Greenbrier County, West Virginia

Coordinates: 37°57′N 80°27′W / 37.95°N 80.45°W / 37.95; -80.45
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Greenbrier County
Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg
Official seal of Greenbrier County
Map of West Virginia highlighting Greenbrier County
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 37°57′N 80°27′W / 37.95°N 80.45°W / 37.95; -80.45
Country United States
State West Virginia
FoundedOctober 20, 1778
Largest cityLewisburg
 • Total1,025 sq mi (2,650 km2)
 • Land1,020 sq mi (2,600 km2)
 • Water4.9 sq mi (13 km2)  0.5%
 • Total32,977
 • Estimate 
32,608 Decrease
 • Density32/sq mi (12/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district1st

Greenbrier County (/ˈɡrnbr.ər/) is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 32,977.[1] Its county seat is Lewisburg.[2] The county was formed in 1778 from Botetourt and Montgomery counties in Virginia.[3][4]


Prior to the arrival of European-American settlers around 1740, Greenbrier County, like most of West Virginia, was used as a hunting ground by the Shawnee and Cherokee nations. They called this land Can-tuc-kee.

Shawnee leaders, including Pucksinwah and later his son Tecumseh, were alarmed by the arrival of the European settlers, who by 1771 had set up extensive trade in the area. The day books of early merchants Sampson and George Mathews recorded sales to the Shawnee that included such luxury items as silk, hats, silver, and tailor-made suits.[5] Shawnee leaders feared the loss of their hunting lands, which were vital to their survival. They believed the white settlers would continue to encroach on their territory downriver on the Ohio.

Confrontations, sometimes violent, increased between the Native Americans and settlers. In 1774, the Earl of Dunmore, then governor of the colonies of New York and Virginia, decided to raise an army of 3,000 men to attack the Shawnees in their homeland in present-day Ohio. Half of these men were inducted at Fort Pitt, while the other half assembled at Fort Union under the command of General Andrew Lewis. The town of present-day Lewisburg developed around the fort and was named for that commander. By early October of that year, Lewis' force had marched downstream to the mouth of the Kanawha River. They fought the Battle of Point Pleasant against a Shawnee force led by Hokoleskwa, also known as Cornstalk. This site later developed as the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

European settlers were subjected to a number of raids by Native Americans during the colonial period, including a raid on Fort Randolph and later on Fort Donnally, then inhabited by 25 men and 60 women and children. One of the heroic defenders of Fort Donnally was an African American slave named Dick Pointer. Pointer, said to have been nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, defended the log door with Philip Hamman, giving the settlers enough time to awaken and defend themselves. Pointer later addressed the Virginia General Assembly and gave a moving appeal that "in the decline of life" he requested to be freed for his defense of Fort Donnally. Historic accounts differ as to whether the legislature granted his wish. His grave is marked beside Carnegie Hall in the county seat of Lewisburg, and a historical marker stands prominently in the midst of the Lewisburg Cemetery. Pointer's gun is on permanent display at The Greenbrier Historical Society and John A. North House Museum in Lewisburg.

During the secession crisis of 1861 Greenbrier citizens chose Samuel Price as their delegate to the Richmond convention. On April 17, 1861, the day Virginia's secession ordinance was passed he voted against it, but later changed his mind and signed the official document.[6] When the public vote on the secession ordinance was held on May 23, 1861, Greenbrier county voted 1,000 to 100 in favor of secession.[7] The Civil War came to the county in mid 1861, and several battles were fought in the area, including Lewisburg in May 1862 and White Sulphur Springs in August 1863. Both battles were Union victories. Greenbrier County became part of the new state of West Virginia, although it never participated in any of the votes held by the Restored Government in Wheeling. West Virginia contributed approximately 20,000 men to the Union and an equal amount to the Confederate army, with approximately 2,000 men from Greenbrier county joining the Confederate army.[8][9]

