On January 7, 1819, the Ohio government authorized the creation of Shelby County. Residents named the county in honor of Isaac Shelby. Shelby County was originally part of territory set aside for Ohio’s Native Americans by the Treaty of Greenville.
Shelby County is located in the western part of Ohio. The county seat is Sidney, which is the largest community in the county with a population of 20,211 people in 2000. No other community in Shelby County has a population over two thousand people. Only 1.6 percent of the county’s 409 square miles are deemed to be urban. The county averages 117 people living in each square mile. Between 1990 and 2000, the county experienced a 6.7 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. In 2000, the county’s residents numbered 47,910 people.
Most of Shelby County’s residents find employment in agricultural positions. Farmers bring in more than seventy million dollars combined per year. The county is especially well known for its dairy cattle. Manufacturing businesses also employ thousands of workers, with retail positions and service industries employing a significantly smaller number of county residents. In 1999, the county’s per capita income was 25,520 dollars, with 7.6 percent of the county’s residents living below the poverty level.
Most voters in Shelby County claim to be independents, yet in recent years they have overwhelmingly supported Republican Party candidates at the national level.