History & Facts of Ohio Counties

Ohio Counties  •  Ohio Extinct Counties  •  Ohio Burned Courthouses

Ohio County records differ extensively from county to county in either quality not to mention quantity. Some have already been very carefully conserved and some have been substantially mistreated and overlooked. Some Ohio records have simply disappeared. For genealogists carrying out research in Ohio there's no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Ohio is divided into 88 counties. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. Counties do not possess home rule powers and can do only what has been expressly authorized by the Ohio General Assembly. Elected county officials include three commissioners, a sheriff (the highest law enforcement officer in the county); prosecutor (equivalent of a district attorney in other states); coroner, engineer, auditor, treasurer and clerk of courts.

Ohio Counties

For the most part, there are no death or birth records available for the state of Ohio prior to 1867. Each county's probate court office recorded death and birth records between 1867 and 1908. Each county's health department recorded those records from then on. The Columbus, Ohio Vital Records Office also kept copies of those records. Each county's probate court office also holds the marriage records for that county for years prior to 1949. The county recorder's office holds deeds from the time that the county was founded until the present-day.

Researchers who are requesting information from county offices should address inquires by county name to the "County Courthouse." However, researchers should keep in mind that some records may be stored in other places.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Adams July 10, 1797 Hamilton County West Union
Allen March 1, 1820 Shelby County Lima
Ashland February 24, 1846 Wayne, Richland, Huron, and Lorain Counties Ashland
Ashtabula June 7, 1807 Trumbull and Geauga Counties Jefferson
Athens March 1, 1805 Washington County Athens
Auglaize February 14, 1848 Allen, Mercer, Darke, Hardin, Logan, Shelby, and Van Wert Counties Wapakoneta
Belmont September 7, 1801 Jefferson and Washington Counties St. Clairsville
Brown March 1, 1818 Adams and Clermont Counties Georgetown
Butler May 1, 1803 Hamilton County Hamilton
Carroll January 1, 1833 Columbiana, Stark, Harrison, Jefferson, and Tuscarawas Counties Carrollton
Champaign March 1, 1805 Greene and Franklin Counties Urbana
Clark March 1, 1818 Champaign, Madison, and Greene Counties Springfield
Clermont December 6, 1800 Hamilton County Batavia
Clinton March 1, 1810 Highland and Warren Counties Wilmington
Columbiana May 1, 1803 Jefferson and Washington Counties Lisbon
Coshocton January 31, 1810 Muskingum and Tuscarawas Counties Coshocton
Crawford April 1, 1820 Delaware County Bucyrus
Cuyahoga June 7, 1807 Geauga County Cleveland
Darke January 3, 1809 Miami County Greenville
Defiance April 7, 1845 Williams, Henry, and Paulding Counties Defiance
Delaware April 1, 1808 Franklin County Delaware
Erie March 15, 1838 Huron and Sandusky Counties Sandusky
Fairfield December 9, 1800 Ross and Washington Counties Lancaster
Fayette March 1, 1810 Ross and Highland Counties Washington Court House
Franklin April 30, 1803 Ross and Wayne Counties Columbus
Fulton April 1, 1850 Lucas, Henry, and Williams Counties Wauseon
Gallia April 30, 1803 Washington and Adams Counties Gallipolis
Geauga March 1, 1806 Trumbull County Chardon
Greene May 1, 1803 Hamilton and Ross Counties Xenia
Guernsey March 1, 1810 Belmont and Muskingum Counties Cambridge
Hamilton January 2, 1790 One of the original counties Cincinnati
Hancock April 1, 1820 Logan County Findlay
Hardin April 1, 1820 Logan County Kenton
Harrison February 1, 1813 Jefferson and Tuscarawas Counties Cadiz
Henry April 1, 1820 Shelby County Napoleon
Highland May 1, 1805 Ross, Adams, and Clermont Counties Hillsboro
Hocking March 1, 1818 Athens, Ross, and Fairfield Counties Logan
Holmes January 20, 1824 Coshocton, Wayne, and Tuscarawas Counties Millersburg
Huron March 7, 1809 Portage and Cuyahoga Counties Norwalk
Jackson March 1, 1816 Scioto, Gallia, Athens, and Ross Counties Jackson
Jefferson July 29, 1797 Washington County Steubenville
Knox March 1, 1808 Fairfield County Mount Vernon
Lake March 6, 1840 Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties Painesville
Lawrence December 21, 1815 Gallia and Scioto Counties Ironton
Licking March 1, 1808 Fairfield County Newark
Logan March 1, 1818 Champaign County Bellefontaine
Lorain December 26, 1822 Huron, Cuyahoga, and Medina Counties Elyria
Lucas June 20, 1835 Wood, Sandusky, and Huron Counties Toledo
Madison March 1, 1810 Franklin County London
Mahoning March 1, 1846 Columbiana and Trumbull Counties Youngstown
Marion April 1, 1820 Delaware County Marion
Medina February 18, 1812 Portage County Medina
Meigs April 1, 1819 Gallia and Athens Counties Pomeroy
Mercer April 1, 1820 Darke County Celina
Miami March 1, 1807 Montgomery County Troy
Monroe January 29, 1813 Belmont, Washington, and Guernsey Counties Woodsfield
Montgomery May 1, 1803 Hamilton and Wayne Counties Dayton
Morgan December 29, 1817 Washington, Guernsey, and Muskingum Counties McConnelsville
Morrow March 1, 1848 Knox, Marion, Delaware, and Richland Counties Mount Gilead
Muskingum March 1, 1803 Washington and Fairfield Counties Zanesville
Noble April 1, 1851 Monroe, Washington, Morgan, and Guernsey Counties Caldwell
Ottawa March 6, 1840 Erie, Sandusky, and Lucas Counties Port Clinton
Paulding April 1, 1820 Darke County Paulding
Perry March 1, 1818 Washington, Fairfield, and Muskingum Counties New Lexington
Pickaway March 1, 1810 Ross, Fairfield, and Franklin Counties Circleville
Pike February 1, 1815 Ross, Scioto, and Adams Counties Waverly
Portage June 7, 1807 Trumbull County Ravenna
Preble March 1, 1808 Montgomery and Butler Counties Eaton
Putnam April 1, 1820 Shelby County Ottawa
Richland March 1, 1808 Fairfield County Mansfield
Ross August 20, 1798 Adams and Washington Counties Chillicothe
Sandusky April 1, 1820 Huron County Fremont
Scioto May 1, 1803 Adams County Portsmouth
Seneca April 1, 1820 Huron County Tiffin
Shelby April 1, 1819 Miami County Sidney
Stark February 13, 1808 Columbiana County Canton
Summit March 3, 1840 Medina, Portage, and Stark Counties Akron
Trumbull July 10, 1800 Jefferson and Wayne Counties Warren
Tuscarawas March 15, 1808 Muskingum County New Philadelphia
Union April 1, 1820 Delaware, Franklin, Logan, and Madison Counties Marysville
Van Wert April 1, 1820 Darke County Van Wert
Vinton March 23, 1850 Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, and Ross Counties McArthur
Warren May 1, 1803 Hamilton County Lebanon
Washington July 27, 1788 One of the original counties Marietta
Wayne March 1, 1808 From non-county area Wooster
Williams April 1, 1820 Darke County Bryan
Wood April 1, 1820 Refactored from non-county territory Bowling Green
Wyandot February 3, 1845 Marion, Crawford, and Hardin Counties Upper Sandusky

