On January 30, 1808, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Knox County. Residents named the county in honor of Henry Knox, a hero from the War of 1812 and the first United States Secretary of War. Knox County was originally part of Fairfield County.
Knox County is located in the northeastern part of central Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with less than one percent of the county’s 527 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Mount Vernon, which, with a population of 14,375 people, was the county’s largest community in 2000. Knox County experienced a significant increase in population, roughly 14.8 percent, between 1990 and 2000, raising the total number of residents to 54,500 people. Many residents of Ohio’s rural communities are seeking better lives and more opportunities in the state’s cities, but Knox County is increasing in population. The county averages 103 people per square mile.
Farming is the largest employer in Knox County, with sixty percent of the county’s acreage under cultivation. Within Ohio, Knox County farmers rank first in sheep raising. Manufacturing positions and service industries finish a close second and third behind agriculture. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was 20,850 dollars, with just over ten percent of the people living in poverty.
Most voters in Knox County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.
Composer Daniel Emmett and Civil War nurse Mary Ann Ball Bickerdyke were among Knox County’s more prominent residents. The county also is home to Kenyon College, established by Episcopalian Philander Chase in 1824.