West Virginia's oldest town

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

There has been a long-running dispute over which town in West Virginia is the oldest. The dispute between Shepherdstown and Romney goes back well before West Virginia even became a state.

Shepherdstown was originally established as Mecklenburg by Thomas Shepherd, who laid out 50 acres (202,000 m²) of his land into lots and streets. In late 1762, he presented a bill of incorporation to the Virginia House of Burgesses just 6 days before Romney's bill was introduced. The house approved both bills and, on December 23, 1762, the governor of Virginia signed them.

There was a settlement at Mecklenburg (present-day Shepherdstown) several years before there was one at Romney, which some say makes Shepherdstown the oldest town in WV. However, other people say the age should be determined by considering the order in which the towns' bills of incorporation were signed. Of the group of bills signed on December 23, 1762, Romney's preceded Mecklenburg's, so by this definition Romney should receive the distinction of being West Virginia's oldest town. Both towns claim to be the oldest, but it seems fair to say that much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, age is in the mind of the resident.

The name Mecklenburg eventually was replaced. For years, the townspeople had used the name Shepherdstown in honor of Thomas Shepherd and, in 1798, Virginia's General Assembly made the name official.