This brief history of Morgan County was compiled by Nettie Dougan to commemorate the sesquicentennial of McConnelsville in 1967.
Late in the year 1817 the General Assembly of Ohio gave evidence of its willingness to take territory from Muskingum, Washington and Guernsey counties and create with it a new county, Morgan, but no headlong haste was observed in the steps adopted to give the proposed county a working existence. The act of 1817, passed December 29, provided that the new subdivision should bear the family name of General Morgan, a brave officer of the Revolution, and should be within certain boundaries. This act postponed organization of the county, until such time as the Legislature might think proper, and provided that meanwhile the new county should remain a part of the counties from which it was to come.
The Legislature took the next step January 26, 1818, when a resolution was enacted, to appoint three commissioners to locate the county seat. Ephriam Cutler of Washington county, Samuel Lybrand of Pickaway and David Robb of Guernsey counties, were named for that purpose. They took action in May of that year. Cutler and Lybrand voting for McConnelsville and Robb holding out for a point on the Marietta-Zanesville road, because it was nearer the county's center. The General Assembly sought to complete the work in hand by an act approved December 28, 1818, to take effect March 1, 1819, providing for organization, and ordering an election to be held on the first Monday in April. There is no evidence of such an election being held, but David Fulton, Sylvanus Piper and Robert McKee were chosen County Commissioners, Nathan Dearborn and Timothy Gaylord recorder. Pro Tem. until an election in the fall.
There were five places in the proposed new county to place the county seat, they were as follows: Malta, a section of land in section 36 of the David Stevens farm, and a part of section 14 on the Chandler farm of Bristol Township, which was on the Marietta-Zanesville Road and the, then called, Lancaster-Harmar Road, (Dawes, Richardson-Strode farm), also the town of McConnelsville.
Since the first group of Commissioners appointed by the state failed to get harmony among the feuding factions, and with much running to the capitol on the sly, in which to get a bill passed so that the others would not know about it they would slip off in the night and, behind closed doors, meet with different men in office to gain the edge on the other faction.
The election of October 18, 1819, the first election of record to fill the offices of the county, was held with a very hard fight by all factions to get the right commissioners into office to pick the place in the county that they wanted as the county seat. These running were as follows: William Montgomery, Bloom Twp., Richard Cheadle, Windsor; John Shutt, Deerfield; David Fulton, Manchester; Sylvanus Piper, Morgan (west side); Robert McKee, Olive;' Enoch S. Mclntosh, Center; William Craig, Union; and John Sears, Manchester. Bloom, Windsor and Deerfield helped to carry the day for McConnelsville with their bigger townships, and so McConnelsville won, but the defeated did not give up.
The foes of McConnelsville prepared a petition and slipped it to Columbus, but there must have been friends in the Capitol for they passed the news back to McConnelsville in time to hold the prize. So this ends the battle of the county seat, McConnelsville, and shows that when you mention the county seat you must bring McConnelsville, into the conversation, too.
Robert McConnel did not forget that in order to have a town, one must have churchs, schools and places to build and to hold the records of laws and deeds, so he included in his gift to the town four lots, Number 29, 30, 15, and 22 to become the property of the officials until the time when it could be turned over to the duly elected officials. There were two lots later sold, but on the other two lots our Court House now stands.