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Scioto County derives its name from a Native American word for "deer." The Scioto and Ohio rivers meet in Scioto County, and the area's hilly terrain often is described as the "Little Smokies."

Col. Thomas Parker, a Revolutionary War veteran, founded Scioto County's village of Alexandria at the mouth of the Scioto River. Alexandria was the county's first town and, until Portsmouth was laid out, its principal settlement. Emanuel Traxler became Portsmouth's first permanent settler in 1796. Scioto County was formed May 1, 1803. That year, surveyor Henry Massie laid out Portsmouth and named the town for Portsmouth, Va., Massie's former home.

Because of its higher elevation and freedom from floods, Portsmouth's population surpassed that of Alexandria, and it became the county seat. On December 29, 1814, Portsmouth was incorporated as a town. A frame courthouse was erected in 1817 on land donated by Henry Massie.

Located at the intersection of the Ohio River and the Scioto River, the county grew quickly because of increasing river traffic. Scioto County continued to prosper with the construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal during the 1820s and the 1830s.

Scioto County is located in southern Ohio and its southern border lies on the Ohio River. In 2000, there were 79,195 people living in the county. Scioto County is part of Appalachia and is predominantly rural, with 1.6 percent of the county's 612 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Portsmouth. Scioto County experienced a 1.4 per cent decrease in population between 1990 and 2000. The county averages almost 129 people per square mile.

Service industries and retail businesses are the largest employers in Scioto County. Many County residents are employed in government, farming, and manufacturing. Some of the County's larger employers are Southern Ohio Medical Center and Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. The Southern Ohio Correctional Facility is also located in Scioto County. In 1999, the per capita income in the county was $18,978, with twenty-one percent of the people living in poverty.

Among other prominent people, cowboy actor Roy Rogers lived in Scioto County for several years.

UPDATED 7.21.152
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