Because the Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana Railroad had just traversed Fulton County, several land speculators purchased 160 acres andplatted a new city in 1854. The town was to be named, Litchfield, after Litchfield, NY, where some of the new settlers were emigrating from, but Edwin Hayes’ young daughter Hortensia is said to have suggested that the city be named after the Ottawa Chief “Wa-se-on” who once lived in the area. Colonel Howard, founder of the Fulton County Historical Society, was friends with both chief Wauseon and his older half brother, Ottokee, and was forced by the federal government to remove them to Oklahoma in 1838. Wauseon died there in1849. The name Wauseon means “far off” in the Ottawa language, which is ironic—considering that the chief and his family were forced to move “far away”. Chief Wauseon said before leaving, that he would rather go than watch the white farmers plow up the graves of his people. Many of the town’s founding fathers & sons fought in Ohio Militia, Infantry,and Cavalry Units during the Civil War, including the last U.S. Brigadeer General to die, Edwin Hayes, and the last U.S. soldier, Private DanielClingaman. A former house slave from Kentucky, Emma Bard, whose father escaped through the Underground Railroad through this part of Ohio, was also a resident of Wauseon. All of these residents, and the families left behind are featured in the Fulton County Historical Society’s current exhibit, “Hell &Homefront", celebrating the 150th national anniversary of the Civil War.
Wauseon’s most famous resident, however was Barney Oldfield, the race car driver who was the first man to drive a car at 60 miles per hour in a race. His accomplishments led to the expression "Who do you think you are? BarneyOldfield?" Oldfield first became noted for his cycling awards, and when racing a gasoline-powered bicycle in Salt Lake City, he met Henry Ford. Ford’s famous, "No. 999" debuted in October, 1902 at the Manufacturer's Challenge Cup, and was driven by Barney. Oldfield’s baby cradle and other family memorabilia can be seen at the Fulton County Museum in Wauseon today.
Later in the twentieth century, a 1963 Wauseon High School graduate and son of former Wauseon Mayor Volk, Rick became a nationally noteworthy football player. Volk played college football at the University of Michigan, whose team defeated Oregon State in the 1965 Rose Bowl. Volk then spent 12 years as a safety in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Baltimore Colts, who won the Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys. Volk was selected as an NFL All-Pro four times and played in three Pro Bowls. After being released by the Colts, Volk concluded his playing career withthe New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins.
A flashlight made at Wauseon‘s Fulton Industries, Inc. ended up in the hands of Neil Armstrong’s trip to the moon. Organized in 1939, Fulton Industries has serviced a wide variety of industries with quality industrial and MIL-Spec flashlights, as well as deep drawn and custom formed metal stampings, subassemblies, and welded assemblies. As one of the largest flashlight manufacturers in the U.S., Fulton produces a complete line of heavy-duty, industrial, consumer, government and military flashlights. Fulton also manufactures safety approved, waterproof, specialty inspectionand portable bow and stern lights for the marine market.