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Philippi, West Virginia
Location of Philippi in Barbour County, West Virginia.
Location of Philippi in Barbour County, West Virginia.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Barbour
District Philippi
 • Total 2.92 sq mi (7.57 km2)
 • Land 2.83 sq mi (7.33 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.24 km2)
1,302 ft (397 m)
 • Total 2,966
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,150.88/sq mi (444.35/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 304/681
FIPS code 54-63292
GNIS feature ID 1544780

Philippi (pronounced 'FILL-uh-pea') is a city in — and the county seat of — Barbour County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,966 at the 2010 census. In 1861, the city was the site of the Battle of Philippi, known as the "Philippi Races". Although a minor skirmish, this is considered the earliest notable land action of the American Civil War.

For over a century, Philippi has been home to Alderson Broaddus University, a four-year liberal-arts school affiliated with the American Baptist Churches.

The city has a weekly newspaper, The Barbour Democrat.


Philippi, West Virginia, USA, from across the Tygart Valley River. This 2007 view includes the Philippi Historic District and the Barbour County Courthouse (just right of center).

Philippi is located along the Tygart Valley River at 39°9′6″N 80°2′36″W / 39.15167°N 80.04333°W / 39.15167; -80.04333 (39.151569, -80.043472). It is within Philippi District — one of eight magisterial districts of Barbour County. The town is sub-divided into Wards 1 through 4.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.95 square miles (7.64 km2), of which, 2.86 square miles (7.41 km2) is land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km2) is water.

The original settlement that became the town of Philippi was on a section of bottomland at a bend in the river at the mouth of Anglin's Run. (This area was later designated "Dayton Park".) Opposite this bottomland, at the western landing of "Booth's Ferry", is a sharp ridge which breaks abruptly down to the river and is still known as "Nobusiness Hill". Most of the town is located in the bottomland, but a portion, including the university campus, is on another ridge — "Battle Hill" — overlooking the valley from the northwest.

A railroad line runs through Philippi, now used only by freight trains, passenger rail service having been discontinued in 1956. (The passenger station is now a museum.) The town is served by the small, private Philippi-Barbour County Regional Airport.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Philippi has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 378
1900 665 75.9%
1910 1,038 56.1%
1920 1,543 48.7%
1930 1,767 14.5%
1940 1,955 10.6%
1950 2,531 29.5%
1960 2,228 −12.0%
1970 3,002 34.7%
1980 3,194 6.4%
1990 3,132 −1.9%
2000 2,870 −8.4%
2010 2,966 3.3%
2019 (est.) 3,257 9.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 2,966 people, 1,185 households, and 686 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,037.1 inhabitants per square mile (400.4/km2). There were 1,383 housing units at an average density of 483.6 per square mile (186.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.7% White, 2.3% African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 0.7% of the population.

There were 1,185 households, of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.6% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no spouse present, 4.8% had a male householder with no spouse present, and 42.1% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.78.

The median age in the city was 36.4 years. 17.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 20.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20.5% were from 25 to 44; 23.8% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.3% male and 54.7% female.


Settlement, founding and naming

The first white settlement in present-day Barbour County was established about 3 miles downriver from the future site of Philippi in 1780, at which time the area was still part of western Virginia and included within Monongalia County. The earliest settlers on the section of bottomland that would one day become Philippi were William Anglin (as early as 1783 or '84) and Daniel Booth (1787). A ford existed here as early as 1789 which served the road that had recently been surveyed between Beverly and Sandy Creek. Anglin was the original owner of the land upon which Philippi stands, hence the earliest known name for the locality — Anglin's Ford. Booth also owned and operated a commercial ferry here from about 1800, thus the area's second popular designation — Booth's Ferry. William Friend Wilson married Booth's daughter and built a wool and grain mill on the river in 1818.

In March 1843, the vast Monongalia County of western Virginia was carved up into several smaller political units, among them Barbour County, which included Booth's Ferry. In 1899, Hu Maxwell described the April 1843 founding and official naming of the new county seat:

"The county seat of Barbour was located at the place where Philippi now stands before there was a town and before the place was named. It was then a farm belonging to William F. Wilson, and the locality had long been known as Booth's Ferry. The land was first the property of William Anglin, and in succession was owned by John Wilson, Daniel Booth, Ely Butcher, Elmore Hart, Thomas H. Hite and William F. Wilson, who divided it into lots and disposed of the most of it within a few years of the establishing of the county seat. The county was named after [the Virginia lawyer and jurist] Philip Pendleton Barbour, and it was the intention of the county court when it selected a name for the town to honor the given name of Mr. Barbour; giving it the feminine form, however, in conformity with the Latin language. The feminine of Philip is Philippa, and it was meant that such should be the name of the town. But because of misspellings and a misunderstanding of the origin of the name (confounding it with Philippi, an ancient city) the name finally took the form which it now has. On April 5, 1843, the third day of the first county court, it is 'ordered that the county seat of this county be known and called PHILLIPPA'. Except that the name has too many 'l's' the form was proper, according to what was originally intended. Later the name became Philippi, but even then it was oftener misspelled than spelled correctly."