In 1863, West Virginia's counties were divided into civil townships, with the intention of encouraging local government. This proved impractical in the heavily rural state, and in 1872 the townships were converted into magisterial districts.[10] Greenbrier County was initially divided into ten townships: Anthony's Creek,[i] Big Levels, Blue Sulphur, Falling Spring,[ii] Fort Spring, Irish Corner, Lewisburg, Meadow Bluff, White Sulphur, and Williamsburg. Lewisburg District was co-extensive with the town of Lewisburg until 1871, when Big Levels Township was divided between Lewisburg and Falling Spring Townships. The same year, Summers County was formed from parts of Greenbrier, Fayette, Mercer, and Monroe Counties. The portion of Greenbrier County that became part of Summers County belonged to Blue Sulphur Township. In 1872, the nine remaining townships became magisterial districts. A tenth district, Frankford, was created from part of Falling Spring District between 1910 and 1920. In the 1990s the ten historic magisterial districts were consolidated into three new districts: Eastern, Western, and Central.[11]

What is claimed[by whom?] to be the oldest golf course in the United States was founded in 1884 just north of White Sulphur Springs by the Montague family.

The famous "Greenbrier Ghost" trial occurred at Sam Black Church. Zona Heaster Shue, the wife of Edward Shue, was found dead on January 23, 1897. The coroner initially listed her cause of her death as "everlasting faint", then as "childbirth." Shue's mother, Mary Jane Heaster, testified in court that her daughter's ghost had visited her on four separate occasions, claiming that her neck had been broken by her husband, who had strangled her in a fit of rage. Shue's body was exhumed, and based on the results of an autopsy, Edward Shue was tried and convicted of murder. A historical marker located along U.S. Route 60 at Sam Black Church describes it as the "[o]nly known case in which testimony from [a] ghost helped convict a murderer."[12][13]

During the decade prior to World War II, several Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were located along the Greenbrier River.

For most of the 20th century, the Meadow River Lumber Company operated the world's largest hardwood sawmill in Rainelle.

During World War II The Greenbrier hotel was used as a military hospital. Sections were used as an internment center for Axis diplomats who were stranded in the United States during the war. When the war ended, the military returned the hotel to private control, and it re-opened as a hotel. During the years of the Cold War, a large underground bunker was built beneath a section of new construction at the hotel, to serve as a secret Congressional refuge in case of nuclear attack. It was one of the sites to be used as part of the United States Continuity of Operations Plan. After it was reported in a 1992 article, following the fall of the Soviet Union, the US government decommissioned it as a government site.

In the June 2016 floods that affected the state of West Virginia, Greenbrier County suffered 16 casualties, the most of any county.[14]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,025 square miles (2,650 km2), of which 1,020 square miles (2,600 km2) is land and 4.9 square miles (13 km2) (0.5%) is water.[15] It is the second-largest county in West Virginia by area.

Much of the area of the northern and western parts of the county is either public (Monongahela National Forest), coal land, or private forest, owned by companies such as MeadWestvaco and CSX.

In 2005, Invenergy, LLC of Chicago Illinois announced plans to build the $300 million, 124-turbine Beech Ridge Wind Farm along the tops of several Greenbrier County mountains. The wind farm would produce 186 megawatts of electricity. Development, which was originally expected to begin in late 2007, was stalled when the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case brought by opponents of the project.[16] Ultimately, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the developers, clearing the way for construction to begin in the summer of 2009. However, in July of that year, a U.S. District Court in Maryland agreed to hear a case filed by opponents.[17]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected areas[edit]


Historical population
2021 (est.)32,608[18]−1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
1790–1960[20] 1900–1990[21]
1990–2000[22] 2010–2020[1]

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 34,453 people, 14,571 households, and 9,922 families residing in the county. The population density was 34 people per square mile (13 people/km2). There were 17,644 housing units at an average density of 17 units per square mile (6.6 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.23% White, 3.04% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. 0.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 14,571 households, out of which 27.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.20% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.90% were non-families. 28.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.60% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 26.10% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 17.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,927, and the median income for a family was $33,292. Males had a median income of $26,157 versus $19,620 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,247. About 14.50% of families and 18.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.70% of those under age 18 and 16.00% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 35,480 people, 15,443 households, and 9,903 families residing in the county.[23] The population density was 34.8 inhabitants per square mile (13.4/km2). There were 18,980 housing units at an average density of 18.6 units per square mile (7.2 units/km2).[24] The racial makeup of the county was 94.6% white, 2.8% black or African American, 0.4% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.2% of the population.[23] In terms of ancestry, 17.8% were Irish, 17.0% were German, 12.0% were English, and 10.0% were American.[25]

