On March 6, 1840, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Lake County. It originally was a portion of Geauga and Cuyahoga Counties. It also was originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The county is named for Lake Erie, which forms Lake County’s northern border. Among the county’s earliest white settlers were the Mormons, who established a temple at Kirtland in 1833. Due to the opposition of their neighbors, many Mormons eventually fled from Ohio, moving further west.
Lake County is located in northeastern Ohio and covers 228 square miles. It is the smallest county territorially in Ohio. The county has grown dramatically in recent years, as residents of nearby Cleveland in Cuyahoga County have moved to Lake and surrounding counties to escape the busyness of the city. Between 1990 and 2000, Lake County’s population increased by 5.6 percent to a total of 227,511 residents in 2000. Mentor is the largest community in the county, with over fifty thousand residents in 2000. The county seat of Painesville ranked a distant fourth in size, with just over 17,500 residents in 2000. The county averages 998 residents per square mile.
Lake County is overwhelmingly rural, but most residents earn their livings by working in manufacturing, sales, or service positions. Farming ranks eighth. Tourism is a major industry for the county. Lake County is well known for its fish, including walleye, steelhead trout, and jumbo perch. The county is also home to the Holden Arboretum, which some people claim is the largest arboretum in the United States. The county’s average income was approximately twenty-nine thousand dollars per person in 1999, with 5.7 percent of the population living in poverty.
Most voters in Lake County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican candidates at the national level.
United States President James A. Garfield ranks among Lake County’s most famous residents. Ohio Governor Samuel Huntington was born in the county.