Hampshire County, WV, history homepage  
Historic Hampshire County, WV

West Virginia's Oldest County
 

 

Hampshire County

    Lying just to the west of the great Valley of Virginia, Hampshire County, West Virginia has a rich and varied history. Once home to numerous tribes of prehistoric native Americans, the area was nearly empty and used only for a seasonal hunting ground when the white man first arrived. The fertile valleys of Hampshire's Potomac River tributaries were a welcome sight to the early settlers who longed for verdant, open spaces to satisfy their independent spirit. 


Colonial EraSometime in the 1730s and 1740s the trickle of explorers and settlers began.  The migration was primarily from Pennsylvania rather than from the piedmont of Virginia.

County Established

In 1754, the opening year of the French and Indian War, Hampshire County was established with over twenty-six hundred square miles.  It was the western frontier of the Colony of Virginia.  Because Virginia's route to the upper Ohio River valley came through Hampshire County, the area became an important gateway to the developing west.

French and Indian WarDuring the trying years of the French and Indian War, Hampshire bore the brunt of enemy attacks.  Although Virginia was a long way from Canada, the French know that Virginia was one of the wealthiest and most populous Colonies and a leader in the push for British expansion to the west.  It was because of this that Col. George Washington, Commander of the Virginia Regiment, built  a chain of forts in Hampshire County as the northern bulwarks of his western line of defense.  Col. Washington was familiar with the area, having traversed it for five seasons as a surveyor for  Lord Fairfax, the proprietor of the Northern Neck Proprietary.During the terrible days of the first half of the French and Indian War, many settlers fled to more peaceful areas; many who stayed died on their farms at the hands of ravaging warriors. Before the fall of Fort Duquesne to Gen. Forbes in 1758, much of Hampshire County was devoid of people.  After the war, the pace of settlement increased.  In 1762  Romney was incorporated as the county seat. In 1787 Watson (later named Capon Springs) was incorporated at the medicinal springs in the south-east part of the county.

Transportation Routes EstablishedIn 1786 a state road had been completed from Winchester to Romney.  As the frontier of the new nation moved westward, more roads were required to serve the expanding nation. In the 1830s the Northwestern Turnpike was built, eventually running from Winchester through Romney to Clarksburg and on to Parkersburg on the Ohio River.  By 1845 a stage line ran from Romney to Morgantown and Parkersburg.
 

Civil War

The far western counties of Virginia were developing as industrial centers along the Ohio Rivers, but Hampshire and its neighboring counties remained rural, agricultural areas.  It was during the war that Virginia was split, and Hampshire County became part of the new state of West Virginia. Hampshire's placement in the new state was a matter of Federal politics and did not reflect the sentiments of the people of the county.

Confederate Sympathies

Counties to the west had ties to the North by way of  the  Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the C&O canal; they had little in common with the commerce and government of Virginia. Hampshire County, on the other hand, was linked more to the Shenandoah Valley, and Hampshire's colonial heritage gave it stronger ties with the Commonwealth.  Therefore, its sympathies were Southern.  "Stonewall" Jackson had an early compaign in the County that attempted to cut the Federal government's transportation link to the western states that ran along the Potomac River, Hampshire's northern boundary.  Because of this strategic location there were many troop movements through the county  and Romney is said to have changed hands 56 times during the war.

Hampshire County raised thirteen Confederate companies for the war but only one Union company.  After the Civil War on Sept. 26, 1867, Hampshire's citizens dedicated what was perhaps the  first Confederate Memorial in the United States.  It still stands today in Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney.
 

Modern Era

The fact that  Indian Mound Cemetery is the burial site of two West Virginia governors (John J. Jacob - 4th Governor; John J. Cornwell - 15th Governor) evidences the county's involvement in the new State's political life.

Natural Beauty

Hampshire County has great natural beauty.  Although the area is not now as bountiful for the hunter as was true in George Washington's day, Hampshire has always been an abundant land.  The rivers are wonderful for swimming, and they abound with fish. The skies above are filled with wildfowl.  The Trough, a cut that the South Branch River makes through the mountains, is one of the best locations for spotting the majestic bald eagle.  The Potomac Eagle, a sightseeing passenger train, runs from spring through fall so tourists may view the breath-taking scenery and the eagles.

The several communities with "Spring" in their name give a hint to another natural treasure of the area known to early settlers.  Even today, Capon Springs resort is renowned for its lovely wooded setting and its wonderful  hospitality. Ice Mountain on the North River is a geologic anomaly with rare flora near its ice caves.  Today it is maintained by the Nature Conservancy.  Throughout the county there are fields, streams and mountains that offer a feast for the eyes and for the spirit.

