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Hampshire County, West Virginia

Hampshire County, West Virginia
Map of West Virginia highlighting Hampshire County
Location in the state of West Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded December 13, 1754
Named for Hampshire, England
Seat Romney
Largest city Romney
 • Total 645 sq mi (1,671 km2)
 • Land 640 sq mi (1,658 km2)
 • Water 4.4 sq mi (11 km2), 0.7%
Population (est.)
 • (2014) 23,483
 • Density 37/sq mi (14/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .gov.wv.hampshirecountywww

Hampshire County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,964.[1] Its county seat is Romney,[2] West Virginia's oldest town (1762). The county was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1754, from parts of Frederick and Augusta Counties (Virginia) and is the oldest county in the state of West Virginia.[3][4] The county lies in both West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands regions.

Hampshire County is part of the Winchester, VA-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.


  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Earliest European settlers 2.1
    • 18th century Hampshire County 2.2
    • Early churches 2.3
    • Early industry 2.4
    • 19th century Hampshire County 2.5
  • Geography 3
    • Major highways 3.1
    • Adjacent counties 3.2
    • Rivers and streams 3.3
    • Natural landmarks 3.4
      • Mountains 3.4.1
      • Other geological formations 3.4.2
    • Hampshire County maps 3.5
  • Demographics 4
  • Education 5
    • Public schools 5.1
    • Private schools 5.2
  • Parks and recreation 6
    • County parks 6.1
    • Wildlife management areas 6.2
    • National forests 6.3
  • Communities 7
    • City 7.1
    • Town 7.2
    • Census-designated places 7.3
    • Unincorporated communities 7.4
    • Magisterial districts 7.5
  • Notable people 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Bibliography 11
  • External links 12


Hampshire County, 1888

Although its creation was authorized in 1754, Hampshire County was not actually organized until 1757[5] because the area was not considered safe due to the outbreak of the French and Indian War (1754–1763). According to Samuel Kercheval's A History of the Valley of Virginia (1833), the county was named in honor of its several prize hogs. The story goes that Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693–1781), who owned the Royal Grant to the area, came upon some very large hogs in Winchester and asked where they had been raised. He was told that they were from the South Branch Potomac River Valley (now Hampshire County). He remarked that when a county was formed west of Frederick that he would name it in honor of the county Hampshire, England, famous for its very fat hogs.


Earliest European settlers

Potomac and South Branch Potomac rivers. Washington spent three summers and falls surveying Lord Fairfax's Northern Neck estate, which included all of the present-day Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. In April 1748, he laid off several lots in an area known as the Trough, about ten miles (16 km) south of Romney, and he is known to have been in present-day Romney on October 19, 1749. Oral traditions claimed that Washington laid present-day Romney out into lots at that time, but written records from that era indicate that Romney was surveyed and laid out into lots by James Genn prior to Washington's arrival. Genn was also employed by Lord Fairfax.

18th century Hampshire County

In 1756, Cinque Ports city on the English Channel in Kent.

Confusion ensued for several decades concerning land ownership within the town as counterclaims were made by the original settlers and those who purchased lots laid out by Lord Fairfax's surveyors.

The first meeting of the Hampshire County Court was held in 1757, at Fort Pleasant, now Old Fields in Hardy County, and was presided by the Right Honorable Thomas Bryan Martin, Lord Fairfax's nephew. By that time, Hampshire County's population had fallen dramatically as most of the settlers had fled the county in fear of the Native Americans. The only families remaining lived near Fort Pearsall, near present-day Romney, and Fort Edwards, at present-day Capon Bridge on the Cacapon River. The vast majority of the remaining settlers, however, were in the vicinity of present Old Fields-Moorefield-Petersburg and were protected by the several forts in the area, including Fort Pleasant

Once the Native Americans were defeated at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 settlers, once again, returned to the county. By 1790, when the first national census was taken, Hampshire County had 7,346 residents, making it the second most populous county in the present state of West Virginia at that time. Berkeley was the most populous county, with 19,713 people. There were nine counties that comprised the present state, with a total population of 55,873 people.

During the

  • Official Hampshire County website
  • Historic Hampshire homepage
  • Hampshire Review newspaper
  • Hampshire County Arts Council
  • Hampshire County Chamber of Commerce
  • Hampshire County Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Hampshire County Schools & Board of Education
  • Hampshire County Sheriff's Office
  • Hampshire High School
  • Hampshire County Office of Emergency Services
  • Hampshire County Public Library
  • Terry Gruber's Colonial Hampshire County Research Articles
  • Annual Hampshire Heritage Days
  • Hampshire County Schools
  • Soaring Eagles Adventures

External links

  • Brannon, Selden W. (1976). Historic Hampshire: A Symposium of Hampshire County and Its People, Past and Present.  
  • Hampshire County Extension Homemakers (1991). Hampshire County, West Virginia: A Pictorial History.  
  • Munske, Roberta R.; Kerns, Wilmer L., eds. (2004). Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754–2004.  


