From: West Virginians

Published by The West Virginia Biographical Association, 1928


Submitted by Linda Fluharty.



     Marshall county was created by an act of Virginia general assembly adopted March 12, 1835, its territory being taken from the older county of Ohio.  It forms the "neck" of the northern pan-handle and lies in a narrow strip between Pennsylvania and the Ohio river, which forms its western boundary.  The land area of Marshall county is 315.26 square miles.  The population in 1920 was 33,681, but an estimate given out by the United States Bureau of the Census as of July 1, 1925, fixes it as 34,413.  Marshall is an agricultural and industrial county, with development of coal, oil and gas as natural resources. It has a great number of manufacturing plants at its chief points, Moundsville, McMechen, Benwood and Cameron.


     The valuation of property in 1927, according to the official returns made to the State Tax Commissioner, is as follows:  Real estate, $32,328,790; personal property, $10,170,290; public utility property, $14,914,035, a grand total of $57,413,095 assessed property for the purpose of taxation within the county.


     Marshall county is sub-divided into nine magisterial districts, as follows: Cameron, Clay, Franklin, Liberty, Meade, Sand Hill, Union, Washington and Webster.  An independent school district is maintained for the city of Moundsville.


     Marshall county is West Virginia's monument to the memory of John Marshall, the great expounder of the Constitution, and Chief Justice of the United States for thirty-four years.  While Chief Justice Marshall was honored in life by naming this county, his death occurred but a few months after its erection.


     Moundsville, the county seat, is the consolidation of two old established towns at the mouth of Grave Creek, growing out of the settlement by Joseph Tomlinson in 1770.  This early settler established a town on his property in 1798, called Elizabethtown, in honor of his wife, and in the same year established a ferry across the Ohio.  The town was given a legal standing by legislature enactment adopted January 18, 1803, and was incorporated February 17, 1830, by the same authority.  In 1831 the town of Moundsville was laid out by Simeon Purdy, and established as a town by the assembly on January 28, 1832. Elizabethtown became the seat of government upon the organization of the county.  The two towns were consolidated into one corporation by an act of the legislature of West Virginia, passed February 23, 1866.


     Moundsville is situated at an elevation of 689 feet above the sea.  In 1920 the population was 10,669, but this had increased to 11,660 by July 1, 1925, according to an estimate of the United States Bureau of Census.


     The name of the town is suggested by the mammoth mound, a relic of the vanished race of mound builders.  The mound is sixty-nine feet in height and nine hundred feet in circumference at its base.  It is one of the largest in the United States, and its age can not be determined from the various objects found when it was opened in 1838.  A large oak taken from the summit at that time, indicated by its annular rings an age of more than five hundred years. Burial vaults with human remains, beads and ornaments were found, but the most baffling object was a small stone inscribed with queer characters.  It was hoped that this would prove another Rosetta stone to unlock the secrets of the Mound Builders, but so far no translation has been made.  The stone has been discussed by learned societies in this country and abroad and created quite a sensation when first discovered.  Some have held that the stone was a clumbsy forgery; others that it is genuine but undecipherable. It is lodged in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.


     The West Virginia Penitentiary, second oldest of the state institutions, is located at Moundsville.  The Penitentiary was established and located by an act of the legislature at the session of 1866.  The institution is now in charge of Warden L. M. Robinson and on May 30, 1928, had 1,935 prisoners in custody.


     At the 1920 census Benwood had a population of 47,773; Cameron, 2,405; and McMechen, 3,356.