Morgan County Courthouse Complex, July 2011
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
|Founded||February 9, 1820|
|Named for||Daniel Morgan|
|Largest town||Berkeley Springs|
|o Total||230 sq mi (600 km2)|
|o Land||229 sq mi (590 km2)|
|o Water||0.5 sq mi (1 km2) 0.2%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||76/sq mi (29/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
Morgan County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,541. Its county seat is Berkeley Springs. The county was formed in 1820 from parts of Hampshire and Berkeley Counties and named in honor of General Daniel Morgan, prominent soldier of the American Revolutionary War.
Morgan County is the home of an important mine producing special sand for the glass industry.
Morgan County was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in March 1820 from parts of Berkeley and Hampshire counties. It was named in honor of General Daniel Morgan (1736-1802). He was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and moved to Winchester, Virginia as a youth. He served as a wagoner in Braddock's Army during the campaign against the Native Americans in 1755. During the campaign, a British Lieutenant became angry with him and hit him with the flat of his sword. Morgan punched the Lieutenant, knocking him unconscious. Morgan was court-martialed for striking a British officer and was sentenced to 500 lashes. Morgan later joked that the drummer who counted out the lashes miscounted and he received only 499 lashes. For the rest of his life he claimed the British still owed him one.
The first English settlers in present-day Morgan County arrived during the 1730s. Because most of these early pioneers were squatters, there is no record of their names. Historians claim that the first cabin in the county was built around 1745. As word of the county's warm springs spread eastward, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron decided that the county needed to be surveyed. In 1748, George Washington, then just 16 years old, was part of the survey party the surveyed the Eastern Panhandle region for Lord Fairfax. He later returned to Bath (Berkeley Springs) several times over the next several years with his half-brother, Lawrence, who was ill and hoped that the warm springs might improve his health. The springs, and their rumored medicinal benefits, attracted numerous Native Americans as well as Europeans to the area.
As mentioned previously, George Washington visited present-day Berkeley Springs several times with his half-brother, Lawrence. When he vacationed in the area in 1767, he noted how busy the town had become. Lord Fairfax had built a summer home there and a "private bath" making the area a popular destination for Virginia's social elite. As the town continued to grow, the Virginia General Assembly decided to formally recognize it. In October 1776, the town was officially named Bath, in honor of England's spa city called Bath. The town's main north-south street was named Washington and the main east-west street was named Fairfax. Also, seven acres (28,000 m²) were set aside for "suffering humanity." When West Virginia gained statehood, that area became West Virginia's first state park.
Bath's population increased during and immediately after the American Revolutionary War as wounded soldiers and others came to the area believing that the warm springs had medicinal qualities. Bath gained a reputation as a somewhat wild town where eating, drinking, dancing, and gambling on the daily horse races were the order of the day.
Bath later became known as Berkeley Springs, primarily because the town's post office took that name (combining Governor Norborne Berkeley's last name with the warm springs found there) to avoid confusion with another post office, located in southeastern Virginia, which was already called Bath. Because the mail was sent to and from Berkeley Springs, that name slowly took precedence.
On April 10, 1919, racial violence broke out when the Morgan County race riot was sparked by big business using African-American strikebreakers against local striking white workers. On the same day of the riots one Hugh Ferguson, a Martinsburg African-American, was accused of criminally assaulting Mrs. Ernest Zimmerman at her home near Brosius, Morgan County (now known as Hancock, West Virginia). An angry mob of several hundred men formed around the jail hoping to lynch Ferguson. Sheriff C. R. Hovermale was forced to flee town with Ferguson.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,943 people, 6,145 households, and 4,344 families residing in the county. The population density was 65 people per square mile (25/km²). There were 8,076 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (14/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.30% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. 0.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,145 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.30% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.84.
The age distribution is 22.40% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 27.30% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 16.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,016, and the median income for a family was $40,690. Males had a median income of $29,816 versus $22,307 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,109. About 8.00% of families and 10.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.60% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 17,541 people, 7,303 households, and 5,015 families residing in the county. The population density was 76.6 inhabitants per square mile (29.6/km2). There were 9,753 housing units at an average density of 42.6 per square mile (16.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.3% white, 0.6% black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.0% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 27.0% were German, 13.2% were Irish, 11.5% were American, and 10.6% were English.
Of the 7,303 households, 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.3% were non-families, and 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.84. The median age was 45.0 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $37,281 and the median income for a family was $49,974. Males had a median income of $39,372 versus $27,949 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,732. About 11.9% of families and 15.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.0% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over.
Morgan County has historically been a stronghold for the Republican Party. Every Republican presidential nominee has won Morgan County since 1864, the first presidential election following West Virginia's statehood. The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Morgan County was Lewis Cass in 1848; the county was won by the Whig Party, the Know-Nothing Party and John Bell's Constitutional Union Party in its last three elections as part of Virginia.
The following are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
|Ambrose Chapel||mid-19th century||Winchester Grade Road (CR 13)||Stotlers Crossroads||1998|
|Berkeley Springs State Park||mid-18th century||South Washington & Fairfax Streets||Berkeley Springs||1976|
|Berkeley Springs Train Depot||1900-1924||504 North Washington Street (US 522)||Berkeley Springs||2001|
|Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park||early 19th century||Chesapeake & Ohio Canal||Paw Paw||1966|
|Clarence Hovermale House (Allen Mendenhall House)||late 19th century||167 Wilkes Street||Berkeley Springs||2003|
|John Herbert Quick House (Coolfont Manor House)||1913||Cold Run Valley Road||Berkeley Springs||1984|
|Judge John W. Wright Cottage||1872||305 South Green Street||Berkeley Springs||1986|
|Morgan County Courthouse||1923||202 Fairfax Street||Berkeley Springs||2005|
|Samuel Taylor Suit Cottage (Berkeley Castle)||1885||WV 9||Berkeley Springs||1980|
|Sloat-Horn-Rossell House (The Manor)||late 19th century||415 Fairfax Street||Berkeley Springs||1984|
|T. H. B. Dawson House||1880||300 South Green Street||Berkeley Springs||1983|
|Western Maryland Railroad Right-of-Way, Milepost 126 to Milepost 160||20th century||Milepost 126 to Milepost 160||Jerome||1981|