Immerse in Our Past

How would you describe such a mythic past as that you’ll discover in Defiance County? Well, it’s right there in the name — defiant. Since the founding of Fort Defiance in 1794, that ironclad will against all odds has defined the collective attitude of pioneers, adventurers, and innovators who have passed through and left their mark not just on our communities, but on the nation. From the remains of the original fort to the reconstructed village representative of life in the 1800s, our storied past is intertwined with our burgeoning present and guides us as we move defiantly as ever into the future.

Where It All Began

The site of old Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee Rivers is a location rich in history. Several historic markers are located on the site detailing some of the location’s unique features. The flagstaff at this location marks the survey baseline for all land north to Canada.

Hands-on History

With period-accurate structures across a 40-acre park — both reproductions and original buildings — Auglaize Village offers visitors a chance to witness illustrations of everyday life in Northwest Ohio during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A wealth of farming and industrial artifacts and some hands-on demonstrations offer an unparalleled look at the hard work and sacrifice of Defiance County’s early settlers, making it one of the crown jewels of our many historical attractions. (Open during events only.)

Seek & Display

Since 2011, the Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum has been dedicated to illustrating the incredible history of Defiance County through the responsible collection and display of artifacts from the area’s history. Named in honor of lifelong Defiance resident Andrew L. Tuttle and located in the historic Home Saving & Loan Co. building, this remarkable institution features a vast collection of relics including antique coins, Native American artifacts, and military memorabilia, plus vestiges of the building’s past as a bank. Turn your eyes upward and catch a glimpse of the Simplex airplane hanging from the ceiling, a tribute to the Simplex Aero corporation, which was originally founded in 1928 and manufactures ultralight airplane designs to this day.

Historic Homes

Historic Homes & Places

Defiance boasts some beautiful, historic homes located both downtown and around Defiance County. Architecture serves as a visual guide and timeline of the types of housing that was popular during the 70-year period of development with Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Prairie, Craftsmen, and Bungalow styles all represented.

In addition, Defiance County has several public sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The City of Defiance Public Library was built in 1904 with funds from a Carnegie Grant. This beautiful building is located on the site of Fort Defiance along the Maumee and Auglaize riverbanks and allows visitors to reflect on the county’s history. Hicksville is home to the restored Huber Opera House. Built as a hotel in 1895, this structure became the try-out theatre for George H. Huber’s larger New York and Chicago theaters.

Notable Natives

Notable Natives

Chad Billingsley (b. 1984)

Chad is retired right-handed starting pitcher who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006-2013 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. Chad was named to the 2009 National League All-Star team during a season in which he carried a 12-11 record and a 4.03 ERA to help lead the Dodgers to a 95-67 record and their second straight NL West championship. As a senior at Defiance High School in 2003, he pitched 11 games with a 6-1 record and a 1.49 ERA, striking out 113 and walking only 16 batters in 56 innings. He also pitched three games for Team USA, going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA en route to a bronze medal in the 2002 World Junior Baseball Championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Billingsley was a first-round pick (24th overall) for the Dodgers in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft.

Michelle Burke (b. 1970)

Actress Michelle “Gray” Burke was born in Defiance on Nov. 30, 1970. She is best known for her roles as Jodi Kramer in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused and as Connie Conehead in the 1993 film Coneheads. She also appeared in the 1994 movie Major League II. Michelle has also been credited as Michelle Rene Thomas, Michelle Thomas, and Michelle Burke Thomas. She is married to singer/songwriter Scott Thomas.

William Edward “Wild Bill” Davison (1906-1989)

A native of Defiance, Davison was billed as the “Trumpet King.” A fiery jazz cornet player who emerged in the 1920s with a fierce, uninhibited way of attacking a beat, he is best remembered for his association with bandleader Eddie Condon, with whom he worked and recorded. The tag “Wild Bill” was not a reflection of his music style but of his reputation in his private life. He continued playing and globetrotting the world until his death at the age of 83.

Alan Francis (b. 1969)

Alan started his career at the age of 10, winning his first world junior title at just 12 years old. He has won the Men’s World Horseshoe Championship 23 times. He is also the only player to consistently pitch above 90% and is regarded by many as the greatest horseshoe pitcher ever. The New York Times wrote he may be “the most dominant athlete in any sport in the country.” Alan and his family currently live and work in Defiance.

Michael Hitchcock (b. 1958)

Michael was born July 28, 1958, in Defiance. He is an actor, screenwriter, and television producer known for his role in the movie House Arrest, as well as televisions credits that include Men of a Certain Age, MADtv, Desperate Housewives, and Arrested Development. Michael also served as a writer and co-executive producer on the hit Fox series Glee and appeared in a guest role as rival glee club director Dalton Rumba.

Sam Hornish Jr. (b. 1979)

Born and raised in the Defiance Area, Sam won the 2006 Indianapolis 500 and became the first driver to ever overtake for the lead on the race’s final lap. He became the first three-time champion in IndyCar history. Sam and his family reside in the Napoleon area.

