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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.

Mason County, West Virginia

Mason County Education, Geography, and History

Mason County, West Virginia Courthouse

Mason County is a county located in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 27,324. Its county seat is Point Pleasant. The county was founded in 1804 and was named for George Mason, delegate to the US Constitutional Convention. Before the Civil War, the county was located in the State of Virginia.

Mason County is part of the Point Pleasant, WV-OH Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Mason County Name

For George Mason, author of the Constitution of VA and a member of the convention which framed the US Constitution


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Early History of Mason County, West Virginia

Mason County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on January 2, 1804, from parts of Kanawha County. The county was named in honor of George Mason (1725-1792). He was born in Virginia in 1725, was the author of the Constitution of Virginia and a member of the Philadelphia constitutional convention that framed the Constitution of the United States during the summer of 1787. Not satisfied with the protections provided state's rights during the deliberations, he refused to sign the document and later opposed its ratification by Virginia.

Robert Cavelier de La Salle was probably the first European to set foot in present Mason County. He sailed down the Ohio River in 1669. In 1749, Louis Bienville de Celeron sailed down the Ohio River, and buried a lead plate in present day Mason County claiming all of the lands drained by the River for King Louis XV of France. His journals indicate that he buried four lead plates at various locations along the Ohio River, but to date only two have been found. 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.
In 1750, Christopher Gist, an agent and surveyor for the Ohio Company, passed through the county. The first European woman to set foot in the county was Mary Ingles. She was taken prisoner by Shawnee Indians on July 8, 1755 at Draper's Meadow (now Blacksburg), Virginia and was forced to accompany the Indians through the county as they returned to Shawnee Village at Chillicothe, Ohio. Her escape four months later and her return through the wilderness to Virginia has a significant place in American folklore.

George Washington was a frequent visitor to the county as early as 1770. He surveyed the present site of Point Pleasant, the county seat made famous by the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, and was granted title to some 10,900 acres in the area for his services during the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763).

The Battle of Point Pleasant was considered a turning point in the war against the Indians and a precursor of the American Revolutionary War. During the battle on October 10, 1774, General Andrew Lewis' army of 1,100 waged what was probably the most fiercely contested battle ever fought with the Indians within the state of Virginia. One-half of General Lewis' commissioned officers, including his brother Charles were killed, as were 75 of his non-commissioned soldiers. Another 140 soldiers were wounded. The actual number of Indians engaged or killed in the battle is not known, but included warriors from the Shawnee, Delaware, Mingo, Wyandotte and Cayuga tribes, lead by their respective chiefs and by Cornstalk, Sachem of the Shawnees and King of the North Confederacy. The remaining Indians fled into Ohio with Lewis' men in pursuit. Now on the defensive, the Indians later agreed to a peace treaty, ending what had become known as Lord Dunmore's War (John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore, was Governor of Virginia at the time).

In 1777, Cornstalk, his son, Elinipsico, Red Hawk and another prominent Indians were murdered while being held hostage at Fort Blair, built at Point Pleasant following Lewis' victory. They were killed in revenge for the murder of a member of the garrison who had left the fort on a hunting trip while the hostages were there. Cornstalk is buried at the corner of the county courthouse in Point Pleasant. Ann Bailey, whose first husband was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and was known as "Mad Ann" (see Braxton County history) is also buried in Point Pleasant, in a public park near the battle monument.

Mason County was part of the proposed colony of Vandalia, whose capital was to be at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, (i.e.. near Point Pleasant). The colony was opposed by the Washington family, primarily because they and their business partners had laid claim to much of the county and feared that the proposal, put forth by George Mercer and his business associates in 1773, would void those claims.
Among the early pioneers who made Mason County their home was Dr. Jesse Bennett. In 1794, he performed the first Cesarean section operation in the United States (on Elizabeth, his wife, saving both her life and the life of their daughter). He settled on 8,000 acres of land, near the home of Andrew Lewis, and served as Surgeon of the Second Virginia Regiment during the War of 1812 and as a member of the jury at Aaron Burr's trial for treason (see Wood County history for details).

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 445 square miles (1,150 km2), of which 431 square miles (1,120 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (3.1%) is water

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • East: Jackson County
  • North: Meigs County, Ohio
  • Southeast: Putnam County
  • Southwest: Cabell County
  • West: Gallia County, Ohio


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