On February 13, 1808, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Tuscarawas County. Residents named the county after an Indian word meaning “open mouth.” Among the first white residents of the county were Moravian missionaries, who sought to convert members of the Delaware Indians. The missionaries established the villages of Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutten to carry out their work in the 1770s. In the early 1800s, German Separatists established the village of Zoar in Tuscarawas County. For numerous years these people lived as a communal society. The Ohio Historical Society now operates Schoenbrunn and Zoar as historic sites.
Tuscarawas County is located in northeastern Ohio and covers 568 square miles. The county’s population increased by 8.1 percent between 1990 and 2000, as residents of Canton, in nearby Stark County, sought to escape the larger city’s congestion. Tuscarawas County had a total of 90,914 residents in 2000. New Philadelphia is the county seat and the largest city in the county, with 17,056 residents in 2000. Tuscarawas County averages 160 residents per square mile.
Tuscarawas County is overwhelmingly rural, with only 1.6 percent of the county deemed to be urban, but most residents earn their livings by working in sales, manufacturing, or service positions. Farming ranks a distant fourth. Tuscarawas County’s average income was 21,708 dollars per person in 1999, with 10.2 percent of the population living in poverty.
Most voters in Tuscarawas County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.
Baseball great Denton “Cy” Young was born in Tuscarawas County.