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "West Virginia: Individual County Chronologies". West Virginia Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.  
  5. ^ Lewis, Virgil (1896). History and Government of West Virginia (1st ed.). New York NY: Werner School Book Company. p. 58.  (WV County Founding Dates and Etymology). Other editions available at ASIN B009CI6FRI and Google Books.
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder".  


Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

See also

Notable people

  • Bloomery Magisterial District
  • Capon Bridge municipality
  • Capon Magisterial District
  • Gore Magisterial District
  • Mill Creek Magisterial District
  • Romney Magisterial District
  • Romney municipality
  • Sherman Magisterial District
  • Springfield Magisterial District

Magisterial districts

Unincorporated communities

Census-designated places




  • George Washington National Forest

National forests

Wildlife management areas

  • Central Hampshire Park, Augusta
  • Green Spring Recreational Park, Green Spring
  • Hampshire Park & 4-H Camp, Romney
  • Romney Recreation Center, Romney
  • Shanks Roadside Park, Shanks

County parks

Parks and recreation

  • Maranatha Christian Academy
  • Slanesville Christian School

Private schools

Public schools


The median income for a household in the county was $31,666, and the median income for a family was $37,616. Males had a median income of $28,884 versus $19,945 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,851. About 12.90% of families and 16.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.70% of those under age 18 and 13.10% of those age 65 or over.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.10% under the age of 18, 7.10% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

There were 7,955 households out of which 31.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.10% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.94.

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 20,203 people, 7,955 households, and 5,640 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 11,185 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.04% White, 0.83% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 0.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.


  • Hampshire County's Original Boundaries
  • Civil War Era Hampshire County
  • Hampshire County in 1880
  • Hampshire County in 1888
  • WVDEP Modern Hampshire County Road Map
  • Hampshire County in the 1755 Fry & Jefferson Map

Hampshire County maps

Other geological formations

Capon Springs


Natural landmarks

South Branch Potomac River near South Branch Depot

Rivers and streams

Communities of Hampshire County

Adjacent counties

Major highways

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 645 square miles (1,670 km2), of which 640 square miles (1,700 km2) is land and 4.4 square miles (11 km2) (0.7%) is water.[6]

Caudy's Castle


During the American Civil War, the Hampshire Guards and Frontier Riflemen joined the Confederate Army. Although there were no major battles in Hampshire County, Romney changed hands at least fifty-six times during the war. It was often a case of one army evacuating the area allowing the opposing army to move into the town. This places Romney second behind Winchester as the town that changed hands the most during the American Civil War. On June 11, 1861, it changed hands twice in the same day. Some local Hampshire County historians speculate that Romney actually changed hands more than Winchester but there are no surviving records to support the claim.

The building of the Claudius Crozet, a Frenchman who had previously worked for Napoleon Bonaparte, engineered the road which connected Parkersburg with Winchester, Virginia. The turnpike traversed Hampshire County stretching through the communities of Capon Bridge, Loom, Hanging Rock, Pleasant Dale, Augusta, Frenchburg, Shanks, and Romney. Through the years, Romney became an important rest stop for travelers on the turnpike. This aided the local economy as hotels and taverns began to appear in the area.

19th century Hampshire County

The wide lowlands of Hampshire County certainly invited agriculture, and fields of wheat and tobacco surrounded the important truck-patch of the settler. The rolling uplands offered pasturage for horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs, which were driven across country to market at Winchester. The streams abounded in fish and the mountains contained not only game but timber and stone for early settlers' homes. The limestone was burned for lime at Bloomery Gap, where remains of old lime-kilns give evidence of an early industry. Soon it was discovered that some of the strata contained iron ore. Much of it was transported to present-day Keyser, from an area along South Branch Potomac River south of the present limits of the county. In Bloomery Gap, a ruined furnace still stands, mute evidence of another former industry. In the early days the increasing population stimulated not only farming and grazing but every industry of a new country.Hampshire County was also known for its many gunmakers,located on or near the main road from Winchester to Romney.Among them were,Henry Topper,Jacob Kline,George Young, Benjamin Shane,George Glaze,William Britton and the Sheetz Family.

Early industry

The early missionaries helped to sustain the religious faith of the early European inhabitants. In 1775 two Mount Bethel Church, at Three Churches.

Mount Bethel Church at Three Churches, WV.
Early churches
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