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Exhibit Lesson/Activity Ideas: First City

Lesson Plans and Activities that support the Pioneer History Exhibit

First City: Analyzing Primary Sources

Virtual Exhibit: First City


3rd Grade Standards:

  • Theme: Communities: Past and Present, Near and Far
  • Strand: History
  • Topic: Historical Thinking Skills
    • Content Statement 2: Primary and secondary sources can be used to show change over time.

4th Grade Standards:

  • Theme: The United States
  • Strand: History
  • Topic: Historical Thinking Skills
    • Content Statement 2: Primary and secondary sources can be used to create historical narratives

8th Grade Standards: 

  • Theme: U.S. Studies from 1492-1877: Exploration through Reconstruction
  • Strand: History
  • Topic: Historical Thinking and Skills
    • Content Statement 1: Primary and secondary sources are used to examine events from multiple perspectives and to present and defend a position.
  • Strand: Geography
  • Topic: Spatial Thinking and Skills
    • Content Statement 15: Modern and historical maps and other geographic tools are used to analyze how historic events are shaped by geography.

Maps of Marietta

Students can compare the similarities and differences between the 18th century map and a modern map of Marietta. They can compare these two maps to a Google Earth map of the city. A list of questions about the maps has been linked below.


This map was produced from a land survey conducted by Rufus Putnam in 1788. The map is probably of a slightly later date. A transcript of the "References" in the bottom left corner can be found below, and a PDF is also linked below. To make the map larger or smaller, use - and + buttons at the top of the map. 

 Early Marietta Map

Here is a map of modern Marietta from Marietta College's website. To make this map larger or smaller, move the mouse to the right side of the screen and use the - and + buttons that appear. 

Modern Marietta Map

Have the students examine both maps. They can enlarge both maps if they would like. 

Google Earth


Transcript of 18th Century Marietta Map

(The original spelling and grammar has been kept in this transcript.)


  1. Campus Martius a square of house built by the Ohio Company, 1788 in which may be Lodged 800 persons.
  2. A Mound of Earth, with a Horizontal plain on the top 198 feet long by 124 wide; the parpindiculer [sic] heighth [sic] 9 feet: with a projecting ascent on each Side.
  3. A mound of earth, whose heighth [sic] is 8 feet, with a plain on the top 153 feet by 135.

E.  Contains a mound of earth in form of a cone; whose base is 115 feet diameter and parpindiculer [sic] heighth [sic] 30 feet; and is encompassed by a Paripit [sic] (parapet) 85 feet in circumference, the remains of which is 15 feet thick & 4 feet high, with an enterior [sic] ditch.

F-G-H-I; is the remains of an ancient wall of earth, the base of which is 86 feet and the heighth [sic] from 5 to 8 feet, & includes _ acres of land.

          Sacravia (commonly called the covered way) is a passage from the Muskingum to Quadranion; between two parallel walls; distent [sic] from Each other 198 feet The base of each wall is 49 feet & their heighth [sic] 21

DDDD has nothing to do with antiquity they are Squares reserved for public use as well as Cecelia

NB their [sic] are many other remains of antiquity within the Citty [sic] (city) Plat viz walls mounds & etc. the whole of which include more then [sic] 100 acres of land- the antiquity of these works appear to be very great: Some trees growing on the walls on examination are found to be 444 year, while others Equilly [sic] large appear to have ben [sic] dead many years. The openings in the agles [sic] & Sides of the wall in the Great Square are Supposed to have ben [sic] Supplyed [sic] with wooden works.



Analyzing Primary Source Artwork

Students can use the  "Analyzing Primary Source Artwork" handout linked below to study the drawings of the early Ohio settlements, also linked here. 

Campus Martius

Picketed Point (Marietta)

Farmers' Castle (Belpre)

Fort Frye (Waterford)

Fort Harmar (Marietta)

Brief descriptions of the settlements can be found below.

Marietta Fortifications

Campus Martius

After the first settlers arrived, they soon began building houses and clearing land for farming. Rufus Putnam decided that they should also build a garrison, or fort, to protect themselves from possible Indian attacks. This fort was named Campus Martius. Its name means “Field of Mars” because Mars was the ancient Roman god of war. Horace Nye, who lived in the fort, described it: “It consists of a regular square, having a block house at each angle [in each corner], eighteen feet square on the ground, and two stories high; the upper story on the outside or face, jutting over the lower one, eighteen inches. These block houses serve as bastions to a regular fortification of four sides. The curtains [sides] are composed of dwelling houses two stories high, eighteen feet wide, and of different lengths… On the top of three of the block houses are very handsome watch towers… On the top of the fourth above the watch tower, is a balcony with a cupola, spire &c. for the reception of a bell…” After the Ohio Indian Wars began in January 1790, settlers moved into the houses built into the walls of the fort. Two of the blockhouses, or large square buildings at each corner of the fort, served as the school and church for the community. (Samuel P. Hildreth, Pioneer history, 227-228)

Campus Martius was also the headquarters for the Ohio Company during the Ohio Indian Wars. All of the company’s directors lived in the fort, along with most of Marietta’s settlers. The other fort in the settlement was called Picketed Point because it was built on the peninsula where the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers meet.

