The history of Ohio’s nickname may go back to a story from Marietta, Ohio in 1788. Col. Ebenezer Sproat made quite an impression on the Indians when he led the march to open the first court in the Northwest Territory. Col. Sproat was a large, imposing man and was called Hetuch by the local Native Americans. Hetuch is the name used for the eye of the deer. Col. Sproat was affectionately called Big Buckeye by the settlers as well as the Native Americans. The name was later used to describe all Ohioans and eventually the state of Ohio.
Another likely root of Ohio’s nickname is less personal. Many believe that Ohio is called the Buckeye State because the state has a lot of Buckeye trees. The tree gets its name from the appearance of the nuts on the tree. The nuts resemble the dark eyes of a male deer. The buckeye nut is poisonous to people but is eaten by squirrels. While humans cannot eat the nuts, they have found other uses for them. Buckeyes are thought to bring good luck and many people prefer them to rabbits’ feet. Some people believe that buckeyes have healing properties and can cure rheumatism and other diseases.