Of the 15,443 households, 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 35.9% were non-families, and 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.79. The median age was 45.0 years.[23]

United States presidential election results for Greenbrier County, West Virginia[26]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 10,925 68.93% 4,655 29.37% 270 1.70%
2016 9,556 67.18% 3,765 26.47% 903 6.35%
2012 7,930 60.98% 4,710 36.22% 365 2.81%
2008 7,567 55.10% 5,881 42.83% 284 2.07%
2004 8,358 57.43% 6,084 41.81% 111 0.76%
2000 6,866 53.61% 5,627 43.93% 315 2.46%
1996 4,434 36.36% 6,286 51.55% 1,474 12.09%
1992 4,442 36.45% 5,784 47.46% 1,961 16.09%
1988 5,395 46.83% 6,091 52.87% 35 0.30%
1984 7,337 56.55% 5,599 43.16% 38 0.29%
1980 6,221 44.42% 7,128 50.90% 655 4.68%
1976 5,862 41.42% 8,291 58.58% 0 0.00%
1972 8,827 66.62% 4,423 33.38% 0 0.00%
1968 5,559 40.88% 6,318 46.46% 1,722 12.66%
1964 4,549 31.03% 10,112 68.97% 0 0.00%
1960 6,633 44.29% 8,343 55.71% 0 0.00%
1956 7,684 52.99% 6,817 47.01% 0 0.00%
1952 7,374 47.70% 8,086 52.30% 0 0.00%
1948 4,935 39.29% 7,598 60.48% 29 0.23%
1944 4,790 39.85% 7,231 60.15% 0 0.00%
1940 6,451 38.83% 10,164 61.17% 0 0.00%
1936 5,881 35.27% 10,738 64.41% 53 0.32%
1932 5,111 34.81% 9,467 64.47% 106 0.72%
1928 6,423 50.88% 6,141 48.65% 60 0.48%
1924 4,768 42.24% 6,048 53.58% 472 4.18%
1920 4,850 48.99% 4,994 50.45% 55 0.56%
1916 2,601 44.41% 3,170 54.12% 86 1.47%
1912 622 11.94% 2,707 51.96% 1,881 36.10%

The median income for a household in the county was $33,732 and the median income for a family was $43,182. Males had a median income of $34,845 versus $27,254 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,044. About 14.7% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.[27]


Much like the state itself, the county has shifted further the right since the start of the 21st Century with Bill Clinton being the last presidential candidate to win the county in 1996. It had still had gone for Democratic candidates on other elections until the mid to late 2010s such as the 2016 gubernatorial election, and in 2018 by Joe Manchin in the Senate race.

Law and government[edit]

Like all West Virginia Counties, Greenbrier County is governed by a three-person, elected County Commission. Other elected officers include the Sheriff, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Assessor, Prosecuting Attorney, Surveyor, and three Magistrates.


Public schools[edit]

Greenbrier County Schools is the operating school system within Greenbrier County. The school system is governed by the Greenbrier County Board of Education, which is elected on a non-partisan basis. The Superintendent of Schools, who is appointed by the Board, provides administrative supervision for the system. The School Board Office is located on Church Street in Lewisburg. Following a trend in West Virginia, schools at the secondary level are consolidated, while elementary schools continue to be located within small communities.

