Ross County

From Ohio History Central
Ross County map.jpg

On August 20, 1798, the Northwest Territory government authorized the creation of Ross County. Governor Arthur St. Clair named the county in honor of his friend James Ross. Before the arrival of whites, Ohio's Indian people flourished in the region. The Hopewell Indians constructed numerous mounds and other earthworks in Ross County. Some of these earthworks still exist and form the basis of Mound Builders National Monument.

Ross County is located in southern Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with 1.3 percent of the county's 688 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Chillicothe. With a population of 21,796 people, Chillicothe was the county's largest community in 2000. Chillicothe was Ohio's first state capitol. In 1800, the territorial capital moved to Chillicothe, and in 1802 as Ohio moved toward statehood, the city hosted the Ohio Constitutional Convention. The reason why Chillicothe played such an important role in early state government was its central location as well as the prominent men, like Edward Tiffin and Thomas Worthington, who resided in the town. The city continued as Ohio's capital until 1810, when state government moved to Zanesville. The capital returned to Chillicothe two years later, only to move to Columbus, forty-five miles to the north, in 1816. Unlike many of Ohio's more rural counties, Ross County experienced an increase in population -- 5.8 percent -- between 1990 and 2000, increasing the total number of residents to 73,345 people. The county averages almost 107 people per square mile.

Retail positions and service industries are the largest employers in Ross County. Farming and manufacturing businesses also employ many county residents. Many people work in these various industries, while others commute roughly one hour to Ohio's current capital, Columbus. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was 20,291 dollars, with 14.6 percent of the people living in poverty.

Most voters in Ross County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican Party candidates at the national level. The county has boasted numerous prominent residents, including Ohio's first governor, Edward Tiffin, and the state's first United States senator, Thomas Worthington, whose home is now preserved as a museum by the Ohio History Connection. First Lady Lucy Hayes grew up in Chillicothe, and John Harris, who established the first dental school in the United States, lived in Bainbridge. The county is also home to one of the most famous outdoor historical dramas, Tecumseh!, which takes place near Chillicothe every summer.

See Also