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Barbour County, West Virginia

Barbour County, West Virginia
Map of West Virginia highlighting Barbour 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 March 3, 1843
Named for Philip Pendleton Barbour
Seat Philippi
Largest city Philippi
 • Total 343 sq mi (888 km2)
 • Land 341 sq mi (883 km2)
 • Water 1.8 sq mi (5 km2), 0.5%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013) 16,770
 • Density 49/sq mi (18.8/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .gov.wv.barbourcountywww

Barbour County is a county located in north-central West Virginia. At the 2010 census, the population was 16,589.[1] The county seat is Philippi,[2] which was chartered in 1844. Both county and city were named for Philip Pendleton Barbour (1783–1841), a U.S. Congressman from Virginia and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The county was formed in 1843[3] when the region was still part of the state of Virginia. In 1871, a small part of Barbour County was transferred to Tucker County, West Virginia.

The Battle of Philippi, also known as the "Philippi Races", was fought in Barbour County on June 3, 1861. Although a minor action, it is generally considered the first land engagement of the American Civil War.

Alderson Broaddus University, an American Baptist institution, is located in the county. The University's Physician Assistant (PA) program is one of the oldest and best established in the world.


  • History 1
    • Settlement and formation 1.1
    • Civil War 1.2
    • Later history 1.3
    • Registered Historic Places 1.4
  • Geography 2
    • Minor civil divisions 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
    • Adjacent counties 2.3
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Communities 5
    • Cities and towns 5.1
    • Unincorporated communities 5.2
  • Notable natives and residents 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Citations 8.1
    • Other sources 8.2
  • External links 9


Settlement and formation

The first white settlement in present-day Barbour County was established in 1780 by Richard Talbott – along with his brother Cotteral and sister Charity – about three miles (5 km) downriver from the future site of Philippi.[4] At this time the region was still a part of Monongalia County, Virginia. The region had had no permanent Indian settlements and so conflicts with Native Americans were relatively infrequent in the early days. Nevertheless, the Talbotts were obliged to leave their homestead several times for safety and twice found it necessary to retreat back east of the Alleghenies, returning each time. No member of this eventually large family was ever killed by Indian attacks.[5]

Over time, parts of the future Barbour County were included in Harrison, Lewis, and Randolph Counties. Barbour County itself was finally and definitively formed in 1843 and named for the late Virginia politician and jurist Philip Pendleton Barbour (1783–1841). (Barbour had served as a U.S. Congressman from Virginia, Speaker of the House, and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.) The settlement of Philippi – formerly "Anglin's Ford" and "Booth's Ferry" – was platted, named, and made the county seat in the same year; it was chartered in 1844. By the 1850s, when a major covered bridge was constructed at Philippi to service travellers on the Beverly-Fairmont Turnpike, the County's population was approaching 10,000 people.

Civil War

Philippi was the scene of the first land battle of the American Civil War, on June 3, 1861. The battle was later lampooned as the "Philippi Races" because of the hurried retreat by the Confederate troops encamped in the town. The battle is reenacted every June during the town's 'Blue and Gray Reunion.'

At daylight on June 3, two columns of Union forces under the command of Col. George A. Porterfield. The Union troops had marched all night through a heavy rain storm to arrive just before daylight. The surprise attack awakened the sleeping Confederates. After firing a few shots at the advancing Union troops, the Southerners broke lines and began running frantically to the south, some still in their bed clothes.

The Union victory in a relatively bloodless battle propelled the young Wheeling, the Wheeling Convention nullified the Virginia ordinance of secession and named Francis H. Pierpont governor. These events would eventually result in the separate statehood of West Virginia.

Later history

The economy and infrastructure in Barbour grew steadily, but slowly, through the late 19th century. Although the first railroad had reached nearby Grafton in 1852, a narrow-gauge railroad was not laid through the County until the early 1880s; a standard gauge line followed in the 1890s.

In 1990, private developers offered Barbour County citizens $4M to $6M annually in host fees to accept out-of-state garbage into a County landfill over the following three decades. Up to 200,000 tons of garbage per month would be delivered.[6] (At the time, the County's annual budget was only about $1M.) County voters rejected the offer.[7]

Registered Historic Places


View of Philippi, county seat of Barbour County. Visible are the historic Philippi Covered Bridge spanning the Tygart Valley River and the main administrative building and chapel of Alderson Broaddus University atop "Battle Hill" (upper left) overlooking the town.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 343 square miles (890 km2), of which 341 square miles (880 km2) is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) (0.5%) is water.[8]

Barbour County is situated on the Allegheny Plateau at the western edge of the Allegheny Mountains (represented by Laurel Mountain at the County's eastern boundary). Most of the County is drained by the Tygart Valley River which traverses it from south to north and on which its three largest settlements – Philippi, Belington, and Junior – are sited. Tributaries of the Tygart in the County include Teter Creek, Laurel Creek, Hacker's Creek, the Buckhannon River and the West Fork River. A portion of the County in the west drains into the Middle Fork River, principally through Elk Creek. Audra State Park – the County's only state park – is situated on the Middle Fork in the southwest corner. Teter Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area – the County's only WMA – is located on that stream and lake in the eastern portion. All of the mentioned streams are part of the greater Monongahela River watershed.

