On December 29, 1817, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Morgan County. Residents named the county in honor of Daniel Morgan, a hero of the American Revolution. The first whites settled in the county in 1790. They built a community known as Big Bottom. In 1791, Indians attacked the settlement, killing twelve settlers. This event became known as the Big Bottom Massacre. The Ohio History Connection commemorates the attack with a monument on the site.
Morgan County is located in eastern Ohio. It is predominantly rural, with less than one percent of the county’s 418 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county is also in the heart of Appalachia. The county seat is McConnelsville. With a population of 1,676 people, McConnelsville was the county’s largest community in 2000. Unlike many of Ohio’s more rural counties, Morgan County’s population has increased in recent years. Between 1990 and 2000, the county’s population grew by five percent, raising the total number of residents to 14,897 people in 2000. The county averages thirty-six people per square mile, making it one of Ohio’s least populous counties.
Agriculture is the largest employer in Morgan County. No other occupation draws more than 750 workers. During the nineteenth century, many McConnelsville residents earned their livings by transporting crops, manufactured goods, and people down the Muskingum River to the Ohio River. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was 17,794 dollars, with 15.3 percent of the people living in poverty.
Most voters in Morgan County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.