History and Geography in the Potomac Highlands
The Appalachian National Forest Heritage Area encompasses 18 counties in West Virginia and western Maryland, and two national forests: Monongahela and George Washington/Thomas Jefferson Forests.Find your way around here: https://www.appalachianforestnha.org/our-region
Native Tribes to the Area: http://www.hampshirewv.com/biography.html
The first native settlers in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands (Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties) were the Mound Builders, also known as the Adena people. Many Adena relics are found in Marshall County in northwestern West Virginia.
Several thousand Hurons occupied present-day West Virginia during the late 1500s and early 1600s. Then the Iroquois Confederacy (then consisting of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Seneca tribes) drove the Hurons from the area and used it primarily as a hunting ground. In the early 1700s, the Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware, and other Indian tribes also hunted in West Virginia. Tuscaroras lived in the Potomac Highlands and then migrated northward to New York where in 1712, they became the sixth nation to formally be admitted to the Iroquois Confederacy. The Cherokee Nation claimed southern West Virginia.
In 1744, Virginia officials purchased the Iroquois title of ownership to West Virginia in the Treaty of Lancaster. The Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee sided with the French during the French and Indian War (1755-1763). In 1768, the Iroquois Confederacy (often called the Six Nations) and the Cherokee signed the Treaty of Hard Labour and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, relinquishing their claims on the territory between the Ohio River and the Alleghenies to the British.
A presentation on West Virginia’s native tribes is here.
Much of the area was surveyed by George Washington as part of the 5.5 million acres granted by the King of England to Thomas , the Sixth Lord Fairfax. https://www.historichampshire.org/research/searching1.htm
Berkeley County, with the area’s largest city, Martinsburg, half an hour from Winchester, VA, has been a center of commerce in the Eastern Panhandle since the B&O Railroad arrived in the 1840s, and I-81 and I-70 after World War II.
Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce and community resources: https://www.berkeleycounty.org/resources/
Martinsburg Journal newspaper: https://www.journal-news.net/
Hampshire County, West Virginia’s oldest, was formed in 1754 before the Civil War, from part of Frederick and Augusta Counties, when West Virginia was still part of Virginia. Named for its Hampshire hogs, it’s home to many small farms and part of the George Washington National Forest along the Virginia line.
Places to Visit: Romney, Augusta, Capon Bridge, Capon Springs, Slanesville, Green Spring https://cometohampshire.com/
History and Government: http://www.hampshirewv.com/index.html
Hampshire Review weekly newspaper: https://www.hampshirereview.com/
Hardy County ‘s seat, Moorefield, in the South Branch Valley, was a southern “breadbasket” and home to the McNeill’s Rangers during the Civil War, and poultry processing today. Wardensville, in the eastern part of the county, is part of the Cacapon River Valley and connects to the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. It has become popular for tourism and second homes.
Hardy County government and Resources: http://hardycounty.com
Visit Hardy County: Moorefield, Lost River, Matthias, Wardensville: https://visithardywv.com/
Moorefield Examiner weekly newspaper: http://hardylive.com/about/
Grant County, which borders western Maryland, has long been a center for trading, tourism and sport fishing. Incorporated in 1845, was later named for Union general and president Ulysses S. Grant.
Grant County includes part of the Monongahela National Forest and Dolly Sods. Petersburg,the county seat, is surrounded by small farms, but much of the county is woodland.
Government and Community: http://www.grantcountywv.org/
Grant County Press weekly newspaper: https://grantcountypress.com/
Jefferson County: This small but heavily populated county, part of the Shenandoah Valley, borders the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia and Maryland. Charles Town, the county seat, Shepherdstown, and Harpers Ferry (site of John Brown’s raid and a stop on Amtrak’s Capitol Ltd) are full of Civil War era buildings and a few plantations dating back to slavery. The Charles Town racetrack is a major employer, and the Harpers Ferry National Park and Appalachian Trail attract tourists. Suburban development constantly threatens to overrun the county’s historic towns and countryside.
Government and community resources:http://www.jeffersoncountywv.org/
History and tourism: https://discoveritallwv.com/
Spirit of Jefferson, weekly newspaper: http://www.spiritofjefferson.com/news/local/
Morgan County: Berkeley Springs, the county seat, includes the medicinal warm springs of Bath and one of the state’s leading arts communities. Bath was first incorporated in 1776 by George Washington’s family and the spring and spa still serves the town for drinking and recreation. Outlying areas in the county are more rugged and less cosmopolitan.
County government: http://morgancountywv.gov/
Visit Berkeley Springs: https://berkeleysprings.com/attractions/
Morgan Messenger weekly newspaper: https://berkeleysprings.com/attractions
Mineral County: Carved from Hampshire County in 1866 just three years after West Virginia became a state , Mineral was more pro-Union than Hampshire County in the Civil War. Its county seat, Keyser, houses Potomac State College. Named for its vast mineral resources, Mineral County was a railroad and coal center at the beginning of the 1900s. Major employers include Verso Corporation at nearby Luke, Maryland, and Northrop Grumman at Rocket Center. Piedmont, hometown of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., once housed a B&O railroad roundhouse and machine shops.
Government : https://www.mineralwv.org/
News-Tribune weekly newspaper: https://www.newstribune.info/news/
Pendleton County, on the Virginia border south and east of Hardy County, is known for its rugged high country, including the spectacular Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob. It’s a paradise for hunting, fishing and mountain sports and includes parts of two national forests, Monongahela and Washington-Jefferson. Population, and information, are sparse as is cell phone service.