Ohio Biographies

Israel Ludlow

Israel Ludlow, an early surveyor of the Northwest Territory and the founder of the town of Hamilton, was born at Long Hill Farm, near Morristown, New Jersey, in 1765. His ancestors were English, and emigrated to New Jersey from Shropshire, England, to escape persecution on the restoration of Charles the Second, the Ludlows having been actively identified with the cause of the parliament and prominent in the affairs of the commonwealth. The head of the family at that period, Sir Edmund Ludlow, was one of the judges who passed sentence of death on Charles I, became lieutenant-general of Ireland under Cromwell, and banished after the restoration, died an exile in Vevay, Switzerland. Israel Ludlow was appointed, in 1787, by Thomas Hutchins, surveyor-general of the United States, who was "assured" of his "ability, diligence, and integrity," to survey for the government the boundary of the large tract of land purchased in this neighborhood by the New Jersey association, of which Judge John Cleves Symmes was principal director. He accepted the appointment, and received his instructions, with an order for a military escort to protect himself and assistants during their performance of the work. But the military posts on the western frontier had no soldiers to spare, and General Joseph Harmar, then in command of the forces in the Northwest Territory, advised Mr. Ludlow of the impossibility of giving his expedition an escort, at the same time warning him as to the danger of attempting the survey, without such protection, among the hostile tribes of the Ohio wilderness. But, being a man of great energy, Mr Ludlow undertook the task, and keeping up friendly intercourse with the Indians, they did not molest him or hinder his operations. In 1789 he became one-third partner, with Matthias Denman and Robert Patterson, in the proprietorship of the lands about Fort Washington, and is claimed to have given the present city of Cincinnati its name, in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of officers who had served in the Revolutionary war, of which his father, Cornelius Ludlow, was a member. He began, in the year just mentioned, the survey of the town -- a plat of which he placed on record. There was a controversy about its correctness, one having been previously made and recorded by another person; but the community soon became satisfied that the plat prepared and certified by Mr. Ludlow was the correct one. Ludlow Station was established in 1790 near the north line of the original town, a block-house having first been built for protection, the Indians at that date being exceedingly hostile and dangerous. In the Summer of 1791 General Arthur St. Clair's army encamped at and about the above-named station, previous to its march into the Indian territory. It was not until 1792 that Mr. Ludlow, then known as Colonel Ludlow, completed his survey of the Miami Purchase; but, having done so, in May of that year he made a full report of the survey, together with a report of all the expenses incidental thereto, which was accepted by Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury. Colonel Ludlow was subsequently the founder and sole proprietor of Hamilton, having surveyed its town plat in 1794.

There had been considerable competition for the location of the county seat, and Colonel Ludlow made several stipulations, which were not entirely filled, however, at the time of his death.

In 1795, in company with Generals St. Clair, Dayton, and Wilkinson, he also founded the present city of Dayton. After General Wayne's treaty with the Indians at Greenville, in the same year, Colonel Ludlow was appointed to survey the boundary line between the United States and the Indian Territory. This was a work of great danger; but it was of the highest importance that the boundary should be established; and, as no military escort could be furnished, he undertook the task, and, with only three backwoodsmen as spies to give warning of danger, he accomplished it. Colonel Ludlow married Charlotte, daughter of General James Chambers, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, November 10, 1786. He left four children, -- James C., Sarah B., Israel L., and Martha C. Ludlow.


From A History and Biographical Cyclopædia of Butler County Ohio, With Illustrations and Sketches of its Representative Men and Pioneers, Western Biographical Publishing Company, Cincinnati Ohio, 1882.



Israel Ludlow, the proprietor of the town of Hamilton, submitted to the commissioners [who were seated to examine and select themost proper place for the seat of Butler Conty] the following proposition in writing:

"I will give for the use of the county a square for public buildings, agreeably to the plan recorded of the town of Hamilton; also a square for the church and burying-ground, consisting of eight town lots, together with the commons in front of the town, for public uses—such as boat-yards, etc.—in case the honorable commissioners should conceive the town of Hamilton a convenient and suitable place for the seat of justice; and will also pay two hundred dollars toward the erection of a court-house.

" {Signed) ISRAEL LUDLOW."

The commissioners having examined the different places proposed, after due deliberation decided in favor of the town of Hamilton as the most eligible place for holding the several courts, accepted the proposition of Mr. Ludlow, and established the seat of justice at Hamilton, of which they made report to the Court of Common Pleas, then in session, on the 15th day of July, 1803.

Israel Ludlow died on the 21st of January, 1804, before complying with the proposition made to the commissioners. However, afterwards Charlotte Chambers Ludlow, John Ludlow, and James Findlay, surviving administrators of Israel Ludlow, petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County for leave to complete the contract, on which the court rendered a decree at the December term, 1808; in pursuance of which decree the administrators paid to the county of Butler the sum of two hundred dollars, and executed a deed for the square of ground at present occupied by the court-house and public buildings, being in-lots Nos. 95, 96, 97, and 98, in the town, and also a square for the burying-ground, being in-lots Nos. 13, 14, 15, 16, 29, 30, 31, and 32.


From A History and Biographical Cyclopædia of Butler County Ohio, With Illustrations and Sketches of its Representative Men and Pioneers, Western Biographical Publishing Company, Cincinnati Ohio, 1882.