In 1769 the site of Canton was bequeathed by a Delaware Indian to a white man and then sold to Bezaleel Wells. He then sold lots in 1806. Canton was the first town settled in Stark County. This is the same year the first log cabin was erected in the first state road to the southwest was open along with the first store and a tanyard and gristmill. In 1809 the government established a post office. In 1811, the first schoolhouse. In 1815 Canton was incorporated as a village.
The Irish trader named Capt. John O'Donnell purchased the plantation and called it the Canton estate as he had transported the first cargo to arrive in Baltimore from Canton, China.
Bezaleel Wells was in Baltimore at the time and Capt. O'Donnell was his hero. When news of Capt. O'Donnell's death reached Mr. Wells he recorded the plot and named it Canton.
Canton is a city of diversified industries with over 1500 manufactured products. It is located in the midst of the greatest steel-producing center in the world.
It is one of America's leading industrial areas but also an agricultural area. It is a center of nationally known dairy products and poultry farms. Its truck gardens serve many communities in the state. The dairy farms provide the largest milk for both Canton and Akron.
Stark County is rich in agriculture and the largest and richest vegetable produce growing section of the United States.
There is a large natural resource of bituminous coal, shale, clay, limestone, sand and gravel.
Stark County is known as the home of Pres. William McKinley. There is a large national memorial erected to his memory in Canton and is visited by thousands of people. This city once relied heavily on the steel industry but has a declining population since 1950. It is the county seat of Stark County and had a peak population in 1950 but by 1960 the population began to drop. The decrease in population along with the increase in housing units indicates the beginning of a trend of smaller family sizes. Back in 1960 there were 3.3 people per household. 59.8% of the housing was owner occupied.
Suburban shopping centers and malls with increased mobility began to erode the shopping base in downtown can. The many expressways were built with the suburban housing development in the 50s and 60s.