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Formation of Counties of West Virginia
(Transcribed from the book History Of Harrison County West Virginia  by Henry Haymond 1910)

Donated by Barb Ziegermeyer



The House of Burgesses of Virginia in the year 1634, in the reign of King Charles the Ist divided the colony into eight shires to be governed as the shires in England were and named them as follows.

James City,
Henrico,
Charles City,
Elizabeth City,
Warwick River changed to Warwick,
Warrosquoyacke, changed to Isle of Wight,
Charles Siver, changed to York,
and Accawmack.


This was the first attempt to organize the colony into counties and included the territory up the James River as far as the present site of Richmond. Other counties were formed as the settlements moved Westerly towards the Blue Ridge.


In 1734 when Orange County was created from Spottsylvania, its boundaries were described as extending westerly to the "utmost limits of Virginia."

In November 1738, in the reign of King George the II, that portion of the County of Orange lying beyond the Blue Ridge, to the "Western limits of Virginia," was separated from the rest of the County and erected into two distinct counties; to be divided by a line to be run from the head spring of Hedgeman river to the Head Spring of the Potomac river and that part of said territory lying to the North East of the said line, beyond the top of the Blue Ridge was called the county of Frederick, and the rest of the said territory lying on the other side of the said line beyond the top of the Blue Ridge was called the county of Augusta.

That portion of the county of Augusta lying west of the Allegheny Mountains was known as the "District of West Augusta." This was probably designated as such by the County Court as no act of the Legislature can be found referring to this being a district of Augusta County, or giving its boundaries for many years after the formation of the County.


Augusta County it is presumed attempted to exercise some jurisdiction over this Vast region which will be referred to hereafter.


The Virginia Convention held at Richmond in July 1775, adopted an ordinance, defining the manner of representation by the several counties, in all general conventions which shall be held within the State hereafter, provided that the "Land Holders of the District of West Augusta shall be considered as a distinct county, and have the liberty of sending two delegates to represent them in general convention as aforesaid."


The constitution adopted in May 1776 authorized the District of West Augusta to send two delegates to the General Assembly.


The reign of the King now ceases and the rule of the Commonwealth begins.


In October 1776 the General Assembly of Virginia in the first year of the Commonwealth passed an Act entitled "An Act for ascertaining the boundary between the County of Augusta and the District of West Augusta, and for dividing the said district into three distinct counties." The act is partly as follows:


"That the boundary between the said district and County shall be as follows, to wit: Beginning on the Allegheny Mountain between the heads of Potowmack, Cheat and Greenbriar rivers; thence along the ridge of mountains which divides the waters of Cheat River from those of Green-briar, and that branch of the Monongahela river called Tygart Valley River, to the Monongahela river; thence up the said river and the West Fork thereof to Bingerman's Creek on the North West side of the said West Fork; thence up the said creek to the head thereof, thence in a direct course to the head of Middle Island Creek, a branch of the Ohio and thence to the Ohio including all the waters of the said creek in the aforesaid district of West Augusta; all that territory lying to the Northward of the aforesaid boundary, and to the Westward of the States of Pennsylvania and Maryland, shall be deemed and is hereby declared to be within, the District of West Augusta."


The act then further proceeds to divide the territory above described as being within said District into three Counties, called Ohio, Monongalia and Yohogania.


When by the extension of Masons and Dixons line Westward it was discovered that the greater part of Yohogania County lay within the limits of Pennsylvania, and that portion on the Virginia side of the line was in 1785 added to the County of Ohio and Yohogania became extinct and is known as the "Lost County."


The District of West Augusta being abolished by the formation of the three counties mentioned above, this left the present territory of Har­rison County within the boundaries of Augusta County.


The Northern boundary of Greenbrier County when it was created in 1777, was described as follows:

Beginning on the top of the ridge which divides the Eastern from the Western waters where the line between Augusta and Bottetourt crosses the same, and the same course continued North fifty five degrees West to the Ohio River.

In May 1779 the mountainous region in Augusta County lying on the head waters of the Elk, Tygarts Valley, and Cheat Rivers and along the ridge dividing the waters of Cheat from the waters of the Potowmack river was added to Monongalia County.


It is supposed that this territory was intended to have been included in Monongalia County at the time of its formation in 1776, but from an imperfect knowledge of the country, or error, was omitted, and was corrected by the act of 1779.


