Prep Work – Understanding the History of Toledo


My primary building block for understanding the history of Toledo was the book; Toledo Profile, A Sesquicentennial History published in 1987. How thankful I was for that basic straightforward text which was prepared for Toledo’s 150th birthday celebration. From it I learned what is known about Toledo’s pre-history and about the Indians that once inhabited the area plus all the major events since then.

Once I had the basics I branched out. I sat for hours in the local history department of the library pursuing in more detail things of interest found in the book. Often as I read I would feel the Holy Spirit nudge me on what was important to follow up on and what was inconsequential.

Why is it important to research the history of the city? Who cares what happened in the past? Well, the past often reveals the “why” of things that are going on in the present. The past reveals curses and blessings on a region. With that knowledge, a strategy can be formed to break the curses and proclaim the blessings.

Like most cities, Toledo has a mixed past; filled with hope and promise on one hand and shame and sin on the other hand.

Before there was any written history of the area known as the Black Swamp, ancient inhabitants left physical evidence of their life here. Mound Builders are considered the earliest inhabitants. They left two mounds in Toledo, one near the pier of the old Fassett Street Bridge on the east side of Toledo and the other on the west side of the Maumee River near the intersection of Clayton and Oliver Streets.

My research in older histories indicated that the Mound Builders participated in human sacrifice. This is now nearly completely forgotten and in fact, the mounds themselves are disregarded and mostly unmarked. But the blood that was shed those hundreds of years ago still cries out. This is a curse on the land that needs to be cleansed.

Another obvious curse is the early relations with the Indians who inhabited the area before the white settlers came. As settlers pushed into the Maumee Valley the Indians’ land and way of life was more and more threatened. Indians were soundly defeated at the famous Battle of Fallen Timbers. The Treaty of Greenville which twelve tribes signed on August 3, 1795 was broken. The remaining Indians were forced out of Ohio and pushed west to Indiana.

So let’s stop a minute and think; before Toledo was ever incorporated on January 7, 1837 the land was carrying the spiritual baggage of human sacrifice and broken Indian treaties and stolen land. Any assessment of the spiritual condition of the city must take these things into consideration.

Toledo was named after Toledo, Spain but while there is much speculation, the reason is not known. It was formed from merging two struggling and competing towns, Port Lawrence and Vistula. The Maumee River runs through the city which sits at the base of Lake Erie. It is a destination port on the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Toledo had the potential, and often the ambition, to become a “Chicago” or “Detroit” or “New York”. But it never did. Why?

Toledo suffers from what I believe is an inferiority complex. Toledoens tend to feel negative about the city and “put-down” comments are common. Toledo is viewed locally as a step child of Detroit. While Detroit designed and built cars, Toledo supplied the auto parts. There is a slight unspoken shame in saying you are from Toledo, but I don’t know exactly why. My best guess is that it happened somewhere during the depression in the early thirties.

This inferiority complex is especially perplexing in light of the benefits, advantages and blessing that abound in Toledo. The heart of early Toledo was all hope, promise, innovation and creativity. Toledo is named the Glass Capital of the World. The city’s past is filled with innovators and inventers like Edward Drummond Libby, Michael Owens, Edward Ford, Thomas A. DeVilbiss, and John N. Willys.

All kinds of glass processes were invented in Toledo. Toledo was the creator and is still the maker of the Jeep which had a significant positive impact during World War II. The Toledo Scale was invented in Toledo as well as bicycles by the Gendron Iron Wheel Company.

Because of the philanthropy of early city fathers, Toledo has a World Class Art Museum, a first rate Zoo known around the globe, and a top library system. Toledo is very easy to navigate; it is said that you can get anywhere in Toledo in about 20 minutes.

People who move to Toledo often comment on what a hidden jewel the city is and how surprised they are about all that Toledo has to offer. Lifetime residents somehow can’t see it. The treasure has been buried. The prayer mapper in Toledo has to try and dig up the treasure, dust it off and display it once again.

No one knows for sure why Toledo has the nickname: “Holy Toledo”. There is lots of speculation, but I was never able to uncover anything definitive. Still, the motto and nickname of a city is important stuff in prayer mapping. From a spiritual perspective, most people consider the name prophetic. Many feel that “Holy Toledo” reflects God’s divine destiny for the city. It is an excellent starting place.

This is only the briefest of hi-lights of Toledo research done since 1997. The work continues today. Your city or region has a history too. Uncovering it will assist you greatly in prayer that is victorious in overcoming negatives from the past.

If you want to understand your city from a spiritual perspective, start delving into old records and reading early histories of your region. Pray as you read and ask God to reveal what is important. If at all possible, have others independently read what you have read and see if they come to the same conclusions you did. God will often confirm what you suspect through another person.

Write down all that you know about your city and don’t miss an opportunity to talk to the old timers. What does the city say about itself? Is there an official seal? Songs written about the city? Mottos? Who comes from your city? How has it been governed? All of the past is filled with clues that can help you pray effectively. Your prayer strategy will come from both the city’s past and its current spiritual condition. Know them well. Where mysteries remain, count on God to fill in the blanks.

Armed with the knowledge of both blessings and curses of your city or region you can proclaim blessings both old and new and overcome any curses with repentance, fasting and prayer.

Go for it! Adventure awaits!

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