Origins of West Virginia Place Names

The following are origins of names of counties and cities and towns in West Virginia. A principal source for this information was the West Virginia Blue Book. Another important source is “The Synthetic Place Name in West Virginia” by Hamill Kenny. Entries with [Shirey] are from The Big Sewell Mountain Country by Mervin R. Shirey, which provides origins of names of some Fayette County towns. Another source is The Heritage of McDowell County, West Virginia 1858-1995, published by the McDowell County Historical Society. Contributors to this page include: James Owston, Okey King, Carlene Adkins, James L. Files, Martha Mills, Rick Smith, James M. Cox, Will Nicoll, J. B. Breeding, Beverly Cyphers, Dennis Upshur, Jim Simon, David E. Lake, Cathy Stuart Jackson, Charles Lewis, Billy Rose, Pat Greene, Ashley Bradford, David Estep, Jim Gray, Sherlene Hall Bartholomew, Janet Sponaugle, Jennifer Davis, Warren Napier, Kathy Deskins, Robert Thompson, Jonathen Morgan, Bob Gossett, Leslie Pauley, Quincy Potasnik, Rita Holmes. Additions for this list are welcome via e-mail.

Last revision: Feb. 15, 2019


Barbour for Philip Pendleton Barbour, Virginia jurist
Berkeley for Norborne Berkeley (Baron de Botetourt), Colonial Governor of Virginia, 1768-70
Boone for hunter and explorer Daniel Boone
Braxton for Carter Braxton, Virginia statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Brooke for Robert Brooke, Virginia Governor, 1794-96
Cabell for William H. Cabell, Virginia Governor, 1805-08
Calhoun for John C. Calhoun, South Carolina politician
Clay for Henry Clay, Kentucky politician
Doddridge for Philip Doddridge, Virginia statesman, who spent most of his life in Brooke County, West Virginia
Fayette for the Marquis de LaFayette
Gilmer for Thomas Walker Gilmer, Virginia Governor, 1840-41, later a Congressman and Secretary of the Navy
Grant for General U. S. Grant
Greenbrier for the Greenbrier River
Hampshire for Hampshire, England
Hancock for John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Hardy for Samuel Hardy, of Virginia
Harrison for Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, father of President William Henry Harrison
Jackson for President Andrew Jackson
Jefferson for President Thomas Jefferson
Kanawha for the Kanawha River (1)
Lewis for Col. Charles Lewis, Virginia soldier who was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774
Lincoln for President Abraham Lincoln
Logan for Logan, chief of the Mingo Indian tribe
McDowell for James McDowell, Virginia Governor, 1842-44
Marion for Gen. Francis Marion of the Revolutionary War, known as "the Swamp Fox"
Marshall for John Marshall, Chief Justice of the U. S.
Mason for Stevens Thomson Mason (see note)
Mercer for Gen. Hugh Mercer of the Revolutionary War
Mineral because of the mineral resources there
Mingo for the Mingo Indian tribe
Monongalia for the Monongahela River
Monroe for President James Monroe
Morgan for Gen. Daniel Morgan of the Revolutionary War
Nicholas for Wilson Cary Nicholas, Virginia Governor, 1814-16
Ohio for the Ohio River
Pendleton for Edmund Pendleton, Virginia jurist
Pleasants for James Pleasants Jr., Virginia Governor and U. S. Senator from Virginia
Pocahontas for Pocahontas, the Indian princess
Preston for James Patton Preston, Virginia Governor, 1816-19
Putnam for Gen. Israel Putnam, soldier
Raleigh for Sir Walter Raleigh, English adventurer and soldier
Randolph for Edmund Jennings Randolph, Virginia Governor, 1786-88
Ritchie for Thomas Ritchie, journalist of Richmond, Virginia
Roane for Judge Spencer Roane, of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, whose wife Anne was the daughter of Patrick Henry
Summers for George W. Summers, Kanawha county jurist
Taylor for Sen. John Taylor, Virginia statesman and soldier
Tucker for Henry St. George Tucker, Virginia jurist
Tyler for President John Tyler
Upshur for Abel Parker Upshur, Secretary of the Navy (1841-43) and U.S. Secretary of State (1843-44)
Wayne for Gen. Anthony Wayne of the Revolutionary War
Webster for Daniel Webster of New England
Wetzel for Lewis Wetzel, famous frontier character and Indian fighter
Wirt for William Wirt, author, orator, and lawyer from Maryland and Virginia
Wood for James Wood, Virginia Governor, 1796-99
Wyoming see note

(1) According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "The name Kanawha is probably derived from that of an Indian tribe." According to the 1935 and 1969 West Virginia Blue Book, the name is derived from the Indian tribe which once inhabited the area. According to the Grolier Encyclopedia, kanawha is believed to mean "place of the white rock."

