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.

Brooke County, West Virginia

Brooke County Education, Geography, and History

Brooke County, West Virginia Courthouse

Brooke County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 24,069. Its county seat is Wellsburg. The county was created in 1797 from part of Ohio County and named in honor of Robert Brooke, Governor of Virginia from 1794 to 1796.

Brooke County is part of the Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-WV-OH Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Brooke County Name

Brooke County was named in honor of Robert Brooke (1751-1799), who was educated at the University of Edinburgh, practiced law in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, served in the Virginia General Assembly in 1794 and, later that year, was elected the third Governor of Virginia (1794 to 1796) by the General Assembly. He later served as Attorney-General of Virginia (1798-1799)


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Early History of Brooke County, West Virginia

Brooke County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on November 30, 1796 from parts of Ohio County. According to the national census of 1800, Brooke County had 4,706 residents, the 6th largest population of the 13 counties then in existence within the present state of West Virginia. Berkeley County had the largest population then (22,006) and Wood County had the smallest population (1,217).

Robert Cavelier de La Salle was probably the first European to set foot in present Brooke County. He sailed down the Ohio River in 1669. In 1749, Louis Bienville de Celeron sailed down the Ohio River and may have set foot on present day Brooke County. He claimed all of the lands drained by the Ohio River for King Louis XV of France. He met several English fur traders on his journey and ordered them off of French soil and wrote strong letters of reprimand to the colonial governors protesting the English's presence on French soil.

The first English settlers in the county were three brothers, Jonathan, Israel and Friend Cox, who claimed 1,200 acres in the area that is now Wellsburg around 1772. Soon afterwards, their cousin, George Cox, staked a claim to 400 acres just north of his cousins' claims. By 1788, the area, then known as Buffaloe Town, had become a trading center for settlers on their way to the Northwest Territory. On March 6, 1788, John Cox, heir of Friend Cox, sold 481 acres of land to Charles Prather for $3,000. In January 1791, Prather's land was incorporated as Charlestown, Virginia. Charles and Ruth Prather deeded four lots to the town on October 3, 1791 for the construction of a schoolhouse, meetinghouse, and a graveyard. The town was named the county seat when Brooke County was created in 1797.

The first session of the Brooke County court took place on May 23, 1797 in the home of William Sharpe in Charlestown. The town was originally named in honor of Charles Prather, who owned the land on which the town was built. The town was later renamed Wellsburg (in 1816) to avoid confusion with two other towns in the state that were also called Charlestown. The town was named in honor of Charles Prather's son-in-law, Alexander Wells. He is credited as the builder of the first large flour warehouse in the east. In its early years, Wellsburg was famous for its "Gin Weddings" and "Marrying Parsons" who reportedly would marry couples on a moments notice. The town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly on February 21, 1887.
Bethany College, West Virginia's oldest degree granting college, was founded in Brooke County in 1840 by Alexander Campbell.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 93 square miles (240 km2), of which 89 square miles (230 km2) is land and 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) (3.6%) is water.

It is the second-smallest county in West Virginia by area. The highest point of elevation in Brooke County is approximately 1372 ft. and located about 1.5 miles south of Franklin

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Hancock County
  • Northwest: Jefferson County, Ohio
  • South: Ohio County
  • Southeast: Washington County, Pa.


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