Ohio Extinct Counties

Ohio contains counties that no longer exist. They were created by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. Most of these counties were created and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county borders have adjusted very little since 1900 in the great number of states. These counties should be checked out when doing genealogy and family tree research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was abolished or joined with another county.

  • Illinois County, Virginia, formed in 1778 and constituted most of present-day Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin; abolished 5 January 1782; territory ceded by Virginia to Congress in March 1784

Ohio Counties with Burned Courthouses

The destruction to Ohio courthouses significantly has a affect on genealogists in each and every way. Not only are these types of historic buildings ripped from each of our lifetimes, so are the documents they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they are lost permanently. Although they happen to have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason why virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Though, not all records were lost. Many Ohio counties have suffered a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

Unfortunately, fires have destroyed several Ohio courthouse records. Other disasters may also have destroyed records. However, several records did survive. Courthouse fires that may have impacted records include:

  • Adams County Courthouse caught fire in 1910, resulting in the loss of most of the will books and other probate files, as well as some other records.
  • Belmont County Courthouse, 1980;
  • Brown County Courthouse, 1977;
  • Champaign County Courthouse, 1948;
  • Columbiana County Courthouse, 1976;
  • Crawford County Courthouse, 1831;
  • Delaware County Courthouse, 1835;
  • Fayette County Courthouse, 1828;
  • Franklin County Courthouse, 1879;
  • Fulton County Courthouse, before 1860;
  • Gallia County Courthouse, 1981;
  • Hamilton County Courthouse, 1814, 1849, 1884;
  • Henry County Courthouse, 1847;
  • Licking County Courthouse, Destroyed by fire on 2 April 1875. Records in the Recorder’s, Sheriff’s, Auditors and Treasurer’s offices were saved. The marriage records between 1829-1839 were possibly lost completely in the fire. Some estate records also were burned in the fire. There are gaps in records for this county. Also on 29 Mar 1879 the tower of the New Licking County Courthouse caught fire. No records were destroyed.
  • Monroe County Courthouse, 1840, 1867;
  • Seneca County Courthouse, 1841;
  • Trumbull County Courthouse, 1895.

Researchers should note that some records may have survived in each case. So, it is important to contact the county courthouses first and see which records are still available. Courthouse record keepers may also be able to point researchers to other resources.

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