According to William T. Price in his Historical Sketches Of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, Allegheny County, Virginia, and Pocahontas were created on the same day. Because of an error by the clerk, the names of the two new counties were switched and, instead of the higher county being called Allegheny County, it was called Pocohontas and the county that was lower in elevation was called Allegheny County.

Cities and Towns

AbrahamRaleighFor Abraham Lilly, prosecuting attorney of Raleigh County from 1904 to 1908
Albright Preston for David Albright, owner of the land where the town was built
Alderson Monroe/ Greenbrier for John Alderson, Baptist minister who settled there in 1777
AlpocaWyomingfor Alpha Pocahontas Coal Co.
AmeagleRaleighfor the mining firm, American Eagle Colliery
AnawaltMcDowellfor Col. Anawalt, who was then manager of Union Supply Co.
AnjeanGreenbriernamed by Andrew Leckie, owner of Leckie Smokeless Coal Co., for his mother Ann and his daughter Jean
AnmooreHarrisonfor Ann Moore Run, which flows through the town, for the woman Ann Moore
AnnfredKanawhafor Anna and Fred, a railroad company official and his wife
AnstedFayettefor David T. Ansted, British geologist, owner of the land where the town was built
AscoMcDowellnamed by R. E. Brockman, president of Atlantic Smokeless Coal Co., an abbreviation of the company name
Astor Taylor name selected by the first postmaster's wife while running through an alphabetical list in her mind (name replaced "Fairview," already in use in Marion County)
Athens Mercer for Athens, Greece
Auburn Ritchiesuggested in 1871 by Maj. Joseph C. Gluck, apparently because "the word is easy to spell and write"
Bancroft Putnam for George Bancroft, coal mine operator
Barboursville Cabell for James Barbour, Virginia Governor, 1812-14
Barrackville Marion for Thomas Barrack, early settler
Bayard Grant for Thomas F. Bayard, later U. S. Senator from Delaware
Beard Pocahontas for Josiah Beard, who immigrated from Scotland through Ireland to West Virginia, according to his great great granddaughter Alice Beard
Beckley Raleighfor John Beckley, first Clerk of the Congress, named by Alfred Beckley, his son, early settler (see note below)
Beech Bottom Brooke because a beech grove originally grew there
Belington Barbouradapted from earlier name "Bealin's," which was derived from a store operated by merchant John Bealin
BellwoodFayettefor J. Wade Bell and J. E. Wood, who established a coal camp there
Benwood Marshall adapted from earlier name "Ben's Woods," because the land was owned by Benjamin McMechen
Berkeley Springs Morgan for Norborne Berkeley, Virginia Governor, 1768-70, and for the springs located there (originally called "Bath," for Bath, England)
Besoco Raleigh for Beckley Smokeless Coal Co.
Bethany Brooke for Bethany, Palestine
Beverly Randolph for Beverly Randolph, mother of Edmund Randolph
Big Chimney Kanawha for the salt works there which apparently built a "big chimney".
Big Stick Raleigh for Theodore Roosevelt, who believed in talking softly and carrying a big stick
Big Ugly Lincoln for Big Ugly Creek
Blacksville Monongalia for David Black, founder of the town
Bluefield Mercer because of the growth of a dark blue flower and blue grass which grows there
Blueville Taylor for John Wolverton Blue who came there in 1838 to complete the Northwestern Turnpike from the top of Cheat Mountain to Clarksburg
Bolivar Jefferson for Simon Bolivar, South American patriot
Bolt Raleigh for postmaster George Washington Bolt (1864-1943)
Boothsville Marion for James Booth, a Virginia soldier injured during Braddock's defeat in 1755
Bradley Raleigh for Gen. Omar Bradley
Bramwell Mercer for Joseph H. Bramwell, coal developer
Brandonville Preston for Col. Jonathan Brandon, builder of the first house there
Bridgeport Harrison because of the completion of the first bridge in Harrison county in 1803
Bruceton Mills Preston for George Bruce, said to be a descendant of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland (Bruce was the stepfather of John M. Hoffman, early settler, who named the town)
Buckhannon Upshur for Buck-on-go-ha-non, chief of the Delaware Indians
Buffalo Putnam for Buffalo Creek
Burning Springs Wirt for a spring that bubbled with natural gas
Burnsville Braxton for Capt. John Burns, sawmill operator who founded the town
Cabin Creek Kanawha for the first Cabin of John Flinn. He was later killed by Indians; Daniel Boone rescued his daughter and raised her.
