On January 21, 1819, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Meigs County. Residents named the county in honor of Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr., a former governor of Ohio. The county used to be parts of Gallia and Athens Counties. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Buffington Island took place in Meigs County. This was the only battle to occur in Ohio. The Ohio History Connection maintains a monument to the Battle of Buffington Island in Meigs County.
Meigs County is located in southeastern Ohio. The county’s southern border lies along the Ohio River. It is predominantly rural, with less than one percent of the county’s 429 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county is also in the heart of Appalachia. The county seat is Pomeroy. With a population of 1,966 people, Pomeroy was the county’s third largest community in 2000, ranking behind Middleport (2,525 residents) and Chester Township (2,332 residents). Unlike many of Ohio’s more rural counties, Meigs County’s population has remained relatively steady, with the total number of residents at 23,072 people in 2000. The county averages fifty-four people per square mile.
The largest employers in Meigs County are farms, government positions and retail businesses. During the nineteenth century, county residents earned money especially through coal mining, iron ore excavation, and salt processing. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was 16,436 dollars, with 20.4 percent of the people living in poverty. This is one of the lowest per capita income averages and highest poverty rates in Ohio.
Most voters in Meigs County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.