On February 12, 1820, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Paulding County. Residents named the county in honor of John Paulding, a hero of the American Revolution. Paulding helped capture Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in U.S. history. Paulding County was originally part of territory set aside for Ohio’s Native Americans by the Treaty of Greenville. White settlement of the county occurred very slowly, due to the Great Black Swamp occupying most of the land. During the 1830s and 1840s, completion of the Miami and Erie Canal and the Wabash and Erie Canal helped spur settlement, but still water from the Great Black Swamp and from a water reservoir for the canals covered much of the county. It was not until 1887 that residents were able to drain most of the Great Black Swamp and the reservoir, opening the land to farming and further settlement.
Paulding County is located in the northwestern part of Ohio. Its western border helps form the boundary between Ohio and Indiana. The county seat is Paulding, which is the largest city in the county with a population of 3,595 people in 2000. Less than one percent of the county’s 416 square miles are deemed to be urban. The county averages forty-nine people living in each square mile. Between 1990 and 2000, the county experienced a one percent decrease in population. This is typical of Ohio’s more rural counties, as residents seek better opportunities in the state’s larger cities. In 2000, the county’s residents numbered 20,293 people.
Most of Paulding County’s residents find employment in agricultural positions. Manufacturing, government, and retail positions finish second, third, and fourth respectively. In 1999, the county’s per capita income was 19,961 dollars, with 7.7 percent of the county’s residents living below the poverty level.
Most voters in Paulding County claim to be independents, yet in recent years, they have supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.