In October 1780 an Act was passed to the effect "That all that part of the county of Augusta North West of the Line that divides Augusta from Green-Brier, on the top of the ridge, that divides the waters of Green-Brier from those of Elk and Tygarts Valley, and with that ridge to the ridge that divides the waters of Potowmack from those of Cheat, and with the same to the line that divides Augusta and Rockingham, shall be and the same is hereby added to and made part of the county of Monongalia."


Provision is made in this act, that the Court of Augusta County shall try and determine all suits which shall be pending before it, and that the Sheriff shall be authorized to collect any public dues for Officers fees which shall remain unpaid by the inhabitants at the time of the passage of this act.


This would indicate that Augusta had exercised some jurisdiction over her territory lying West of the mountains.


To substantiate this claim the following order is found in the Harrison County Court order book entered February 21, 1786.


"Ordered that a bridle road be opened from Conoly's Lick, agreeable to a former order of Augusta County Court, from said lick to the top of the Allegheny Mountains, and the petitioners are to aid and assist John Warwick, who is appointed overseer to open said way."


Mr. Jos. A. Waddell the historian of Augusta County in response to an inquiry writes as follows:


"I have never encountered in the records of Augusta County Court anything relating to taxes, roads, mills etc., in the trans-Allegheny region referred to."


In May 1784 the General Assembly passed an Act entitled "An Act for dividing the County of Monongalia."


I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly That from and after the twentieth day of July next, the County of Monongalia shall be divided into two distinct Counties, by a line to begin on the Maryland line, at the Pork Ford on the land of John Goff, thence a direct course to the head waters of Big Sandy Creek, thence down the said creek to Tygarts Valley fork of Monongahela river, thence down the same to the mouth of West Pork River, thence up the same to the mouth of Biggerman's Creek, thence up the said creek to the line of Ohio County; and that part of the said County lying South of the said line shall be called and known by the name of Harrison, and all the residue of the said county shall retain the name of Monongalia; that a Court for the said County of Harrison shall be held by the Justices thereof on the third Tuesday in every month after such division shall take place, in such manner as is provided by law for other Counties, and shall be by their commissions directed; that the justices to be named in the commission of the peace for the said County of Harrison, shall meet at the house of George Jackson, at Bush's old Port, on Buckhannon River, in said County, upon the first court day after the said division shall take place, and having taken the oath prescribed by law and administered the oath of office to, and taken bond of the Sheriff, according to law, proceed to appoint and qualify a Clerk, and fix upon a place for holding Courts in the said County, at or as near the center thereof as the situation and convenience will admit of; and thenceforth the said Court, shall proceed to erect the necessary public buildings at such place; and until such buildings be completed, to appoint any place for holding courts as they shall think proper, Provided always, That the appointment of a place for holding courts, and of a clerk shall not be made unless a majority of the justices of the said County be present; where such majority shall have been prevented from attending by bad weather, or their being at the time out of the county, in such cases the appointment shall be postponed until some Court day, when a majority shall be present; that the Governor with the advice of the council shall appoint a person to be first sheriff of the said county, who shall continue in office during the term, and upon the same conditions as is by law appointed for other Sheriffs.


II. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the sheriff of the said county of Monongalia, to collect and make distress for any public dues or officers fees, which shall remain unpaid by the inhabitants thereof, at the time such division shall take place, and shall be accounted for the same in like manner, as if this act had not been made; and that the court of the county of Monongalia, shall have jurisdictions of all actions and suits in law or equity which shall be depending before them at the time of the said division, and shall try and determine the same, and issue process and award execution thereon.

III. And be it further enacted, That the Court of the said County of Monongalia, shall account for and pay to the said County of Harrison, all such sums of money as shall or may be paid by the inhabitants of the said County of Harrison, towards defraying the expense of erecting a Court House, and other public buildings, in the said County of Monongalia. That in all elections of a senator the said County of Harrison shall be of the same district with the said County of Monongalia.


The original boundaries of Harrison County, as near as can be ascertained included either wholly or partially the following named Counties:

Randolph formed in 1787
Barbour  formed in 1843
Marion formed in 1842
Pleasants formed in 1851
Jackson formed in 1831
Calhoun formed in 1856
Braxton formed in 1836
Pocahontas formed in 1821
Lewis formed in 1816
Tucker formed in 1856
Taylor formed in 1845
Wood formed in 1798
Wirt formed in 1848
Gilmer formed in 1845
Upshur formed in 1851
Webster formed in 1860
Ritchie formed in 1843


By an Act of the Legislature passed January 1, 1800, the following described portion of Ohio County was added to Harrison County.


