"Ohio Lands - A Short History"
The Origin of Ohio's County Names
(Date in parentheses is year county was established, may differ from year actually organized.)
Adams(1797), named for our second president, John Adams, during whose administration the county was organized.
Allen (1820), probably named for either Ethan Allen, a hero of the Revolutionary War or John L. Allen, a hero of the War of 1812. Both men were colonels.
Ashland (1846), named after "Ashland," home of the Whig candidate for President, Henry Clay, outside Lexington, Kentucky.
Ashtabula (1808), named after the Ashtabula River which meant "Fish River" in the local Indian dialect.
Athens (1805), the county is named after Athens, Greece.
Auglaize (1848), named for the Auglaize River. "Auglaize" is a Shawnee Indian word meaning "fallen timbers."
Belmont (1801), comes from the French words "belle monte," meaning "beautiful mountain" describing the hills of the county.
Brown (1818), named for Gen. Jacob Brown, a hero of the War of 1812. Georgetown, the county seat, was the boyhood home of Ulysses Simpson Grant; Civil War General and 18th President of the United States.
Butler (1803), named for Major General Richard Butler, killed during the disastrous defeat of General Arthur St. Clair by the Indians on Nov. 4, 1791.
Carroll (1833), took the name Carroll from Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, who died in Baltimore on November 14, 1832, at the age of 96.
Champaign (1805), is French and means "a plain," descriptive of the level land in the area.
Clark (1818), named for Brigadier General George Rogers Clark who defeated the Shawnee Indians in a battle near Springfield, on August 8, 1780. Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee Chief, was born in this county.
Clermont (1800), comes from the French word meaning "clear mountain."
Clinton (1810), named in honor of George Clinton, who was vice-president of the United States when the county was formed.
Columbiana (1803), derived from the words Columbus and Anna.
Coshocton (1810), is an anglicized version of the Indian village "Goschachgunk" or "Goschaching" meaning "Black Bear Town" or "where there is a river crossing."
Crawford (1820), named in honor of Col. William Crawford who was burned at the stake in 1782 by Indians.
Cuyahoga (1808), named for the Cuyahoga River. Cuyahoga is an Indian word meaning "crooked," or "winding stream."
Darke (1809), named for Gen. William Darke, Revolutionary War hero.
Defiance (1845), named for Fort Defiance built in 1794 by General Anthony Wayne.
Delaware (1808), named for the Delaware Indians who came from the Delaware River area near Philadelphia.
Erie (1838), named for the Erie Indian tribe. In their Indian dialect the word "erie" meant "cat" or "wildcat."
Fairfield (1800), Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, named this county for the beauty of its "fair fields."
Fayette (1810), named for Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette. He served as an American Major General in the Revolutionary War and was named an honorary U.S. citizen in 1803.
Franklin (1803), named for Benjamin Franklin, printer and diplomat.
Fulton (1850), named for Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat.
Gallia (1803), is derived from Gaul, the ancient name of France.
Geauga (1806), the name Geauga or Sheauga was one given by the Indians to the Grand River which flows through the county. It means "raccoon."
Greene (1803), named for Gen. Nathaniel Greene. Revolutionary War hero.
Guernsey (1810), due to the fact that many of the original settlers came from the Isle of Guernsey in the English Channel.
Hamilton (1790), named for Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, 1789-1795.
Hancock (1820), named for John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress (1775-1777) and first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Hardin (1820), named for Colonel John Hardin who was executed by the Indians while on a peace mission in 1792.
Harrison (1813), named for General William Henry Harrison, a hero of the War of 1812. First U.S. President to have lived in Ohio.
Henry (1820), named for Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia 1776-1779 and 1784-1786; a celebrated orator of the Revolutionary War period.
Highland (1805), describes the county’s terrain.
Hocking (1818), derived its name from the Indian word "Hoch-Hoch-ing" which meant "a bottle." The Hocking River flows though this county which was once claimed by the Wyandot Indians.
Holmes (1824), named for Major Andrew H. Holmes, who was killed during Major George Croghan’s unsuccessful attack on Fort Mackinac (Michigan) on August 4, 1814.
Huron (1809), the name Huron was given by the French to the Wyandot Indian tribe who lived in this area.
Jackson (1816), named for Major General Andrew Jackson, who defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815.
Jefferson (1797), named for Thomas Jefferson, statesman and Vice President of the United States, March 4, 1797 to March 3, 1801, and the 3rd President of the U.S. (1801-09).
Knox (1808), named for General Henry Knox, the first U.S. Secretary of War.
Lake (1840), named because it borders on Lake Erie; Ohio’s smallest county in land area.
Lawrence (1815), named for Captain James Lawrence, commander of the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake during the War of 1812.
Licking (1808), derived its name from the principal stream flowing through the county. Pioneers called it the "Licking River," but it was called "Pataskala" by the Indians. The river received its name from salt licks in the area.
Logan (1818), named for Gen. Benjamin Logan, who destroyed the Shawnee Indians Mac-o-chee Villages in the area in 1796.
Lorain (1822), named after the Province of Lorraine, France.
Lucas (1835), named for Robert Lucas, Ohio Governor 1832-1836, who personally commanded Ohio troops in the 1835 boundary dispute with Michigan. First territorial Governor of Iowa 1838-1841.
Madison (1810), named for James Madison, U.S. President from March 4, 1809 to March 3, 1817.
