History Ph.D. Dissertations


Creating Connections: Economic Development, Land Use, and the System of Cities in Northwest Ohio During the Nineteenth Century

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Andrew M. Schocket (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Edmund J. Danziger, Jr. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Timothy F. Messer-Kruse (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

David Shoemaker (Committee Member)


Examining how economics, geography, and politics interacted in the expansion and economic changes within the United States, this dissertation investigated the symbiotic relationships and their qualities among the economic transformations of an urban area and its surrounding hinterland throughout the nineteenth century. Specifically, it investigated how the economic and population changes within Toledo, Ohio, molded the development of agricultural hinterlands and how the condition and settlement of the surrounding rural areas shaped the economic changes of Toledo. The quality of transportation connections among Toledo and other nascent towns, market interactions among residents, and the relationships between land quality and usage provided for symbiotic economic development of urban areas and rural hinterlands. The ability to use certain transportation infrastructures, the condition of land, and the availability of natural resources determined the type, quantity, and strength of market connections among people, which influenced the amount and forms of economic change for the area. Conclusions of this study were drawn from analyzing census records, newspaper advertisements and editorials, agricultural reports, and business records and literature.

This research introduced a new paradigm of regional economic change named the "subregional model" which included a hub, local economic centers, small villages and farms, and links of various qualities. The subregional model also contained an environmental character explaining economic change. Land conditions not only affected land use practices but also prompted policymakers to enact improvement plans supporting new market interactions among people. Integration and strength of connections provided generative economic development with cities on a subregional level extracting natural resources from the hinterland to stimulate urban expansion through new businesses and growing manufacturing establishments.

The findings of this dissertation add to the understanding of economic changes through settlement, urban and rural development, and land use in United States history emphasizing connections whose number and quality greatly determined the pace and magnitude of economic change. Because most residents of the United States lived within systems of medium-sized economic centers surrounded by hinterlands, the study and interpretive analyses of places such as Toledo and northwest Ohio are fundamental to the understanding of the history of the United States.