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Fulton County History

Fulton county was part of Lucas, Henry, Williams, and even Lenawee County Michigan.  1835, when Fulton was part of Henry and Lenawee counties, the border war between Ohio and Michigan was fought. This set the state line at its present location. Also, in 1835, Lucas County was formed from Wood County into one township called York. York was later subdivided into several smaller townships: Amboy, Chesterfield, Clinton, German, Gorham, Royal ton, Swan Creek, York, Franklin, Dover, Fulton and Pike.

All these townships were organized while still under the jurisdiction of Lucas county. The present Fulton County was organized in 1850, but settlement occurred almost 20 years prior with the settlement of Eli Phillips and Joseph Bates. The three-county histories published about Fulton County seem to agree that Eli Phillips was the first settler. The "History of Henry and Fulton Counties" (1888) states in part: In the early part of the year 1832, Eli Phillips with his young wife came to the disputed land, (the land claimed by both Ohio and Michigan) they were former residents of the Adrian, Michigan area. Mr. Phillips located on sections 10 and 11, town 9 south, range 3 east, on June 10, 1832. The Wauseon "Republican" of July 19, 1884, carried a personal, which reads as follows: "We received a social call on Tuesday last from Eli Phillips, of Royalton Township.  Phillips Corners was named after him.  He informs us that he settled in that place on June 10, 1833.  At that time the Indians were the only occupants of this country.  His nearest neighbor was in Michigan, five miles away; and on the east, the only settler was at Sylvania, eighteen miles east.  On the south, the nearest settlement was on the Maumee River, twenty-five miles away; and on the west, Angola, Indiana, was the nearest settlement".  Therefore, by his own statements, it seems that 1833 was the year in which Eli Phillips settled. The 1905 county history by Thomas Mikesell explains that Phillips bought the land in 1832 but settled here in 1833.  In the "History of Henry and Fulton Counties" by Aldrich in 1888, mention is made of Joseph Bates.  Joseph had come to the area that had been part of Williams County, on section 2, town 7 north range 4 east, in February 1833. Early testimony of his daughter, Mrs. Alvord, of Camden, Mich., stated that her father came in 1832.  Jacob Binder, an early German township resident in 1834, refers to Joseph Bates as a noted hunter.  Mr. Binder also stated that at Defiance, "they heard of one Joseph Bates, eighteen miles north, a noted hunter, and a man of broad and accurate knowledge of the country."  The areas of Fulton County were slowly being settled and townships were created. Township creation dates were. York, 6 June 1836; Swan Creek, 1836; Amboy, Chesterfield and Royalton, 4 June 1837, Clinton, 5 March 1838; Gorham, 6 March 1838; German, 4 March 1839; Franklin, Fulton, and Pike, 1 March 1841 and Dover, 5 June 1843.  During the period of time from the first settlement until the 1840 census, the last census before the creation of Fulton County, the population by townships was as follows: Amboy, 452; Chesterfield, 301; Clinton, 303; German 452; Gorham, 352; Royalton, 401; Swan Creek, 494; York, 435.  The four remaining townships, Dover, Franklin, Fulton, and Pike, were not yet created.  With the increased population movement for the creation of a new county continued.  Leading men in this project were Nathaniel Leggett of Swan Creek; AC. Hough and William Hall of Chesterfield; Stephen and Isaac Springer, Samuel Durgin and others of Fulton; Michael Handy, D.W.H. Howard, Robert Howard and Lyman Parcher of Pike; Mortimer Hibbard and Reuben Tiffany of Dover; Ezekiel Masters and Joseph Ely of Franklin; William Sutton, Israel Mattern, W.A Mace and Oliver B. Verity of Gorham; James Cornell, John Newcomer and Elisha Huntington of Clinton; Jacob Gasche and Jonathan Barnes of German; Ben and George Hackett of Amboy; and Eli Phillips of Royalton.


Their activities brought results. On Feb. 28, 1850, the State Legislature saw fit to set off and erect the county of Fulton with the boundaries defined as:

"Sec. 1. Such parts of the counties of Lucas, Henry, and Williams as are embraced in the boundaries hereinafter described, be, and the same are hereby created into a separate and distinct county, which shall be known by the name of Fulton, to wit: Beginning on the State line between the States of Michigan and Ohio, at the northeast corner of township nine, south of range four, east of the Michigan meridian; Thence south on the township line to the southeast corner of town ten, south of range four east, on the Fulton line; thence west on said Fulton line to the northeast corner of town eight, north of range eight, east; Thence south to the southeast corner of section number twelve in township six, north of range eight, east; thence west, on section lines, to the southwest corner of section number seven, in township six, range five, east, on the county line between the counties of Henry and Williams; thence north on said line to the southeast corner of two seven, north of range four east; thence north on section lines to the Fulton line; Thence west on said Fulton line to the southwest corner of section number eleven, in town ten, south or range one, west of the Michigan meridian; thence north on section lines to the said state line; thence easterly with said state line, to the place of beginning."

