By the late 1770s, Coshocton had become the principal Lenape (Delaware) village in the Ohio Country. Many Lenape had been forced to cede their lands in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and had migrated to Ohio Country from their traditional territory on the East Coast. In addition, they were under pressure by warfare from the Iroquois pressing down from their traditional base in present-day New York.
Chief Newcomer founded Coshocton, moving his people west from their former principal settlement of Newcomerstown. Most of the latter’s Lenape population of 700 followed Newcomer. Coshocton was across the Tuscarawas River from Conchake, the former site of a Wyandot village. By then the Wyandot had migrated northwest, in part of a movement of numerous tribes.
The western Lenape were split in their alliances during the American Revolutionary War. Those who allied with the British moved further west to the Sandusky River area. From there the British and Lenape raided frontier settlements.
Those Lenape sympathetic to the new United States stayed near Coshocton. Chief Newcomer signed the Fort Pitt Treaty of 1778, by which the Lenape hoped to secure their safety during the War, and promised scouts and support to the colonists.
In retaliation for frontier raids by hostile Lenape and British, Colonel Daniel Brodhead of the American militia ignored the treaty and destroyed the Lenape at Coshocton in April 1781.
After the Revolutionary War, the Ohio Country was opened to European-American settlement. They were mostly farmers in the early years, but development and greater trade accompanied the opening of the Erie Canal in 1824 across New York State. It provided transportation for farm products to eastern markets.
To improve their transportation of goods and people, residents of Ohio supported construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal. This enabled the transport of coal mined in the region, its most important resource commodity. In addition, the canal supported transport of goods manufactured by local industries that developed in the 19th century with the availability of coal.