Harrison County Courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
|Founded||May 3, 1784|
|Named for||Benjamin Harrison V|
|o Total||417 sq mi (1,080 km2)|
|o Land||416 sq mi (1,080 km2)|
|o Water||0.5 sq mi (1 km2) 0.1%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||170/sq mi (64/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
Harrison County is part of the Clarksburg, WV Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Indigenous peoples lived in the area that would become Harrison County for thousands of years. The Oak Mounds outside Clarksburg were built by the Hopewell culture mound builders during the first millennium CE.
White trappers visited the area that is now Harrison County as early as the 1760s. Some traded with the Native Americans of the area. The Virginia Colony claimed the area as part of its vast Augusta County. The first permanent settler in the area was hunter and trapper John Simpson, who erected a cabin at the mouth of Elk Creek on the West Fork River in 1763 or '64. Simpson's name remains on "Simpson's Creek" (its mouth is about 9 miles downstream from present Clarksburg). Settler Daniel Davisson (1748-1819), from New Jersey, claimed the land upon which present-day Clarksburg, Harrison County, was formed in 1773; the area was re-designated as part of Monongalia County, Virginia three years later. Simpson's story did not end well. According to a 19th-century local historian, he ...
... continued to hunt and trap for a year without encountering any other human being. In 1765, he went to the South Branch to dispose of a stock of skins and furs, and returning to his camp, remained until permanent settlements were made in the vicinity. ... Simpson's cabin was located about one mile from Clarksburg, on the west side of the West Fork River ... Simpson became indebted to a man named Cottrial to the amount of "one quart of salt" (a precious article at the time), which he agreed to pay, either in money or salt, upon his return from Winchester, whither he was going to dispose of a stock of skins and furs. Upon his return, a dispute arose between them, regarding the payment, and Cottrial, in the heat of passion, hastened from the house, and grasping Daniel Davisson's gun, which stood leaning against the cabin, took aim through the space between the logs, and attempted to shoot Simpson. The latter, however, was too quick for him, and springing outside, grasped the gun from Cottrial's hands and killed him. This was the first tragedy of this nature in the vicinity.
Harrison County was organized in 1784, with territory partitioned from Monongalia County. It was named for Benjamin Harrison V, who had recently retired as the Governor of Virginia. (He was the father of William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States and great-grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president.) Over the next 72 years, all of eight present-day West Virginia counties and parts of ten others were formed from this original Harrison County.
The first meeting of the Harrison County court was held on July 20, 1784 at the home of George Jackson. The group designated the county seat as Clarksburg. The town, named for explorer General George Rogers Clark (1752-1818), was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in October 1785, and it was incorporated in 1795.
Clarksburg's first newspaper, The By-Stander, began publication in 1810. Construction of the Northwestern Turnpike connecting Winchester and Parkersburg, reached the town in 1836, stimulating development by connecting it to other markets. Clarksburg's economic development was also helped by the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1856. The railroad was instrumental in the development of the local coal mining industry during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In 1863, West Virginia's counties were divided into civil townships, with the intention of encouraging local government. This proved impractical in the heavily rural state, and in 1872 the townships were converted into magisterial districts. Harrison County was divided into ten districts: Clark, Clay, Coal, Eagle, Elk, Grant, Sardis, Simpson, Tenmile,[i] and Union. These districts remained stable for a century, but in the 1970s they were consolidated to form six new districts: North Clarksburg, South Clarksburg, Suburban, Northern, Southeast, and Southwest. In the 1980s, North and South Clarksburg Districts became North Urban and South Urban. In the 1990s, the Southeast and Suburban Districts were discontinued, and replaced by the Eastern and Southern Districts.
The county terrain consists of low rolling hills, largely wooded, etched by drainages and creeks. The terrain slopes to the West Fork River valley from both east and west borders, and also generally slopes to the north. Its highest point is on its south corner, at 1,736' (529m) ASL. The county has a total area of 417 square miles (1,080 km2), of which 416 square miles (1,080 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (0.1%) is water. The county is drained by the north-flowing West Fork River and its tributaries, including Tenmile Creek, Simpson Creek, and Elk Creek.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 68,652 people, 27,867 households, and 19,088 families in the county. The population density was 165/sqmi (63.7/km2). There were 31,112 housing units at an average density of 74.8/sqmi (28.9/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.55% White, 1.61% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 0.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 27,867 households, out of which 29.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.30% were living together, 11.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.50% were non-families. 27.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.94.
The county population contained 23.10% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 27.50% from 25 to 44, 24.50% from 45 to 64, and 16.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $30,562, and the median income for a family was $36,870. Males had a median income of $30,721 versus $22,110 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,810. About 13.60% of families and 17.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.10% of those under age 18 and 9.40% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 69,099 people, 28,533 households, and 18,992 families in the county. The population density was 166/sqmi (64.1/km2). There were 31,431 housing units at an average density of 75.6/sqmi (29.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 96.0% white, 1.6% black or African American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.3% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 19.8% were German, 19.0% were American, 18.3% were Irish, 13.2% were English, and 10.4% were Italian.
Of the 28,533 households, 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.4% were non-families, and 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.92. The median age was 41.8 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $39,191 and the median income for a family was $46,882. Males had a median income of $42,615 versus $28,867 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,010. About 15.0% of families and 18.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.
Harrison County is the site of a master-planned community, Charles Pointe, which is currently under construction in the city of Bridgeport, WV and comprises 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) that will combine commercial, residential, and recreational areas into one master-planned community. Adjacent to Charles Pointe, the United Hospital Center, a $278 million state-of-the-art medical facility. Across from the United Hospital Center site, White Oaks, a planned business community is also under construction, and will support the hospital and the FBI CJIS complex, which is also located near the White Oaks site. This area of West Virginia's Interstate 79 is considered part of a "High Tech Corridor."
During the 20th century Harrison County voters tended Democratic. However, since 2000 the county selected the Republican Party candidate in every national election (as of 2016).