|Founded||January 19, 1818|
|Named for||James Patton Preston|
|and Largest city|
|• Commission President||Samantha Stone (R)|
|• County Commission||Don Smith (R)|
Hunter Thomas (R)
|• Total||1,690 km2 (651 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,680 km2 (649 sq mi)|
|• Water||7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) 0.4%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||20/km2 (53/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||304, 681|
Preston County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 34,216. Its county seat is Kingwood. The county was formed from Monongalia County in 1818 and named for Virginia Governor James Patton Preston.
Preston County is part of the Morgantown, WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is the southernmost county of the Pittsburgh media market. It is the home of The Buckwheat Festival, a county fair known for making buckwheat pancakes.
Native Americans lived in (and traveled through) what would one day become Preston County; they crossed-over from the Ohio River watershed, which drains into the Mississippi River, into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. From 1736, European traders and explorers lived in the County, and one boundary stone was laid in 1746—the Fairfax Stone marking the limits of the North Branch of the River. Larger numbers of white settlers began arriving in 1766, with even more coming to the region after the American Revolutionary War. Traveling by foot or horseback, settlers built their own log cabins. Further development followed from 1818, when the National Road was built slightly to the north. When the earliest railroads came, in 1851, all land passed into private ownership, the population increased 70% in a decade, and industrialization truly began.
During the American Civil War, more Preston County men enlisted in Union service than with the Confederacy. There were relatively few slave owners in Preston County, and naturally, few slaves. There were virtually none within a half-hour’s walk from the old Clarksburg-Winchester Road, dated to the late colonial era. The United States Census indicates that Preston County’s all-time slavery peak occurred in 1830, with 125 slaves accounted for, alongside 27 free colored persons.
On June 20, 1863, Preston was one of 50 Virginia counties that were admitted to the Union as the State of West Virginia. 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 of West Virginia, and the townships were converted into magisterial districts in 1872. Preston County was divided into eight districts: Grant, Kingwood, Lyon, Pleasant, Portland, Reno, Union, and Valley. These remained largely unchanged until the 1990s, when they were consolidated into five new magisterial districts: First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 651 square miles (1,690 km2), of which 649 square miles (1,680 km2) is land and 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2) (0.4%) is water.
- Fayette County, Pennsylvania (north)
- Garrett County, Maryland (east)
- Tucker County (south)
- Barbour County (southwest)
- Taylor County (west)
- Monongalia County (northwest)
- Grant County (southeast)
National protected area
- Monongahela National Forest (part)
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 census, there were 34,216 people and 12,510 households residing in the county. There were 15,174 housing units in Preston. The racial makeup of the county was 90.1% White, 6% African American, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% from other races, and 3.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2% of the population.
Of the 12,510 households, 56.8% were married couples living together, 22.7% had a female householder with no spouse present, 14.4% had a male householder with no spouse present.The average household and family size was 3.04. The median age in the county was 43.5 years with 19% of the population under 18. The median income for a household was $55,755 and the poverty rate was 14.4%.
As of the 2010 United States census, there were 33,520 people, 12,895 households, and 9,038 families residing in the county. The population density was 51.7 inhabitants per square mile (20.0/km2). There were 15,097 housing units at an average density of 23.3 per square mile (9.0/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.6% white, 1.1% black or African American, 0.2% American Indian, 0.1% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 0.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 29.4% were German, 14.3% were Irish, 9.5% were American, and 8.9% were English.
Of the 12,895 households, 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 29.9% were non-families, and 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.84. The median age was 42.0 years.
The age distribution was 19.55% under the age of 18, 7.36% from 18 to 24, 27.58% from 25 to 44, 29.83% from 45 to 64, and 15.68% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.63 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.48 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $40,753 and the median income for a family was $46,622. Males had a median income of $38,713 versus $25,808 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,329. About 10.1% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
Politics and government
Generally speaking, most of the State of West Virginia has become a Republican bastion in the 21st century, after having leaned heavily Democratic between the New Deal and Bill Clinton). However, Preston County has seemingly always been a Republican stronghold, if not quite as ‘rock-ribbed’ as its neighbor, Grant County, or nearby Garrett County, Maryland, two counties that have historically never voted for a Democrat in the post-Civil War years. Preston County has, by comparison, voted Democratic on at least one occasion, during Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide election; however, Johnson's win over Barry Goldwater was much more decisive than his narrow victory in analogous Upshur County, and Bill Clinton came within 20 votes in 1996.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment of Preston County<|
|Independents, unaffiliated, and other||4,765||24.65%|
Preston County is represented by two Senators in the West Virginia Senate. Senate members Jay Taylor (R), and Randy Smith (R) both serve in West Virginia's 14th Senate district. The county is also represented in the West Virginia House of Delegates by two Delegates. The Delegates for Preston County are George Street (R) for district 83 and D. Rolland Jennings (R) for district 84.
Preston County is governed by a County Commission. The commission is made up of the Commission President and Commissioners whom wield administrative powers of the county's government. Samantha Stone (R) is the current President of the County Commission.
The Preston County Commission consists of two members. The current members of the County Commission are Don Smith (R) and Hunter Thomas (R).
- Alpine Lake
- Bull Run
- Clifton Mills
- Hardman (partial)
- Horse Shoe Run
- Little Sandy
- Mount Olivet
- Mount Vernon
- Saint Joe
- Scotch Hill
- Silver Lake
- Sugar Valley
- Threefork Bridge
- Turner Douglass
- Valley Point
- West End
- White Oak Springs
- Briery Mountain Wildlife Management Area
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Preston County, West Virginia
- Maryland v. West Virginia
- Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area
- Upper Deckers Creek Wildlife Management Area
- "Preston swears in new commissioner". The Dominion Post. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- "2020 General Election Results: Preston County". WBOY-TV. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
- "Summary Results Report WV Preston County Results". Preston County Clerk. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- West Virginia Counties Archived September 23, 2001, at the Wayback Machine. Wvculture.org. Retrieved on July 24, 2013.
- "Preston County Buckwheat Festival". VisitMountaineerCountry.com. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
- Oren Morton, A History of Preston County, part 1 (Kingwood W.Va., Journal Publishing Company 1914) pp. 9-11
- Morton p. 138
- Otis K. Rice & Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia: A History, 2nd ed., University Press of Kentucky, Lexington (1993), p. 240.
- United States Census Bureau, U.S. Decennial Census, Tables of Minor Civil Divisions in West Virginia, 1870–2010.
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
- West Virginia encyclopedia; The Weather
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- "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 11, 2014.
- "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
- "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.
- "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
- "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.
- "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.
- "West Virginia Voter Registration" (PDF). West Virginia Secretary of State. July 31, 2023. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- "Senate District Map". West Virginia Legislature.
- "House Select Committee on Redistricting". West Virginia Legislature.
- "COUNTY COMMISSION". Preston County Commission.
- Cox, Connie Loraine, Our Place In History: Southwestern Preston County, West Virginia, Headline Books, Terra Alta, WV, 2005. (Written and oral histories, photographs)