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.

Ritchie County, West Virginia

Ritchie County Education, Geography, and History

Ritchie County, West Virginia Courthouse

Ritchie County is a county in the state of West Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 10,449. Its county seat is Harrisville. The county was created in 1843 by the Virginia General Assembly and named for Richmond newspaper publisher Thomas Ritchie.

Etymology - Origin of Ritchie County Name

In honor of Thomas Ritchie, a distinguished journalist of Richmond, VA, whose uncle was Judge Spencer Roane, for whom Roane County was named


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Early History of Ritchie County, West Virginia

Ritchie County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on February 18, 1843 from parts of Harrison, Lewis and Wood counties. It was named in honor of Thomas Ritchie (1778-1854).

Thomas Ritchie was born on November 5, 1778 in Tappahannock, Essex County, Virginia. His mother was the sister of Judge Spencer Roane, the namesake of Roane County (see Roane County history). He studied law for awhile, then, finding the law not to his liking, attended medical school in Philadelphia. He then decided he wanted to be a teacher and operated a school in Fredericksburg until 1803 when he opened a book store in Richmond. On May 9, 1804, he and his partner, W. W. Worsley, founded the Richmond Enquirer. A year later, he was the sole owner of the newspaper and slowly gained fame as one of Virginia's finest journalists. He continued as the editor and owner of the Richmond Enquirer until 1845 when he turned the paper over to his sons. He then moved to Washington and started the Washington Union. He edited the paper until his death in 1854. In addition to running a newspaper, he served with distinction in the War of 1812, served as the State Printer of Virginia from 1814 to 1834, and as the Congressional Printer in 1845.

A man named Bunnell was the first English settler in the county. He built a cabin near Pennsboro sometime during the 1790s. He was soon followed by Jacob Husher and Abraham and William Cline. In 1801, Lawrence Mealey built a cabin about eight miles from Bunnell and by 1810 there were about 20 families living in the county, then called Mealey's settlement. By 1830, the county's population had reached about 1,500. The only town of note at that time was Ritchie (now Harrisville) and it had fewer than a dozen homes.

Harrisville, the county seat, was settled by Thomas Harris and platted by him on January 3, 1822. The town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly on January 3, 1832. The town was named the county seat by the act creating the county in 1843. The first session of the county court was held at John Harris' home. The town was then known as Ritchie or Ritchie Court House and was incorporated on February 26, 1869. In 1892, the town was renamed for General Thomas M. Harris, nephew of the town's founder and one of the commissioners in the trial of those accused of plotting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 454 square miles (1,180 km2), of which 452 square miles (1,170 km2) is land and 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) (0.4%) is water

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Northeast: Tyler County; Doddridge County
  • Northwest: Pleasants County
  • South: Calhoun County
  • Southeast: Gilmer County
  • Southwest: Wirt County
  • West: Wood County


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