Romney, where  the first Literary Society in the state was founded in 1819, is home to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind.  Hampshire County is a land mindful of its colonial heritage and the precious traits of character that made it strong. It is a place where the visitor will be made to feel welcome.

 

Save our Dark Night Sky - a Citizen's initiative to preserve our night environment

Save our Confederate Monument! - Fight modern encroachments!


 

For further information go to:   [Note: some pages are graphics intensive]

Our new database search project: Hampshire Database includes Sims Index of Land Grants, Survey Books A-E and Indian Mound Cemetery. This is an ongoing project.

Search Page Updated 2/14/13 - now searchs most of the site! There's always something that gets lost in the shuffle.....@#*&!!


 

History:

Old Published Histories:
    
West Virginia Geological Survey
    
Northwestern Turnpike

Eighteenth Century:
    
Our English Roots  Lord Fairfax, Hampshire Co. & New Romney 
         Romney article
     Settlement and French and Indian War:  Fort Edwards Web Site
     Foreman's Defeat, 1777
     Revolutionary War Soldiers
     Gazetteer of 1797
     Surveys of George Washington 
     The Founding of Romney
        Romney's 250th Anniversary celebration
     First Deeds for Romney Lots and Early Plat
     Researching Early Deeds and Grants
     Gunmakers of Hampshire County extends into 19th century


Nineteenth Century:
    
Antebellum Romney by Rob Wolford - New

  Civil War
     Civil War Sesquicentennial Project NEW - Needs your input!
     Romney in the Civil War
     Confederate Memorial in Romney
     First hand description of Romney at the end of the War
         & McNeil's Rangers' Surrender - Samuel Clarke Farrar Diary
     B&O Railroad in the Civil War
     Civil War Engravings
     Reunion at Camp Walker


     Black History  - NEW - a work in progress!

Twentieth Century:
     Citizens who died in World War I
     Citizens who served and those who died in WWII
     Veterans of Korea  -Coming
     Veterans of Vietnam  - New
     Folks We Remember


Military Veterans of Hampshire County


 

Community History Articles

    
Notes on the History of Springfield by Mrs. Heiskel

School History Articles

    
Schools for the Deaf and Blind
 

Tidbits of History- Some interesting facts

Hampshire's 250th Anniversary (site archive)
    Anniversary Events Web Archive
     Important (Lost) Artifacts

Petition to Change the Form of Hampshire County Government
The long struggle of the citizens of Hampshire County to have a petition placed on the ballot to allow a change from a 3 person Commission to a "Tribunal" composed of one representitive from each district has ended unsuccessfully. To learn about the process, click here for the Petition Documents Archive.

 

Places, Buildings, Views:

  Scenic Tour:
     Buildings
     Countryside
     North River Mills   (This page has the link to North River Mills Day.)
     Romney, the county seat  (see also History above)
     Fall scenes
     Ice Mountain
     Caudy's Castle Rock
     Capon Bridge Museum

National Register of Historic Places
     Whipple Truss Bridge at Capon Springs Nominated for the N.R.H.P.
     Sites on the National Register of Historic Places
     County buildings on the WV Historic Property Inventory Form

Post Offices of Hampshire County- a history by Len McMaster

North River Mills.org- a quaint and historic village

Roadside Historic Markers

Restoration Projects 
    Restoration Projects
    Ridgedale Restoration - George W. Washington house
       the old log house at Ridgedale - the first home of the Washington family
    Hefflebower mansion

Destroyed Places  - Landmarks that have passed

Neglected Places   - Buildings or sites which desperately need preservation or they will disappear.

New Buildings, New Structures 
   Rt. 50 turning lane between Augusta and Shanks 

   Nature's Wonders

   List of Aerial Photographs

For Place Names see Gazetteer below


 
Maps:

Modern Maps:

Road map of Hampshire County (without road names) to print on 8.5x11 inch paper. This is a pdf file that prints in landscape mode. File size is approx. 312 Kbytes.

The following two maps are basic maps that can be printed on 8.5x11 inch paper:
     Modern County Map (small 100dpi)    
     Modern County Map (large 300dpi)


The next map is quite detailed and quite large. It is 2388 pixels wide by 2316 wide; it is hardly viewable if printed on 8.5x11 inch paper, but can be enlarged to approximately 24 inches square.
     Hampshire County map with most roads

 

     John R. Ice County Map 1933 - top
     John R. Ice County Map 1933 - bottom
      This is the last road map of the county published before the 1939 Highway map when the State took over the road system. These are .jpg files you can either download by right-clicking on them and saving to your hard drive or you may view them in your browser. They are large files of approximately 450 megs.

