Morgan County, West Virginia

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Morgan County
Morgan County Courthouse Complex, July 2011
Morgan County Courthouse Complex, July 2011
Flag of Morgan County
Map of West Virginia highlighting Morgan 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: 39°34′N 78°16′W / 39.56°N 78.26°W / 39.56; -78.26
Country United States
State West Virginia
FoundedFebruary 9, 1820
Named forDaniel Morgan
SeatBerkeley Springs
Largest townBerkeley Springs
Area
 • Total230 sq mi (600 km2)
 • Land229 sq mi (590 km2)
 • Water0.5 sq mi (1 km2)  0.2%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total17,063
 • Estimate 
(2021)
17,221 Increase
 • Density74/sq mi (29/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district2nd
Websitewww.morgancountywv.gov

Morgan County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 17,063.[1] Its county seat is Berkeley Springs.[2] The county was formed in 1820 from parts of Hampshire and Berkeley Counties and named in honor of General Daniel Morgan, prominent soldier of the American Revolutionary War.[3] The county and town of Bath are considered an excellent jumping off point for exploring the Potomac and Cacapon Rivers valleys just to the north and west. Along with also being a tourist destination hosting numerous local artists, mineral water spas, and a large amount of outdoor recreation that includes fishing, boating, wildlife, hunting, and mountain scenery. The region is known for the famed Apple Butter Festival held annually in October. Morgan County is also the home of an important silica mine, part of U.S. Silica.[4]

History[edit]

Morgan County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in February 1820 from parts of Berkeley and Hampshire counties. It was named in honor of General Daniel Morgan (1736–1802). He was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and moved to Winchester, Virginia as a youth. He served as a wagoner in Braddock's Army during the campaign against the Native Americans in 1755. During the campaign, a British Lieutenant became angry with him and hit him with the flat of his sword. Morgan punched the Lieutenant, knocking him unconscious. Morgan was court-martialed for striking a British officer and was sentenced to 500 lashes. Morgan later joked that the drummer who counted out the lashes miscounted and he received only 499 lashes. For the rest of his life he claimed the British still owed him one.

Early European settlers[edit]

The first English settlers in present-day Morgan County arrived during the 1730s. Because most of these early pioneers were squatters, there is no record of their names. Historians claim that the first cabin in the county was built around 1745. As word of the county's warm springs spread eastward, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron decided that the county needed to be surveyed. In 1748, George Washington, then just 16 years old, was part of the survey party that surveyed the Eastern Panhandle region for Lord Fairfax. He later returned to Bath (Berkeley Springs) several times over the next several years with his half-brother, Lawrence, who was ill and hoped that the warm springs might improve his health. The springs, and their rumored medicinal benefits, attracted numerous Native Americans as well as Europeans to the area.

18th century[edit]

As mentioned previously, George Washington visited present-day Berkeley Springs several times with his half-brother, Lawrence. When he vacationed in the area in 1767, he noted how busy the town had become. Lord Fairfax had built a summer home there and a "private bath" making the area a popular destination for Virginia's social elite. As the town continued to grow, the Virginia General Assembly decided to formally recognize it. In October 1776, the town was officially named Bath, in honor of England's spa city called Bath. The town's main north–south street was named Washington and the main east–west street was named Fairfax. Also, seven acres (28,000 m2) were set aside for "suffering humanity." When West Virginia gained statehood, that area became West Virginia's first state park.

Bath's population increased during and immediately after the American Revolutionary War as wounded soldiers and others came to the area believing that the warm springs had medicinal qualities. Bath gained a reputation as a somewhat wild town where eating, drinking, dancing, and gambling on the daily horse races were the order of the day.

Bath later became known as Berkeley Springs, primarily because the town's post office took that name (combining Governor Norborne Berkeley's last name with the warm springs found there) to avoid confusion with another post office, located in southeastern Virginia, which was already called Bath. Because the mail was sent to and from Berkeley Springs, that name slowly took precedence.