Beginning at the mouth of the West Fork River, thence running a North West course until it strikes Buffalo Creek, Thence up the said creek to the main fork thereof; thence with the ridge that divides the waters of the said fork to the line of Ohio County, and with that line to the line of Harrison County.


A portion of this territory if not all, was afterwards included in Marion County and Bingamon Creek again made the line of Harrison County.


By an Act of the Legislature passed December 22, 1804, the following described portion of Ohio County was added to Harrison  County,


Beginning at the top of the main dividing ridge that divides Ohio and Harrison Counties, where the dividing ridge puts up that divides the waters of Middle Island and Fishing Creek, and running along the top of the ridge between the waters of Middle Island and Fishing Creek until it gets opposite the mouth of Arnold's Creek, and thence running a direct line to the mouth of said creek; thence up the channel of said creek to the mouth of the first large run on the West Side thereof above where the State road crosses; thence up the said run to the top of the ridge, and thence to the most Easterly corner of the Wood County line.


A good portion of this territory was afterwards included in Doddridge County.

Thus it will be seen that the present territory of Harrison has at various times been included in Orange, Augusta, District of West Augusta and Monongalia Counties.

During the four years that Harrison County was included in Monongalia, Courts were held at Morgantown, taxes collected, roads and mills established, suits brought and all legal jurisdiction exercised over it.


In the year 1796 the Monongalia Court House was destroyed by fire with all the County records except those of the Surveyor's office, and all proceedings of the County Courts referring to the territory of Harrison were destroyed, which is much to be regretted.


FORMATION & DATE OF WEST VRIGINIA COUNTIES

Transcribed and Donated by Peggy Luce

Date of Formation

County

Counties From Which Formed

County Seat

Named After

1843

Barbour

Harison, Lewis, Randolph

Phillippi

Named after Philip Pendleton Barbour, distinguished jurist of Virginia

1772

Berkeley

Fredrick

Martinsburg

Named: For Norborne Berkeley (Baron de Botetort), colonial governor of Virginia from 1768 to 1770.

1847

Boone

Cabell, Kanawha, Logan

Madison

Named: For Daniel Boone, whose home was in the Kanawha Valley from 1789 to 1795.

1836

Braxton

Kanawha, Lewis, Nicholas

Sutton

Named: For Carter Braxton, VA statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

1796

Brooke

Ohio

Wellsburg

Named: In honor of Robert Brooke, Governor of VA from 1794 to 1796.

1809

Cabell

Kanawha

Huntington

Named: In honor of William H. Cabell, Governor of VA from 1805 to 1808.

1856

Calhoun

Gilmer

Grantsville

Named: For John C. Calhoun, eminent statesman of South Carolina.

1858

Clay

Braxton, Nicholas

Clay

Named: In honor of Henry Clay, Kentucky statesman.

1845

Doddridge

Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, Tyler

West Union

Named: For Phillip Doddridge, a distinguished statesman of Western Virginian.

1831

Fayette

Greenbrier, Kanawha, Logan, Nicholas

Fayetteville

Named: In honor of the Marquis de Lafayette.

1845

Gilmer

Kanawha, Lewis

Glenville

Named: For Thomas Walker Gilmer, Governor of Virginia from 1840-41, later a representative in Congress and Secretary of the Navy under Tyler.

1866

Grant

Hardy

Petersburg

Named: For Ulysses S. Grant

1777

Greenbrier

Boteourt, Montgomery

Lewisburg

Named: For the principal river which drains the county.

1753

Hampshire

Augusta, Frederick

Romney

Named: For the English Shire of the same name.

1848

Hancock

Brooke

New Cumberland

Named: For John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

1785

Hardy

Hampshire

Moorefield

Named: For Samuel Hardy, a distinguished Virginian.

1784

Harrison

Monogalia

Clarksburg

Named: For Benjamin Harrison, distinguished Virginian, who was the father of William Henry Harrison, 9th President, and the great-grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President.

1831

Jackson

Kanawha, Mason, Wood

Ripley

Named: For Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States

1801

Jefferson

Berkeley

Charles Town

Named: For Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President.

1788

Kanawha

Greenbrier, Montgomery

Charleston

Named: For the Great Kanawha River, which itself was named after the Indian tribe which once resided there.

