List of counties in West Virginia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Counties of West Virginia
West Virginia counties (clickable map)Hancock County, West VirginiaBrooke County, West VirginiaRaleigh County, West VirginiaFayette County, West VirginiaKanawha County, West VirginiaMcDowell County, West VirginiaWyomingBooneMingoLoganGreenbrierMercerSummersMonroeNicholasLincolnPocahontasWayneCabellClayPutnamMasonJacksonRoaneWoodCalhounWirtPleasantsRitchieGilmerBraxtonWebsterTylerDoddridgeLewisRandolphPendletonUpshurBarbourOhioMarshallWetzelHarrisonMonongaliaMarionTaylorPrestonTuckerGrantMineralHardyHampshireMorganBerkeleyJefferson
West Virginia counties (clickable map)
LocationState of West Virginia
Populations5,000 (Wirt) – 174,805 (Kanawha)
Areas83 square miles (210 km2) (Hancock) – 1,040 square miles (2,700 km2) (Randolph)

The U.S. state of West Virginia has 55 counties. Fifty of them existed at the time of the Wheeling Convention in 1861, during the American Civil War, when those counties seceded from the Commonwealth of Virginia to form the new state of West Virginia.[1] West Virginia was admitted as a separate state of the United States on June 20, 1863.[2] Five additional counties (Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, Summers, and Mingo) were formed from the original counties[1] in the decades following admission.

After the Civil War, Berkeley County and Jefferson County, the two easternmost counties of West Virginia, refused to recognize their inclusion in the state, and the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation attempting to reclaim them. In March 1866, the United States Congress passed a joint mandate assenting to their inclusion in the new state, and the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed this outcome in the case of Virginia v. West Virginia (1871).[3][4]

The West Virginia Constitution was ratified in 1872, replacing the state constitution created in 1863 when West Virginia became a state.[5] Article 9, Section 8, of the West Virginia Constitution permits the creation of additional counties if a majority of citizens in the proposed new county vote for its creation and the new county has a minimum area of 400 square miles (1,036 km2) and a population of at least 6,000. Creation of a new county is prohibited if it would bring another county below these thresholds.[6] Three counties (Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Randolph) have sufficient population (based on the 2020 United States Census) and land area to allow a new county to be split off.[6][7][8] The remaining counties cannot be split, as either their land area would decrease to under 400 square miles, or their population would decrease to below 6,000.[6][7][8]

The role of counties in local government had been minimized under the 1863 constitution, which vested most local government authority in a system of townships based on the New England model. The authors of the 1872 constitution chose to return to the system used in Virginia, in which each county was governed by a county court with combined authority for executive, legislative, and judicial functions of the county government.[9] In 1880, West Virginia amended its constitution and replaced the county court system with an arrangement that divides county government powers between seven county offices, each of which is independently elected: the county commission, county clerk, circuit clerk, county sheriff, county assessor, county prosecuting attorney, and county surveyor of lands.[10] Counties have only those powers that are expressly granted to them by the state Constitution or by state statute. These powers include, but are not limited to, maintaining the infrastructure of the state, funding libraries, maintaining jails and hospitals, and waste disposal.[10] Reforming public education became a county function in 1933. In May 1933, a county unit plan was adopted. Under this plan, the state's 398 school districts were consolidated into the current 55 county school systems. This enabled public schools to be funded more economically and saved West Virginia millions of dollars.[11]

Randolph County is the largest by area at 1,040 square miles (2,694 km2), and Hancock County is the smallest at 83 square miles (215 km2).[8] Kanawha County contributed land to the founding of 12 West Virginia counties[12] and has the largest population (174,805 in 2023). Wirt County has the smallest population (5,000 in 2023).[13] The oldest county is Hampshire, established in 1754, and the newest is Mingo, established in 1895.[1] Spruce Knob, located in Pendleton County, is the state's highest point at 4,863 feet (1,482 m).[14] Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes, which are used by the United States government to identify counties uniquely, are five-digit numbers. For West Virginia, they start with 54 and end with the three-digit county code (for example, Barbour County has FIPS code 54001). Each county's code is provided in the table below, linked to census data for that county.[15]


