Hampshire County, West Virginia
Map of West Virginia highlighting Hampshire County
Location in the state of West Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location in the U.S.
Founded 1753
Named for Hampshire, England
Seat Romney
Largest city Romney
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

645 sq mi (1,670 km²)
642 sq mi (1,662 km²)
3 sq mi (8 km²), 0.45%
 -  Density

23,964 / 37.2 per sq mi
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Hampshire County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 23,964. Its county seat is Romney[1], West Virginia's oldest town (1762). Hampshire County was created by the Virginia General Assembly on December 13, 1753, from parts of Frederick and Augusta counties (Virginia) and is the oldest county in the state of West Virginia. 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 (MSA).


Hampshire County, 1888

Although its creation was authorized in 1753, Hampshire County was not actually organized until 1757 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.


Caudy's Castle

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 645 square miles (1,670.5 km2), of which 642 square miles (1,662.8 km2) is land and 3 square miles (7.8 km2) (0.45%) is water.

Major highways[]

  • US 50.svg U.S. Highway 50
  • US 220.svg U.S. Highway 220
  • WV-9.svg West Virginia Route 9
  • WV-28.svg West Virginia Route 28
  • WV-29.svg West Virginia Route 29
  • WV-127.svg West Virginia Route 127
  • WV-259.svg West Virginia Route 259

Adjacent counties[]

Communities of Hampshire County

Magisterial districts[]

  • 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

Rivers and streams[]

South Branch Potomac River near South Branch Depot

  • Potomac River
    • Cacapon River
      • Capon Springs Run
      • Dillons Run
      • Edwards Run
      • Mill Branch
      • North River
        • Grassy Lick Run
        • Tearcoat Creek
          • Bearwallow Creek
    • Little Cacapon River
      • North Fork Little Cacapon River
      • South Fork Little Cacapon River
    • North Branch Potomac River
      • Green Spring Run
    • South Branch Potomac River
      • Big Run
      • Buffalo Creek
      • Mill Creek
      • Mill Run

Natural landmarks[]


Capon Springs

  • South Branch Mountain, 3028 feet (922 m)
  • Pinnacle Ridge, 2844 feet (866.85 m)
  • Nathaniel Mountain, 2739 feet (834 m)
  • Mill Creek Mountain, 2648 feet (807 m)
  • Cacapon Mountain, 2618 feet (797 m)
  • Spring Mountain, 2436 feet (742.49 m)
  • Spring Gap Mountain, 2237 feet (681 m)
  • North River Mountain, 2149 feet (655 m)
  • Cooper Mountain, 2028 feet (618 m)
  • Baker Mountain, 2024 feet (616 m)
  • Patterson Creek Mountain, 2005 feet (611 m)
  • Sideling Hill, 1930 feet (588 m)
  • Little Cacapon Mountain, 1575 feet (480 m)
  • Ice Mountain, 1489 feet (453 m)
  • The Devil's Nose, 1121 feet (341 m)

Other geological formations[]

  • Caudy's Castle
  • Hanging Rocks
  • Mechanicsburg Gap
  • The Trough

Hampshire County maps[]


Historical populations
of Hampshire County
Year Population
1790 7,346
1800 8,348
1810 9,784
1820 10,889
1830 11,279
1840 12,295
1850 14,036
1860 13,913
1870 7,643
1880 10,366
1890 11,419
Year Population
1900 11,806
1910 11,694
1920 11,713
1930 11,836
1940 12,974
1950 12,577
1960 11,705
1970 11,710
1980 14,867
1990 16,498
2000 20,203
2010 23,964

As of the census[2] 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.

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.

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.

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.

Parks and recreation[]

County parks[]

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

Wildlife management areas[]

Edwards Run at Edwards Run Wildlife Management Area near Cold Stream.