19th century[edit]

Morgan County was one of fifty Virginia counties that were admitted to the Union as the state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Later that year, the 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.[5] Morgan County was divided into six districts: Allen, Bath, Cacapon,[i] Rock Gap, Sleepy Creek, and Timber Ridge. Except for minor adjustments, the historic magisterial districts remained unchanged until the 1980s, when they were consolidated into three new districts: District 1, District 2, and District 3. A District 4 was created in the 1990s, but subsequently discontinued.[6]

20th century[edit]

On April 10, 1919, racial violence broke out when the Morgan County race riot was sparked by local business using African-American strikebreakers against local striking white workers.[7] On the same day of the riots one Hugh Ferguson, a Martinsburg African-American, was accused of criminally assaulting Mrs. Ernest Zimmerman at her home near Brosius, Morgan County (now known as Hancock, West Virginia). An angry mob of several hundred men formed around the jail hoping to lynch Ferguson. Sheriff C. R. Hovermale was forced to flee town with Ferguson.[8]

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 230 square miles (600 km2), of which 229 square miles (590 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (0.2%) is water.[9]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Rivers and streams[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18202,500
18302,6947.8%
18404,25357.9%
18503,557−16.4%
18603,7324.9%
18704,31515.6%
18805,77733.9%
18906,74416.7%
19007,2948.2%
19107,8487.6%
19208,3576.5%
19308,4060.6%
19408,7434.0%
19508,276−5.3%
19608,3761.2%
19708,5472.0%
198010,71125.3%
199012,12813.2%
200014,94323.2%
201017,54117.4%
202017,063−2.7%
2021 (est.)17,221[10]0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790–1960[12] 1900–1990[13]
1990–2000[14] 2010-2020[1]

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 14,943 people, 6,145 households, and 4,344 families living in the county. The population density was 65 people per square mile (25/km2). There were 8,076 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (14/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 98.30% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. 0.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,145 households, out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.20% 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 2.84.

The age distribution is 22.40% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 27.30% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 16.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,016, and the median income for a family was $40,690. Males had a median income of $29,816 versus $22,307 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,109. About 8.00% of families and 10.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 17,541 people, 7,303 households, and 5,015 families living in the county.[15] The population density was 76.6 inhabitants per square mile (29.6/km2). There were 9,753 housing units at an average density of 42.6 per square mile (16.4/km2).[16] The racial makeup of the county was 97.3% white, 0.6% black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.0% of the population.[15] In terms of ancestry, 27.0% were German, 13.2% were Irish, 11.5% were American, and 10.6% were English.[17]

Of the 7,303 households, 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.3% were non-families, and 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.84. The median age was 45.0 years.[15]

The median income for a household in the county was $37,281 and the median income for a family was $49,974. Males had a median income of $39,372 versus $27,949 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,732. About 11.9% of families and 15.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.0% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over.[18]

Government and Public Safety[edit]

County Government[edit]

Morgan County Commission is a three member elective body. The term of office for each Commission member is six years, with one term expiring every two years. The current commissioners are Sean Forney - President, Joel Tuttle -Commissioner, and Bill Clark - Commissioner

County Sheriff[edit]

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office operates the county jail, provides court protection, provides county building and facility security, and provides patrol and detective services for the county. The current sheriff is K.C. Bohrer after being re-elected for his second term.

County Clerk[edit]

The current county clerk is Kimberly Nickles

County Assessor[edit]

The current assessor is Debbie Weaver

Magistrates[edit]

Morgan County has two Magistrates: Kermit Ambrose and Greg Miller

Politics[edit]

Morgan County has historically been a stronghold for the Republican Party. Every Republican presidential nominee has won Morgan County since 1864, the first presidential election following West Virginia's statehood. The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Morgan County was Lewis Cass in 1848; the county was won by the Whig Party, the Know-Nothing Party and John Bell’s Constitutional Union Party in its last three elections as part of Virginia.