FIPS code[15] County seat[7] Est.[1] Origin[1][12] Etymology[1][12] Population[13] Area[7] Map
Barbour County 001 Philippi 1843 Harrison, Lewis, and Randolph counties Philip P. Barbour
United States Speaker of the House
15,378 341 sq mi
(883 km2)
State map highlighting Barbour County
Berkeley County 003 Martinsburg 1772 Frederick County (Virginia) Norborne Berkeley
Royal Governor of Virginia
132,440 321 sq mi
(831 km2)
State map highlighting Berkeley County
Boone County 005 Madison 1847 Cabell, Kanawha, and Logan counties Daniel Boone
American frontiersman
20,576 503 sq mi
(1,303 km2)
State map highlighting Boone County
Braxton County 007 Sutton 1836 Kanawha, Lewis, and Nicholas counties Carter Braxton
Signer of the Declaration of Independence
12,162 514 sq mi
(1,331 km2)
State map highlighting Braxton County
Brooke County 009 Wellsburg 1796 Ohio County Robert Brooke
Governor of Virginia
21,373 89 sq mi
(231 km2)
State map highlighting Brooke County
Cabell County 011 Huntington 1809 Kanawha County William H. Cabell
Governor of Virginia
92,082 282 sq mi
(730 km2)
State map highlighting Cabell County
Calhoun County 013 Grantsville 1856 Gilmer County John C. Calhoun
United States Vice President
5,959 281 sq mi
(728 km2)
State map highlighting Calhoun County
Clay County 015 Clay 1858 Braxton and Nicholas counties Henry Clay
United States Senator Kentucky
United States Speaker of the House
7,783 342 sq mi
(886 km2)
State map highlighting Clay County
Doddridge County 017 West Union 1845 Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Tyler counties Philip Doddridge
United States Congressman (Virginia)
7,680 320 sq mi
(829 km2)
State map highlighting Doddridge County
Fayette County 019 Fayetteville 1831 Kanawha, Greenbrier, Logan, and Nicholas counties Marquis de Lafayette
French-born American Revolutionary War General
39,072 664 sq mi
(1,720 km2)
State map highlighting Fayette County
Gilmer County 021 Glenville 1845 Kanawha and Lewis counties Thomas Walker Gilmer
United States Secretary of the Navy
Governor of Virginia
7,254 340 sq mi
(881 km2)
State map highlighting Gilmer County
Grant County 023 Petersburg 1866 Hardy County Ulysses S. Grant
United States President
10,921 477 sq mi
(1,235 km2)
State map highlighting Grant County
Greenbrier County 025 Lewisburg 1778 Montgomery County (Virginia) and Botetourt County (Virginia) Greenbrier River 32,149 1,021 sq mi
(2,644 km2)
State map highlighting Greenbrier County
Hampshire County 027 Romney 1754 Augusta County (Virginia) and Frederick County (Virginia) County of Hampshire in England 23,649 642 sq mi
(1,663 km2)
State map highlighting Hampshire County
Hancock County 029 New Cumberland 1848 Brooke County John Hancock
One of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
Governor of Massachusetts
and (1787–93)
28,145 83 sq mi
(215 km2)
State map highlighting Hancock County
Hardy County 031 Moorefield 1786 Hampshire County Samuel Hardy
Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress
14,251 583 sq mi
(1,510 km2)
State map highlighting Hardy County
Harrison County 033 Clarksburg 1784 Monongalia County Benjamin Harrison V
Governor of Virginia
64,639 416 sq mi
(1,077 km2)
State map highlighting Harrison County
Jackson County 035 Ripley 1831 Kanawha, Mason, and Wood counties Andrew Jackson
United States President
27,593 466 sq mi
(1,207 km2)
State map highlighting Jackson County
Jefferson County 037 Charles Town 1801 Berkeley County Thomas Jefferson
United States President
59,787 210 sq mi
(544 km2)
State map highlighting Jefferson County
Kanawha County 039 Charleston 1789 Greenbrier and Montgomery County (Virginia) Kanawha River 174,805 903 sq mi
(2,339 km2)
State map highlighting Kanawha County
Lewis County 041 Weston 1816 Harrison County Charles Lewis
American Colonel killed at the
Battle of Point Pleasant[16]
16,500 389 sq mi
(1,008 km2)
State map highlighting Lewis County
Lincoln County 043 Hamlin 1867 Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, and Putnam counties Abraham Lincoln
United States President
19,701 438 sq mi
(1,134 km2)
State map highlighting Lincoln County
Logan County 045 Logan 1824 Cabell and Kanawha counties, Giles County (Virginia), and Tazewell County (Virginia) Chief Logan
(c. 1723-80)
Mingo leader
30,827 454 sq mi
(1,176 km2)
State map highlighting Logan County
Marion County 049 Fairmont 1842 Harrison and Monongalia counties Francis Marion
American Revolutionary War General
55,807 310 sq mi
(803 km2)
State map highlighting Marion County
Marshall County 051 Moundsville 1835 Ohio County John Marshall
United States Secretary of State
Chief Justice of the United States
29,405 307 sq mi
(795 km2)
State map highlighting Marshall County
Mason County 053 Point Pleasant 1804 Kanawha County George Mason
United States Constitutional Convention
"Father of the Bill of Rights"
24,765 432 sq mi
(1,119 km2)
State map highlighting Mason County
McDowell County 047 Welch 1858 Tazewell County (Virginia) James McDowell
Governor of Virginia
17,439 535 sq mi
(1,386 km2)
State map highlighting McDowell County
Mercer County 055 Princeton 1837 Giles County (Virginia) and Tazewell County (Virginia) Hugh Mercer
