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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.

Marshall County, West Virginia

Marshall County Education, Geography, and History

Marshall County, West Virginia Courthouse

Marshall County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 33,107. Its county seat is Moundsville. Its southern border is the Mason-Dixon line.

Marshall County is included in the Wheeling, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Marshall County Name

For Chief Justice John Marshall of the US Supreme Court


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Early History of Marshall County, West Virginia

Marshall County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on March 12, 1835, from parts of Ohio County. The county was named in honor of John Marshall (1755-1835).

John Marshall was born in Germantown, Virginia on September 24, 1755. He served as a soldier during the American Revolutionary War and, after leaving the army in 1781 was licensed to practice law in his home county (Fauquier County). He served as a member of the Virginia General Assembly (1782-1791) and was named a special envoy to France in 1797. In 1798, he was elected to the US House of Representatives representing Virginia from 1799 to 1800. He was then named Secretary of State by President Thomas Jefferson (1800-1801), and was selected Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1801-1835). The court's rulings during his tenure in office, especially Marbury vs. Madison (1803) which established the court's right of judicial review, established Marshall as the greatest Chief Justice in American political history. He died on July 6, 1835.

Robert Cavelier de La Salle was probably the first European to set foot in present Marshall 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 the current site of Marshall 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.

Christopher Gist was the first Englishman to leave a recorded record of his visit to the county. In 1751, he explored the area on behalf of the Ohio Company. It had been granted 500,000 acres of land between the Great Kanawha and Monongahela Rivers by King of Great Britain. They were to forfeit the lands unless the company was able to locate at least 100 families upon the land within seven years. Its efforts to settle the region was, at least partly, responsible for the ensuing French and Indian Wars (1754-1763).

John Wetzel and his family were the first English settlers to build a cabin in the county. They arrived in the vicinity of Sand Hill in 1769 or 1770. Several other settlers, including Ebenezer Zane and his brothers Silas, Jonathan, and Andrew, a Mr. Mercer and a Mr. Bonnett settled nearby that same year. In March 1771, three brothers, Joseph, Samuel and James Tomlinson, Nathaniel Parr, and a man employed by the Tomlinsons named Con O'Neill arrived in the county. The Tomlinson brothers and their companions settled in the flats along Grave Creek, near Moundsville. As settlers continued to move into the region, James Tomlinson decided in 1798 to plat a town. He called it Elizabethtown, in honor of his wife. The first lot in the town was sold for $8 to Andrew Rogers on November 15, 1799. The town grew slowly. It was incorporated on February 17, 1830. At that time, it had about 300 residents. Another town, called Mound City, was begun nearby by Simon Purdy. It was incorporated as Moundsville on January 28, 1832. Its name was derived from the Mammoth Grave Creek Indian Mound, located there. The act creating the county in 1835 named Elizabethtown the county seat. The act required that the first meeting of the Marshall County Court take place in the brick school house in the town on the first Thursday after the third Monday of May, 1835. On February 23, 1865, Moundsville and Elizabethtown merged into Moundsville.

One of the nation's oldest and largest Indian burial grounds is located in Moundsville. The mound is 69 feet high, 900 feet in circumference at the base, and 50 feet across at the top. It was acquired by the state in 1917. The mound was discovered by James Tomlinson. It was opened under the supervision of Abelard B. Tomlinson in 1838. He discovered a vault 111 feet from the northern side containing the skeletal remains of two Indians, one of them surrounded with 650 ivory beads and wearing an ivory ornament about six inches long. The mound also contained ashes and bits of bones that are believed to be the remnants of Indians burned prior to their internment in the mound. Another vault was discovered near the top of the mound, containing a skeleton wearing beads, seashells and copper bracelets. An inscribed stone was removed from the vault and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 312 square miles (810 km2), of which 305 square miles (790 km2) is land and 6.7 square miles (17 km2) (2.2%) is water

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • East: Greene County, Pa.
  • North: Ohio County
  • Northeast: Washington County, Pa.
  • Northwest: Belmont County, Ohio
  • South: Wetzel County
  • Southwest: Monroe County, Ohio


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