History Happens Here

250 Years of History

1726

Col. Morgan Morgan builds a home along Mill Creek near Bunker Hill. Morgan is said to be the first European settler in present-day West Virginia.

A monument was dedicated in 1924 to recognize Morgan's pioneering settlement.

December 1762

Shepherdstown established by act of the Virginia House of Burgesses in what would become part of eastern Berkeley County 10 years later. Continued settlement prompted Virginia lawmakers to pass bills creating Harpers Ferry (1763), Bath (Berkeley Springs, 1776), Martinsburg (1778), Charles Town (1786), Gerrardstown (1787), Darkesville (1791) and Smithfield, now known as Middleway, (1798) in Berkeley County- all before the formation of Jefferson and Morgan counties.

Gerrardstown and Darkesville are now among Berkeley County’s more than 40 unincorporated communities, which include Bunker Hill, Falling Waters and Inwood. Hedgesville was established in 1836 after the creation of Morgan County in 1820.

May 15, 1772

Berkeley County is established by an act that divided Frederick County, Virginia into three distinct counties. Berkeley County was created from the northern end of Frederick County, and originally contained all land in what is now Jefferson County and a large portion of Morgan County. Dunmore County, renamed Shenandoah County in 1778., was created from the southern end of Frederick County.

July 1775

The “Bee Line March” of Berkeley County Riflemen to Cambridge, Mass., begins in Shepherdstown. Led by Captain Hugh Stephenson, the 98-man unit made the trip within 25 days in response to George Washington’s call for soldiers at the start of the Revolutionary War. Stephenson was among a number of notable Continental Army officers who resided in the Berkeley County area, including Adam Stephen, Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, William Darke, Henry Bedinger and Daniel Morgan.

December 1778

Martinsburg is established by an act of the Virginia General Assembly and declared the county seat of Berkeley County. Founder Adam Stephen named the town after his good friend, Col. Thomas Bryan Martin.

Fun Fact: The act that established Martinsburg included a prohibition of "hogs going at large," and allowed for the killing of any swine on the loose.

December 3, 1787

James Rumsey demonstrates the first steam-powered boat in the Potomac River near Shepherdstown. Rumsey, who lived in the town of Bath (now known as Berkeley Springs), was a pioneer in boiler technology. His inventions, such as the water-tube boiler, are still used to this day.

A man of many trades, Rumsey was also commissioned by George Washington to build a house and stable for him.

June 15, 1796

President George Washington signs deed to purchase land for federal armory and arsenal in Harpers Ferry, which was in Berkeley County until 1801. Selected by Washington, the 125-acre site bounded by the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers was purchased from the heirs of Robert Harper for $7,016.66. The firearms manufacturing facility and storehouse was targeted in 1859 by abolitionist John Brown in an attempt to initiate a major slave rebellion.

September 26, 1816

David Hunter Strother, a well-known journalist and illustrator is born in Martinsburg. Strother, who went by the pen name "Porte Crayon," documented his experiences in the Civil War while serving as a topographer in the Union Army.

Strother, aided by a surveyor, laid out the Green Hill Cemetery in Martinsburg in 1854.

1842

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company arrives in Martinsburg, fueling industrial development well into the 20th century.  Martinsburg was selected by the B&O to be the hub for maintenance between Baltimore and Cumberland, Maryland. A rectangular engine shed was built in 1848 on site of the present roundhouse and shop building complex, which replaced facilities that were destroyed during the Civil War by Confederate troops. The town's historic train station and hotel survived the war and now houses a children's museum

September 13, 1848

J.R. Clifford, West Virginia's first African American attorney, is born. Clifford served as principal and teacher at the Sumner School in Martinsburg.

Clifford also was a Civil War veteran, civil rights pioneer and founding member of the Niagara Movement, which led to the development of the NAACP. Clifford also founded West Virginia's first African American newspaper, the Pioneer Press. In 1896, Clifford filed the first legal challenge of segregated schools in West Virginia.

1851

William S. Miller, who is considered to be the father of modern commercial orchard development in West Virginia, planted his first orchard of 16 acres near Gerrardstown.

At the close of the Civil War, Miller had nearly 4,000 peach trees and several hundred apple trees in production. By 1889, West Virginia apple production had reached about 4.5 million bushels.

January 1, 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation is issued by President Lincoln. "Berkley" County is listed as an exception to the famous Executive Order due to the county being occupied by Union troops at the time. West Virginia abolished slavery on February 3, 1865.

