West Virginia Counties and Historical Facts

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West Virginia County records differ vastly from county to county in either quality as well as quantity. Some have already been carefully preserved while some have been significantly misused and mistreated. Some West Virginia records have simply vanished. For genealogists undertaking research in West Virginia there’s no valuable replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

West Virginia Map of Counties

West Virginia Map of Counties

West Virginia CountiesHampshire County, West Virginia was formed in 1754. Many other counties were formed from that time until 1860, including Webster County, which was the last in that group. However, the counties of Grant, Mineral, Mingo, Lincoln, and Summers were formed after 1860. County courthouses hold records created by the clerks since the counties were formed. Records from the 1800s and 1900s can also be found at the FHL, West Virginia University Library (West Virginia Regional History Collection) in Morgantown and the Archives and History Library in Charleston.

The circuit court clerk’s office, located at the county seat, holds records on divorces and other court proceedings. The clerk’s office at the county seat holds land records, as well as vital records. Most counties will charge small fees for researching and copying records. Inquiries can be made by mail, in most cases. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.

List of West Virginia Counties with Burned Courthouses

burned county courthouseThe destruction to Iowa courthouses considerably has a affect on family historians in each and every way. Not only are these kinds of historic buildings ripped from each of our lifetimes, so are the archives they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they are lost forever. Even though they have already been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most sad side of this is the reason why virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. However, don’t assume all records were lost. Numerous Iowa counties have experienced a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Adair County Courthouse – Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1889. Most Court Records were destroyed.
  • Adams County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire on February 1, 1888. Some early records were destroyed.
  • Benton County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1853. The county records were rescued by three courageous men who were seriously burned and died from their injuries three months after the blaze.
  • Buena Vista County Courthouse – On January 1, 1877 the courthouse was destroyed by a fire. Most records were destroyed
  • Calhoun County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1884.
  • Carroll County Courthouse – In 1886, this courthouse was damaged by a fire
  • Cass County Courthouse – In March 1932, a fire destroyed the courthouse, but the county records were saved
  • Chickasaw County Courthouse – The Courthouse was totally destroyed in a fire on March 26, 1880. Many irreplaceable documents were lost, but many more were saved with the help of the “Hook & Ladder Co.,” and concerned citizens.
  • Decatur County Courthouse – The Second Courthouse was destroyed by a windstorm before it could be finished. The 3rd Courthouse was destroyed by a fire on March 31, 1874 (One book from the auditor’s office and one book from the clerk’s office survived). The 4th Courthouse was blown up on April 1, 1877 destroying the entire west side of the courthouse.
  • Des Moines County Courthouse – The Courthouse, along with some of the county records, was destroyed by a fire in 1873.
  • Dickinson County Courthouse – The Courthouse was destroyed in a fire in November of 1871, some of the county records were destroyed.
  • Fayette County Courthouse – The Courthouse burned in 1872 when a prisoner set fire to the courthouse during and escape attempt.
  • Floyd County Courthouse – One June 7, 1874, a terrific thunderbolt struck the courthouse (The important county records were saved). The courthouse burned down in 1881, destroying nearly all county records.
  • Fremont County Courthouse – The 2nd Courthouse was damaged by a gunny sack full of dynamite in 1863. In 1888, vandals poured Coal oil throughout the building and set a fire (A steel vault saved most of the records).
  • Guthrie County Courthouse – In 1857, in the cabin of the county clerk, a keg of gunpowder blew all the county records to pieces. This Courthouse burned to the ground on March 3, 1882 (A heroic clerk saved most of the court records). In November of 1963 courthouse was destroyed by fire (some records were destroyed).
  • Hardin County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed that same year by in 1856.
  • Harrison County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed in a fire in September 1854, all of the county records were destroyed.
  • Howard County Courthouse – The courthouse at Cresco burned down on December 1, 1876. Few records survived.
  • Ida County Courthouse – On January 12, 1877, the courthouse burned, along with most of the county records.
  • Jones County Courthouse – The courthouse built in 1848 and vacated in 1864 was destroyed by fire in 1875.
  • Lee County Courthouse – In 1911, fire damaged the courthouse
  • Madison County Courthouse – In 1875, a fire destroyed the building in less than four hours.
  • Muscatine County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1864 (No records were lost in the fire, as far as can be determined).
  • Page County Courthouse – The Courthouse and the records were destroyed in an 1858 fire.
  • Ringgold County Courthouse – On June 8, 1858, a cyclone blew down the courthouse and many records disappeared.
  • Sac County Courthouse – The Courthouse burned down in 1888.
  • Story County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Day, 1864.
  • Union County Courthouse – The first courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1893.