Minor civil divisions

Barbour County is divided into eight magisterial districts: Barker, Cove, Elk, Glade, Philippi, Pleasant, Union and Valley. Philippi District is sub-divided into that city's four wards. The town of Belington, however, has its Wards 1 and 2 in Valley District and Wards 3 and 4 in Barker District.


At the census[13] of 2000, there were 15,557 people, 6,123 households, and 4,365 families residing in the county. The population density was 46 people per square mile (18/km²). There were 7,348 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.36% White, 0.49% Black or African American, 0.71% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 1.03% from two or more races. 0.47% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,123 households out of which 30.10% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.20% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.70% were non-families. 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.00% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 26.80% from 25 to 44, 25.20% from 45 to 64, and 15.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $24,729, and the median income for a family was $29,722. Males had a median income of $24,861 versus $17,433 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,440. 22.60% of the population and 18.40% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.00% of those under the age of 18 and 16.70% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


Major employment in Barbour County is provided by health care and social service sectors, retail, education, accommodation and food services, logging and wood product manufacturing, trucking and construction. The largest employers are Alderson Broaddus University and Broaddus Hospital.

Bituminous coal mining has been significant in Barbour; seven times as much tonnage has been produced from underground as by surface mining. Natural gas and oil wells provide a modest amount of employment. Wholesale lumber production (wood and wood products) is also present. (The county is a member of the West Virginia Hardwood Alliance Zone.) There is notable production of eggs and horse raising, but the major agricultural products are livestock, forage, dairy foods and orchard fruits.


Cities and towns

Below is partial listing of known unincorporated communities within Barbour County. A complete listing is available

Unincorporated communities

Notable natives and residents

See also



  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Talbotts settled at the mouth of Hacker's Creek. McClain Printing Company, Parsons, W.Va., 1968.), pg 473.
  5. ^ Maxwell, Op. cit., pg 474.
  6. ^ "Landfill Controversy Divides Barbour County" (1990), Charleston Gazette (Oct 28 issue).
  7. ^ "Barbour Rejecting Landfill" (1990), Charleston Gazette, (Nov 7 issue).
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder".  

Other sources

  • Barbour County West Virginia...Another Look (1979), Compiled by The Barbour County Historical Society, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX and Paoli, PA.
  • Coonts, Violet Gadd (2nd ed, May 1991), The Western Waters: Early Settlers of Eastern Barbour County, West Virginia, Assisted by Gilbert Gray Coonts and Harold Cart Gadd, Published by Stephen P. Coonts, Denver, CO.
  • Coffman, Mary Stemple and Ethel Park Stemple (1978), Footsteps of Our Fathers: Early Settlers of Tacy (Barbour County) W. Va.; Baltimore.
  • Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia, Illustrated: Containing large scale copper plate Maps of Each State and Territory of the United States, and the Provinces of Canada ... Special History of the Virginias, Maps and Histories of Lewis, Upshur and Barbour Counties, West Virginia ... Volume 4 of the series published by H.H. Hardesty, 1883, 391 pages. (Reprint edition edited by Jim Comstock; Subsequent reprint by Wes Cochran. Contains a brief history of Barbour County and biographical sketches of its citizens.)
  • Mattaliano, Jane K. and Lois G. Omonde (1994), Milestones: A Pictorial History of Philippi, West Virginia, 1844–1994, Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Donning Company Publishers.
  • Myers, Karl or Elmer (ca. 1935), One-Room Schoolhouses, 1 min. home movie of one-room Barbour County schoolhouses; West Virginia State Archives (Available on DVD set Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Preserved Films, 2000).
  • Shaffer, John W. (2003), Clash of Loyalties: A Border County in the Civil War, West Virginia University Press.
  • Shingleton, George A. (1976), History of Mt. Morris School, Church and Cove District, Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company.
  • Smith, Barbara and Carl Briggs (2000), Barbour County (Series: Images of America), Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC.
  • Zinn, W.D. (1931), The Story of Woodbine Farm, Buckhannon, West Virginia: Kent Reger, Job Printer. (A detailed account of life and work on a Barbour County [Shooks Run] farm in the late-19th/early-20th centuries.)

External links

  • Barbour County history sources at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History
  • Barbour County Economic Development Authority
  • Barbour County Schools
  • Barbour County Fair Association
  • WVGenWeb Barbour County
  • Animal Friends of Barbour County – A No-Kill Shelter

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