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Zane's Trace

     When Ohio was settled, the only highways were the
streams and the Indian trails. After the Revolution-
ary War the rich Ohio valleys became the goal of im-
migrants. It was likewise the Paradise of the red men,
who contested every acre of the soil. General St. Clair
having met defeat at their hands, reported that the
greatest hindrance to military operations was the ab-
sence of roads, that their presence would be an incen-
tive to immigration, that it would hasten the settlement
of the country and be the best means of quieting the
     Congress at once acted upon the suggestion. The
President was authorized to contract with a responsible
party, for the opening of a road from Wheeling on the
Ohio, to Limestone, Kentucky, on the Ohio. This
road would pass through the best agricultural land
that was then open for settlement in the Northwest.
Virginians were flocking to the Military Lands, west
of the Scioto, to locate their claims. The valleys of
the upper Hocking and Muskingum were ideal places
for the settler's clearing and cabin.
     The work of laying out this road was entrusted to
Colonel Ebenezer Zane of Wheeling. Colonel Zane
was a man of considerable force of character and
played no small part in the settlement of the North-


west. He was an ideal frontiersman. He was thor-
oughly acquainted with the western wilds from the Po-
tomac to the Ohio. His brothers were men like unto
him and assisted him greatly in his undertakings.
President Washington could have found no better man.
As early as 1769 he came to the present site of Wheel-
ing, recognizing at once its important geographical po-
sition. The next year he brought his family. Lord
Dunmore, then Governor of Virginia, had the great-
est confidence in Colonel Zane, and made him dis-
bursing agent at Wheeling. A fort was erected and
named Fort Finncastle in honor of the titled Governor
of the "Old Dominion." Zane was familiar with the
events that led to Dunmore's War, his sympathy be-
ing with Logan, Chief of the Mingoes, but he took an
active part in putting down that war.
     When the Revolutionary War clouds hung heavy
over the land, true patriot that he was, he did every-
thing in his power for the establishment of the new
nation. While he was never in the Continental army,
yet he served his country in a no less eminent degree.
Living'as he did on the very edge of the frontier, he
saw that it was as important, that the territory North-
west of the Ohio should be held by the colonies as it
was to obtain their independence. For the latter with-
out the former would have crippled them and there
would have been no room for growth. The struggling
nation had no army to protect their frontier. It was
left for the most part to such men as Ebenezer Zane,
who voluntarily took it upon themselves to protect their
homes from the ravages of the red-men, incited by
British cupidity and revenge.
     The very last battle of the Revolution was fought
at Wheeling. The name Fort Finncastle had been


changed to Fort Henry in honor of Patrick Henry the
first governor of the Commonwealth. Here on the
eleventh of September, 1782, the Indians and British
made an attack. Colonel Zane's house stood about
fifty yards from the fort. The people took refuge in
the fort but Zane and his family remained in their
house. It was at this battle that Elizabeth Zane, a
sister, performed her heroic act. The defenders of the
fort suddenly discovered that the powder was ex-
hausted. There was a sufficient amount in Colonel
Zane's house, but how to get it was the question. At
this juncture, the girl volunteered to go, saying that
her death would not mean so much as a man"s. The
gates were opened. The Indians saw her hurrying
across the open space, but their chivalry forbade them
firing on a "squaw."  Hastily filling a tablecloth,
which she tied about her, she returned to the fort. She
had almost reached it, when her purpose dawned upon
the Indians and amid a shower of bullets, she passed
through the gates. The fort was saved.
     During these years, Col. Zane had come into posses-
sion of considerable property. He owned the land
where Wheeling now is, Wheeling Island in the Ohio
river, the present site of Bridgeport and Martins Ferry
and a tract extending a considerable distance up Wheel-
ing Creek on the Ohio side.
     Jonathan Zane, a brother, was a scout. In 1774 he
guided an expedition against the Indians on the upper
Muskingum. He served in like capacity on the ill-
fated expedition of Governor St. Clair. It is said that
if St. Clair had taken his advice, the result of the ex-
pedition might have been somewhat different. It is
but natural, therefore, that when Ebenezer Zane con-
tracted to cut the road through Ohio, that he should


have left it to his brother who was better acquainted
with wilderness ways. Jonathan Zane was assisted in
the work by John McIntire who had married his sister.
For this work Col. Zane was to receive a tract of land,
one mile square for every navigable stream he should
cross provided he should maintain a ferry. The work
was begun early in 1797. The road was nothing more
than a blazed bridle path, with some of the undergrowth
and fallen timber removed. This "trace" left Wheel-
ing, followed Wheeling Creek on the Ohio side, to its
source, and climbed to the high ridges of Belmont
county. Following this divide into Guernsey county,
it passed through Cambridge, and then headed for the
falls of the Muskingum at Zanesville. This was the
first navigable stream. Zane gave the tract of land
here to his brother, Jonathan and his brother-in-law,
McIntire. This was to recompense them for their
services in opening the road. They in turn leased it to
William McCullough and Henry Crook for five years.
These men kept the ferry and thus became the first
settlers of Zanesville. John McIntire is really the
founder of Zanesville. He died in 1815 and is buried
beneath the shadows of the McIntire Children's Home,
which he founded. This was established as a school
for poor children of Zanesville. But upon the organi-
zation of the free school system, it was changed to an
asylum for unfortunate children, who here find a home
and an education. This home derives its revenue from
the McIntire estate, which originally was the mile
square given to Zane by the United States Govern-
     This trace struck Perry county as indicated on the
map. There is considerable conjecture as to where it
really did pass through the county. The writer has


