Ohio Couties Celebrate Bicentennials in 2020

by Willis Beck

Formation of the Counties…

The concept of counties dates back to English law and U. S. History was laid out in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Ohio officially became a state in 1803 and was a part of Virginia until 1784. One time, Connecticut also claimed part of the northern part of the state as can be seen by the Western Reserve and the Firelands. Many early homes in the area portray the Con-necticut style of architecture.

At one time we were considered a part of New France. Shortly before the Revolution we came under the Quebec Act. Our major city in Northwest Ohio is Toledo, although we never owed allegiance to Spain! Ethnically, we are mostly British, Irish, German and Polish with a sprinkling of Native American and Hispanic.

In the act of 1820, fourteen counties were to be surveyed and then orga-nized when the time was right. In 1820, all of Wood County had a population of 734. Sandusky County had a total population of 832. These two places had been the sites of Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812.

Sandusky and Wood counties were organized at once. Other counties were surveyed but not organized and were attached for administrative purposes to an adjacent county. Here follows the fourteen counties, their attaching counties, and the dates they were organized.

1 Sandusky 1820, attached county 2 Seneca 1824 — 3 Wood 1820, counties attached for civil purposes 4 Paulding 1824, 5 Williams 1824, 6 Putnam 1824, 7 Henry 1834, and 8 Hancock 1826. 9 Marion – attached to Dela-ware 1820 – 10 Mercer attached to Darke 1824 – 11 Crawford attached to Delaware 1826 – 12 Allen attached to Shelby 1831 – 13 Hardin attached to Logan 1833 – 14 Van Wert attached to Darke 1837.

All of these counties were immediately surveyed to facilitate land sales, etc. They were then attached to the name of the adjacent counties for civil purposes until they could be organized and a seat of government established.

The 1835 boundary dispute with the Michigan Territory, aka the “Toledo War,” resulted in the formation of 15 Lucas and 16 Ottawa 1840. The removal of native tribes resulted in the formation of 17 Wyandot 1845 and 19 Auglaize 1848. The tremendous growth in population and industry that resulted from the opening of the canals led to the founding of 18 Defiance 184. In most cases, lands were taken from the adjacent counties to form these new governmental units.

The little village of Perrysburg(h) got a jump-start on the settlement game when it was surveyed and platted in 1816, (before Wood County was formed). It along with the neighboring Maumee area in the center of the Twelve Miles Square reserve that was part of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. All land outside of that area unless specifically designated was technically still native land. These boundaries can still be seen on old maps. The Twelve Miles Square Reserve has a southern boundary of Dowling Road and a western boundary of Crissey Road. Its center lies about a block east of the Maumee Public Library.

Naming the Counties…

Of the 88 counties in Ohio you can find the names of many of our Founding Fathers. You will see most of the early presidents until Jackson, a healthy dose of Revolutionary War generals and several Native tribe names. You will also see our local favorites Harri-son and Wayne; as well as War of 1812 favorites Perry, Shelby, and Pike.

Eleazor Darby Wood the engineer that designed and built Fort Meigs was an early graduate of the newly formed West Point Army Academy. He was killed in battle at Fort Erie in 1814 and we have honored him by naming Wood County for him.

Three militiamen of Westchester County New York were guarding a highway near Tarrytown, NY on September 22, 1780. They stopped a gentleman on horseback that claimed to be John Anderson. He claimed to have a passport signed by General Benedict Arnold. They examined the document and then strip-searched him. Inside his boot and between his sock and his bare feet they found several drawings of the new fort at West Point. They soon found that he was not John Anderson. He was in fact the British spy John Andre and he was working on an intrigue with the traitor Benedict Arnold. A few weeks later he was hanged at General Washington’s headquarters.

The three militiamen were: John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart. In 1820, some forty years later, we named three of our North-west counties for them. (The spelling of the name Van Wart is correct! Somewhere along the line it got changed to Van Wert!)

Board Members and Officers Needed

If you are not currently on the Board and are willing to serve in that capacity (3 year terms), make sure by November 15th that you are a member for 2020
(only current members can be on the ballot) and also a paid member for 2021. We cannot vote for someone that may not be a MVHC member in 2021 because they fail to pay their dues. All Board members are expected to make at least half of the 4 Board meetings per year and to be on a committee or be an Officer. If you have questions or the willingness to be put on the ballot, please contact VP Willis Beck, Nomina-tions Committee Chair, at 419-874-8076 or beck.willis@yahoo.com.

We currently have 15 Board members and are allowed up to 24. Self nomina-tions will be taken from the floor.

We also need Officers, (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer), for 2021. At this time, no one has expressed an intention to be an Officer.