  • Edwards Run Wildlife Management Area
  • Fort Mill Ridge Wildlife Management Area
  • Nathaniel Mountain Wildlife Management Area
  • Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area
  • South Branch Wildlife Management Area
  • Wardensville Wildlife Management Area

National forests[]

  • George Washington National Forest


Public schools[]

  • Hampshire County Schools
  • West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind

Private schools[]

  • Maranatha Christian Academy
  • Slanesville Christian School


Earliest European settlers[]

Romney was initially settled by hunters and traders around 1725. In 1738, John Pearsall (or Pearsoll) and his brother Job built homes and in 1758 a fort (Fort Pearsall) for defense against Native Americans in present-day Romney. Their settlement was then known as Pearsall's Flats. In 1748, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron sent a surveying party, including 16 year-old George Washington, to survey his lands along the 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, Fort Pearsall was constructed on Job Pearsall's plantation for protection against Native American raids and George Washington provisioned and garrisoned the Fort at various times until 1758. At that time, there were at least 100 people living in the general area. Following the end of hostilities in the area, Lord Fairfax recognized that more settlers would be interested in moving into the area and that he could earn some extra revenue by selling plots in the town. He sent a survey party to Romney in 1762 to formally lay out the town into 100 lots. At that time, he renamed the town Romney, in honor of the 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 Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, many Hampshire County men volunteered to serve under Major General Daniel Morgan to put down the insurrection. The men most likely volunteered at Moorefield in Hardy County and then marched north to Cumberland, Maryland. Approximately 1,200 of the 12,950 men under Morgan's command came from the area that would later become West Virginia.

Early Churches[]

Mount Bethel Church at Three Churches, WV.

The early missionaries helped to sustain the religious faith of the early European inhabitants. In 1775 two Baptist missionaries among a group of settlers moved to the Cacapon and organized the first European church in the county. In 1771 the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church was begun, in which later developments led to the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1753 Hampshire County had been formed into a parish by the Protestant Episcopal Church and in 1773 a missionary sent by that church began work. In 1787 a Primitive Baptist church was established at North River. Soon after the American Revolution there was preaching by the Presbyterians at different points in the county. In 1792 a Presbyterian church was organized at Romney and another, Mount Bethel Church, at Three Churches.

Early Industry[]

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.

19th century Hampshire County[]

Hampshire County, 1832.

The building of the Northwestern Turnpike (U.S. Route 50) was an integral part of the development of Hampshire County. General Daniel Morgan first suggested the road be built in 1748, but his recommendations were not acted upon until the 1830s. Colonel 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.

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.

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places[]

Site Year Built Address Community Listed
Capon Springs Historic District 18th-19th centuries Capon Springs Road (CR 16) Capon Springs 1993
Captain David Pugh House 1835 Cacapon River Road (CR 14) Hooks Mills 2004
Fort Van Meter 1756 South Branch River Road (CR 8) Romney 2009
Hampshire County Courthouse 1922 Main & High Streets Romney 2005
Kuykendall Polygonal Barn circa 1906 South Branch River Road (CR 8) Romney 1985
Literary Hall 1869–1870 Main & High Streets Romney 1979
Old Methodist District Parsonage 1868–1882 351 North High Street (WV 28) Romney 2005
Scanlon Log House late 19th century Three Churches Hollow Road (CR 5/4) Three Churches 1988
Sloan-Parker House 1790 Northwestern Turnpike (US 50) Junction 1975
Sycamore Dale 1836 South Branch River Road (CR 8) Romney 1980
Washington Bottom Farm circa 1835 Washington Road (CR 28/3) Ridgedale 2001
Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House circa 1760 51 West Gravel Lane Romney 1977

Cities and towns[]

Incorporated cities and towns[]

