As one of three counties created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in October of 1776, Monongalia County is known as the mother county for northern West Virginia because many other counties were created from its original territory. Several Pennsylvania counties were created when the Mason Dixon line was accepted as the defining border of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The process of approving the separation began in 1779 and was officially agreed to by the states in 1784.
The Mound Builders, also known as the Adena people, were the first native settlers in what is now north central West Virginia. Included in this general area were Barbour, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia and Preston counties. The Mound Builders civilization is confirmed by highly concentrated areas of artifacts located in Moundsville. Moundsville is the location of the Grave Creek Indian Mound which is one of West Virginia’s most famous historic landmarks. The “Mound” stands 69 feet high with a diameter of 295 feet and is more than 2,000 years old.
Monongalia County has a rich history of Indian tribes who used this area as their hunting grounds. Those tribes would eventually migrate northward to New York.
According to history, Thomas Decker established the first settlement in present day Monongalia County during the fall of 1758. He led a group of settlers to Decker’s Creek that was later destroyed in the spring by a party of Delaware and Mingo Indians. All but one of the original settlers, including Thomas Decker, were killed or captured in the attack.
David Morgan and his younger brother Zackquill Morgan were believed to be the next to attempt a permanent settlement in Monongalia County in 1766 or 1767. Zackquill Morgan received a legal certificate for 400 acres of land in the Morgantown area in 1781. As a result of Colonel Morgan’s request, the Virginia General Assembly specified that 50 acres of his land was to be laid out in lots of a half acre each and a town, named Morgans-Town was established on the site in October of 1785; Morgantown now being the county seat of Monongalia County.
Monongalia County had a population of 4,768 in 1790 when the first national census was taken. This made the county the sixth largest in population of the nine counties that were then in existence.
In 1804 the Monongalia Gazette and Morgantown Advertiser became the first newspaper published west of the Alleghenies.
In 1866, as a result of Moundsville preferring to host the state penitentiary instead of a university, West Virginia University began its operation with six professors and six students. By 1885, the University consisted of three buildings that accommodated 107 students and twelve professors.
Morgantown’s first commercial enterprise was a grist mill owned by Michael Kerns around 1772. That was followed by the town’s first general store owned by Thomas Laidley and the first tavern owned by Zackquill Morgan. The first ordinance created by the town’s trustees was in 1810. It was one that could impose a fine for galloping horses in the streets and another regulating the hours of the Market House, which was the only place in town allowed to sell meat.
By 1910 the areas population had grown to 9,000 and continued its growth to 13,000 by 1920.
(Excerpts taken from Monongalia Historical Society. 1926. Sesqui-Centennial of Monongalia County, West Virginia. Morgantown, WV: Monongalia Historical Society. Monongalia Historical Society. 1954. The 175th Anniversary of the Formation of Monongalia County, West Virginia and other Relative Historical Data. Morgantown, WV: Monongalia Historical Society. Wiley, Samuel T. 1883. History of Monongalia County, West Virginia. Kingwood, WV: Preston Publishing Company)
The current population, according to the 2000 Census is 81,866.
Monongalia County consists of 368.82 square miles and includes the following municipalities: Blacksville, Granville, Morgantown, Star City and Westover, each having it’s own elected Mayor and council members.
The county is bordered on the north by the State of Pennsylvania, the east by Preston County, the west by Wetzel County and Marion County to the south.
Additional state and county facts can be obtained by logging on to http://quickfacts.census.gov