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Doddridge County, West Virginia facts for kids

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Doddridge County
The Doddridge County Courthouse (1899) in West Union
The Doddridge County Courthouse (1899) in West Union
Map of West Virginia highlighting Doddridge County
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  West Virginia
Founded February 4, 1845
Named for Philip Doddridge
Seat West Union
Largest town West Union
 • Total 320 sq mi (800 km2)
 • Land 320 sq mi (800 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2 km2)  0.2%%
 • Total 8,202
 • Estimate 
 • Density 25.6/sq mi (9.90/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st
Diss Debar4
Debar House (built 1852), St. Clara Colony, Doddridge County, [West] Virginia

Doddridge County is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Its county seat is West Union.

Doddridge County is part of the Clarksburg, West Virginia, WV Micropolitan Statistical Area.


The area that became Doddridge County, Virginia — now West Virginia — was first settled in the late 1780s by James Caldwell, who owned 20,000 acres (81 km2) of land that included present West Union. Caldwell sold this land to Nathan Davis, Jr (1772-1866) and his brothers about 1807. They in turn sold 16,000 acres (65 km2) to Lewis Maxwell (1790-1862), a Virginia Assembly delegate in the 1820s who later became a U.S. Congressman. In 1828 Ephraim Bee, Sr (1802–1888) and his wife Catherine established a log home on Meathouse Fork of Middle Island Creek, now part of West Union. They built an Inn across the "Creek" (really a river) at what was then called Lewisport (Congressman Maxwell's namesake), below a blockhouse on the Northwestern Turnpike. The "Beehive Inn" became a popular place for travelers and locals to meet, refresh themselves and re-provision. Bee operated the first local blacksmith shop; a farm, stables, tannery and horse-racing track soon followed.

According to Ephraim's father, A.A. Bee: "The first bridge across Middle Island Creek [at West Union] was of hewed logs with a center abutment of stones. In the great flood of 1835 it was washed away". In 1842, a contract was awarded to the well-known civil engineer Claudius Crozet to build a covered bridge at West Union, as part of a series of public works along the Turnpike. Ephraim Bee was by this time a district officer, magistrate, state legislator, hotelier, and postmaster. As blacksmith, he made all the bolts and bands for the West Union Covered Bridge, completed in 1843.

Doddridge County was officially created in 1845 from parts of Harrison, Tyler, Ritchie, and Lewis Counties of what was then still Virginia. It was named for Philip Doddridge (1773–1832), the late distinguished statesman of western Virginia, who had spent the greater part of his life in Brooke County. When it was announced the new county would be formed, Ephraim Bee rallied to locate the county seat at Lewisport. But Nathan Davis, Jr (who was Ephraim's wife's uncle), William F. Randolph, and others, won out in favor of West Union, across the river on the south side. There Ethelbert Bond laid out the town lots in regular fashion on land formerly owned by Davis.

On the night of March 27, 1858, a fire devastated the town of West Union.

Maxwell Ridge — named for the Congressman's family — is said to have a cave (Gatrell Cave) that was used by the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War. Another nearby grotto, Jaco Cave, is said to have been used for the same purpose.

The county seat of West Union was incorporated on 20 July 1881.

Doddridge County’s oil and gas industry was an enormous boon to residents. The county's first oil pool, at Center Point, was discovered ("brought in" as it was then termed) and drilled in 1892. This was an extension of the technology and boom of the western Pennsylvania oil and gas fields into Tyler and Doddridge Counties. Many farm owners, and sons of farm owners, split their time between their farmwork and the petroleum operations. Almost every local farm benefited from this as free gas was piped to the farmhouses of many landowners. Gas was soon used for heating, lighting, and cooking, which replaced the wood stoves and kerosene and candles of previous generations. By 1906, the Ideal Glass Factory opened to take advantage of the abundant natural gas. It was followed by the Doddridge County Window Glass Company. The two plants employed about 300 people. In later years a garment factory opened, but closed in the 1970s.

A long-remembered flood devastated West Union in June 1950, destroying homes and businesses and killing more than 20 people throughout the county. (One casualty was the 107-year-old covered bridge.)

Today farming, timbering, oil and gas, and the business of county government and public education support the area, and many people commute to jobs in Salem, Clarksburg, and Parkersburg, or to the North Central Regional Jail in Greenwood.

The Lathrop Russell Charter House, Doddridge County Courthouse, Silas P. Smith Opera House, and W. Scott Stuart House are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. West Union is also home to two nationally recognized historic districts: West Union Downtown Historic District and West Union Residential Historic District.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 320 square miles (830 km2), of which 320 square miles (830 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (0.2%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 50.svg U.S. Route 50
  • WV-18.svg West Virginia Route 18
  • WV-23.svg West Virginia Route 23

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,750
1860 5,203 89.2%
1870 7,076 36.0%
1880 10,552 49.1%
1890 12,183 15.5%
1900 13,689 12.4%
1910 12,672 −7.4%
1920 11,976 −5.5%
1930 10,488 −12.4%
1940 10,923 4.1%
1950 9,026 −17.4%
1960 6,970 −22.8%
1970 6,389 −8.3%
1980 7,433 16.3%
1990 6,994 −5.9%
2000 7,403 5.8%
2010 8,202 10.8%
2019 (est.) 8,448 3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 8,202 people, 3,099 households, and 2,169 families living in the county. The population density was 25.7 inhabitants per square mile (9.9/km2). There were 3,946 housing units at an average density of 12.3 per square mile (4.7/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.0% white, 1.4% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 0.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 24.3% were German, 16.8% were Irish, 11.7% were English, 10.3% were American, and 6.1% were French Canadian.

Of the 3,099 households, 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 30.0% were non-families, and 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.87. The median age was 42.4 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,019 and the median income for a family was $34,016. Males had a median income of $30,219 versus $21,121 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,658. About 15.4% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.7% of those under age 18 and 20.2% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

Notable people

  • Matthew M. Neely, only West Virginian to serve in both houses of the US Congress and as governor.
  • J. H. Diss DeBar, designed the Great Seal and Coat of Arms of West Virginia.
  • Bantz J. Craddock, four-star U.S. Army general.
  • Ephraim Bee, founder of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.
  • Lewis Maxwell (1790 - 1862), U.S. Representative from Virginia
  • Clyde Ware, novelist (The Eden Tree) and television and motion picture director and screenwriter (No Drums, No Bugles).

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Doddridge para niños

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