Cairo Ritchie for Cairo, Egypt
Caldwell Greenbrier for James Caldwell, who developed the first hotel at White Sulphur Springs
Camden on Gauley Webster for U. S. Senator Johnson N. Camden
Cameron Marshall for Samuel Cameron, right-of-way agent for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. before the construction of the railroad into the town
Capon Bridge Hampshire because of the construction of the bridge over Cacapon River there (the river is a Shawnee Indian name meaning "river of medicine water")
CarettaMcDowellfor Mrs. Etta Carter
Carlisle Fayette for a city in England, named by coal operator Samuel Dixon
Cass Pocahontas for Joseph K. Cass, chairman of the board of West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co.
Cedar Grove Kanawha because a large cedar forest was growing there
Ceredo Wayne for Ceres, the Greek goddess of grain and harvest
ChampwoodMineralfor Champ Clark and President Woodrow Wilson
ChapmanvilleLogan for an early settler
Charleston Kanawha for Charles Clendenin, father of early settler George Clendenin
Charles Town Jefferson for Charles Washington, brother of President George Washington, who lived there
CharmcoGreenbrierfor Charleston Milling Co.
Chesapeake Kanawha for the railroad
Chelyan Kanawha for a daughter of Calvert Family
Cirtsville Raleigh for Curtis Vass, early settler
Clarksburg Harrison for George Rogers Clark, Virginia soldier
Clay Clay for Clay County, which was named for Henry Clay
Clayton Summers for a Cincinnati balloonist who crashed on Keeney's Knob in April 1835
ClearcoGreenbrierfor Clear Creek Coal Co.
ClendeninKanawha for the Clendenin family, including town founder Charles and his son George
Coalton Randolph because the town was a coal mining center
CocoKanawha see note below
Coopers Mercer for John Cooper, coal operator
Corliss Fayette for Corliss Amick who died in 1890 at age 3 [Shirey]
Cowen Webster for John F. Cowen, director of the West Virginia and Pittsburgh Railway Co.
Cranberry Raleigh for Cranberry Creek, because cranberries grew in abundance
CranecoLoganfor Cole and Crane, a Cincinnati lumber company
CumboBerkeleyfor Cumberland Valley Railroad and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
DaneseFayette named by S. G. Bowyer in honor of his newly born daughter [Shirey]
Danville Boone for Dan Rock, first postmaster
Davis Tucker for the family of U. S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis
Davis Creek Cabell for the family of Paul H. Davis, early settlers
Delbarton Mingo for one of the officials of the United Thacker Land Co.
Dunbar Kanawaha for Dunbar Baines, Charleston banker and lawyer
Durbin Pocahontas for Charles R. Durbin Sr., banker, from Grafton and Morgantown
East Bank Kanawha because of its location east of Coalburg ("bank" referred to a coal mine)
East LynnWaynenamed in 1890-91 probably because of its central location between Big Lynn and Little Lynn Creeks
Edmond Fayette for Postmaster J. L. Ryan's son Eddie [Shirey]
Eleanor Putnam for Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Roosevelt
ElgoodMercernamed by postal authorities for L. Goodwin of Oakvale, W. Va., whose own suggestion for a name was refused
ElizabethWirt for Elizabeth (Woodyard) Beauchamp, wife of David Beauchamp, early settler
Elk Garden Mineral because of the traditional location there of an elk lick
Elkins Randolph for U. S. Sen. Stephen B. Elkins
EllamoreRandolphfor Mrs. J. B. Moore, named by Carl Martin
EllenboroRitchie for Ellen Mariah Williamson, first postmistress and daughter of John Williamson, early settler
Epperly Raleigh for John Epperly, an official of several mining companies in the area
ErbaconWebsterfor Edward R. Bacon, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Southwestern, and a director in the parent B&O
Fairmont Marion a contraction of Fair Mountain
Fairview Marion because of a clear view of the surrounding country
Falling Spring Greenbrier because of a spring having a gentle fall into the Greenbrier River
Farmington Marion because farming was a principal occupation there