been for three years gathering data on this first "high-
way" and he has found in Perry county more uncer-
tainty about the actual route, than in any same dis-
tance between Wheeling and Maysville. By many it
is supposed to be the same as the Maysville pike.
Others confuse it with the Old State Road surveyed
in 1809. And still others think that the old Drove
Road was the original Zane Trace. From such a di-
versity of opinion it is diffcult to ascertain the ex-
act truth. The route as shown on the map does not
pretend to be infallibly true, but as far as can be
learned, it is approximately correct. The prevailing
idea that Fink's tavern, the nucleus of Somerset, was
on Zane's Trace, is hardly correct. And yet, the most
of the travel may have gone by way of Somerset. The
men who blazed the trail were not particular in hunt-
ing the best ground, although they usually aimed to
follow the ridges. The last statement would justify
the conclusion that Somerset was on the "Trace."
But on the other hand the streams served as their
guides. No white man had ever traveled the route
before.   They knew the general directions only.
There is no doubt that the Somerset route would have
been the better one, and travelers soon found it out.
It is the opinion of the writer that the Zane men were
trying to find the headwaters of another stream, flow-
ing south, after they left Jonathan's Creek. They
passed through the neighborhood of what is now
known as Dead Man's School. Striking a branch of
Rushcreek in southwestern Hopewell, they might have
continued along it but for the fact that there is con-
siderable swampy land in that section. This would
cause them to change their course and take to the hills.
This trace passed over Rushcreek at the Rushvilles and


following a southwest course, crossed the Hocking at
Lancaster. Here Zane established another section of
land. The little creek winding up through the alluvial
meadows of Fairfield county was considered navig-
able for "small boats." The town of Lancaster was
laid out in 1800, by John and Noah Zane, sons of Col.
Zane. From here the Trace continued toward Chilli-
cothe by passing near the present village of Amanda and
through Tarlton and the Pickaway Plains, crossing the
Scioto at Chillicothe. Here they were obliged to locate
their land on the west side of the river. Zane sold it
to Humphrey Fullerton. Caleb Atwater says in his
history of Ohio (1838) that Fullerton's widow yet
owned it. From Chillicothe, the road ran southwest,
crossing Paint Creek near the junction of the North
Fork and the Yocatangee, followed the latter stream
a distance and crossed Black Run, where it intersectd
Todd's Trace, which it followed to Maysville by way
of Manchester. In 1799 a post office was established
at Chillicothe. Mail was brought over the Trace once
a week. Gen. Sanderson of Lancaster was post-boy
between Chillicothe and Lancaster.
     Zane's trace became the great highway of emigra-
tion. Droves of pack horses were driven across it.
Many of the settlers of south central Ohio found their
way through the primeval forest by means of this
blazed path. The first settler of Pickaway county;
Caleb Evans, came through from Kentucky on Zane's
Trail. The first settlement in Highland county was
about half a mile north of Sinking Springs, on Zane's
or rather Todd's Trace. Rude taverns were erected
for the accomodation of the guests. At Lancaster there
was one and at Zanesville, McIntire's tavern became
famous for having once entertained Louis Philippe.


In 1798, a Mr. Graham located upon the site of Cam-
bridge, Guernsey county. His was the only dwelling
between Zanesville and Wheeling. Along this road the
itinerant preacher came with saddle bags and "pious
mien." By degrees the road was widened in part and
in many places it was changed altogether, until it is
almost lost. The Wheeling and Maysville pike only
follows the Trace approximately. There are variations
of three miles and over. The Trace followed the high
ridges mostly and in many places went down precip-
itous bluffs. The pike goes around the hills. Zane's
road may well be said to be the initial step in the policy
of "internal improvements." It served its purpose well
and had much to do with the developement of the cen-
tral west. Along it sprang up the settlers' cabin and the
little clearings testified that the "white man's foot"
had come. It opened up the most fertile portion, that
was then accessible in Ohio. It was the connecting
link between the east and the settlements made in the
     Ebenezer Zane certainly deserves the credit of be-
ing one of the Founders of the Northwest. He died in
1812 and his body lies on Ohio soil. In the village of
Martins Ferry, Belmont county, is the Zane burying
ground surrounded by a brick wall. In this neglected
enclosure, situated on a terrace overlooking the Ohio,
as it begins to bend around the state, is a slab upon
which are these words:

who died 19th November, 1812, in the
66th year of his age.
He was the first permanent inhabitant of this
part of the Western World,
having first begun to reside here in the year 1769.
He died as he lived, an honest man.

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