From Ohio History Central
The town of Van Wert is the county seat of Van Wert County, Ohio. In 1837, James Watson Riley established the community. Riley named Van Wert after the county. The town grew slowly, but thanks to the presence of two railroad lines and the discovery of oil in the region, making Van Wert a center of trade, the community had 5,548 residents in 1890.
In 1888, Van Wert contained four newspapers and nine churches. Numerous manufacturing businesses existed in the community. The town�s largest employer was the Eagle Stave Company, which manufactured barrel staves, with seventy-eight employees. Several other companies manufactured products for the oil industry, which was booming in this region of Ohio during the late nineteenth century.
During the twentieth century, most Van Wert County residents found employment in agriculture. Van Wert city inhabitants primarily worked in businesses that provided services or products for the county�s farmers. This remains true today. In 2000, Van Wert was the county�s largest city. With a population of 10,690 people in 2000, the city contained over one-third of all of Van Wert County�s residents.