On December 26, 1822, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Lorain County. It originally was a portion of Huron, Medina, and Cuyahoga Counties. It also was a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The county is named for the Lorraine region of France. Many of the county’s earliest white settlers were opposed to slavery. Oberlin College was the first institution of higher education in the United States to admit women and African Americans into the same classes as white men.
Lorain County is located in northern Ohio and covers 493 square miles, with its northern border lying on Lake Erie. The county has grown in recent years, as residents of nearby Cleveland in Cuyahoga County have moved to Lorain and surrounding counties to escape the busyness of the city. Between 1990 and 2000, Lorain County’s population increased by five percent to a total of 284,664 residents in 2000. Elyria is the county seat and the second largest community in the county, with 55,953 residents in 2000. The county averages 577 residents per square mile.
Lorain County is overwhelmingly rural, with only seven percent of the county deemed to be urban, but most residents earn their livings by working in manufacturing, sales, or service positions. Farming ranks eighth. Some county residents also earn their livings on Lake Erie, working in the city of Lorain’s harbor, sending products across the Great Lakes and around the world. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, steel was a major industry in Lorain County. The county’s average income was approximately 25,700 dollars per person in 1999, with 10.4 percent of the population living in poverty.
Most voters in Lorain County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates at the national level.
Ohio Governor Myron T. Herrick was born in the county. Scientist Charles Martin Hall and artist Archibald M. Willard were also Lorain County residents.