American Revolutionary War General
58,057 420 sq mi
(1,088 km2)
State map highlighting Mercer County
Mineral County 057 Keyser 1866 Hampshire County abundant mineral resources 26,867 328 sq mi
(850 km2)
State map highlighting Mineral County
Mingo County 059 Williamson 1895 Logan County Mingo Native Americans 22,023 423 sq mi
(1,096 km2)
State map highlighting Mingo County
Monongalia County 061 Morgantown 1776 Augusta County (Virginia) Latin derivation for Monongahela River 107,718 361 sq mi
(935 km2)
State map highlighting Monongalia County
Monroe County 063 Union 1799 Greenbrier County James Monroe
United States Senator (Virginia)
Governor of Virginia
and (1811)
United States President
12,382 473 sq mi
(1,225 km2)
State map highlighting Monroe County
Morgan County 065 Berkeley Springs 1820 Berkeley and Hampshire counties Daniel Morgan
United States Congressman (Virginia)
17,649 229 sq mi
(593 km2)
State map highlighting Morgan County
Nicholas County 067 Summersville 1818 Greenbrier, Kanawha, and Randolph counties Wilson Cary Nicholas
United States Senator (Virginia)
Governor of Virginia
24,169 649 sq mi
(1,681 km2)
State map highlighting Nicholas County
Ohio County 069 Wheeling 1776 Augusta County (Virginia) Ohio River 41,194 106 sq mi
(275 km2)
State map highlighting Ohio County
Pendleton County 071 Franklin 1788 Augusta County (Virginia), Rockingham County (Virginia), and Hardy Edmund Pendleton
First Continental Congress
6,029 698 sq mi
(1,808 km2)
State map highlighting Pendleton County
Pleasants County 073 Saint Marys 1851 Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood counties James Pleasants, Jr.
United States Senator (Virginia)
Governor of Virginia
7,428 131 sq mi
(339 km2)
State map highlighting Pleasants County
Pocahontas County 075 Marlinton 1821 Bath County (Virginia), Pendleton, and Randolph Pocahontas
(c. 1595–1617)
Powhatan Native American slave of early English settlers
7,765 940 sq mi
(2,435 km2)
State map highlighting Pocahontas County
Preston County 077 Kingwood 1818 Monongalia County James Patton Preston
Governor of Virginia
34,099 648 sq mi
(1,678 km2)
State map highlighting Preston County
Putnam County 079 Winfield 1848 Cabell, Kanawha, and Mason counties Israel Putnam
American Revolutionary War General
56,962 346 sq mi
(896 km2)
State map highlighting Putnam County
Raleigh County 081 Beckley 1850 Fayette County Sir Walter Raleigh
English explorer and poet
72,356 607 sq mi
(1,572 km2)
State map highlighting Raleigh County
Randolph County 083 Elkins 1787 Harrison County Edmund Jennings Randolph
Governor of Virginia
First United States Attorney General
27,350 1,040 sq mi
(2,694 km2)
State map highlighting Randolph County
Ritchie County 085 Harrisville 1843 Harrison, Lewis, and Wood counties Thomas Ritchie
nationally influential Virginia newspaper publisher
8,167 454 sq mi
(1,176 km2)
State map highlighting Ritchie County
Roane County 087 Spencer 1856 Gilmer, Jackson, and Kanawha counties Spencer Roane
Virginia Supreme Court Justice
13,743 484 sq mi
(1,254 km2)
State map highlighting Roane County
Summers County 089 Hinton 1871 Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, and Monroe counties George W. Summers
United States Congressman (Virginia)
11,581 361 sq mi
(935 km2)
State map highlighting Summers County
Taylor County 091 Grafton 1844 Barbour, Harrison, Marion counties John Taylor of Caroline
United States Senator (Virginia)
(1792–94) and
(1803) and
16,388 173 sq mi
(448 km2)
State map highlighting Taylor County
Tucker County 093 Parsons 1856 Randolph County Henry St. George Tucker
United States Congressman (Virginia)
Virginia Supreme Court
6,604 419 sq mi
(1,085 km2)
State map highlighting Tucker County
Tyler County 095 Middlebourne 1814 Ohio County John Tyler, Sr.
Governor of Virginia
7,919 258 sq mi
(668 km2)
State map highlighting Tyler County
Upshur County 097 Buckhannon 1851 Barbour, Lewis, and Randolph counties Abel Parker Upshur
United States Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of State
23,529 355 sq mi
(919 km2)
State map highlighting Upshur County
Wayne County 099 Wayne 1842 Cabell County "Mad" Anthony Wayne
Major General
American Revolutionary War
and (1792–96)
United States Congressman Georgia
37,686 506 sq mi
(1,311 km2)
State map highlighting Wayne County
Webster County 101 Webster Springs 1860 Braxton, Nicholas, and Randolph counties Daniel Webster
United States Senator Massachusetts
(1827–41) and
United States Secretary of State
(1841–53) and
8,045 556 sq mi
(1,440 km2)
State map highlighting Webster County
Wetzel County 103 New Martinsville 1846 Tyler County Lewis Wetzel
noted frontiersman
13,890 359 sq mi
(930 km2)
State map highlighting Wetzel County
Wirt County 105 Elizabeth 1848 Jackson and Wood counties William Wirt
United States Attorney General
5,000 233 sq mi
(603 km2)
State map highlighting Wirt County
Wood County 107 Parkersburg 1798 Harrison County James Wood
Governor of Virginia
83,052 367 sq mi
(951 km2)
State map highlighting Wood County
Wyoming County 109 Pineville 1850 Logan County derived from Lenape Native American term for "wide plain" 20,277 501 sq mi
(1,298 km2)
State map highlighting Wyoming County

