Harrison County Formed

By act of the Virginia Legislature, Harrison County was created on July 20, 1784 from parts of Monongalia County. It was named in honor of Benjamin Harrison who graduated from William and Mary College, served in the Virginia General Assembly and Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, and served as Governor of Virginia from 1781 to 1784. He was also the father of General William H. Harrison, 9th President of the United States, and the great grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States.

In 1790, just after Harrison County was formed, it had next to the smallest population (2,080) of the nine counties that were then in existence and fell within the current boundaries of West Virginia. Berkeley County had the largest population (19,713), Randolph County had the smallest population (951), and there were then a total of 55,873 people living within the present state’s boundaries.

The county seat was originally established at the house of George Jackson, at Bush’s Fort on the Buchannon River. The current county seat, Clarksburg, was named for the explorer General George Rogers Clark. John Simpson, ancestor of President and Union Army General Ulysses Simpson Grant, is credited as the town’s first, permanent settler. He arrived in 1765. In 1773, David Davisson claimed 400 acres of land, near present day downtown Clarksburg. The town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in October 1785 and was incorporated in 1795. The town’s first newspaper, The By-Stander, began publication in 1810.

Harrison County was the site of numerous battles during the French and Indian Wars (1754-1763), especially around Nutter’s Fort, where Clarksburg now stands, and around West’s Fort, near the present site of Jane Lew. It was also the home of two famous Americans: Confederate General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, and John William Davis, Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1924.

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