History of Washington County
Learn about the rich and varied history of Washington County!
- Abraham Whipple
- VP Charles G. Dawes
- Seven Names in Courtroom A
- Gov. Arthur St. Clair (OH)
- Ancient Peoples
A Brief History of Washington County
Washington County, originally about one-half the Northwest Territory now included in the State of Ohio, was established by proclamation of Gov. Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, on the 26th day of July, 1788. Events which led up to this establishment were due to the perseverance of two great men, Gen. Rufus Putnam and Rev. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, the formation and function of the Ohio Company and the passage by the Continental Congress of the "Ordinance of 1787".
Appropriated Lands & The Ohio Company
In 1776, Congress appropriated lands to officers and soldiers of the army. In 1783 the Newburgh Petition of 285 Continental Army officers was presented to Congress asking for western lands to be located in the country which is now approximately the eastern one-half of the State of Ohio. Following this General Putnam and Gen. Benjamin Tupper founded the Ohio Company which met in Boston March 1, 1786 when they decided to raise funds in continental certificates for buying western lands in the Western Territory and making a settlement. Rev. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, one of the Directors of the Company, was employed to purchase of Congress land for the Company and in July 1787 went to Continental Congress. He helped frame the Ordinance of 1787 which allowed for the purchase of 1,500,000 acres located on the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. Marietta, the county seat, was settled on April 7, 1788 as a result.
The location of Fort Harmar, built in 1785-86, west and at the mouth of the Muskingum River, had an influence upon the Ohio Company in their choice of the Muskingum region as settlement in the West.
Gen. Putnam was Superintendent of the Colony of 47 pioneers who landed in Marietta for the first lawful, organized English settlement in the Northwest Territory. He started a survey of the town of 8 acre lots. A stockade was built called Campus Martius where the first court held was Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 2, 1788. The first judges of the court of common pleas were Gen. Rufus Putnam, Gen. Benjamin Tupper and Col. Archibald Crary; the Sheriff was Col. Ebenezer Sproat and the Clerk, Col. Return Jonathan Meigs. Paul Fearing, Esq., was the first attorney in the territory.
First Jail & Court House
As early as 1792 the Court of Quarter Sessions submitted estimates for a Court House and Jail to cost $1,000 for each. In 1793 a log house near Campus Martius was fitted for a jail. In 1798 the first Court House was built costing approximately $3,000. By 1819 a new building was needed and this one was built on Second and Putnam Streets in 1822. By 1854 an addition was built, a jail having been built in 1848. The present Court House was built in 1901. The jail, built in 1901, was used to house prisoners until 2004, when a new jail was built to better serve our community.