Geographically, Henry County is a creation of the Ice Age and is located 40 miles southwest of Toledo, OH. Founded on April 1, 1820 Henry County was part of the Great Black Swamp and its earliest settlers found it nearly uninhabitable. Henry County is rich in history in many areas: agriculture, business, churches, schools and community organizations, all of which today contribute to making Henry County a great place to live, work and raise a family.
The first people of this area were the Native Americans. The Ottawa Tribe lived along the banks of the Maumee River. Their village sites and burial grounds are scattered along the river.
The missionaries, traders, trappers, hunters, and explorers entered the scene. The Native Americans, of course, resented the intrusion. The British, in an attempt to interfere with the successful formation of the United States Government, incited the Native Americans to fierce resistance to settlement. The white renegade British agent, Simon Girty who aided the Natives, cause this uprising in the 1780s and 1790s.
Girty served as a scout under Lord Dunsmore in Pennsylvania. It is said that he and another scout, Simon Kenton, served with merit. However, Girty, for some reason of his own, deserted his fellowmen, turned traitor, and from that time on lived and fought with the Native Americans. He is supposed to have been adopted by the Seneca Tribe, the fiercest of the tribes composing the Iroquois alliance.
Up the river, a distance about five miles from Napoleon is located "Girty Island" and "Girty's Point" which were his favorite places to retreat. Simon Girty fell from favor with the Native Americans and he retreated to the north bank of the river opposite the island where he built a cabin. Early settlers in the 1820's report finding the remains of his cabin. It was located on what now is the Gunn farm.
Although the State of Ohio was created in 1803, it was not until February 12, 1820, that Ohio created Henry County, named in honor of Patrick Henry. Henry County originally included all of what is now Fulton County, and also parts of Lucas and Defiance counties.
The Miami and Erie Canal was finished in 1843, along with political unrest in Europe. This brought the first wave of German immigrants to the county, placing an external stamp upon the ethnic makeup of the communities. These immigrants worked with diligence to drain the land and settle the area. The first communities were along the Maumee River, Damascus and Flatrock. Over time, the dense forest was cleared, and drainage technology and improved transportation encouraged agriculture to flourish and the population steadily grew.
After the Civil War, small towns began to develop throughout the County and at commercial stops along the railroads. By the turn of the century, the growth of a strong diversified economy was a reality.
Agriculture has left a permanent mark on Henry County as the heart of its economic growth. Today, the work ethic, inventive genius, and skill of the people have led to a thriving economy based on industry, service engineering, and warehousing as well as the traditional agriculture-based economy.
The county is composed of thirteen townships and nine municipalities, including the county seat of Napoleon. Today, nearly 30,000 people make Henry County their home.