Delaware County

From Ohio History Central
Delaware County map.jpg

On February 10, 1808, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Delaware County. The county was originally part of Franklin County. Residents chose to name the county after the Delaware Indian tribe. The county was the birthplace of President Rutherford B. Hayes. It also is home to Ohio Wesleyan University, a school established by Methodists in 1842. Due to the large number of deeply religious people in the county, during the 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, residents played an important role in the Underground Railroad.

Delaware County is located in the central portion of Ohio. The county seat is Delaware, which is the largest population center, with just over twenty-five thousand residents in 2000. This marked a twenty-five percent growth in the town's population since 1990, and the county, itself, experienced a fifty percent growth rate, to a total population of 109,989 people, during this same period. Delaware County is Ohio's fastest growing county, as residents of nearby Franklin County try to escape the busyness of Columbus. An average of 249 people live in each of Delaware County's 442 square miles.

Despite the tremendous growth, Delaware County remains heavily rural, but subdivisions and businesses are quickly taking over much of this land. The southern part of the county, the area nearest Columbus, is experiencing the fastest growth, with the northern portion of the county remaining the most rural. Retail sales positions are the county's largest employer, with service industries and manufacturing establishments finishing second and third respectively. Among the most important manufacturers are Honda, American Showa, PPG, Nippert Company, Trus Joist, and the Liebert Corporation. The county also has a strong tourism industry, with the Columbus Zoo and the Olentangy Indian Caverns as the two most prominent tourist destinations. Delaware County has one of Ohio's highest average incomes and lowest poverty rates. The county's average income was approximately thirty-five thousand dollars per person in 1999, with just 4.5 percent of the population living in poverty.

Most voters in Delaware County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates at the national level.

Besides President Hayes, the county also was home to William Rosecrans, a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and Frank B. Willis, an Ohio governor.

Delaware also is famous for hosting the "Little Brown Jug" each year at the Delaware County Fair. Begun in 1946, the "Little Brown Jug" has become one of the premier races in the harness-racing Triple Crown. It attracts more than fifty thousand people to Delaware every fall.

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