- Amish Country
Once Ohio joined the union, the flood gates opened and settlers began pouring in first along the Ohio River, but then deeper into the interior. Just five years after the state was admitted, Knox County was established becoming the 28th county in the state. It was legally recognized on March 1, 1808. It is made up of twenty-two townships. It was created out land from both Franklin and Fairfield Counties. When the first European settlers arrived here, although it was considered dangerous by anyone's standards, there was surprisingly few Native Americans living here. There were a few Delaware Indian villages in the area, but for the most part it was more of a cross-road for a variety of Native American clans.
The name given the county comes in recognition of Henry Knox, a Revolutionary War hero, close advisor to General Washington, and the new nations first Secretary of War. Henry Knox died suddenly in the fall of 1806 at his home in Maine, and it was strongly felt by the residents of of what would become Knox County, to honor him by naming their new county after Henry Knox. (Eventually there would be a total of 9 counties throughout the country named after Henry Knox.)
The first pioneers to arrive here came chiefly from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. A large contingent of Maryland pioneers were Quakers who settled much of Knox County. The Amish would not arrive here until the early to mid-20th Century.
Mount Vernon was selected to become the new county seat. One of the early residents to the county was John Chapman, who would later become better known as Johnny Appleseed. Although Chapman was an early resident of the area, he became a wanderer throughout the state and was known as a regular in many areas.
Knox County was famous for a number of notable American citizens throughout its long history. On a farm between Mount Vernon and Fredericktown, Mary Ann Ball was born in 1817. She would later become known as America's first war nurse during the Civil War. The wounded fighting men whom she attended knew her as Mother Bickerdyke.
Today another Knox County citizen is regularly recognized with a special music festival held in Mount Vernon each year. He is best known as the composer of the tune "Dixie" which became almost a national anthem in the south during the war. In 1859 Dan Emmett was appearing with the Bryant Minstrels and he was asked to create a new song for the show. It was a particularly cold and rainy day, when he mentioned to his wife that he wished he was in Dixie where it was much warmer. The word Dixie had become attached to the south because of a $10 bank note being used in Louisiana that was called a dix, which means ten. When the war broke out and the south began using his song, Emmette made no claims to the tune and it wouldn't be until years later after his death that we and especially the citizens of Knox County recognized the song writer.
Knox County is also home to Kenyon College that was established in 1824 by Bishop Philander Chase. Chase was looking for a site where he could establish a theological school where young men could be trained for the Episcopal ministry.
Bishop Chase had trouble raising the funds for his new school and traveled to England where he gathered some $30,000 to realize his dreams of the new college. With that money he purchased some 4,000 acres of land, sold half of it for a profit later on and then used those funds to lay out the new college and town. The new village Gambier after Lord James Gambier an English naval admiral. It was Lord Gambier who introduced Bishop Chase to Lord George Kenyon. Although the Bishop and Lord Kenyon only met for about an hour, a close friend of the bishop, Timothy Wiggin, suggested that Bishop Chase name his new college after Lord Kenyon. Many of the original buildings on the campus were named for the original British donors.