The Northwest Territory government authorized he creation of Jefferson County on July 29, 1797. The county was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the first United Sates Secretary of State. Fort Steuben, now the site of Steubenville, the county seat, contained the first federal land office in Ohio, which sold federal land to settlers as they migrated westward. Jefferson County is located in the eastern portion of Ohio, bordering on the Ohio River. The county is governed by three elected county commissioners. Much of Jefferson County is rural. The largest employers in Jefferson County are service industries, such as health care, education, communications and tourism, and retail.