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West Virginia Counties
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West Virginia Counties

There are fifty-five counties in the state of West Virginia. Fifty of them existed at the time of the Wheeling Convention in 1861, before which West Virginia was part of the state of Virginia. The remaining five (Grant, Mineral, Lincoln, Summers and Mingo) were formed within the state after its admission to the United States on June 20, 1863. At that time, Berkeley County and Jefferson County, the two easternmost counties of West Virginia, refused to recognize their inclusion in the state. In March 1866, the US Congress passed a joint mandate assenting to their inclusion.

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Calhoun County, West Virginia

Calhoun County Education, Geography, and History

Calhoun County, West Virginia Courthouse

Calhoun County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,627. Its county seat is Grantsville. The county was founded in 1856 and is named for South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun.

Etymology - Origin of Calhoun County Name

For John C. Calhoun, eminent statesman of South Carolina


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Early History of Calhoun County, West Virginia

Calhoun County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on March 5, 1856 from parts of Gilmer County. At that time, less than 2,500 people lived in the county.

Calhoun County was named in honor of John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850), a famous statesman from South Carolina who championed the cause of slavery, the South and state's rights. Born on March 18, 1782, he graduated from Yale University in 1804, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1807. He was elected to the South Carolina state legislature (1808-1809), represented South Carolina in the US House of Representatives (1811-1817); served as Secretary of War (1817-1825); Vice-President of the United States (1825-1832); represented South Carolina in the United States Senate (1832-1843); served as Secretary of State (1844-1845); and returned to the US Senate in 1845 and remained there until his death on March 31, 1850.
Calhoun County was once controlled by the Iroquois Confederation (including the Cayugas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Seneca Indians and, later, the Tuscaroras Indians). The Iroquois Indians did not settle in the county. Instead, they used it, and most of the present state of West Virginia, as a hunting ground and buffer area against the unfriendly French in the Ohio Valley and the Cherokee Indians.

George Washington was surveying in the vicinity of Calhoun County in 1770 when he reported in his journal a chance meeting with a Mr. Ennis, who had traveled down the Little Kanawha River to the present site of Calhoun County. Thus, Ennis is the first known Englishman to set foot in the county. A group of six men, including William White, Thomas Drennen, Paul Shaver, and John Cutright, scouted for Indians along the Ohio River and, in the process, passed through Calhoun County in 1770. In 1772, William Lowther, Jesse Hughes, and Elias Hughes journeyed from the West Fork Valley into the Little Kanawha Valley. They discovered and traveled along what is now known as the Hughes River.

George Washington also received reports during the 1780s from Captain Thomas Swearengen, Captain John Hardin and Zackquill Morgan of their explorations of present day Calhoun County. Abraham Thomas was probably the first, permanent settler in Calhoun County. He built a cabin along the banks of the Little Kanawha River in 1774. He was soon joined by Richard Yates, Henry Castle and Paul Armstrong. In 1811, Philip Starcher built a cabin near present day Arnoldsburg. The first meeting of the Calhoun county court was held on April 14, 1856 at the home of Joseph W. Burson, which was located at the mouth of Pine Creek on the Little Kanawha River. The location of the county seat then took a series of ominous twists and turns. In September, 1856, the justices of the county court started meeting at a house near the residence of Peregrine Hays at Arnoldsburg. In the meantime, the act creating the county specified that the county's residents were to determine if the permanent county seat was to be located at Pine Bottom, the mouth of Yellow Creek, or at the "neck of the Big Bend." The voters apparently choose the site at the mouth of Yellow Creek at the first general election held in the county in November 1856.

However, the county justices began to argue among themselves and two county courts emerged, one consisting of the leading citizens from Arnoldsburg and the other from Pine Bottom. They were able to resolve their differences and a unified county court was established at Yellow Creek, the current site of Brooksville, on September 15, 1857. The following year, the county seat was, once again, moved back to Arnoldsburg and the county court acquired land from Peregrine Hays as the future site of the courthouse. In 1862, during the Civil War, Union forces under the command of Thomas M. Harris captured Arnoldsburg and placed Peregrine Hays under arrest as a political prisoner. The state legislature then moved the county seat to Grantsville. Grantsville was originally settled by Eli Riddle during the 1820s, but it was owned by Simon and Ruth Stump when it was platted in 1866. They named the town in honor of General Ulysses Simpson Grant, General of the Union Army during the Civil War and later the 18th President of the United States (1869-1877). The town was incorporated in 1896.

Once the Civil War concluded, the citizens of Arnoldsburg demanded that the county seat be returned to them. A fire of mysterious origin, assumed to be arson, burnt the courthouse under construction in Grantsville to the ground before it was occupied in 1869. Soon after, the state legislature ordered the Calhoun County court to move the county seat, apparently back to Arnoldsburg. The court then met at Arnoldsburg on August 26, 1869, but then met at Grantsville in September and then back in Arnoldsburg in November. An election to settle the matter was held in October 1869, and the county electorate selected Grantsville as the permanent county seat. The leading citizens of Arnoldsburg then contested the election as irregular. Their appeal failed. Then, not refusing to give up, in 1898 the leading citizens of Arnoldsburg charged that the courthouse at Grantsville was unsafe and tried to get the county seat changed once again. It was put to the vote, but the voters decided to keep the county seat in Grantsville by a vote of 935 to 925. Two year later, in 1890, the county government tore down the courthouse in Grantsville and replaced it with a two-story brick building at a cost of $8,400. It was later replaced in 1941.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 281 square miles (730 km2), of which 279 square miles (720 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.5%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Ritchie County (north)
  • Gilmer County (east)
  • Braxton County (southeast)
  • Clay County (south)
  • Roane County (west)
  • Wirt County (northwest)


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