As Maxwell implies, St Paul's Epistle to the Philippians and the ancient Battle of Philippi were no doubt influential in the final form of the name. Philippi was established by charter in 1844.

In 1852 Lemuel Chenoweth, an Appalachian architect and carpenter, built a covered bridge in Philippi to provide a link on the turnpike running between Beverly and Fairmont. The Philippi Covered Bridge spelled the end of the commercial ferry operation and is still the town's prominent landmark.

Town of Phillippi (1861)

Civil War

Philippi was the scene of the first land battle of the American Civil War, on June 3, 1861. The battle was promptly lampooned as the "Philippi Races" because of the hurried retreat by the Confederate troops encamped in the town. (The battle is reenacted every June during the town's 'Blue and Gray Reunion.')

At daylight on June 3, two columns of Union forces under the command of Col. Benjamin Franklin Kelley and Col. Ebenezer Dumont, with perhaps 3,000 men, arrived from Grafton and attacked about 800 poorly armed Confederate recruits under the command of Col. George A. Porterfield. The Union troops had marched all night through a heavy rain storm to arrive just before daylight. The surprise attack — from the heights of "Battle Hill" to the northwest — awakened the sleeping Confederates. After firing a few shots at the advancing Union troops, the Southerners broke lines and began running frantically to the south, some still in their bed clothes.

The Union victory in a relatively bloodless battle propelled the young Major General George B. McClellan into the national spotlight, and he was soon be given command of all Union armies. The battle also inspired more vocal protests in the Western part of Virginia against secession. A few days later in Wheeling, the Wheeling Convention nullified the Virginia ordinance of secession and named Francis H. Pierpont governor. These events eventually resulted in the separate statehood of West Virginia.

Bird's Eye Philippi
Bird's Eye View of Philippi, West Virginia, 1897

Later history

Philippi was incorporated by act of the West Virginia Legislature on 1 February 1871. The first railroad — the Grafton and Greenbrier, a narrow gauge — arrived at Philippi on 25 January 1884. Three years later the line was extended to Belington and in 1891 it became a standard gauge when it was acquired by the B&O. Rail activity at Philippi peaked in the 1920s when as many as six passenger trains, along with mail and freight, transited the town daily. The automobile brought about a decline in the railroad, however, and the final passenger train made its last stop in town in 1956.

In 1901, Broaddus College (founded in 1871 in Clarksburg, West Virginia) relocated to "Battle Hill", overlooking Philippi. In 1932, Broaddus merged with Alderson Academy (itself founded in 1901 in Alderson, West Virginia), whereupon these two Baptist institutions became Alderson–Broaddus College. (The institution changed its name to the current "Alderson Broaddus University" in 2013.)

In 1905 a new Barbour County Courthouse was completed. It was designed by J. Charles Fulton in a monumental Romanesque Revival style. The building contractor was J.P. Conn.

Throughout its history, Philippi has suffered from floods because of its proximity to the river and the relatively low elevation of most of the town. The most damaging of these came in November 1985. The town has since adopted a flood plain management plan.

Four miners from Barbour County were killed in the 2006 Sago mine disaster, three of whom were from Philippi.

Sites of interest

  • The Philippi Covered Bridge (1852) is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 250 and 119 in downtown Philippi. The bridge is notable for its use during the first land battle of the Civil War. This is the only "twin-barreled" covered bridge located on a federal highway in the United States and it is also one of the longest covered bridges in the country.
  • The Barbour County Historical Museum, located in the former railway station, displays artifacts from throughout the region's history, with a particular focus on the 19th century. By far the most famous of these are the Philippi mummies, the bodies of two female asylum inmates that were artificially preserved in 1888 by local doctor Graham Hamrick, who was interested in mummification techniques.
  • "Campbell Schoolhouse", one-room school preserved on the Alderson Broaddus campus.
  • Unusually for a town of its size and location, Philippi is home to a Maronite hermitage, Our Lady of Solitude.

Registered Historic Places

Panorama of Philippi


Philippi's economy was originally based on coal mining and the railroad industry, but both have declined severely since the mid-20th century. The town's major employers now include Alderson-Broaddus University and Broaddus Hospital. Many inhabitants work in the service industry, education, and family farming.

The city government provides many services and jobs to stimulate the local economy, including water, electric, garbage collection, and waste water treatment facilities. In addition, a professional police and volunteer fire department are provided. The City of Philippi was voted as a 2004 "All American City".

Notable people

  • Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832–1905), social activist who — along with her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis (1864–1948) — is credited with founding Mother's Day, lived in Philippi for several years, both before and after her 1850 marriage.
  • Alston G. Dayton, U.S. Representative, West Virginia 2nd District, from 1895 to 1905.
  • Actor Ted Cassidy (1932–79), who played Lurch and "Thing" on the 1960s TV show The Addams Family, was raised in Philippi, graduating from Philippi High School circa 1950..
  • Scott Mayle, ex-NFL player. Born and raised in Philippi, he played football for Philip Barbour, Ohio University, and finally the NFL.
  • Lyle Williams (August 23, 1942 – November 7, 2008) was a U.S. Representative from Ohio. He was born in Philippi.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Philippi (Virginia Occidental) para niños

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