Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803 - and one of the original offices created by the first General Assembly was the county surveyor, from which the county's engineer's office has evolved. When a new county was created, the legislature appointed a court of common pleas, which fixed the time and place for a countywide election. At first, only three offices were filled by these elections: Commissioners (3), Sheriff, and Coroner. The court appointed the county surveyor, recorder, prosecuting attorney, and clerk.
In those early days of the state, the office of county surveyor was a very important position. As early as 1785, Ohio had been the laboratory in which the Public Lands rectangular survey system was developed; and well into the 1800's, the clarification of land titles and governmental boundaries was the major function of the county surveyor. After 1820, however, the state became increasingly caught up in the "internal improvements" movement. Some of the county surveyors were involved with the building Ohio's network of canals, virtually all were called upon to spend more and more time developing the state's integrated system of good roads.
The increasing responsibilities of the position moved the Legislature, in 1831, to make the office of county surveyor elective, for a term of three years "if he so long behave well and until his successor be elected and qualified."
By late in the 19th Century the county surveyor was almost totally involved with building and maintaining roads, bridges, and drainage ditches - but he still received no salary, being paid an average of $5.00 per day only on those days when actually employed. Legislation in 1915 established a salary and the responsibility of also being resident engineer for the State Highway Department.
The year 1928 saw the county engineer emerging as the public official you know today. In that year he was elected to a four (4) year term which started on "the first Monday in January next after his election". Then on August 30, 1935, the title of the office was changed to "County Engineer".
Only persons who hold registration certificates of the State of Ohio as both "Registered Professional Engineers" and "Registered Professional Surveyor" may qualify for the office of County Engineer. The elected County Engineer "shall perform for the county all duties authorized or declared by law to be done by civil engineer or surveyor". Although specifically exempted from engineering responsibilities on public building, he is the engineer for all public improvements under the authority of the board of commissioners within and for the county.