Anyone can call (Frank) at 419-270-0622 or email fb21@wcnet.org to get an explanation of the current situation and the usual officer responsibilities for MVHC. In the end, a contact should be made to our VP Willis Beck (contact info above), Nominations Committee Chair, to get your name on the Officers ballot. Nominations will be accepted from the floor on November 15.

Scenic Byway Strategic Plan

Scenic Byway Strategic Plan Becomes a Reality

In March of this year, the MVHC completed its five-year Corridor Management Plan (CMP) update for the Maumee Valley Scenic Byway (MVSB). Established in 1998, the Ohio Scenic Byway Program is a grassroots effort to heighten awareness of our state’s cultural, historical, archeological, recreational, natural and scenic resources. Ohio’s Scenic Byway program is administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in partnership with local communities, organizations and government agencies. Its purpose is to promote travel and recreation and to enhance and provide stewardship for the intrinsic features that distinguish the highways, roads and streets that comprise Ohio’s designated byway corridors.

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The Scenic Byway Routes (shown in blue) on both sides of the Maumee River stretch from Defiance,Ohio to Rossford, Ohio.

The MVSB is one of 27 byways in Ohio, and was designated through the efforts of the MVHC and local stakeholders. The nearly 90-mile route begins on the north side of the Maumee River in the City of Defiance at the intersection of State Route 15 and River Drive (CR 424). The byway follows River Road eastward through Napoleon, Waterville and into Maumee to the site of the former British Fort Miamis (an affiliated site of the National Park Service), where it ends. On the south side of the Maumee, the byway starts at Napoleon on State Route 110 and continues on State Route 65 through the historic towns of Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, and Rossford, ending at I-75.

On April 16 the CMP update was accepted by ODOT, signifying our full compliance with this requirement of the Program. The CMP is a written docu-ment that serves as a record of a scenic byway’s development as well as the plan by which the scenic byway is implemented and then maintained and enhanced indefinitely. The CMP identifies six goals over the next five years.

Goal 1: Educate the public about the unique intrinsic qualities of the Maumee River Valley. Updating existing brochures and promotional materials will be an immediate first action to meet this goal, but we’ll also be looking to improve our website presence as well as developing digital applications for the more tech-savvy visitors and users. We would like to bring all this together by developing an integrated signage and media system of local heritage features.

Goal 2: Advocate for the continued development of a multi-modal byway corridor. The Ohio Scenic Byway program emphasizes vehicular travel, but we well know that the Maumee Valley can also be enjoyed by foot, bicycle, or boat. By reaching out to transportation/travel advisors, and with input from local stakeholders, we will develop an action plan to make the byway a major destination for all types of travel, with a strategy for advocacy and implementation.

Goal 3: Encourage organizations, business and communities to view the byway (and its intrinsic qualities) as a tool for economic development in the region. With the help of local universities, other byway organizations, and experts in the field, we hope to compile data on the economic impact of recreation/heritage/eco-tourism, and distribute the results through a variety of media and outreach.

Goal 4: Work with city, village, and township planning/zoning commissions and other stakeholders to preserve the uniqueness of the byway and to garner more involvement in the byway. We will identify the stakeholders in the MVSB with an interest regional land use, share information about
incentive/recognition programs, provide updates on economic studies, and meet annually for a “state of the byway” meeting. To enhance public access to the byway’s attractions, we will help jurisdictions to evaluate current access, site limitations, and signage for these attractions.

Goal 5: Promote community pride in the appearance of the MVSB. We’ll work with municipalities and local historical societies to install interpretive signage at key locations along the Byway, and to develop an awards program to recognize beautification efforts or preservation successes.

Goal 6: Extend the existing Byway east to Toledo and west to the Indiana state line, with no gaps. It’s been on our plate for several years to capture the entire Maumee Valley in the Byway, as it tells a complete and uninterrupted narrative of our region’s natural and historical development.

As part of the MVHC’s overarching mission, the Scenic Byway Committee will specifically focus on management, coordination, promotion, and development of byway initiatives in the corridor. Anyone interested in serving on the Byway Committee or contributing in other ways is invited to contact Maura Johnson at 419-278-0773 or mjohnson@manniksmithgroup.com.

For more information about the Ohio Scenic Byway program, go online to

Wood County Historical Center

All of the wonderful cultural and sports activities one associates with a college town are evident in Bowling Green, home of Bowling Green State University. It is also the county seat. The Wood County Historical Center served as the County Home, providing community services from 1868 until 1970. Among the attractions is an operating drilling rig which tells about the 1880s oil boom.


Visit the Wood County Historical Center Website