  • City of Romney
  • Town of Capon Bridge

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Augusta
  • Barnes Mill
  • Bloomery
  • Blues Beach
  • Bubbling Spring
  • Capon Lake
  • Capon Springs
  • Capon Springs Station
  • Cold Stream
  • Creekvale
  • Davis Ford
  • Delray
  • Dillons Run
  • Donaldson
  • Forks of Cacapon
  • Frenchburg
  • Glebe
  • Good
  • Grace
  • Green Spring
  • Hainesville
  • Hanging Rock
  • Higginsville
  • High View
  • Hooks Mills
  • Hoy
  • Intermont
  • Jericho
  • Junction
  • Kirby
  • Largent
  • Lehew
  • Levels
  • Little Cacapon
  • Loom
  • Mechanicsburg
  • Millbrook
  • Millen
  • Millesons Mill
  • Neals Run
  • Nero
  • North River Mills
  • Okonoko
  • Pancake
  • Pin Oak
  • Pleasant Dale
  • Points
  • Purgitsville
  • Rada
  • Raven Rocks
  • Ridgedale
  • Rio
  • Ruckman
  • Sector
  • Sedan
  • Shanks
  • Shiloh
  • Slanesville
  • South Branch Depot
  • Springfield
  • Three Churches
  • Vance
  • Vanderlip
  • Wappocomo
  • Woodrow
  • Yellow Spring

Notable natives and residents[]

  • Jesse B. Aikin, shape note "singing master"
  • Stephen Ailes, United States Secretary of the Army
  • William H. Ansel, Jr., Treasurer of West Virginia and historian
  • William Armstrong, U.S. Representative from Virginia
  • John Rinehart Blue, West Virginia House Delegate
  • George Edwin Brill, USPIS postal inspector
  • Edna Brady Cornwell, First Lady of West Virginia
  • John J. Cornwell, 15th Governor of West Virginia
  • Marshall S. Cornwell, newspaper publisher, poet, and author
  • William Henry Foote, Presbyterian clergyman and historian
  • William Foreman, early American military leader
  • Henepola Gunaratana, Bhavana Society founder
  • John J. Jacob, 4th Governor of West Virginia
  • Jonah Edward Kelley, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Herman G. Kump, 19th Governor of West Virginia
  • Charles S. Lawrence, IFT Executive Vice President
  • Thomas Bryan Martin, burgess, jurist, and the county's first judge
  • Rae Ellen McKee, 1991 National Teacher of the Year
  • Jerry Mezzatesta, West Virginia House Delegate
  • Ann Pancake, author
  • Catherine Pancake, filmmaker
  • Sam Pancake, actor
  • Lee Hawse Patteson, First Lady of West Virginia
  • Yogavacara Rahula, Bhavana Society vice-abbot
  • Ruth Rowan, West Virginia House Delegate
  • Felix Walker, U.S. Representative from North Carolina
  • Francis White, U.S. Representative from Virginia
  • Robert White, Attorney General of West Virginia

See also[]

  • Media related to Hampshire County, West Virginia at Wikimedia Commons
  • Edwards Run Wildlife Management Area
  • Fort Mill Ridge Wildlife Management Area
  • List of historical highway markers in Hampshire County, West Virginia
  • List of placenames in Hampshire County, West Virginia
  • List of secondary state highways in Hampshire County, West Virginia
  • Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area
  • South Branch Wildlife Management Area
  • USS Hampshire County (LST-819)


  • Ailes, John C. Romney, West Virginia, 1762-1962. Romney, West Virginia, Hampshire Review, 1962.
  • Ambler, Charles Henry. "Romney In The Civil War." West Virginia History, Charleston, West Virginia, 1943-44. Arc 1. 4: 5.
  • Brannon, Selden W. Historic Hampshire. Parsons, West Virginia, McClain Printing Company, 1976.
  • Callahan, James Morton. History of West Virginia. 3 vols. Chicago and New York, American Historical Society, 1923.
  • Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee. Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754-2004. 2004.
  • Kercheval, Samuel. A History of the Valley of Virginia. Woodstock, Virginia, 1850.
  • Maxwell, Hu & H.L. Swisher. History of Hampshire County, West Virginia: From its earliest settlement to the present. Morgantown, West Virginia, A. Brown Boughner, 1897.
  • Sauers, Richard A. The Devastating Hand of War: Romney, West Virginia During the Civil War. Leesburg, Virginia, Gauley Mount Press, 2000.

West Virginia History Volume XLV 1984,Early Gunmakers of Hampshire County by Ansel. Gunsmiths of Virginia by Whisker

Hampshire County external links[]

Hampshire County Courthouse, 1920s.

Coordinates: 39°19′N 78°37′W / 39.31, -78.61

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