Mahoning (1846), derives its name from the Mahoning River. Mahoning is from the Indian word "Mahoni" meaning a "lick" or "Mahonink" meaning "at the lick."
Marion (1820), named in honor of Gen. Francis Marion of South Carolina, the "Swamp Fox" of Revolutionary War fame.
Medina (1812), named for Medina in Arabia, the town to which Mohammed fled from Mecca.
Meigs (1819), named for Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr., Ohio Governor 1810 to 1814 and Postmaster General 1814 to 1823 who lived in Marietta.
Mercer (1820), named in honor of Gen. Hugh Mercer, who was killed at the Battle of Princeton, New Jersey, on January 3, 1777.
Miami (1807), named for the Miami Indians who claimed Western Ohio and whose principal village, Pickawillany, was located near Piqua.
Monroe (1813), named for James Monroe, U.S. Secretary of State, 1811-1817, and later the fifth President of the United States, 1817-1825.
Montgomery (1803), named for General Richard Montgomery who lost his life in the assault on Quebec during the Revolutionary War.
Morgan (1817), named in honor of Gen. Daniel Morgan, who won a brilliant victory against the British at Cowpens, South Carolina, January 17, 1781.
Morrow (1848), named for Jeremiah Morrow, Congressman 1803-1813; 1840-1843, U.S. Senator 1813-1819, and Ohio Governor 1822-1826.
Muskingum (1804), is an old Delaware Indian word meaning "A town by the River."
Noble (1851), named out of respect for James Noble, a pioneer settler who first bought land in the county in 1814.
Ottawa (1840), named for the Ottawa Indian tribe. The name in their language meant "trader."
Paulding (1820), named for John Paulding, one of three soldiers who captured Major John Andre, British spy in the Revolutionary War.
Perry (1818), named in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who defeated the British in the naval Battle of Lake Erie, September 13, 1813.
Pickaway (1810), named from a mis-spelling of the tribe of Indians, known as Piqua, a branch of the Shawnee Tribe.
Pike (1815), bears the name of Brig. Gen. Zebulon Montgomery Pike, who discovered "Pike’s Peak," in Colorado in 1806.
Portage (1808), name comes from the old Indian portage path, about seven miles in length, between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers.
Preble (1808), named for Capt. Edward Preble, naval commander in the Revolutionary War and the War with Tripoli.
Putnam (1820), named for Israel Putnam, Revolutionary War Major General, who gained fame at the Battle of Breed’s Hill, often mis-named the Battle of Bunker Hill, on June 17, 1775.
Richland (1808), named for the richness of its soil.
Ross (1798), named by Territorial Governor Arthur St. Clair for his friend James Ross of Pennsylvania; U.S. Senator 1794-1803.
Sandusky (1820), is a derivative of an Indian word meaning "cold water." In Wyandot and Huron languages it is "Sa-un-dos-tee" meaning "water within water pools."
Scioto (1803), takes its name from the Scioto River which flows through the county. Scioto comes from a Indian word "Scionto," meaning "deer."
Seneca (1820), named for the Seneca Indians, who had a 40,000 acre reservation north of Tiffin from 1817-1831.
Shelby (1819), named for Isaac Shelby, Revolutionary War hero and first Governor of Kentucky. Counties in nine states are named for him.
Stark (1808), named for Gen. John Stark of Revolutionary War fame.
Summit (1840), derived its name for having the highest land on the line of the Ohio and Erie Canal, known as "Portage Summit."
Trumbull (1800), in the Connecticut Western Reserve, was named for Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., Governor of Connecticut 1797-1809.
Tuscarawas (1808), named for the Tuscarawas Indian Tribe who lived on the Tuscarawas River.
Union (1820), named because it was formed from parts of Delaware, Franklin, Madison, and Logan counties.
Van Wert (1820), named for Isaac Van Wert, one of the three captors of British spy, Major John Andre. Actual spelling of Van Wert’s name was "Van Wart." The spelling was changed due to an illegible entry in Congressional records.
Vinton (1850), named for Samuel Finley Vinton, an Ohio Statesman and U. S. Congressman, known as the "Father of the Department of Interior."
Warren (1803), named for Gen. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the Battle of Breed’s (Bunker) Hill, on June 17, 1775.
Washington (1788), Ohio’s first county and named in honor of George Washington, who was president of the Constitutional Convention at the time the county was formed.
Wayne (1808), named for Major General Anthony Wayne, Revolutionary War hero later General-in-Chief U.S. Army 1791-1796. Defeated the Indians at the "Battle of Fallen Timbers," August 20, 1794.
Williams (1820), honors David Williams, one of three captors of Major John Andre on September 23, 1780.
Wood (1820), named after Major Eleazer D. Wood, U.S. Army-Engineers, who built Fort Meigs in 1813 while serving on the staff of General William Henry Harrison.
Wyandot (1845), named for the Wyandot Indians, the last Indian tribe in Ohio to cede their reservations March 17, 1842. They moved to lands west of the Mississippi River in July, 1843.
Copyright 1994 by the Ohio Auditor of State All Rights Reserved.
FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION ONLY. Researched and written by
Thomas Aquinas Burke, Internet Address F491.3 B86 1994 977.1
Eighth Edition - September 1996
"Ohio Lands - A Short History"
ReTyped & Graphics Rescanned December 1997
by Maggie Stewart-Zimmerman
Email at Maggie Stewart
This booklet is available on the Auditor of State home page under