On February 12, 1820, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Marion County. Residents named the county in honor of Francis Marion, a hero of the American Revolution. The county was the home of United States President Warren G. Harding. The Ohio History Connection now operates Harding’s home as a museum. Harding is also buried in the county.
Marion County is located in the north central portion of Ohio. The county seat is Marion, which is the largest population center, with almost thirty-eight thousand residents in 2000. This marked a ten percent growth in the town’s population since 1990, and the county, itself, experienced a three percent growth rate, to a total population of 66,217 people, during this same time period. Much of this growth resulted from Franklin County and Delaware County residents trying to escape the busyness of Columbus. An average of 164 people live in each of Marion County’s 404 square miles.
Despite the tremendous growth, Marion County remains heavily rural, but subdivisions and businesses are quickly taking over much of this land. Manufacturing businesses are the county’s largest employer, with retail and government positions finishing second and third respectively. The Marion Power Shovel Company, a manufacturer of construction equipment, was historically one of the county’s largest employers. The Ohio State University Marion also employs numerous residents. The county’s average income was approximately twenty-two thousand dollars per person in 1999, with almost twelve percent of the population living in poverty.
Most voters in Marion County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican candidates at the national level.