June 20, 1863

West Virginia is established as the 35th state in the Union. Berkeley and Jefferson Counties voted to join the new state in February 1863, but the vote was challenged in a court case filed by the state of Virginia. Virginia's legal challenge contesting the transfer of the two counties ended with a 6-3 Supreme Court decision in 1871. 

July 1864

The Boydville estate, built in 1812 by Elisha Boyd, is spared by a direct order from President Lincoln. Union troops had been ordered to burn Boydville to the ground in retaliation for the burning of Gov. Bradford's house by Confederate soldiers. 

The mansion was built on land bought from Gen. Adam Stephen. The estate was home to Elisha Boyd's daughter Mary and her husband, Charles J. Faulkner, who served as Minister to France under President Buchanan. Today, Boydville is used as an event venue.

September 23, 1866

Famed Western artist William Robinson Leigh is born in Falling Waters. Leigh studied at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and at the Royal Academy in Germany.

After returning to the United States, Leigh established a studio in New York where he made illustrations for Scribner's Magazine. Looking to expand his artistry, Leigh persuaded Santa Fe Railway to send him west in return for a painting of the Grand Canyon. While Leigh traveled all over the West, the Hopi and Navajo tribes were the primary subject of his paintings.

1867

Henry S. Hannis of Philadelphia purchases 18.5-acre distillery property along the Tuscarora Creek in Martinsburg for $25,000 from John Quincy Adams Nadenbousch for the development of what would become “Hannisville,” a sprawling whiskey production industrial complex for Hannis Distilling Co. The complex included five distillery buildings adjoining one another, a three-story warehouse and a granary. Once part of a booming whiskey industry in the 19th century, the distillery was forced to shut down by Prohibition. Though Hannis became the most noted whiskey maker in the county prior to 1920, distilleries also operated at Flagg’s Crossing, east of Martinsburg, Bryarly’s and Sencindiver’s in Darkesville south of Martinsburg and Bella Vista west of Martinsburg.  

July 14,1877

The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 begins in Martinsburg after the B&O Railroad cut wages for the third time in a year. Railway workers responded by uncoupling trains and preventing them from leaving. West Virginia Gov. Henry Mathews sent in the National Guard to restore train services, but the soldiers refused to fire. The governor then called upon President Rutherford B. Hayes for federal troops. The strike spread to Pittsburgh, Chicago, and St. Louis before it ended later in the summer of 1877.

Fun Fact: While serving in the Union Army, Rutherford B. Hayes is said to have laid "ill" at the Wegenast Brewery in Martinsburg.

1890

First electric-powered textile factory in the U.S. is established in Martinsburg by what was known as the Middlesex Knitting Company. Martinsburg went on to become a state leader in textile manufacturing with the establishment of various ventures, including Martinsburg Worsted and Cassimere Co., Crawford Woolen Co., Dunn Woolen Co., Interwoven and Perfection Garment Co. Interwoven Mills was said to be the world’s largest manufacturer of men’s socks at one time.

Fun Fact: The Interwoven complex, which closed in 1976, has more recently been used as a location for film production, including The Making of the Mob television series.

May 7, 1893

Ward Hill Lamon, President Lincoln's friend and personal bodyguard, dies and is buried in Gerrardstown, near where he was raised in Bunker Hill. 

Lamon took on the personal task of protecting Lincoln. It is said that on the night of Lincoln's inauguration, Lamon slept in front of the president's bedroom door with pistols and a Bowie knife at hand. Lamon was also commissioned as U.S. Marshal for Washington D.C. by Lincoln.

1912

The Norwalk Motor Car Company began operations in Martinsburg after investors bought out the original company in Ohio. The Norwalk would go on to become the most successful early automobile manufacturing company in West Virginia with production of the Norwalk Underslung Six convertible. "The Car of Absolute Exclusiveness" had a complete electric system and sold for more than $3,000. 

1915

The Martinsburg Blue Sox, a professional baseball team in the Blue Ridge League, is formed. The League produced three Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, including home run record-setting hitter Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson, who joined the team in 1921. Wilson still holds the record for 191 runs batted in (RBI) a single season, a mark he set while playing for the Chicago Cubs. Wilson’s 56 home runs in 1930 stood as the National League record for 68 years. Wilson is buried at Rosedale Cemetery in Martinsburg.

1916

Martinsburg native, Newton Deihl Baker, is appointed Secretary of War by President Woodrow Wilson. Baker's service to the nation was recognized in 1944 when the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center opened for patients as the Newton D. Baker General Hospital.