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lewis, Virgil (1896). History and Government of West Virginia (1st ed.). New York: Werner School Book Company. pp. 264–270. (WV County Founding Dates and Etymology). Other editions available at ASIN B009CI6FRI and Google Books.
  2. ^ Littlefield, Charles (1910). Commonwealth of Virginia, plaintiff vs. ... State of West Virginia, defendant (1st ed.). Charleston, WV: Lovett Printing Company. pp. 9–10. (WV Statehood). Other editions available at ISBN 9781274843111 and Google Books
  3. ^ Rice, Otis & Brown, Stephen (1993). West Virginia, A History (2nd ed.). Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 153. (WV State Boundaries). Other editions available: ISBN 9780813118543
  4. ^ "August 5, 1863: Berkeley Co. Admitted to New State of WV". WVPB. August 5, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  5. ^ Bastress, Robert (1995). The West Virginia Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 18. ISBN 0313274096.
  6. ^ a b c Warth, John (1887). The Code of West Virginia. Wheeling and Charleston WV: West Virginia Printing Company, Printers and Binders. pp. 271–273. Other editions available at ISBN 9781231066737 and Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c d "Find A County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved February 4, 2013. (Find a county)
  8. ^ a b c "West Virginia QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 4, 2013. (2010 Census)
  9. ^ Bastress (1995), p. 20.
  10. ^ a b Brisbin, Richard (1996). West Virginia Politics and Government. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 142–146. ISBN 0803212712.
  11. ^ Rice & Brown (1993), p. 247.
  12. ^ a b c "West Virginia Counties". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Archived from the original on September 23, 2001. Retrieved February 4, 2013. (WV County Formation)
  13. ^ a b "West Virginia QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 20, 2024. (2023 Census estimate)
  14. ^ Morton, Oren (1910). A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia (1st ed.). Dayton, VA: Ruebush-Elkins Company. p. 3. Other editions available at ISBN 9781165299102.
  15. ^ a b "EPA County FIPS Code Listing". Archived from the original on March 21, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  16. ^ McCulloch, Delia (1908). American Historical Magazine Volume 3. New York NY: Americana Society. pp. 628–629. Available at ISBN 1144825210 and Google Books.