Ottawa County was formed
March 6, 1840. There was a 60-year fight between Port
Clinton and Oak Harbor as to where the Court House should be
located The matter was brought before the State Legislature
five times. Each time Port Clinton was selected as the
Ottawa is an Indian word meaning "trader." The Ottawa tribe
traded furs and skins with early white settlers.
County is located on Lake Erie about 15 miles southeast of
Toledo, Ohio. It is situated in the Black Swamp district.
The county has a level surface and includes the Portage
River. The peninsula extending into the lake has abundant
Port Clinton is the only city in the county
and is the county seat. The Ottawa County Courthouse has
been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The outside of the Court House is Amherst Ohio sandstone.
Each side of the front entranceway has a carving of an
Ottawa Indian. The tall bell tower sounds the time of the
clock that is visible from all sides of the building.
inside features mosaic floors, marble wainscoting, and a
pink marble staircase. The Court House is adorned with
murals. One is of Perry's victory during the War of 1812.
This may be seen from the first and second floors. The
others are in the dome, four of which represent means of
making a living in the county in 1900.
Names of men in the county who fought in early wars are
engraved in marble on the north wall of the assembly room
and in the main hallway. The cornerstone gives the date of
1899; the courthouse it was actually completed May 20, 1901
and is in the final stage of complete renovation and
The county's peninsula and the islands to the north were
part of the Connecticut Western Reserve.
the War of 1812 the fleet of Commodore Oliver H. Perry put
in near South Bass Island before defeating the British in
the Battle of Lake Erie. The site is now called Put-in-Bay.
Perry's ship "Niagara" flew a banner with the words "Don't
give up the ship." Afterwards, Perry reported to General
Harrison the well-known words, "We have met the enemy and
they are ours..." The Peace Monument at Put-in-Bay entombs
both the American and British officers killed in the battle.
Middle and North Bass Islands were settled by Germans who
found the lands suitable for growing grapes and making wine.
Middle Bass Island was once a retreat for presidents Hayes,
Cleveland, Harrison and Taft. In 1854 a Spanish merchant
bought five islands, including Put-in-Bay which was first a
sheep ranch and later a fruit farm. Before World War I, a
famous resort here, the Victory Hotel, was supposed to be
the largest in the country, with the first swimming pool
allowing ladies and gentlemen to swim together. The resort
was destroyed by fire in 1919. The island is now a popular
summer vacation area. The islands and the peninsula have
been used for various public functions, such as camp
meetings and soldiers' reunions.
in 1820, the oldest lighthouse in Ohio stands at the top of
Marblehead peninsula which has been the roughest point on
Lake Erie since the beginning of navigation on the Great
Ottawa County is made up by various communities
that include seven (7) villages, twelve (12) townships and
the only city in Ottawa County, Port Clinton.