And so it has remained.  The first elections of county officers in that fall of 1850 were: Commissioners, Chris Watkins of Fulton; William Sutton of Gorham; and Warren McCuthcheon of German; Auditor, A.C.Hough of Chesterfield; Treasurer, Nat. Leggett, of Swan Creek; Sheriff, G.W. Brown of Royalton; Recorder, Carl Allman of York.  It was then discussed and argued as to the location of the county seat of the new county of Fulton.  Etna, in Pike; Fluhart Corners in York; Delta in York; and Spring Hill in Dover were mentioned.  Finally, the geographical center of the county was chosen. Co. D.W.H. Howard chose the name of Ottokee. (Ottokee being the brother of Wauseon, both chiefs of the Ottawa tribe).  The site went before the public in an election. Two votes were taken, even though the site was chosen, it did not receive the majority vote until the second vote. And so began life in Fulton County. 

The info above was originally printed in the January 7, 1997, Swanton Enterprise “Digging for Your Roots” by Jana Sloan Broglin






Fulton County was named for Robert Fulton, the inventor of the Steam Boat.  It was organized on February 28, 1850, and officially established April 1, 1850.  In 2018 the population was 42,307.  Fulton County covers a land area of 406.8 Square Miles.  The county seat is Wauseon.

On the 28th of February 1850, the General Assembly of Ohio, by an act erected the County of Fulton with its present boundaries, from Lucas, Williams and Henry Counties.

All the criminal and civil suits which were and should be pending in the Counties of Williams, Lucas, and Henry on the first Monday in April 1850, were to be prosecuted to final judgment in said counties as though said County of Fulton had not been erected.

All Justice of the Peace were to hold their offices until their service expired or until their successors were elected or commissioned for the County of Fulton.

All writs or other legal processes were to be styled as of the County of Fulton, on and after the first day of April 1850.  The legal voters residing within the limits of said County were to assemble on the first Monday in April 1850, to elect officers of the County to serve until the next annual election in  October 1850.  And the Courts were to be held at some convenient house in the Township of Pike, the place to be designated by the associate Judges of said County until a permanent seat of justice shall be established within and for said County.

Laurens Dewey of Franklin County, Mathias H. Nichols, of Allen County and John Riley, of Carroll County, were appointed by the legislature of Ohio Commissioners to fix and locate the seat of Justice in said new County of Fulton. 


Accordingly, under the provisions of this act, the people of both political parties met in convention at the house of Daniel Knowles, in Pike Township, about the last of March 1850 to nominate officers of the county to be supported at the April elections. This convention was not fully characterized for the harmony of purpose but in consequence of the weakness of the then old Whig party to succeed in the election of a party ticket, they quietly submitted to a portion of the choice of said convention.  That Convention made a choice of Mortimer D. Hibbard, of Dover, for Auditor; George B. Brown of Royalton, was chosen, Sheriff; C. C. Allman of Delta, was chosen recorder; Nathaniel Leggett of Swan Creek, was chosen, Treasurer; William Sutton, of Gorham, Christopher Watkins, of Fulton, and Jonathon Barnes, were chosen commissioners, and duly elected and qualified as officers of said new county, and severally entered upon the duties of their respective offices.  The place having been fixed temporally for the business of the County at the house of Robert A. Howard, in Pike under said act creating the new County of Fulton.  Nathaniel Leggett, of Swan Creek, John Kendall, of Franklin, & Alfred C. Hough, of Chesterfield, were chosen the first Associate Judges. Nathaniel Leggett refused to serve, Socrates H. Catley, of Swan Creek, was appointed to fill his place.  Samuel Durgin was appointed Clerk, and John A. Read, Prosecuting Attorney, and in the fall of 1850, Alfred C. Hough was elected to the Auditor's office and resigned his judgeship, and William T. Parmalee, of Chesterfield, and A. M. Flickinger of Gorham filled said office successfully until the change in the Constitution of the State, in 1851.

by Aldrich; pg. 312: 

     "It was out of the throes of this very eventful struggle [the Ohio-Michigan War] that Lucas county was formed, in the year 1835, from portions of Wood and Sandusky counties in Ohio, and of what had been Monroe and Lenawee counties in Michigan, over which territory, however, Wood county had exercised jurisdiction from April 1, 1820, then being one of the fourteen counties at that date, by the legislature, organized from Indian territory, the county seat being at Perrysburg on the Maumee River. In the year 1849, there arose a demand for a new county in northwestern Ohio, the projectors of which were such prominent men as Nathaniel Leggett, of Swan Creek; William Hall, Hon. A. C.  Hough, of Chesterfield; Stephen and Isaac Springer, Samuel Durgin and others, of Fulton; Michael Handy, Hon. D. W. H. Howard, Robert Howard and Lyman Parcher, of Pike; Mortimer Hibbard and Reuben Tiffany, of Dover; Ezekiel Masters and Joseph Ely, of Franklin; [and a number of other names] be composed of parts of Williams county, Henry county, and the larger part of Lucas County." 


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