1947

The Berkeley County Youth Fair, now the only county-level youth fair in the U.S., begins. The county’s very first Youth Fair was a one-day event with 15 exhibitors and 12 winning prizes. In the fair’s first few years, exhibits were presented in a rented tent staged in a parking lot between Martinsburg High School and Cobourn Field. The fair moved to the current fairgrounds at Harry D. Shelley Park east of Martinsburg in 1981. The first Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair contest was held in 1960. The very first Berkeley County fair was held in 1916, but was not strictly a youth fair.

1966

Twenty-six miles of Interstate 81 is completed through Berkeley County.  

March 25, 1969

Groundbreaking held for the construction of James Rumsey Technical Institute near Hedgesville. JRTI has served the county for over 40 years in academic and technical education. 

1984

Blue Ridge Outlet Center opens in the former Crawford Woolen and Cassimere Mills complex. The outlet center attracted thousands of shoppers to the area with its 50 stores, restaurants and other amenities.

1988

Vicky Bullett of Martinsburg wins gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games as a member of the U.S. Women's National Basketball Team. 

Bullett retired from the WNBA after the 2002 season, then retired from overseas professional play in 2007. She returned to Martinsburg, which named the street where she grew up in her honor. Since her playing days, she has taught at Martinsburg South Middle School and coached for the Washington Mystics, Hagerstown Community College and West Virginia Wesleyan College. 

2001

Classes begin at new campus in Martinsburg for Community & Technical College of Shepherd, which was officially renamed Blue Ridge Community & Technical College on July 1, 2006. Blue Ridge CTC relocated to new campus in Berkeley County in 2012 and has a Technical Center in the former Corning Glass Works manufacturing plant south of Martinsburg. The company’s 244,000-square foot plant closed in 2002 after peak employment had ranged between 600 and 700.  

October 19, 2018

Martinsburg High School varsity football team breaks the state record for most consecutive wins. The team's winning streak ended on September 18, 2020 at 57 wins, which is among the longest streaks in the U.S.

The Bulldogs have won nine state AAA championships, capturing their first title in 2010.

250 Years of County Officers

Assessor

Christopher Hill, Charles Hill, W.B. Colston, Thornton Henshaw, David Stuckey, James T. Guinn, David Dodd, Charles H. Miller, Henry S. Butts,
John D. Gordon. Collins L. Niceley, James A. Gageby, Otho Williams, Martin L. Payne, Ellis Ellis, John W. Dodd, Harry E. Johnson, John H. Riner, Robert W. Perry, W. Strong Lewis, Harwood Burkhart, Arthur H. Stuckey, John R. Crowl, J. Wesley McDonald, James. L. Edwards, Mearle Spickler, Evelyn Fink, Preston Gooden, Patricia A. Kilmer, Gearl Raynes, Larry Hess.

Clerk of the County Court

William Drew, Moses Hunter, Henry Beddinger, David Hunter, John Strother, Harrison Waite, Norman Miller, Jacob VanDoren, E.G. Alburtis, James W. Robinson, Seamon Gerard, Bernard Doll, Christian W. Doll, I.L. Bender, Harold H. Bender, E. A. Hobbs, Paul H. Martin, Harold O. Keedy, E. C. Dunham, John W. Small, Jr., Elaine Mauck

Clerk of the Circuit Court

Obed Waite, John Strother, Israel Robinson, John Dunn, Joseph Burns, John Canby, E.S. Troxall, S.H. Martin, Archibald Oden, William B. Colston, L. DeWitt Gerhardt, William C. Morton, W.S. Steven McBride, George W. Gain, J. Hugh Shipper, Robert Burkhart, Virginia Sine

Judge of the Circuit Court

Robert White, Lewis P.W. Balch, Ephriam B. Hall, Joseph Chaplin, John Blair Hoge, Charles J. Faulkner, Jr., Frank Beckwith, Joseph H. Duckwell, William Broughenbraugh, John Scott, E. Boyd Faulkner, J. M. Woods, Richard E. Parker, Isaac R. Douglas, John W. Kennedy, Adrian C. Nadenbousch, Decatur H. Rogers, Gray Silver Jr., Vance E. Sencindiver, Perrie Doster, Patrick G. Henry III, Thomas Steptoe, David H. Sanders, Christopher C. Wilkes, Gray Silver III, Gina M. Groh, John C. Yoder, Michael Lorensen, Laura Faircloth, Bridget Cohee, Steven Redding

