Northeast Ohio has a long and complex history that has been altered for the past several centuries by human settlement and climatic alterations. The objective of this study is twofold. The first is to date structures at a local historical society, Sonnenberg Village, to determine possible times of settlement for a group of Ohio travelers during the early 1800s: the Mennonites. The second objective is to analyze two old growth forests, Stebbins Gulch and Brown’s Lake Bog, to understand the land use changes within Northeast Ohio.

A total of twenty-three tree cores were obtained from the three historical buildings that were dated at Sonnenberg Village. Dates of construction were determined to be 1833 for the Zuercher house, 1822 for the Miller house and 1857 for the Miller barn. These dates contribute to the overall knowledge of settlement within Northeast Ohio during the early to mid 1800s, for it gives clues as to when Mennonites would have begun constructing their homes. Understanding the settlement history of Sonnenberg Village adds to its history, while simultaneously allowing for the people of the community to better understand the lifestyles of their ancestors.

Along with the data from Sonnenberg Village, ring width data from Stebbins Gulch and Browns Lake Bog also was gathered to better understand how the region was affected by Ohio settlers. A total of twenty-two cores were extracted from Stebbins Gulch while fifty-three cores were created from Browns Lake Bog. Upon analysis, ring widths from all three locations revealed a similar release of tree growth beginning in 1800 and ending in 1915. Through further examination it was found that these dates coincide with known settlement routes within Ohio. Mennonites are hypothesized to have thus played a role in land use changes within Ohio through logging trees and decreasing the competition of those left behind.


Wiles, Greg




Plant Biology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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