Fayetteville Fayette for Lafayette, the French nobleman
Fireco Raleigh a name used to indicate heat
Flatwoods Braxton because of the flat and rolling land there
Flemington Taylor for James Fleming, early settler
Follansbee Brooke for the Follansbee brothers, owners of a steel mill there
Fort Gay Wayne for Fort Gallup, which was located near there before the Civil War
Frametown Braxton for James Frame, Sr. early settler
Franklin Pendleton for Francis Evick, the first resident
Freeman Mercer for John Freeman, coal operator (see note)
FriendlyTylerfor Friend Cochrane Williamson, grandson of Thomas Williamson, early settler
GamocaFayettefor Gauley, Moley, and Campbell
GaryMcDowellfor Judge Elbert Gary, president of U. S. Steel Corporation
GassawayBraxtonfor U. S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis
GilbertMingofor Gilbert Creek, which is named for an early traveler there who was killed by Indians
Glasgow Kanawha because a glass factory was built there
Glen DaleMarshallfor Glen Dale, the name of a farm owned by Samuel A. Cockayne there
Glen HedrickRaleighfor G. C. Hedrick (Oxley post office changed to Glen Hedrick in 1926)
Glen JeanFayettefor Jean, the wife of Thomas G. McKell, a large landowner in the area
GlenraySummersfor Glen Gelespie and Ray Thomas, sons of stockholders in the Commonwealth Lumber Co.
Glen RogersWyomingfor H. H. Rogers, president of the Virginian Railway
GlenvilleGilmerfor a short bend in the little Kanawha River
Glen WhiteRaleighfor E. E. White, coal operator
Grafton Taylor for John Grafton, civil engineer who laid out the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad near there, or because railroad crews called the town "graftin"because it was the point at which a number of branch railroad lines met the railroad's mainline
Grantsville Calhoun for Gen. U. S. Grant
Grant Town Marion for Robert Grant, Vice President of the Federal Coal and Coke Co.
Halleck Monongalia for Civil War Gen. Henry Wager Halleck
Halltown Jefferson for William Hall I, who settled the town and raised his family there
Hambleton Tucker for a stockholder of the West Virginia Central Railroad Co.
Hamlin Lincoln for Leonides Lent Hamline, Methodist bishop, or for Vice President Hannibal Hamlin
Handley Kanawha for a board member on the Railroad
Hansford Kanawha for an early family of Kanawha County
Harman Randolph for Rev. Asa Harman, donor of the site of the town
Harpers Ferry Jefferson for Robert Harper, who operated ferries across the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers there
Harrisville Ritchie for Thomas Harris, pioneer
Hartford Mason for Hartford, Connecticut
Hedgesville Berkeley for the Hedges family in that area
Helen Raleigh for the daughter of G. W. Stevens, president of the C&O Railroad
Helvetia Randolph the ancient Latin name for Switzerland, because many early settlers were Swiss
Hemlock Fayette for the Hemlock Hollow Coal Co. [Shirey]
Henderson Mason for Samuel Bruce Henderson, who owned the land where the town was established
Hendricks Tucker for Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks
Henlawson Logan for Henry Lawson, property owner
Herndon Wyoming probably for A. M. Herndon, an official of the Winding Gulf Colliery Co.
Hillsboro Pocahontas for John Hill, instrumental in having the town laid out (or for Richard Hill, early settler)
Hinton Summers (see note)
HiorraPrestonnamed by Mrs. Ellen B. Orr, for the three men most instrumental in the opening of the Hiorra mine
HundredWetzel for Henry Church and his wife, early settlers, who lived to be 109 and 106 years old
Huntington Cabell/ Wayne for Collis P. Huntington, President of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad
Hurricane Putnam because surveyors discovered that a tornado had earlier leveled many trees there
Huttonsville Randolph for the pioneer Hutton family there
Iaeger McDowell for Col. William G. W. Iaeger, whose son, Dr. William R. Iaeger, had a plat of the present town made
IsabanMcDowellfor Isabell Ann
ItmannWyoming for Isaac T. Mann, founder of Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Co.