Prosecuting Attorney

Alexander White, Elisha Boyd, David N. Conrad, Edmond P. Hunter, John E. Norris, George H. Murphy, Joseph T. Hoke, J. Nelson Wisner, H.H. Blackburn, Edmond Shaw, Reuben Price, Luther M. Shaffer, W.H.H. Flick, Perry A. Roherbaugh, Wm. S. Henshaw, Alex. S. Hughes, George W. Feidt, U.S. Grant Pitzer, D.O. Westenhaver, Ward B. Lindsey, Allen B. Noll, J.M. Woods, W.W. Downey, Herbert E. Hannis, C.G. Gain, Clarence E. Martin Jr., Vance E. Sencindiver, Earl Weller, Diana Cook Risavi, Pamela Games-Neely, Catie Wilkes Delligatti

Sheriff

Adam Stephen, Samuel Washington, Cato Moore, James Wilson, John Kearsley, James Campbell, John Davenport, William Porterfield, Nicholas Orrick, John Turner, Andrew Wagoner, James Stephenson, Charles Orrick, William Riddle, James Anderson, Magnus Tate, George Porterfield, Erasmus Gantt, Jacob Wever, George Harris, Philip Nadenbousch, Joel Ward, George Wolff, Anthony S. Chambers, Levi Henshaw, William Gregory, Edward Colston, Benjamin Comequy, Silas Harlan, Daniel Burkhart, Tillotson Fryatt, Jacob Van Doren, Barnet Cushwa, Daniel LaFevre, John W. Pitzer, A.J. Thomas, Moses C. Nadenbousch, George A. Chrisman, Robert Lamon, Charles R. Miller, L.C. Gerling, James H. Smith, C.L. Stuckey, E.D. Gardner, E.B. Kettering, E.H. Tabler, Harry S. Miller, William Dean, J.C. McKown, Emory F. Thomas, J. Howard Myers, Strong Lewis, Chas. H. Newkirk, Carlton Stuckey, Edwin W. Miller, William R. Reld, Lyle S. Catlett, William N. Kisner, Preston Gooden, Ron, Jones, Randy Smith, Kenneth Lemaster Jr., Curtis Keller. Nathan Harmon

