the residents decided to change the name and incorporate as Pleasant Hill, because it was a pleasant place to live.
Plattsville – 1844 | Shelby County
Named after John Platt, a local resident. The unincorporated community had a post office from 1854 to 1901.
Ansonia – 1845 | Darke County
Originally platted as “Dallas” in 1845. It grew slowly until the railroad came through in 1852. In its early decades, Ansonia was heavily influenced by Freemasonry. In 1885, at the suggestion of Postmaster Samuel Light, the name was changed to Ansonia, which had been the name given to the post office in Dallas. Allegedly, the first postmaster, George A. Turpen, selected the name Ansonia from the clock on the wall, which was manufactured by the Ansonia Clock Company in Ansonia, Connecticut.
Tawawa – 1848 | Shelby County
Originally called New Palestine, but renamed Tawawa after a post office of this name was established there in 1848. Tawawa was the Native American name for nearby Mosquito Creek.
Pictured at left is an Ansonia Clock, which was the inspiration for the Darke County community. In the middle is William Henry Harrison, whose campaign slogan of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" led to Tipp City's name. At right is Napoleon Bonaparte, whose soldiers in Russia led to the Shelby County town's name.
Gordon – 1849 | Darke County
Platted in 1849 and named for its first settlers. The Dayton and Union and Ohio Electric railroads helped the small community grow, but it has never surpassed 265 people.
Arcanum – 1849 |Darke County
Laid out in 1849 and grew quickly after the railroad arrived in 1852. According to the Arcanum Historical Society, the name means “Secret…hidden. Named for the impenetrable swamp and heavily wooded area it once was.”
Ginghamsburg – 1850 | Miami County
Named for Silas “Gingham” Wells, a local merchant whose nickname was given to him because he wore a coat made of gingham fabric. The community was originally called Ginghamsburgh with an “h.” But this was dropped in 1893.
Pemberton – 1852| Shelby County
A “railroad town” named for General Pemberton, who was the brother of a railroad official.
Russia – 1852 | Shelby County
Among the earliest settlers of this town were French speaking Suisse who served under L. Napoleon Bonaparte during his war with Russia. According to legend, the town commemorates a battle these soldiers fought with Bonaparte during the war.
North Star – 1852 | Darke County
Platted as a town located nearly half-way between Greenville and Celina. According to Darke County, its name was derived from its location on the edge of the Great Black Swamp, as it was the northermost point in Darke County that was not wetland.
Alcony – 1858 | Miami County
First known as Miami City. Renamed after the post office in town called Alcony. It was first a stopping point on the Troy-Springfield Pike stagecoach route that came through the area.
Botkins – 1858 | Shelby County
Named for Russell Botkin, the original owner of the town site.
Anna – 1858 | Shelby County
Platted in 1858 as Carey’s Station by J.W. Carey. It was surveyed in 1867 by John and Fletcher Thirkield and renamed Anna, in honor of Cary’s daughter.
Kessler – 1862 | Miami County
Named after a post office in the community that existed from 1862 to 1913.
Conover – 1863 | Miami County
Named after its town surveyor, A.G. Conover.
Bradford – 1868 | Darke/Miami County
A railroad town Platted entirely in Darke County in 1865 and named for Tom Bradford, a railroad official, the town quickly grew to the point where more residents lived in Miami County than in Darke. The community grew from 243 residents in 1870 to 1,338 in 1890. This growth was due to the town’s location on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. According to the Bradford Ohio
Railroad Museum, the trains took on provisions and changed crews at Bradford, and some crew members found the town a convenient place to live.
West Covington – 1869 | Miami County
Founded in 1869 but never taken into Covington corporation.
Kirkwood – 1868 | Shelby County
Originally named “Pontiac,” but was renamed after the post office, which, itself was named after D. Kirkwood Gillespie, a local grain elevator owner.
Kettlersville – 1873 | Shelby County
Platted by Christopher Kettler and named for him. When pronouncing the name, the “s” is silent – “Kettler-ville.”
Burkettsville – 1876 | Darke County
Founded after the construction of the railroad line through northern Darke County in 1883. Named after the community’s post office.
Maplewood – 1880 | Shelby County
A post office with this name has been in operation since 1880. The town saw growth when the railroad was extended through the area.
Ludlow Falls – 1882 | Miami County
Named after surveyor Israel Ludlow, who helped found Cincinnati, Dayton and Hamilton and named the waterfall that the town was then named after.
Rossburg – 1883 | Darke County
Platted and named after John G. Ross. At first the community was known as “Hagerman.”
Phoneton – 1893 | Miami County
Founded as company town by AT&T in 1893 as Phonetown. The name was changed to “Phoneton,” to give it a more appealing pronunciation.
Huber Heights – 1981 | Montgomery County
Although Charles Huber started developing what would one day become “America’s largest community of brick homes,” in 1956 in Wayne Township, it was not until 1981 that the city was founded and named after Huber.