Learning about, and Saving, the History of
Jefferson County, West Virginia

History of the County:

At the farthest east point of West Virginia, in the Eastern Panhandle, near Baltimore MD, Winchester VA, and Washington DC, is Jefferson County.

It was settled by Indians millennia ago, and numerous Indian burial sites are still here and respected.

Europeans and Africans came in the 1730s. The county was split from Berkeley County Virginia in 1801.

National & Statewide:
Historic Maps: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/browse/ListSome.php?category=Maps
History+genealogy: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wvjeffer/
State agency references: http://www.wvculture.org/history/counties/jefferson.html

Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission: http://www.jeffersoncountyhlc.org/
Jefferson County Historical Society: http://jeffersonhistoricalwv.org/
Jefferson County Museum: http://jeffctywvmuseum.org
Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society: http://jeffctywvblackhistory.org/

Friends of Happy Retreat:  http://happyretreat.org/
Historic Shepherdstown:  http://historicshepherdstown.com/about.htm
Harpers Ferry Foundation:  http://www.harpersferryfoundation.org/
Harpers Ferry Historical Association http://www.harpersferryhistory.org
Washington Heritage Trail: http://www.washingtonheritagetrail.org/

Battles: http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/shenandoah/svs0-1.html
Battle of Shepherdstown: http://battleofshepherdstown.org/
White House Farm: http://www.whitehousefarmwv.org/whitehousefarm.html
Weather, Tourism & Environment http://listenv.homestead.com

County Jail: http://www.savethejail.org/
Treason is one of the rarest kinds of trials in the country, yet two treason trials have been held in Charles Town, the county seat of Jefferson County: John Brown and several others were tried for an attack on Harpers Ferry in 1850. Miners from southern West Virginia were tried for attacks on their counties in 1928.

Those miners were brought to the Jail here, to remove the case from the emotions of their home counties. Coal companies and prosecutors took over all the hotel rooms. The citizens of Jefferson County took the miners' families into their homes to give them a place to stay during the three months of trials.

All the miners were found innocent by the juries of Charles Town.

The downtown area of Charles Town is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District, with the Jail and Court House both recognized in the District.

The Jail ceased operation in 1990, when a new regional jail was built in Martinsburg. Then it was used for storage. until in 2006-2008 it was gutted and rebuilt inside for the County Clerk's office. The Circuit Clerk's staff moved in in 2008.

In 2000 the Jefferson County Commission voted to demolish the Jail for about $100,000 and use the ground as a parking lot. Citizen court cases stoped the demolition, even though the WV Legislature voted to exempt Counties from rules for reviewing historic buildings, an exemption which still stands.

In 2006-2008 it was gutted and rebuilt inside for the County Clerk's office. The Circuit Clerk's office moved in in 2008.
Updated November 13, 2011