United States presidential election results for Morgan County, West Virginia[19]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 6,537 75.17% 1,998 22.98% 161 1.85%
2016 5,732 74.09% 1,573 20.33% 432 5.58%
2012 4,513 63.82% 2,363 33.42% 195 2.76%
2008 4,428 60.86% 2,721 37.40% 127 1.75%
2004 4,511 65.88% 2,272 33.18% 64 0.93%
2000 3,639 63.05% 1,939 33.59% 194 3.36%
1996 2,599 51.16% 1,929 37.97% 552 10.87%
1992 2,585 48.37% 1,854 34.69% 905 16.93%
1988 3,002 65.78% 1,545 33.85% 17 0.37%
1984 3,469 70.34% 1,457 29.54% 6 0.12%
1980 2,833 61.23% 1,594 34.45% 200 4.32%
1976 2,369 55.12% 1,929 44.88% 0 0.00%
1972 3,014 72.94% 1,118 27.06% 0 0.00%
1968 2,244 60.32% 1,015 27.28% 461 12.39%
1964 1,866 50.62% 1,820 49.38% 0 0.00%
1960 2,752 66.78% 1,369 33.22% 0 0.00%
1956 2,946 72.74% 1,104 27.26% 0 0.00%
1952 2,699 70.78% 1,114 29.22% 0 0.00%
1948 2,159 66.09% 1,104 33.79% 4 0.12%
1944 2,303 72.01% 895 27.99% 0 0.00%
1940 2,563 66.59% 1,286 33.41% 0 0.00%
1936 2,555 61.07% 1,620 38.72% 9 0.22%
1932 2,082 59.78% 1,358 38.99% 43 1.23%
1928 2,539 76.75% 758 22.91% 11 0.33%
1924 1,883 63.10% 919 30.80% 182 6.10%
1920 1,817 71.48% 712 28.01% 13 0.51%
1916 1,208 63.45% 666 34.98% 30 1.58%
1912 612 34.89% 549 31.30% 593 33.81%


Communities[edit]

Sunset over Morgan County, West Virginia

Towns[edit]

Magisterial districts[edit]

Current[edit]

  • District 1
  • District 2
  • District 3

Historic[edit]

  • Allen
  • Bath
  • Cacapon
  • Rock Gap
  • Sleepy Creek
  • Timber Ridge
  • District 4

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Historic Places[edit]

The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

Site Year Built Address Community Listed
Ambrose Chapel mid-19th century Winchester Grade Road (CR 13) Stotlers Crossroads 1998
Berkeley Springs State Park mid-18th century South Washington & Fairfax Streets Berkeley Springs 1976
Berkeley Springs Train Depot 1900–1924 342 North Washington Street (US 522) Berkeley Springs 2001
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park early 19th century Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Paw Paw 1966
Clarence Hovermale House (Allen Mendenhall House) late 19th century 167 Wilkes Street Berkeley Springs 2003
John Herbert Quick House (Coolfont Manor House) 1913 73 Manor House Lane Berkeley Springs 1984
Judge John W. Wright Cottage 1872 156 South Green Street Berkeley Springs 1986
Morgan County Courthouse 1923 202 Fairfax Street (CR 9/9) Berkeley Springs 2005
Samuel Taylor Suit Cottage (Berkeley Castle) 1885 276 Cacapon Road (WV 9) Berkeley Springs 1980
Sloat-Horn-Rossell House (The Manor) late 19th century 234 Fairfax Street (CR 9/9) Berkeley Springs 1984
T. H. B. Dawson House 1880 139 South Green Street Berkeley Springs 1983
Western Maryland Railroad Right-of-Way, Milepost 126 to Milepost 160 20th century Milepost 126 to Milepost 160 Jerome 1981

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Also called "Great Cacapon" before 1900.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Morgan County history sources". Archived from the original on May 29, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "Berkeley Springs, WV | U.S. Silica".
  5. ^ Otis K. Rice & Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia: A History, 2nd ed., University Press of Kentucky, Lexington (1993), p. 240.
  6. ^ United States Census Bureau, U.S. Decennial Census, Tables of Minor Civil Divisions in West Virginia, 1870–2010.
  7. ^ Marcelle 2016.
  8. ^ The Wheeling Intelligencer 1919, p. 1.
  9. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  11. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  12. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  13. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  14. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved December 23, 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fowler, Virginia G. 2002. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, Washington, D.C.: National Park Service[1].
  • Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society. 1981. Morgan County, West Virginia and Its People. Berkeley Springs: Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society.
  • Cartmell, Thomas Kemp. 1909. Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants: A History of Frederick County, Virginia. Winchester, VA: The Eddy Corporation.
  • Newbraugh, Frederick T. 1967. Warm Springs Echoes: About Berkeley Springs and Morgan County. Part 1: To 1860. Hagerstown, MD: Automated Systems Corporation.
  • Dr. Robert Jay Dilger, Director, Institute for Public Affairs and Professor of Political Science, West Virginia University.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°34′N 78°16′W / 39.56°N 78.26°W / 39.56; -78.26