1816

Lewis

Harrison

Weston

Named: For Colonel Charles Lewis, famous soldier and pioneer leader, killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774.

1867

Lincoln

Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Putnam

Hamlin

Named: In honor of Abraham Lincoln, 16th president

1824

Logan

 

Logan

Named: For Logan, famous Indian chief of the Mingo tribe

1842

Marion

Harrison, Monogalia

Fairmont

Named: In honor of General Francis Marion of the Revolutionary War, known as the "Swamp Fox"

1835

Marshall

Ohio

Moundsville

Named: For Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court.

1804

Mason

Kanawha

Pt. Pleasant

Named: For George Mason, author of the Constitution of VA and a member of the convention which framed the U.S. Constitution.

1858

McDowell

Tazewell

Welch

Named: In honor of James McDowell, Governor of Virginia, 1843-46.

1837

Mercer

Giles, Tazewell

Princeton

Named: in honor of Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer

1866

Mineral

Hamshire

Keyser

Named: For the mineral resources found there.

1895

Mingo

Logan

Williamson

Named: For the Indian tribe of which Logan was chief.

1776

Monongalia

West Augusta District

Morgantown

Named: For the Monongahela River

1799

Monroe

Greenbrier

Union

Named: For James Monroe, 5th President

1820

Morgan

Berkeley, Hampshire

Berkeley Springs

Named: In honor of General Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary War

1818

Nicholas

Greenbrier, Kanawha, Randolph

Summersville

Named: For Wilson Cary Nicholas, Governor of Virginia, 1814-16

1776

Ohio

West Augusta District

Wheeling

Named: For the Ohio River, Indian name meaning "great river"

1787

Pendleton

Augusta, Hardy, Rockingham

Franklin

Named: For Edmund Pendleton, distinguished statesman and jurist of Virginia

1851

Pleasants

Ritchie, Tyler, Wood

St. Marys

Named: For James Pleasants, Jr., Senator from VA, and VA Governor, 1822-1825

1821

Pocahontas

Bath, Pendleton, Randolph

Marlington

Named: For Pocahontas, the Indian princess

1818

Preston

Monongalia

Kingwood

Named: In honor of James Patton Preston, Governor of VA, 1816-1819

1848

Putnam

Cabell, Kanawha, Mason

Winfield

Named: In honor of General Israel Putnam, New England soldier and patriot

1850

Raleigh

Fayette

Beckly

Named: For Sir Walter Raleigh, English adventurer and soldier

1786

Randolph

Harrison

Elkins

Named: For Edmund Jennings Randolph, Governor of VA, 1786-1788

1843

Ritchie

Harrison, Lewis, Wood

Harrisville

Named: In honor of Thomas Ritchie, a distinguished journalist of Richmond, VA, whose uncle was Judge Spencer Roane, for whom Roane County was named

1856

Roane

Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha

Spencer

Named: In honor of Judge Spencer Roane, distinguished judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, and son-in-law of Patrick Henry

1871

Summers

Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe

Hinton

Named: In honor of George W. Summers, a prominent jurist of Kanawha County

1844

Taylor

Barbour, Harrison, Marion

Grafton

Named: For Senator John Taylor (1750-1824), distinguished soldier and statesman of Virginia

1856

Tucker

Randolph

Parsons

Named: For Henry S. George Tucker (1780-1848), an eminent jurist and statesman of Virginia

1814

Tyler

Ohio

Middlebourne

Named: In honor of John Tyler, 8th Governor of Virginia and father of John Tyler, 10th President

1851

Upshur

Barbour, Lewis, Randolph

Buckhannon

Named: For Abel Parker Upshur, distinguished statesman and jurist of Virginia

1842

Wayne

Cabell

Wayne

Named: In honor of General Anthony Wayne, Revolutionary War hero

1860

Webster

Braxton, Nicholas, Randolph

Webster Springs

Named: In honor of Daniel Webster, New England orator and statesman

1846

Wetzel

Tyler

New Martinsville

Named: For Lewis Wetzel, famous frontier character and Indian fighter

1848

Wirt

Jackson, Wood

Elizabeth

Named: For William Wirt of Maryland, who gained fame as an author, orator and lawyer in his adopted state of Virginia

1793

Wood

Harrison

Parkersburg

Named: In honor of James Wood, Governor of Virginia, 1796-1799

1850

Wyoming

Logan

Pineville

Named: For the Delaware Indian word meaning "large plains"

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