Wood County History & Photos

Wood County History & Photo Project

Wood County Courthouse in Bowling Green, OH, ca. 1980s.

Wood County is located on land that was once one of the thickest and most dangerous parts of the Great Black Swamp, and so, while Native American tribes like the Wyandot and Ottawa sometimes traveled through the area, they did so only when absolutely necessary.

After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the land was deeded to Native Americans as part of the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, but the United States government purchased it back from the Wyandot, Ottawa, Delaware, Potawatomi, Seneca, Shawnee, and Chippewa tribes through the Lower Maumee Treaty of 1817.

On February 12, 1820, the Ohio State Legislature authorized the creation of Wood County, along with 13 other counties, on this land. Wood County was named after Colonel Eleazer D. Wood, who was the planning engineer of Fort Meigs, and it included the area that would eventually separate to become Lucas County in 1835. Perrysburg was designated as Wood County’s seat in 1822, but it was changed to the more central location of Bowling Green in 1868.

Settlement of the county was extremely difficult, but an extensive system of ditches was developed in order to drain the rich farmland under the swamp. Today, there are still more than 3,000 miles of drainage ditches keeping the county dry.

In the late 1800s, the first industries came to Wood County when oil and natural gas were discovered. The first oil field was located in North Baltimore in 1886, but eventually, oil was found in at least 16 townships. The oil and gas boom of the late 1800s caused a huge population increase, as people flocked to the county with the hopes of making it rich. The population of Wood County was 9,157 in 1850, and by the early 1900s, it was over 60,000.

Wood County currently covers approximately 620 miles of land and water. It includes nineteen townships, twenty-one villages, and five cities. At the time of the 2010 census the county’s population was just over 125,000, and Bowling Green is currently the largest community in the county.

For more in depth information on Wood County’s history, please see the following resources:

  • “A Brief History of Wood County and Bowling Green,” 1908
  • “Commemorative Historical and Biographical Record of Wood County” by J.H. Beers & Co., 1897
  • “Historical Gazetteer of Wood County, Ohio” by Lyle R Fletcher, Whipporwill Publications, 1988
  • “History and Government of Wood County, Ohio: Sesquicentennial Edition” by Wood County Board of Education, 1958
  • “Human Interest History of Wood County, Ohio” by Paul W. Jones, Wood County Genealogical Society/ECPrinting, 2007
  • “Pioneer Scrapbook of Wood County and the Maumee Valley” by C.W. Evers, 1910
  • “Southern Wood County Oral History Project” by Joseph J Arpad, Archival Books, 1994

And if you're interested in the history of the Wood County Courthouse, check out this virtual tour with Judge Matthew L. Reger.

Help Us Preserve the County's History

As part of it's mission to both celebrate and preserve 200 years of Wood County history, the Bicentennial Committee has created a digital archive of photographs to expand awareness of our rich and diverse history. This archive can be viewed here

Do you have photos you think would be a great addition to this collection? We would love to see them.

Items will be added to this collection throughout the year, and we wish to borrow photographs from public individuals and organizations.

Photographs will be gifted or loaned to the Local History Department of the Wood County District Public Library (WCDPL).

    • Items will be scanned, cataloged, and posted online for viewing by the public.
    • Photographs loaned to the library for scanning will be returned to the owner.

In order for a photograph to be included in the digital archive, clear ownership of the mage must be established and the owner must complete and sign documentation giving WCDPL permission to post the photographs online. This is required for both photographs gifted to WCDPL and loaned to WCDPL.

Criteria for inclusion of a photograph within the digital archive will include:

    • WCDPL reserves the right to decline inclusion of any photograph for any reason.
    • Photographs should be from before 1980.
    • Photographs of families or individuals will not be included, unless the rest of the photograph substantially documents a public event in some way (i.e. a photograph of a child participating in an event at the Wood County Fair).
    • Highest priority will be given to photographs that are of:
          • Public events such as parades, fairs, political rallies, groundbreaking ceremonies, ribbon-cuttings, BGSU events, sporting events, etc.
          • Public buildings, churches, schools, businesses, libraries, etc.
          • Public officials, civic leaders, business leaders, etc.
          • Views of streetscapes, factories, farming, tilling of fields, quarries, parks, railroads, public improvement projects, etc.
    • Photographs that have identifiable individuals are preferred.
    • Photographs that focus on early life in the county (before 1920) are strongly preferred.

Questions regarding photograph submissions should be directed to Marnie Pratt, Local History Librarian at the Wood County District Public Library by calling 419-352-5050 or emailing marniepratt@wcdpl.org.