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In 1921, Lima voters approved a change in the structure of Lima city government.Voters now elected five commissioners, with the commission chair serving as mayor.

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In 1882, under the name Lima Machine Works, the industry built the first Shay-geared locomotive. The oil well never realized enormous profits, but it triggered Lima's oil industry, bringing John D. Lima's oil field was, for about a decade, the largest in the US.The Lima area was not safe from the increased crime rate of the 1930s.In 1933, gangster John Dillinger was in the Allen County Jail, arrested for robbing the Citizens National Bank in nearby Bluffton.The charter sought to establish professional management, requiring the commissioners to hire a city manager, who reported to the mayor.Lima proved itself to be very much in the Progressive tradition with these changes, after flirting with radicalism in 1912 when the voters elected a Socialist mayor.Dillinger's cohorts broke him out of jail, killing Allen County Sheriff Jess Sarber in the process.

The murder and jailbreak put Dillinger at the top of the FBI's ten most wanted list.

His was not the only crime outfit to plague Lima during the decade.

In 1936, the notorious Brady Gang robbed a local jewelry store twice.

After World War I, Allen County's population growth lagged the state and the nation.

Galvin was an assistant superintendent at the Peru Steel Casting Co. He then became acting manager at American Steel Foundries in Pittsburgh.

The name "Lima" was reputedly chosen in a nod to the Peruvian capital which, during the 1800s, was a major source of quinine, an anti-malaria drug for which there had been a demand in the region, an area known as the Great Black Swamp. Also in 1854, a cholera outbreak in Delphos (a town in Allen County northwest of Lima) spread throughout west central Ohio.