Source: History of Marshall County, West Virginia, by Scott Powell
The first house built in what is now Moundsville, was built by Joseph Tomlinson about the year 1771. It was the ordinary log cabin of the early settlers and stood near where the high school building now stands. In the year 1798 Mr. Tomlinson laid out a tract into town lots and named the town Elizabethtown in honor of his wife.
Most of the lots were sixty feet wide and two hundred and forty feet long. A few lots were one hundred and twenty feet square. The first lot sold was to Andrew Rogers. The deed was dated November 15, 1799. It was one of the square lots and brought eight dollars. Joseph Riggs purchased two lots the same year at the same price. James O'Niel and William Ward, each purchased a lot in the Year 1800. The latter paid eight dollars and the former paid eleven dollars.
The town grew very slowly and in 1815 there were not one hundred houses in the town and they were generally one story log houses. The total population was not three hundred persons.
The first store in Elizabethtown was opened in the year 1815 by James Nixon. Two years later Thomas List opened a second store. He was the first postmaster, and the first post office was called Grave Creek. It was in Ohio County, Virginia.
Wheeling was the county seat and, court being held there, many people attended court and that gave Wheeling a better opportunity for a trade center. Trade was not very extensive. For many years after the first settlements were made, the trading was done at Hagerstown, Maryland. The products for exchange were principally pelts, skins and ginseng, which were exchanged for salt and various articles of use to the settlers. The goods were carried on pack-horses.
The only occupations open to residents of Elizabethtown, except to a few mechanics, were clearing land and cultivating crops of various kinds in summer, and clearing land and hunting in winter. The ginseng was generally gathered by children in the summer and no small amount of it was gathered as the woods abounded with it and it was in demand and sold readily.
Mr. Tomlinson died in 1825 and his widow added an additional tract in 1830. The town was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia on the seventeenth day of February, 1830. The act of incorporation gave the town authority over the strip between what is now First Street and Parr's Run. The incorporation of Elizabethtown placed the government in the hands of twelve trustees to be elected by the voters on the second Monday of May of each year. The trustees were to choose one of their number president. The first trustees were elected on the second Monday in May, 1830, and were Thomas H. List, S. P. Baker, Dr. Thomas McCormack, Joseph McClean, James McKean, David Nace, J. B. Roberts, Walter Gray, John Jefferson Sr., Thomas Nichols, Benjamin Cockayne and B. W. Price. Thomas H. List was chosen president.
The act was amended in the year 1832, taking in the addition made by Mrs. Elizabeth Tomlinson. It also provided that in case of a failure to elect trustees as specified by the act of incorporation, the old trustees should continue in office until their successors were elected and qualified.
Simeon Purdy purchased a tract of land near the river and in the year 1831 had part of it laid out in lots with streets and alleys. In the year 1832, he had a town incorporated. The provisions for the government of the town were similar to that of Elizabethtown and the new town in the Flats of Grave Creek was named Moundsville to commemorate the famous mound.
A number of new business houses were built near the river and a wharf was made near the central part of the river front. The towns were now called the Upper and the Lower town, having reference to the one farthest up the river and at the same time to the one farthest up from the river or vice versa.
The two towns with the usual privileges existed until 1865, when it was thought best to consolidate them into one town, and by an act of the legislature of West Virginia in the year 1865, the two towns were consolidated into one and named Moundsville. A new order of affairs was introduced; the trustees were a thing of the past, and the officers in the new town under the act of incorporation, were very much the same as they are at the present day.