History and features
Dover was originally part of a grant to Col. James Morrison of Kentucky, who had received it from the federal government for Revolutionary War services. In 1802, two brothers-in-law from Baltimore, Maryland, Christian Deardorff and Jesse Slingluff, traveled through the area and so admired the potential quality of the land along the confluence of the Tuscarawas River and Sugar Creek that they bought of land in 1806 for just over $4,600. The brothers-in-law settled there and the following year laid out the what they hoped would become a prosperous town.
It took a while; by 1818, there were only five buildings in Dover, including three taverns. The founders had hoped Dover would become the county seat, but that honor went to the neighboring town of New Philadelphia.
The county grew, even if Dover did not. The region around Tuscarawas country was settled in large part by ethnic German and Moravian families migrating westward from Pennsylvania. Even today, the local telephone book features many German last names.
Dover's fortunes changed dramatically when the Tuscarawas River was incorporated into the Ohio Canal system in 1825. This canal complex linked the Ohio River to the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Dover became the only tolling station on the Tuscarawas, and the population grew rapidly from 46 in 1820 to almost 600 in 1840. The town was known as Canal Dover for many years, partly to distinguish it from other Ohio settlements that had adopted the same name.
A series of mills was built along the Tuscarawas. This began the transition of Dover from an agricultural and trade center to a thriving industrial community. Although the canal system declined with the coming of the railroad, the entire region, stretching from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and on to Detroit, became a center of heavy industry. By the mid-1850s, Dover already had its first blast furnace for making steel and had established a steel rolling mill in 1867.
Dover was formally incorporated as a city in 1901. By the middle of the 20th century, Dover featured a variety of heavy industries. These included a clay pipe works, various machinery and chemical manufacturers, and a pair of specialty steel companies.
Despite its industrial base, Dover remained heavily influenced by the nearby agricultural communities, particularly the Amish and Mennonite communities in Sugarcreek. Such communities extended to Amish-dominated Holmes County. Today, however, agriculture plays a much less prominent role in Dover than in years past. In recent years, Dover has been affected by the decline in heavy industry in the region, but continues to grow and diversity its economic base.
Dover is adjacent to New Philadelphia, the county seat of Tuscarawas County, with the 2 cities considered to be twin cities. Each year, the "Tornadoes" of Dover High School play the rival "Quakers" of New Philadelphia in a football game that has been played annually for more than a century. Additionally, the city of Dover hosts the Tuscawaras County Italian-American Festival every summer.