The city of Celina, known as the county seat of Mercer County, was established in 1834 by James Watson Riley. While traveling through New York state to get the town plat lithographed, Riley came across the town of Salina, which was situated on the edge of Onondaga Lake near Syracuse. Noting the similarity between Salina and the newly founded settlement in Ohio, he named the new town Celina. The spelling was changed to avoid confusion at the post office, or so the story is told from past legends.
Another legend has it that the spelling was changed because in Salina, NY, Main Street is oriented east-west (also Market Street is oriented north-south), where in Celina, OH, Main Street is oriented north-south (and Market Street is oriented east-west). Originally, St. Mary’s was the Mercer County seat of government, but with the Ohio government’s creation of Auglaize County in 1848, St. Mary’s became part of the new county, and Celina became the county seat of Mercer County.
Celina grew slowly after its founding in 1834. By the year 1880, only 1,346 people resided in the community, but over the next decade, Celina’s population nearly doubled to 2,684 inhabitants. The primary reason for this population growth was the discovery of oil and natural gas deposits during the 1880’s.
In 1886, Celina contained three newspaper offices, five churches, and two banks. Numerous manufacturing establishments existed in the community, most of which provided services or products to farmers in the surrounding countryside. This has held true throughout the twentieth century, and is why today, Mercer County is known for it’s strong agricultural roots.
Alig, Joyce L., Editor. Mercer County Ohio History. publisher: Mercer County Historical Society, Inc. Celina, OH. TX: Tayler Pub. Co. 1980
In 2000, Celina was the largest city in Mercer County, with a population of 10,303 people.