- Amish Country
Portage County was organized by the Connecticut Land Company. They sent surveyors out in the late 1700s to survey the land and create townships. Townships create by the Connecticut Land Company were about 25 square miles and on a grid resulting in straight lines running through the county.
Portage County was officially recognized by the Ohio Legislature in 1807. It was made up from 20 townships (4 townships by 5 townships). Portage's county seat is located in Ravena. Although at the time, that choice was in doubt when Aaron Olmstead, one of the original proprietors in Franklin Township, made the offer of providing a the land and the funds necessary to erect a county courthouse if the county seat could be located in Franklin Mills (later named Kent) instead of Ravena. Having made that offer and comfortable in the fact that it would be accepted, Olmstead made a trip back east where he unexpectedly died before he could return to Franklin Mills. This made his offer a moot point and so Ravena was accepted as the county seat without further discussion.
The name of Portage is a French term used to mean the act of carrying a canoe from one point to another where it could not otherwise go. The location of Portage County is located near where there was an Indian trail that was known in English terms as Indian Portage Path which ran between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers for a distance of about 8 miles. As counties frequently changed boundaries when new counties were added, the original Indian path is no longer located in Portage County, but instead is located in Summit County.
One of the first acts authorized by the county board commissioners after they nominated a secretary, was to authorize a bounty for every wolf or panther killed! Today there is still an abundance of wildlife in Portage County, but nothing like it was back in 1807.
Today Portage County is home to Kent State University, West Branch State Park, Nelson Ledges and Ravenna is the county seat.
Ravenna was named not only for the township of Ravenna which was suggested by one of the early settlers coming from the east, but was also named for an historic Italian city.
Kent Ohio began as a basic grist mill on the Cuyahoga River which attracted several other mills as well as other settlers. In time this community became known as the Upper Village and Lower Village, and collectively they were known as Franklin Mills. One family took this community from just a farming community to a supplier of a variety of goods and materials throughout northeast Ohio and beyond. When they brought the first railroad to Franklin Mills, the results were amazing and the community decided to rename their town to Kent, after Marvin Kent and his father Zenas Kent.