County Court

Ralph Wormley, Jacob Hite, Van Swearingen, Thos. Rutherford, Adam Stephen, John Neaville, Thos. Swearingen, Samuel Washington, James Nourse, William Little, Robert Stephen, John Briscoe, Hugh Lyle, James Strode, William Morgan, Robert Stogden, James Seaton, Robert Carter Mills, Thomas Robinson, John Puckett, George Porterfield, Erasmus Gantt, Jacob Wever, Philip Nadenbousch, Joel Ware, George Wolff, Michael Rooney, Thomas Robinson, Douglass Campbell, Levi Hanshaw, William Gregory, Edward Colston, John S. Harrison, William Morrison, Edward Gibbs, Benjamin Comequy, William Campbell, Gantt VanDorn, James L. Campbell, Louis B. Weller, Betheul M. Kitchen, Thomas J. Harley, James L. Cunningham, William Dorsey, Daniel H. Dodd, John McKown, Lewis Fry, George W. Hollida, Andrew W. McClary, John A. Voorhees, George F. Hollida, A.R. McQuilkin, Owen T. Hedges, Charles Downs, Richard Bodine, Henry J. Seibert, Lewis Grantham, Robert Tabb, John Throckmorton, Thomas Lowery, Horatio Gates, Goodwin Swift, John Avis, William Patterson, Morgan Morgan, John Cooke, Henry Whiting, Robert Worthington, William McGaw, John McAllister, Anthony Noble, John Morrow, Robert Throckmorton, John Gantt, Walter Baker, George Grund, George Cunningham, Moses Hunter, Robert Baylor, Robert Stewart, George Scott, James Wilson, John Kearney, John Davenport, William Porterfield, Joseph Sweringen, John Turner, William Henshaw, James Maxwell, Andrew Wagoner, Alexander White, William Darke, Adam Sheppard, James Stephenson, Winn Winslip, Richard Baylor, Charles Orrick, William Alexander, Charles Cranmer, George Hite, William Riddle, James Anderson, George North, Daniel Collett, Abraham Davenport, Smith Slaughter, Morganus Tate, John Hunter, Van Rutherford, Isaac E. Houser, Martin Lupton, B.J. Speck, W.D. North, J.P. Musseter, B.F. Harmison, Silas Harlan, Isaac S. LeMarr, William Granthum, Daniel Burkhart, Tillotson Fryatt, Archibald Shearer, Robert V. Snodgrass, John Lamon, Thomas Davis, Francis Silver, Philip C. Pendleton, Conrad Hogmire, Samuel Balser, Edward Winning, William L. Boak, Alexander Oden, Thomas S. Page, Richard McSherry, William Maslin, Jacob Hamm, Stephen R. Snodgrass, Robert K. Robinson, Jacob Myers, Daniel B. Morrison, James W. Newkirk, Janes H. Robinson, Alfred Ross, Hiram McKown, David Canby, A. J. Bowers, Henry Riner, Jonathan Strine, William Sigler, Samuel R. Powell, George D. Miller, James M. Vanmetre, Harrison Tabler, Samuel Gold, William N. Riddle, Joseph H. Barnett, William Sperow, Robert Lamon, John E. Barney, Thornton Henshaw, Joseph Fiscus, Richard J. Thomas, John W. Hollida, Alexander Parks, John H. Lamon, Charles W. Stuckey, Thomas Kearns, Jacob Stuckey, William McKee, Charles Stuckey, E.C. Williams, A.B. Stismitz, Joseph Alexander, Jacob Strine, Philip Everhart, Casper Stump, George R. Wysong, William Jack, Stephen B. Meade, Alfred Ross, Israel Robinson, Joseph W. Hollis, Joseph C. Rawlins, Thomas G. Flagg, William H. Mong, Joseph Stuckey, Martin H. Payne, John W. Kendrick, Samuel Taylor, George Ferrel, William Ripple, Andrew J. Brown, William R. Parkinson, D. P. Lamaster, Moses S. Grantham, C.W. Thornburg, Blackburn Hughes, Jacob M. Seibert, John Grozinger, Charles W. Thatcher, Jacob Hesse, Joseph DeHaven, D.S. Eichelberger, John E. Boyd, Alexander Newcomer, George Doll, George H. McClarey, Barnet Cushwa, Barnett Doll, S.J. Williamson, Joseph Hoffman, F.S. Dellinger, Joseph W. Hollida, Ezekiel Showers, William Miller, Elias M. Pitzer, Archibald Myers, Thomas Wandling, John W. Lamon, William Wilan, Jacob Ropp, David Thompson, Benjamin F. Brady, J.B.A. Nadenbousch, William Leith, William J. Hensel, A.J. Bowen, G. P. Riner, Almon W. Smith, Charles L. Pitzer, Glenn M. Pitzer, Charles E. Dick, C.E. Hicks, W.R. Keller, W.M. Johnson, A.C. Dunham, J.C. Ellis, J.C. McKown, Phillip V. Strine, Garland E. Johnson, R.S. Ballenger, George J. Bradshaw. Brady A. Avey, George W. Bradshaw Jr., O.C. Noll, H.W. Pitzer, Ernest C. Alther, William F. Reid, Robert B. Fleming, J. Elbert Solenberger, Edmond S. Williams, Robert L. Noll, Harold A. Downey, Victor L. Shockey, John E. Wright, Donald L. Bayer, William N. Kisner, Patrick H. Murphy, James C. Smith, D. Wayne Dunham, Robert L. Burkhart, Howard Strauss, Ronald C. Collins, Steve C. Teufel, Anthony “Tony” Petrucci, William “Bill” Stubblefield, Doug Copenhaver, Jr., James Whitacre, James Barnhart, Elaine C. Mauck, Dan P. Dulyea, G. Edgar Gochenou

*At the time the county was formed, the Governor of Virginia appointed “Gentlemen Justices” that acted in the capacity of the present County Council, the Circuit Court and Judge. The Justices were appointed to one-year terms. The practice continued until Berkeley County became a part of West Virginia, when the state’s first Constitution required one commissioner to be elected from each magisterial district of the county, or townships and this body comprised the Board of Supervisors. This practice continued until the revision of the Con­stitution of West Virginia in 1872 led to the election of three individuals to comprise the County Court of Berkeley County. The County Court was subsequently renamed the County Commission in West Virginia. The Berkeley County Commission was renamed the Berkeley County Council and expanded to five members following the 2010 election.

The Progression of Berkeley County

~ Special thanks to the Berkeley County Historical Society, West Virginia & Regional History Center at West Virginia University, West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Library of Virginia, Berkeley County Department of Information Technology, Berkeley County Clerk Elaine Mauck, Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine and local historian Jeff Hollis ~