 

Hampshire County Road Map is available from the State in .pdf format divided as north and south sheets: (Note: Hampshire County is going through road name changes in connection with a 911 Addressing System so this map may not be current.)

      Highway Map - North

       Highway Map - South

Wayne McGahuey's Cemetery Maps of Hampshire County

Potomac Heritage Trail Map (draft for study purposes - 2.6 megs)


 

Historic Maps & Interpretive Maps:


    Hampshire's Boundary over time 
    Two Important Colonial Roads - The Great Wagon Road and Braddock's Road
     Maps of Gen. Braddock's campaign through Hampshire Co. to Ft. Duquesne - on our associated site: www.BraddocksMarch.org
     1926 Hampshire Co. Topo Map
     Hampshire County in 1888 (medium file)
     Hampshire County in 1880 (medium file)
  
 Romney:
    Original Romney Lots (center of town)
    Full 1890 Plat - large file to print on 8.5x11 page

    Sanborn Fire Maps
       Sanborn Fire Map Color Legend
       Sanborn Fire Map of Romney 1894
       Note: the following are large maps of the center of Romney; you can click on them and your browser will show them or you can right click on the link and save it to your computer for viewing later or for editing since it more than fills your screen. They are large files (180-280kb) which take some time to download. We hope to upload the other sections of town at some later date (2028 to 2041 or thereabouts unless we get some help).
       Sanborn Map of center of Romney 1899
       Sanborn Map of center of Romney 1915
       Sanborn Map of center of Romney 1923
       Sanborn Map of center of Romney 1931


    Romney Water System 1928
 
    Romney B&O RR Depot 1928
  
  Crozet's Northwestern Turnpike Map
    Easter part of Hampshire County
    Western part of Hampshire County
 
  Civil War Maps
     Upper Potomac area based on Lt. Meigs
     Civil War Era Map of County (large file)
     B&O Railroad in the Civil War (large file)   
    Gen. Lander's Map, Feb. 1862
 
  Colonial Era Maps
    Several colonial era interpretative maps relating to Hampshire County are available from the Museum Shop of The Fort Edwards Foundation.
 

Gazetteer:
    
Place names in Hampshire County
     Places whose location is now "unknown"- from USGS Gazetteer


 

GIS Test page - Geographic Information System includes Land Grant Maps and Google Maps historic sites locator     - Draft -     New
   

Old Photographs

     Civil War Veterans - New Section!

Romney scenes

          Parades & buildings

      Capon Bridge scenes

      Bloomery scenes - New Section!

      Hampshire County scenes

      School scenes

      Springfield scenes - New!

      Railroad scenes

      Animals- transportation, livestock, etc.

      Who, What, Where???? - please help us! - New!

 

     1991 Photographic Survey

 

Civil War Engravings

     Hampshire County Scenes 


 

Cemeteries:

    Wayne McGahuey's Cemetery Inventory incomplete

    Wayne McGahuey's Cemetery Maps of Hampshire County

    Depression era project by the W.P.A. listing
      location of all veteran's cemeteries - (uses 1930s road names)

     old Presbyterian Cemetery

     Indian Mound Cemetery - Newly Expanded - with photos!

     Mt. Pisgah Benevolent Cemetery

     Citizens who died in WWII

    Cemetery Survey Template and Explanation


 

Research & Resources:

    Bibliography for Hampshire County

    References in Official Records of the Civil War - work in progress

    Important & Interesting Hampshire County Deeds 

    Resources at the WV State Archives in Charleston, WV  (.pdf format)

    Manuscripts & microfilm at West Virginia University

    Manuscripts, etc. at Various Repositories


 

County Events:

Hampshire Family Frontier Day at Fort Edwards

We can not keep up with events, so please visit the Convention and Visitors' Bureau web site.

 

Other Subjects:

Timeline for Hampshire County

HistoricHampshire.org is supporting the effort to establish the George Washington Frontier National Heritage Area to commemorate the stories and preserve the places of our settlers and soldiers and to remember George Washington's role in the westward movement of the frontier.

Application information for the National Register of Historic Places

Agriculture Statistics

Great News from Mineral County

Web links, Places to Go, Things to Do

About this page's sponsor: N.R.M.S.A.A.D.K.

Contact Us(if you can)!

This is a never-ending, always-updating project. If you or your organization would like to contribute a page to this site, we would be happy to correspond with you. We are looking for all the help we can get. It tooks thousands of people to originally write the history of Hampshire County; it is going to take more than a few to publish it. Please email corrections and/or suggestions and/or additions to: 
hhorg-em

 


Approximate visits since February 2010-??not correct!

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updated: 12/4/14 - 11/6/14
  
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