List of West Virginia Counties

List of West Virginia Counties

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Barbour1843Harrison, Lewis and Randolph countiesPhilippi
Berkeley1772Frederick County (VA)Martinsburg
Boone1847Cabell, Kanawha, and Logan countiesMadison
Braxton1836Kanawha, Lewis, and Nicholas countiesSutton
Brooke1796Ohio CountyWellsburg
Cabell1809Kanawha CountyHuntington
Calhoun1856Gilmer CountyGrantsville
Clay1858Braxton and Nicholas elk countiesClay
Doddridge1845Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Taylor countiesWest Union
Fayette1831Kanawha, Greenbrier and Logan countiesFayetteville
Gilmer1845Kanawha and Lewis countiesGlenville
Grant1866Hardy CountyPetersburg
Greenbrier1777Montgomery and Botetourt counties (VA)Lewisburg
Hampshire1753Frederick County (VA)Romney
Hancock1848Brooke CountyNew Cumberland
Hardy1785Hampshire CountyMoorefield
Harrison1784Monongalia CountyClarksburg
Jackson1831Kanawha, Mason, and Wood countiesRipley
Jefferson1801Berkeley CountyCharles Town
Kanawha1788Greenbrier County, Montgomery County (VA)Charleston
Lewis1816Harrison CountyWeston
Lincoln1867Boone, Cabell, Kanawha and Logan countiesHamlin
Logan1824Cabell and Kanawha counties, Giles and Tazewell counties (VA)Logan
Marion1842Harrison and Monongalia countiesFairmont
Marshall1835Ohio CountyMoundsville
Mason1804Kanawha CountyPoint Pleasant
McDowell1858Tazewell County (VA)Welch
Mercer1837Giles and Tazewell counties (VA)Princeton
Mineral1866Hampshire CountyKeyser
Mingo1895Logan CountyWilliamson
Monongalia1776Augusta County (VA)Morgantown
Monroe1799Greenbrier CountyUnion
Morgan1820Berkeley and Hampshire countiesBerkeley Springs
Nicholas1818Greenbrier and Kanawaha countiesSummersville
Ohio1776Augusta County (VA)Wheeling
Pendleton1787Augusta County (VA)Franklin
Pleasants1851Ritchie, Tyler, and Wood countiesSaint Marys
Pocahontas1821Bath County (VA), Pendleton and Randolph countiesMarlinton
Preston1818Monongalia CountyKingwood
Putnam1848Cabell, Kanawha, and Mason countiesWinfield
Raleigh1850Fayette CountyBeckley
Randolph1787Harrison CountyElkins
Ritchie1843Harrison, Lewis, and Wood countiesHarrisville
Roane1856Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha and Wirt countiesSpencer
Summers1871Greenbrier CountyHinton
Taylor1844Barbour, Harrison, Marion, and Preston countiesGrafton
Tucker1856Randolph CountyParsons
Tyler1814Ohio CountyMiddlebourne
Upshur1842Barbour and Lewis countiesBuckhannon
Wayne1842Cabell CountyWayne
Webster1860Braxton, Nicholas, and Randolph countiesWebster Springs
Wetzel1846Tyler CountyNew Martinsville
Wirt1848Jackson and Wirt countiesElizabeth
Wood1798Harrison CountyParkersburg
Wyoming1850Logan CountyPineville

State Counties Guides