On February 12, 1820, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Putnam County. Residents named the county in honor of Israel Putnam, a hero of the American Revolution. Putnam County was originally part of territory set aside for Ohio’s Indian people by the Treaty of Greenville. After the Ohio government authorized the county’s creation, it remained part of Wood County until 1824, and then it was part of Williams County until 1834.
Putnam County is located in the northwestern part of Ohio. The county seat is Ottawa, which is the largest community in the county with a population of 4,367 people in 2000. Less than one percent of the county’s 484 square miles are deemed to be urban. The county averages seventy-two people living in each square mile. Between 1990 and 2000, the county experienced a 2.7 percent increase in population. This is unusual for Ohio’s more rural counties, as residents usually seek better opportunities in the state’s larger cities. Some of these new people came from Toledo, approximately fifty miles away, to escape this large city’s busyness. In 2000, the county’s residents numbered 34,726 people.
Most of Putnam County’s residents find employment in agricultural positions. Ninety-four percent of the county’s acreage is under cultivation. Farmers are especially well known for growing tomatoes and wheat and raising hogs. A large Mexican migrant population harvests many of the crops. Manufacturing, retail positions, and service industries finish second, third, and fourth respectively. In 1999, the county’s per capita income was 24,643 dollars, with 5.5 percent of the county’s residents living below the poverty level.
Most voters in Putnam County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have overwhelmingly supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.