Don “Midnight” Miller (1902-1979)

Born March 29, 1902, in Defiance, Miller followed his three brothers to the University of Notre Dame where he was part of the famous Fighting Irish backfield known as “the Four Horsemen.” Coach Knute Rockne called Miller “the greatest open field runner I ever had.” When his playing career ended, he coached at several colleges and then moved on to become a lawyer in the Cleveland area. In 1970, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jonathon “Jon” Niese (b. 1986)

Jon is a retired left-handed pitcher who played for the New York Mets from 2008-2015 and 2016 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016. As a member of the Mets’ starting rotation, in 2015 Jon helped lead the team to its first National League pennant since 2000. Jon was raised in Defiance, where he attended Defiance High School. In Little League and high school, Niese was a teammate of fellow MLB pitcher Chad Billingsley. In the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft, the Mets chose Jon in the seventh round. He was named one of the five starting pitchers on Baseball America’s 2010 All-Rookie Team.

Terry Ryan (1946-2007)

Terry “Tuff” Ryan was born in Defiance, the sixth child of Kelly and Evelyn Lehman Ryan. She graduated from Defiance High School in 1964 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in English and journalism from Bowling Green State University in 1969. Terry was the writing half of the cartooning team of T.O. Sylvester that ran weekly in the San Francisco Chronicle. Terry wrote The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio following the death of her mother in 1998. The book has been adapted into a movie produced by DreamWorks and Revolution Studios that premiered in fall 2005. After a long bout with cancer, Terry Ryan died on May 16, 2007.



Historical Timeline

The Great Black Swamp

Defiance County is a part of roughly 2,000 square miles originally known as the Great Black Swamp. The dense growth of trees and vegetation in the Black Swamp has provided excellent soil for farming throughout the region. French traders called the area “Grand Auglaize.”

Odawa Chief Pontiac was said to have been born in the area that is now named Pontiac Park.
Largest single Native American council of the time took place at the confluence. Representatives of all the tribes of the Northwest met with British agents to discuss their course of action against encroachment of native lands.
Gen. Anthony Wayne begins construction of Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers. Fort Defiance served as one of America’s westernmost outposts in the Ohio Country. The fort was evacuated after the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.
John Chapman, aka “Johnny Appleseed,” had a nursery on the north bank of the Maumee River. Defiance was his principal headquarters during this time.
William Henry Harrison ordered a fort built as a forward observation post and supply depot for the U.S. Army. Fort Winchester stood on western banks of the Auglaize River. The fort was abandoned in 1815. Shortly after, settlers inhabited the old fort. The platted streets for Defiance still follow the boundaries of Fort Winchester. 

Native American scout Johnny Logan died and was carried 6 miles by Army officers to Defiance, where he was buried with full military honors. Logan is the only Native American to receive that recognition in Ohio.

Rev. Elias Partee was sent by the Ohio M.E. Conference to the Fort Defiance Mission. Under his direction, the first log church was built.
The Village of Defiance was incorporated and the first mayor, John Lewis, was elected.
The Wabash and Erie Canal was completed from Toledo to Defiance, creating a route from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. The Miami Canal was also completed, creating a great commercial thoroughfare for Defiance and greatly contributing to the city’s development.
William Holgate drafted a bill to separate Defiance County from Williams County and rode to Columbus to deliver the bill. On March 13, 1845, the community celebrated becoming a county at the Old Fort Grounds.
Defiance College began as the Defiance Female Seminary in 1850. The United Church of Christ created the institution to provide schooling for young women. In 1903, it formally became Defiance College.
The high school building was built at the head of Clinton Street.
The Defiance County Courthouse was erected.
The Defiance Public Library was built with funds from an Andrew Carnegie Grant. The building, located near the grounds of Fort Defiance, is still one of the most impressive buildings in the community.

Waterways of Growth

Waterways of Growth

The Miami and Erie Canal played an important role in the early development and growth of Defiance. By 1845, the canal extended from the Miami River to Lake Erie in Toledo, then from Toledo westward to Fort Wayne, IN, and Lafayette, IN. Traffic on the canal waned throughout the 19th century however, and by 1917, most of the bridges across the canal in Downtown Defiance were removed. The canal was gradually filled and drained. A walking tow path is accessible from Independence Dam State Park, where visitors can get a glimpse of Maumee and Erie Lock #13, and a few remnants of the canal are visible in and around Defiance, including Lock #37 at 309 Perry St., just across from the Defiance Police Department.

Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum
514 West Third Street, Defiance 43512
The Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the city of Defiance.
Auglaize Village
Listing Title
12296 Krouse Road (GPS Use Only), Defiance 43512
Auglaize Village was founded in 1966 by the Defiance County Historical Society.  55 plus years later, it is still going strong drawing people from the tri-state area for its activities and festivals.  The village holds a group of restored buildings typical of rural northwest Ohio in the 1800’s. Take an opportunity to stroll through the 22 new or restored buildings, four farm […]
Fort Defiance Antiques
402 Clinton Street, Defiance 43512
We offer a wide variety of antiques. Everything from A to Z. Furniture, old toys, games, glassware, ceramics stoneware, costume jewelry, military, artifacts, record albums, advertising, and more.
History Studios
Listing Title
422 Clinton Street, Defiance 43512
A must-see for history and local nostalgia! Small batch printing, photos, restorations, and more!