Pendleton County, West Virginia

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Pendleton County, West Virginia
Pendleton County Courthouse, West Virginia.JPG
Pendleton County Courthouse
Map of West Virginia highlighting Pendleton 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 4, 1787
Named for Edmund Pendleton
Seat Franklin
Largest town Franklin
 • Total 698 sq mi (1,808 km2)
 • Land 696 sq mi (1,803 km2)
 • Water 2.1 sq mi (5 km2), 0.3%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013) 7,471
 • Density 13/sq mi (5/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Pendleton County is a county located in the State of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,695.[1] Its county seat is Franklin.[2] The county was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1787 which became effective in 1788[3] from parts of Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham Counties and was named for Edmund Pendleton (1721–1803), a distinguished Virginia statesman and jurist.[4] Pendleton County was strongly pro-Confederate during the American Civil War, however there were pockets of Union support.[5]

Spruce Knob, located in Pendleton County, is the highest point in the state and in the Alleghenies, its elevation being 4,863 feet. Parts of the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests are also located in Pendleton.


By the 1740s, the three main valleys of what became Pendleton County had been visited and named by white hunters and prospectors. One of the hunters, a single man named Abraham Burner, built himself a log cabin about a half mile downstream of the future site of Brandywine in 1745. He was the county's first white settler. A local historian recorded that:

The site ...[was] on the left bank of the river, and near the beginning of a long, eastward bend. From almost at his very door his huntsman's eye was at times gladdened by seeing perhaps fifty deer either drinking from the steam or plunging in their heads up to their ears in search of moss.[6]

By 1747, immigrants were impinging on the (future) borders of Pendleton from two directions: the larger community was mostly Germans moving up the valley of the South Branch Potomac; the lesser consisted mainly of Scotch-Irish moving northwest from Staunton up into the headwaters of the James River. In an April 1758 surprise raid of Fort Seybert and nearby Fort Upper Tract occasioned by the French and Indian War (1754–63), most of the 60 white settlers sheltering there were massacred by Shawnee and Delaware warriors and the forts were burned.

Pendleton County was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1787 from parts of Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham Counties and was named for Edmund Pendleton, a distinguished Virginia statesman and jurist. Pendleton County was split between Northern and Southern sympathies during the American Civil War. The northern section of the county, including the enclave in the Smoke Hole community were staunchly Unionist. In June 1863, the county was included by the federal government in the new state of West Virginia against many of the inhabitants' wishes. In fall 1863, Union Brigadier General W.W. Averell swept up the South Branch valley and destroyed the Confederate saltpetre works above Franklin.[7]

At Franklin, the Pendleton County seat, the South Branch of the Potomac River crested at 22.6 feet during the 1985 Election day floods. Flood stage in the shallow riverbed was only 7 feet.[8] Most of the 47 people killed in this incident were in Pendleton and Grant counties, according to the National Weather Service.[8]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 698 square miles (1,810 km2), of which 696 square miles (1,800 km2) is land and 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) (0.3%) is water.[9]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]

National Natural Landmarks[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,452
1800 3,962 61.6%
1810 4,239 7.0%
1820 4,846 14.3%
1830 6,271 29.4%
1840 6,940 10.7%
1850 5,795 −16.5%
1860 6,164 6.4%
1870 6,455 4.7%
1880 8,022 24.3%
1890 8,711 8.6%
1900 9,167 5.2%
1910 9,349 2.0%
1920 9,652 3.2%
1930 9,660 0.1%
1940 10,884 12.7%
1950 9,313 −14.4%
1960 8,093 −13.1%
1970 7,031 −13.1%
1980 7,910 12.5%
1990 8,054 1.8%
2000 8,196 1.8%
2010 7,695 −6.1%
Est. 2013 7,471 −2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
1790-1960[11] 1900-1990[12]
1990-2000[13] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 8,196 people, 3,350 households, and 2,355 families residing in the county. The population density was 12 people per square mile (5/km²). There were 5,102 housing units at an average density of 7 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.34% White, 2.12% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. 0.89% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,350 households out of which 28.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.40% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.70% were non-families. 25.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.80% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 26.10% from 45 to 64, and 17.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 101.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,429, and the median income for a family was $34,860. Males had a median income of $25,342 versus $16,753 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,805. About 8.00% of families and 11.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.60% of those under age 18 and 12.50% of those age 65 or over.

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places[edit]

Site Year Built Address Community Listed
Bowers House late 19th century Brandywine-Sugar Grove Road Sugar Grove 1985
Circleville School 1930s WV 28 Circleville 1995
Cunningham-Hevener House late 19th century US 220 Upper Tract 1985
Franklin Historic District 19th-20th centuries US 33, Main Street, South Branch Potomac River, & High Street Franklin 1986
McCoy House 1848 Main Street Franklin 1982
McCoy Mill early 19th century Johnstown Road Franklin 1986
Old Judy Church (Old Log Church) early 19th century US 220 near Petersburg 1976
Old Probst Church late 18th century CR 21/9 Brandywine 1986
Pendleton County Poor Farm early 20th century US 220 Upper Tract 1986
Priest Mill early 20th century Off US 220, near Low-Water Bridge Franklin 2000
Sites Homestead (Wayside Inn) early 19th century Seneca Rocks Visitor Center Seneca Rocks 1993



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

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Pendleton Co WV Courthouse w Hot Rod Asilverstein 2013may26
Pendleton Co WV Courthouse w Hot Rod Asilverstein (Alternate Tonemapped Ver 3g) 2013may26 IMG 5712d
Seneca Rocks by Asilverstein Oct 2013 High Dynamic Range Merge from 7 Exposures
Solomon's Chapel, one of the many smaller churches in Pendleton County, WV
Mount Joel Schoolhouse Simoda WV Asilverstein 2011sept13 IMG 1179

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pendleton County History, Dr. Robert Jay Dilger, Director, Institute for Public Affairs and Professor of Political Science, West Virginia University.
  6. ^ Morton, Oren F. (1910), A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia, Franklin, West Virginia. Reprint (1974) by Regional Publishing Company, Baltimore, pp 31-32.
  7. ^ West Virginia Writers Project (1940), Smoke Hole and Its People: A Social-Ethnic Study; Charleston, West Virginia: State Department of Education; Reprinted (pp 101-132) in: Shreve, D. Bardon (2005), Sheriff from Smoke Hole (and Other Smoke Hole Stories), Fredericksburg, Virginia: The Fredricksburg Press, Inc, pg 118.
  8. ^ a b West Virginia Gazette: "Remembering the '85 floods" (D. White) 4 Nov 2010
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°41′N 79°22′W / 38.68°N 79.36°W / 38.68; -79.36