Geauga County is derived from the Native American word “Sheauga” meaning Raccoon. Geauga County is commonly referred to as Raccoon Country and was founded March 1, 1806.
Wilkum to Raccoon Country
Before we uncover the full meaning of Raccoon Country, it is important that we travel back in time and explore how we actually became a county in Ohio. Long before Ohio became a state in 1803, the northeast corner of the state belonged to Connecticut. In order to settle their Revolutionary War debts, Connecticut sold off all but their Ohio holdings shortly after the war.
In 1796, the Connecticut Land Company sent surveyors to this area. The mission was to divide the 3.3 million acres of land into townships, each measuring 5 square miles. The territory was originally named “New Connecticut”, but that name was later discarded in favor of the “Western Reserve”. The officer in charge of the mission to settle the Western Reserve was led by none other than General Moses Cleaveland. His team also founded the city of Cleveland, which became the largest city in the region.
A Fun Fact
On January 6, 1831, a printer of the local Advertiser Newspaper changed the spelling of Moses Clevealand’s name by dropping the first “a” in order to fit the General’s entire name upon the newspaper’s masthead. Since then, the misspelled name stuck and has been spelled “Cleveland” ever since.
Then and Now
By the end of 1800, there were 32 settlements in the Reserve, and Geauga County was originally part of Trumbull County, named after Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut. Trumbull County consisted of the entire area of the Connecticut Western Reserve before being divided into smaller counties. Three families from Connecticut settled in Burton in 1796. Other pioneers trickled into the area settling Youngstown in 1796, Warren in 1798, Hudson in 1799, Ashtabula in 1803, and Stow in 1804. However, no organized government existed.
- In 1805, Geauga County was named by the Ohio General Assembly and the area extended all the way to Lake Erie.
- March 1, 1806, Geauga County officially became the second county in Ohio.
- In 1806, Geauga County government was established and the first meeting of the County Commissioners was held.
- In 1808, Geauga County was reduced in size due to the creation of Ashtabula and Cuyahoga Counties.
- In 1840, Lake County was established giving Geauga County its present-day boundaries as we know it.
- Forbes Magazine ranked Geauga County the fourth best place in America to raise a family in 2008.
In 1806, Courts were held in a town called “New Market,” which was located between Painesville and Fairport, before losing the county seat to Chardon, a tract of land donated by Peter Chardon Brooks, the next year. The first courthouse located in Chardon was a log cabin built in 1813 and was called The King Courthouse after Samuel King. It was located behind the Randal Block near Water Street.
One thing for sure – Geauga County is rich with over 200 years of history. I hope you continue to stay connected as I attempt to unlock all the mysteries of what everyone ought to know about Raccoon Country.