  • Alderson Elementary School
  • Crichton Elementary School
  • Eastern Greenbrier Middle School
  • Frankford Elementary School
  • Greenbrier East High School
  • Greenbrier West High School
  • Lewisburg Elementary School
  • Rainelle Elementary School
  • Ronceverte Elementary School
  • Rupert Elementary School
  • Smoot Elementary School
  • Western Greenbrier Middle School
  • White Sulphur Springs Elementary School

Private Schools[edit]

  • Greenbrier Community School (Formerly Greenbrier Episcopal School)
  • Seneca Trail Academy
  • Renick Christian School
  • Lewisburg Baptist Academy

Former Schools (Incomplete)[edit]

  • Alderson High/Jr. High School
  • Alvon/Neola School (Near White Sulphur Springs)
  • Baldwin School
  • Boling School
  • Brushy Flat School
  • Charmco School
  • Chestnut Ridge School
  • Crichton High/Jr. High
  • Crawley School
  • East Rainelle School
  • Frankford High/Jr. High School
  • Friars Hole School
  • Greenbrier Church/School (Bingham Mountain)
  • Greenbrier High/Jr.High School (Ronceverte)
  • Greenbrier School of Practical Nursing (campus of Greenbrier East High School)
  • Lewisburg Intermediate School
  • Lewisburg Elem./Jr. High School (Lewisburg High/Jr./Elem.)
  • May School
  • Mill Spring School
  • Mt. Vernon School
  • New Piedmont School
  • Rainelle Christian Academy (RCA)
  • Rainelle High/Jr. High School
  • Renick High/Jr. High School
  • Renick Elementary School
  • Rockcamp School
  • Rupert High/Jr. High School
  • Smoot High/Jr. High School
  • Snowflake School
  • Sugar Grove School
  • Vires School
  • White Sulphur Springs High/Jr. High School
  • Whiteoak Grove School
  • Williamsburg High/Jr. High School
  • Williamsburg Elementary School


  • Alternative/Home Schooling (County-wide)
  • West Virginia State Virtual School

Colleges and universities[edit]



Greenbrier Valley Airport is a single runway airport 3 miles north of Lewisburg, West Virginia. Flights are provided by Contour Airlines.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides service to White Sulphur Springs and Alderson under the Cardinal route.

Major highways[edit]




Census-designated place[edit]

Magisterial Districts[edit]

  • Central
  • Eastern
  • Western

Historical Districts[edit]

  • Anthony's Creek - represented by Mayor Terry "Mountain" McLaughlin
  • Big Levels
  • Blue Sulphur
  • Falling Spring (Sometimes Falling Springs)
  • Fort Spring
  • Frankfort
  • Irish Corner
  • Lewisburg
  • Meadow Bluff
  • White Sulfur
  • Williamsburg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anthony Creek" after 1880.
  2. ^ Occasionally "Falling Springs".


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Greenbrier County history sources". Archived from the original on March 20, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "West Virginia: Individual County Chronologies". West Virginia Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2003. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  5. ^ Handley, Harry E. (1963), "The Mathews Trading Post", published in The Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society: Volume 1, Number 1 (Lewisburg, West Virginia: Greenbrier Historical Society, August 1963) "Mathews Trading Post, Greenbrier County, West Virginia". Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012
  6. ^ "Virginia Convention of 1861 and Delegate Records" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  7. ^ Curry, Richard Orr, A House Divided, A study of Statehood Politics and the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1964, pg. 146
  8. ^ Snell, Mark A., West Virginia and the Civil War, History Press, 2011, pg. 28 ISBN 978-1-59629-888-0
  9. ^ McKinney, Tim, The Civil War in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, Quarrier Press, 2004, pg. xiii
  10. ^ Otis K. Rice & Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia: A History, 2nd ed., University Press of Kentucky, Lexington (1993), p. 240.
  11. ^ United States Census Bureau, U.S. Decennial Census, Tables of Minor Civil Divisions in West Virginia, 1870–2010.
  12. ^ Cereno, Benito (June 23, 2017). "the Most Famous Ghosts In American History". Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  13. ^ "Greenbrier Ghost Trial Marker". Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "West Virginia's worst flooding in a century kills 24". Reuters. June 24, 2016. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016.
  15. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  16. ^ Wolford, Lindsey (2007). "Winds of Change: Supreme Court to Hear Appeal". West Virginia Daily News. Vol. 110, no. 78. pp. 1, 14.
  17. ^ Beech Ridge Wind Farm
  18. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  21. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  23. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  24. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  25. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  26. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.

External links[edit]

37°57′N 80°27′W / 37.95°N 80.45°W / 37.95; -80.45