Long before St. Louis came to be called the "Gateway to the West," Ohio played a similar role. America's first frontier, Ohio was both a destination and a transit point for tens of thousands of settlers heading west from the original 13 states in the early 19th century.

The state's census, military, tax and transit records remain a treasure-trove of information for people nationwide, making Ohio an important starting point for tracing family trees. The Ohio Genealogical Society bills itself as the nation's largest such group, with 5,500 members (and chapters in all 88 counties). It recently opened a new headquarters and research library in Bellville in Richland County.

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