Fort Harmar

Fort Harmar is the only fortification that existed before the Ohio Company arrived. It was constructed in 1785 on the southern bank of the Muskingum River where it joins the Ohio to discourage “squatters,” or settlers illegally moving into Ohio. The fort was named after its commander, Colonel Josiah Harmar, who also gave his name to the town of Harmar. It was constructed in the shape of a pentagon, with smaller pentagon shaped lookouts in each corner, In Pioneer history, Samuel P. Hildreth describes it as “the curtains or main walls of the fort were constructed of large timbers, placed horizontally to the hight [sic] of twelve or fourteen feet, and were one hundred and twenty feet in length… The barracks or dwellings for the private soldiers were built along the sides of the curtains…” (p. 317-318). During the Ohio Indian Wars, there were, on average, about four dozen soldiers stationed in Fort Harmar. A handful of civilian settlers also lived in the fort. It was dismantled soon after the war ended to make way for new homes.

Picketed Point

Many of the first houses built in Marietta were near “the point,” where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio. When the Ohio Indian War began, the settlers living there quickly built palisades, or a solid fence made of pointed tree trunks known as “pickets”, around the point. This is where the name “Picketed Point” came from. They built blockhouses at the corners and on either side of a gate built in the palisades wall. Unlike Campus Martius, many of the settlers at Picketed Point lived in their own individual cabins and not in blockhouses built into the fort’s walls. The settlers at Picketed Point organized a school for their children in one of the blockhouses.


Farmer's Castle

The second settlement in Ohio was established along the Ohio River south of Marietta. Originally called “Belle-prairie,” or beautiful meadow, the name was later shortened to Belpre. Forty men left Marietta for the new settlement in early 1789, with their families following in the spring. Most of them had been officers in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Most of the first settlers built log cabins along the river nearby one another. A shortage of corn during their first winter caused a famine that lasted from about February through the early summer. Settlers resorted to eating wild plants like nettles and purslane to survive. When the Ohio Indian Wars began in January 1790, the settlers at Belpre banded together to build a small fort on the bank of the Ohio River for their protection. Because most of the settlers were farmers, they called their fort Farmer’s Castle.

“They [blockhouse that settlers lived in] were thirteen in number, arranged in two rows, with a wide street between…The basement story was in general twenty feet square, and the upper about twenty-two feet, thus projecting over the lower one, and forming a defense from which to protect the doors and windows below, in an attack. They were built of round logs a foot in diameter, and the interstices [gaps] nicely chinked and pointed with mortar. The doors and window shutters were made of thick oak planks, or puncheons, and secured with stout bars of wood on the inside… The pickets were…ten feet high… Every house was filled with families…some houses contained three or four. The corner block houses…were provided with watch towers…where a sentry [lookout] was constantly kept…The flag staff stood a few yards west of the back gate… on which floated the stars and stripes of the union.” (Samuel P. Hildreth, Pioneer history, p. 362).

The first female teacher in Ohio, Bathsheba Rouse, taught at Belpre beginning in 1789. Education was important to the pioneers, and all children were expected to attend school to learn basic arithmetic, reading, and writing. For fun, boys enjoyed foot races, wrestling, and “leaping” or games similar to long jump. Girls held contests on who could spin wool the fastest, or sang and told stories while they worked on their spinning wheels. Dancing was very popular, and settlers from Marietta and Gallipolis often came down the river to Farmers’ Castle to hold dances. “Promenading,” or walking up and down along the center street inside the fort was very popular (think of walking around the mall park with your friends). The settlers lived in Farmers’ Castle from 1790 until the end of the Ohio Indian Wars in 1795.


Fort Frye

The third settlement in Ohio was founded in April 1789 when 3 dozen settlers left Marietta for a spot about twenty miles further north on Wolf Creek. They originally called their new town Plainfield, but changed it to Waterford a year or so later. At the time of the Big Bottom Massacre, most of the men of Waterford were in Marietta attending a session of court. No fortifications had been built, so when the warning that an attack on the town was likely came, the settlers were taken completely off guard. They quickly built a fort to protect themselves. Fort Frye, as it was called, was named after its designer.

“The base of the triangle rested on the river… and was about two hundred feet in length. One of the other sides was somewhat longer, so that the work was not a regular triangle. At each corner, was a two story block house, twenty feet square below, and a foot or two more above. The two longer sides were filled in with dwelling houses, some of which were two stories high, and others of a less hight [sic]… A line of palisades, twelve feet high at the distance of thirty feet, inclosed [sic] the whole and descended to the river.” (Samuel P. Hildreth, Pioneer History, p. 441)

The settlers moved into Fort Frye and remained there until the end of the Ohio Indian Wars in 1795. Like the other settlements, a school was organized for the children, held in one of the blockhouses. “Games at ball of various kinds, with foot races, were their favorite sports…At these games both old and young zealously engaged. Dancing was another diversion much practiced by the youth… By the aid of such homely and simple pastimes, the five years confinement within the walls of the garrison passed cheerfully and rapidly away.” (Samuel P. Hildreth, Pioneer history, p. 470-471)