Our History & Heritage
Gallia County (pronunciation: GAL-yuh) is a county located in Southeastern Ohio, United States. The county seat is Gallipolis. According to the 2010 census, Gallia County has a population of 30,934.
The history of Gallipolis dates back to the 18th century with influence from America and France. After the Revolutionary war, Congress was eager to settle land of the new states, and as a result, land companies formed to purchase acreage and gain land rights.
The Ohio Company purchased one-and-a-half million acres along the Ohio. The Scioto Company, took an option on 3.5 million acres bordering the Ohio Company’s purchase. Their goal was to attract land buyers and later pay for their land purchase.
A group of Frenchmen purchased land in the Ohio Valley with the belief they purchased a “land of milk and honey, where fish leaped into one’s arms, grapes grew in abundance and tallow candles could be picked from trees along the Ohio River”. The Frenchmen settled and established Gallipolis, which is one of the first settlements in the Northwest Territory.
Five French ships – the Recovery, the Patriot, the Scarborough, the Liberty and the Lady Washington set sail in February, 1790. In May, the first French ship landed in Alexandria Virginia where the immigrants learned money paid in France for deeds to the new land was never received to the Scioto Company. After much consideration, the Scioto Company helped pay expenses of the new settlers including building log houses along the Ohio River.
They arrived to their crude settlement, on October 17, 1790. The area was named Gallipolis, meaning “City of Gauls”. The site was called “La Place” by the French and today is known as the Gallipolis City Park. The new settlers adjusted to frontier and through persistence and hard work, they established a thriving river community.
It was not long before Virginians, New Englanders, Welsh and Germans began to settle in the Gallipolis area. In 1803, Ohio became the 17th state, and one of the first acts of the legislature was the creation of eight new counties. It was at that time “Gallia”, from the ancient name for France and in honor of the county’s first settlers, was founded. By the mid 1800’s most of the original “French 500”, as they are presently known, along with their descendants had either passed away or moved from Gallia County. Still today, Gallipolis proudly remembers its strong French heritage.