The Ohio River Valley was home to several Native American cultures before European settlement, including the Adena and Hopewell cultures. These cultures left behind many burial mounds and other archaeological sites that are now protected and preserved by the state of Ohio.
Licking County, Ohio has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Delaware, who relied on the abundant natural resources for their livelihood. In the late 1700s, European settlers began moving into the area, following the signing of the Treaty of Greenville with the Native Americans. Licking County was officially established in 1808 and named after the Licking River, which flows through the region.

During the 19th century, Licking County experienced significant growth and development. The town of Newark, located in the heart of the county, became an important center of trade and industry. It was here that the Ohio and Erie Canal was constructed, connecting the region to the Great Lakes and opening up new opportunities for commerce. The canal brought a surge of economic activity to Licking County and allowed for the transportation of goods like coal, limestone, and agricultural products.

Licking County also played a vital role in Ohio's abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. Many residents were active in assisting runaway slaves as they made their way north to freedom. Prominent abolitionists, such as Thomas Leonard, John Rankin, and the Johnson brothers, used their homes as safe havens and organized networks to aid escaped slaves. Licking County was a stronghold of the anti-slavery movement in the region.

In the 20th century, Licking County continued to evolve and adapt to new economic and social changes. The development of transportation infrastructure, such as the construction of highways and the expansion of railroads, further connected the county to the rest of the state and the nation. Today, Licking County is known for its vibrant communities, historical landmarks, and thriving agricultural industry. It remains an important hub of cultural and economic activity in central Ohio.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Licking County, Ohio.

  • 1808: Licking County is founded and established by the Ohio General Assembly.
  • 1825: The Ohio and Erie Canal opens, connecting Licking County to the Ohio River and stimulating economic growth.
  • 1837: The town of Newark is incorporated and becomes the county seat of Licking County.
  • 1889: Denison University, a private liberal arts college, is founded in Granville.
  • 1909: The Newark Earthworks, a complex of ancient Native American earthworks, is designated a National Historic Landmark.
  • 1919: The Longaberger Basket Company is founded in Dresden and becomes a prominent local employer.
  • 1939: The Works Progress Administration constructs a dam on the Licking River, creating Buckeye Lake, a popular recreational area.
  • 1951: The Central Ohio Technical College is established in Newark.
  • 1983: Licking County Symphony Orchestra gives its first performance, enriching the cultural scene in the area.
  • 2004: The Licking County Courthouse, built in 1876, undergoes extensive renovation and restoration.