Over 2,000 years ago, this land was occupied by the Adena people, considered the area’s first farmers and best known for building conical mounds for burial sites. Shrum Mound at Campbell Memorial Park is the closest example near Upper Arlington.
Centuries later, the Wyandot Indians lived here. By the early 1700s, they had transitioned from hunters and gatherers to farmers. With an influx of early white settlers, the Wyandots and other nearby Native American groups—such as the Shawnee and Delaware—were confronted with a difficult choice, to fight or sign treaties. Wyandot Chief Leatherlips—whose words were said to be as strong as leather—chose the latter, but ultimately paid with his life in 1810 at the hands of other Wyandots who preferred to keep fighting.
Thought to be the last surviving Wyandot in Ohio of those few who stayed after the federal government expelled them in 1843, Bill Moose (pictured left) died in 1937. He was employed as a rider in a circus Wild West show and retired to live in the area. He is buried in Wyandot Park at Riverside Drive and Lane Road.
The new government of the United States did not have the money to pay soldiers of the Revolutionary War, instead giving land in the Ohio territory. In 1800, President John Adams made such grants to Elijah Backus, Jonathan Dayton and Andrew Marker. Backus’ land ran from about what is now Fifth Avenue to Fishinger Road, Dayton’s extended north from Fishinger Road to Bethel Road, and Marker’s land was along the Scioto River. John McCoy purchased 1,157 acres of the southernmost portion of Backus’ parcel in 1818, then sold land to Benjamin Smith, who sold it to Dr. Henry Miller in 1859.
Miller’s son, James, eventually sold 840 acres for the original Upper Arlington development. Through later annexations, virtually all of Backus’ and Dayton’s land, and the eastern portion of Marker’s became part of Upper Arlington.
Some early farm families, in addition to the McCoys (James McCoy farmhouse pictured right) and the Millers, were the Delashmutts, the Lakins, the Leggs, the Litchfords, the Richards, the Slyhs, the Trapps, and the Walcutts.