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

West Virginia's Oldest County

Draft County Comprehensive Plan has been passed on to the County Commission
Click here for the Draft Plan. - large file.

Note: To be finalized in 2019, so check it out now!

This is the version updated in December, 2018
Posted as a community service. Read it. The statistics are a pretty damning indictment of how poorly we have worked in the past ten years to better our community!

Our edited Abbreviated Overview of Statistics shown in the Comprehensive Plan
Our suggested Pointers for an Attack on these serious problems.
Some suggested Topics for Consideration in expanding economic opportunities.

Now it is up to the citizens to insure the plan is made a reality!

Selling Our History

The Town of Romney has sold two choice burial slots in the space next to the Confederate Soldiers grave sites to Royce Saville for his personal use. This is an egregious conversion of part of a 150 year old historic site to personal use by someone. Click here for more information on this breaking of a sacred trust to hand on our historic sites to future generations as we received them!

UPDATE: On December 7, 2017 a suit was filed in Hampshire County Circuit Court against the Town of Romney contending that the out-of-court settlement agreed to by the Town of Romney and Royce Saville violated the Open Governmental Prceedings Act and West Virginia Code §8-12-18(b). The suit seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the transfer of the lots and such further relief as the court may deem appropriate. The law provides that the court may find that any person who willfully and knowingly violates the ... [Act] is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars. We will keep you posted on the progress of this suit.

We had a court appearance March 18, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. in the Romney Judicial Center. The judge wants more documents, and the Town is getting an opinion from the West Virginia Ethics Commission. We will wait to see what happens next. Click on the title above for a link to more information.

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 Era
Sometime 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 War
During 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 Established
In 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 Memorial raised to Civil War dead of a Southern community.  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.


Hampshire County Screensavers - large, high def photos (1920x1024


Save our Dark Night Sky - the County Comprehensive Plan is up for its review/reassessment so now is the time to get involved in saving our Dark Night Sky. This is the first step to notify the Planning Commission that it is a priority and needs to be included in the building code!

Our new database search project: Hampshire Database includes Sims Index of Land Grants, Survey Books A-E and Indian Mound Cemetery. Now working!

Regular Word Searches:
Please use Google Search to find items on this web site. To search this site only place after the search words you want to find enter "site:historichampshire.org" without the quotes. Google will then search only this site.


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
    Early Roads of Hampshire County from Maxwell & Swisher

  Civil War
     Civil War Sesquicentennial Project - has additional links
       Romney in the Civil War
      Location & Approaches to Romney
      The capture of Generals Crook and Kelly in Cumberland, Md.
       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

  Hampshire's Civil War Soldiers:
      Hampshire's Confederate Soldiers - New page
      Company A, 33rd Va. Inf. - New page
      Company D, 17th Va. Batt. Cav. - New page

   Civil War Memorials:
      History of the Soldiers Monument
      Confederate Veteran Magazine Article
      First Decoration Day, 1866 from the The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
      Project to Preserve the Civil War Memorial Site
      Reunion at Camp Walker
      150th anniversary of Decoration Day 2016
      150th anniversary of the Confederate Soldiers Monument 2017

   1866, Hampshire Asks for a Revote - Wants Return to Virginia  - NEW
  Black History  -  African-American history
  Orchard (Apple & Peach) Industry  and food related subjects
  Fish Hatchery established at Romney


Twentieth Century:
     Citizens who died in World War I
     Armistice Centennial Celebration - a WWI archived page
     For WWI Doughboy statue articles see Reprints from the Hampshire Review below
     Citizens who served and those who died in WWII
     Veterans of Korea  -Coming
     Veterans of Vietnam 
     Folks We Remember - people of note in community

Military Veterans of Hampshire County

Click for archived Calendar page of our WWI Armistice 100th Anniversary Commemoration

Community History Articles

    H.C. Historical Society Newsletters, archive of discontinued newsletter     Notes on the History of Springfield by Mrs. Heiskel

African-American History

    Veterans, Alfred Whiting, Jacob Green, Benevolent Cemetery, etc.

School History Articles

    Schools of Hampshire County - work in progress; please send corrections
    Schools for the Deaf and Blind

Soil Surveys of Hampshire County

Tidbits of History- Some interesting facts

Timeline of County History - see below

Hampshire's 250th Anniversary (site archive)
    Anniversary EventsWeb Archive
    Important (Lost) Artifacts
    Hampshire250 - Reflections on the Celebration

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:
     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
      Capon Bridge GPS survey benchmark at 813.5 feet elevation

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

Named Sites, Bridges, Roads, etc. (Memorials)
     The Frenchburg Bridge - Civil War Memorial
     The Private Wm. Kump Bridge - Civil War Memorial (large pdf)
     The North River Mills Trace - Colonial Era Memorial (large pdf)

Old Roads of Hampshire County
     Location & Approaches to Romney from a Civil War report
     See also "Maps" below

County & Private Records: Surveys, Wills, Deeds, Journals, Registers, etc.

