Nathaniel Massie was a surveyor and land developer who helped to organize the Virginia Military District in Ohio in the years after the American Revolution.
Massie was born in Goochland County, Virginia in 1763 and came to Kentucky to farm some land owned by his father in 1783. Trained as a surveyor, Massie was responsible for founding some of the earliest communities in the Virginia Military District in the Northwest Territory. In 1790, he surveyed the site of his first settlement, Massie's Station (now known as Manchester) along the Ohio River. He used this town as his base as he moved farther into the region. Commonly, Massie received a portion of the land he surveyed in payment for his work and, as a result, became a large landowner.
In 1796, Massie laid out a town on the Scioto River called Chillicothe. This community grew quickly and became a center of political life in the Northwest Territory. Massie chose to settle in Chillicothe, along with other influential men such as Thomas Worthington and Edward Tiffin. These three men became involved in territorial politics as members of the Democratic-Republican Party and served in the territorial legislature. Massie commonly opposed the policies of the territorial governor, Arthur St. Clair.
St. Clair's supporters wanted to divide the Northwest Territory so that it would have been much more difficult for Ohio to become a state. Massie, Worthington, and other Democratic-Republicans petitioned Congress to have the original provisions of the Northwest Ordinance stand. These men were successful and in early 1802, Congress voted against the division bill.
Ohio statehood was achieved. When the new government was organized in 1803, Massie became speaker of the Ohio Senate. In 1806, voters elected him to the House of Representatives. In 1807, Massie ran for governor against Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr. Massie received fewer votes than Meigs, but Meigs was ineligible for the office. The General Assembly declared Massie the winner, but he refused the position. The president of the Ohio Senate, Thomas Kirker, became governor.
Following his campaign for governor, Massie withdrew from politics. He fought in the War of 1812 and led a detachment to the relief of Fort Meigs. Nathaniel Massie died of pneumonia on November 3, 1813.