Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio and is located in southern Ohio along the Scioto River.
The town’s name comes from the Shawnee Cha-la-gaw-tha, named after one of the five major divisions of the Shawnee people, as it was the chief settlement of that tribal division. The Shawnee and their ancestor inhabited the territory for thousands of years prior to European contact. At the time of European-American settlement, General Nathaniel Massie plotted the community on his land grant.
Modern Chillicothe was the center of the ancient Hopewell tradition, which flourished from 200 BCE until 500 CE. This Amerindian culture had trade routes extending to the Rocky Mountains. They built earthen mounds for ceremonial and burial purposes throughout the Scioto and Ohio River valleys. Later Native American who inhabited the are through the time of European contact included the Shawnees. Present-day Chillicothe is the most recent of seven locations that bore the name, because it was applied to the main town wherever the Chalakatha settled.
It was after the American Revolution that most European settlement came to this area. Migrants from Virginia and Kentucky moved west along the Ohio River in search of land. Chillicothe served as the capital of Ohio from the beginning of statehood in 1803 until 1810 when Zanesville became the capital for two years. The capital was moved to Zanesville as part of a state legislative compromise to get a bill passed. In 1812 the legislature moved the capital back to Chillicothe. In 1816 the state legislature voted to move the capital again, to Columbus to have it near the geographic center of the state, where it would be more accessible to most citizens.