    Survey Book A [New & incomplete]

    John W. Mellon Undertaker's Journal for Capon Bridge area. [Dan Oates]

    Keller Hotel Register listing visitors


Agriculture and Industries - Fruit, gunsmiths, hatchery, dairy, etc.

Churches of Hampshire County

     Old Pine Church update coming!

     Trinity Episcopal, Okonoko

     Little Cacapon Primative Baptist

    We invite churches to submit a history!


Post Offices of Hampshire County- a history by Len McMaster

Roadside Historic Markers

North River Mills.org- a quaint and historic village


Restored, Re-used, Waiting, Neglected Sites

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


Finding aid for Romney subjects

WV Historic Property Forms for Romney - New

Preservation Districts
    Romney's Historic District-?? - preserving W. Va.'s oldest town

Nature's Wonders
   Specimen Trees
   Nature's Interesting, beautiful and unique

Interesting Things, Unusual Wonders
   Rio's Giant Turtle

List of Aerial Photographs

For Place Names see Gazetteer below


Newspaper Items

Personal Items from from the South Branch Intelligencer 1867-1879 and the Hampshire Review 1884-1886 by Cheryl Singhal

Reprints from our local newspapers including the South Branch Intelligencer, The Hampshire Review and The Argus



Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax
People in the Civil War
Military Veterans
See also Reprints from the Hampshire Review above
Walter Crabtree hanged for murder



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
     Mill Sites c. 1859 (medium file)  -  NEW
     Hampshire County in 1888 (medium file)
     Hampshire County in 1880 (medium file)
     1926 Hampshire Co. Topo Map shows school and church locations
     Schools of Hampshire County - work in progress; please send corrections
    See also Cemetery section below


    Original Romney Lots (center of town)
    Full 1790 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

    B&O Railroad Maps
    Romney B&O RR Depot 1928
    Romney B&O RR Depot 1931 Sanborn map
    Romney B&O RR Depot 1932 railroad plan with turn-around "Y"
    Romney B&O RR Junction with main line

  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

    Capon Bridge (southeast) Land Grants
    Capon Bridge (southwest) Land Grants
    Several colonial era interpretative maps relating to Hampshire County are available from the Museum Shop of The Fort Edwards Foundation.


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

USGS Benchmarks - NEW

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

     North River Mills scenes

     Bloomery scenes - New Section!

     Hampshire County scenes

     H.C. Groups, organizations, activities soldiers, musicians, etc.

     School scenes

     Springfield scenes - New!

     Railroad scenes

      Animals- transportation, livestock, etc.

     Apple Orchards

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


     1991 Photographic Survey


Civil War Engravings

     Hampshire County Scenes 



    Wayne McGahuey's Cemetery Inventory incomplete

    Wayne McGahuey's Cemetery Maps of Hampshire County

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

     Romney's Oldest Cemetery

     Romney's Old Presbyterian Cemetery

     Indian Mound Cemetery

    Cemeteries of Romney from Maxwell & Swisher, (pdf)

    Mt. Pisgah Benevolent Cemetery just outside Romney

    Capon Chapel Cemetery

    Cemetery Survey Template and Explanation

      GPS locations sorted by Latitude - DRAFT


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

   Blank West Virginia Historic Property Inventory Form for sites inventory use


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.

Past Events

  Romney Railroad Day 2011


Other Subjects:

Web links, Places to Go, Things to Do

Timeline for Hampshire County

HistoricHampshire.org is supporting the effort to establish the George Washington Frontier 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. The effort for a National Heritage Area has been discontinued, but we would still like to see some remembrance of Col. Washington's area of responsibility during the French and Indian War so we are keeping the material online for research purposes.

Application information for the National Register of Historic Places

Agriculture Statistics

Great News from Mineral County

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

Contact Us(if you can)!

Examples of large graphic murals highlighting history or scenery from other places.

Sun bonnet pattern - full size; right click to download. Take to a quick printer that does blueprints and get approximate 36 inch square pattern.

Old Images & Ornaments & Portraits - Free, Public Domain

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: 


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updated: 10/6/19