Jane Lew Lewis for Jane Lewis, mother of the founder of the town
Jenkinjones McDowell for Jenkin Jones, coal operator (see note)
Jonben Raleigh for John Tolley and Ben Meadows
Jumping Branch Summers for a log that fallen over a creek, making an easy place to cross
Junior Barbour for Harry Junior Davis, son of Henry Gassaway Davis
Kendalia Kanawha for Joseph Chancelor Kendall, early settler who served in the War of 1812 as a boy of 13. He moved to the Elk District of Virginia, on the Blue Creek, where he purchased 39,000 acres of timberland. Town was near Charleston, no longer exists
Kenova Wayne for Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia
Kermit Mingo for Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt
Keyser Mineral for William Keyser, first vice president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Keystone McDowell for a coal and coke company operating there
Kimball McDowell for Frederick J. Kimball, railroad operator
Kingwood Preston because of a forest of large trees
Kopperston Wyoming from the Koppers Company of Delaware which opened the mine there. Heinrich Koppers of Pittsburgh founded the Koppers companies. Named in 1937.
Lake Logan for Nicholas Lake, who settled and named the town. First considered the name Lakes Mills but settled on Lake on the post office application, in 1880
Lanark Raleigh named by coal operator James K. Laing for his home county in Scotland
Layland Fayette named by the New River and Pocahontas Coal Co. [Shirey]
Leckie McDowell for Col. William Leckie, coal operator
Leon Mason for Leone, Mexico. Named by a veteran of the Mexican-American War for the town he visited in Mexico during the war, according to Pat Greene.
Lester Raleigh for Chandler "Champ" Lester. The town started on land owned by him and John W. Gray
LewisburgGreenbrierfor Gen. Andrew Lewis
LillybrookRaleighfor Lilly and Hornbrook, the men who %“opened up” this mining town
LittletonWetzelfor William Little, early settler
LitwarMcDowellperhaps for War Branch, thought of as Little War Creek, in contrast with War Creek in the southern part of the county; or from Little War Creek Coal Co.
LiverpoolRoanefor Liverpool, England
LizemoresClaysee note
Logan Logan for Logan, the Indian chief
Lookout Fayettebecause of Spy Rock, just west of the town, used by the Union Army [Shirey]
LoradoLoganfor Lorrain Coal and Dock Co.
Lost Creek Harrison because of a message carved on trees along the creek before the region was settled, according to tradition
Lumberport Harrison because of a boat-yard where timber was dressed by hand and floated in rafts to market in Pittsburgh
Maben Wyoming for J. C. Maben of Philadelphia
Mabscott Raleigh for Mabel Shinn Scott, of Fairmont, wife of Cyrus Ellison Scott, coal operator
MacArthur Raleigh for General Douglas MacArthur
Madison Boone for Col. William Madison Peyton, coal operator, or possibly President James Madison
Man Logan from the last syllable of the name of Ulysses Hinchman, member of the House of Delegates from Logan County
Mannington Marion see note below
Manila Boone named in 1900 after Battle of Manila Bay during Spanish American War
Maplewood Fayette in honor of a large maple tree [Shirey]
MarfranceGreenbrierfor the two coal companies doing business there, Margaret and Frances
Marlinton Pocahontas for Jacob Marlin, who settled there with Sewell during the winter of 1750-51
Marmet Kanawha for the Marmet Coal Co., owned by William and Edwin Marmet
Martinsburg Berkeley for Thomas Bryan Martin, nephew of Lord Fairfax
Mason Mason for Mason County
Masontown Preston for William Mason, founder of the town and its first postmaster
Matewan Mingo for Matewan, New York, home city of the engineer who laid out the town
Matoaka Mercer is another name for Pocahontas, the Indian princess
McAlpin Raleigh named by John Laing in honor of his mother, whose maiden name was McAlpin
McDonald ...for Symington McDonald, coal operator
McMechen Marshall for William and Sidney (Johnson) McMechen, early settlers
Meadow Bridge Fayette because a bridge was constructed across Meadow Creek there
Middlebourne Tyler because it was halfway between Pennsylvania and the old Salt Wells on the Kanawha above Charleston
Mill Creek Randolph because a large mill was operated by William Currence there
Milton Cabell for Milton Reece, land owner there
Mitchell Heights Logan for the old Mitchell Farm there
MonavilleLoganprobably for Mona Coal Co., named for Mona Wilkinson, the daughter of a coal operator
Monongah Marion for the Monongahela River
Montgomery Fayette/ Kanawha for James Montgomery, early settler
Montrose Randolph because of the profusion of wild roses growing there
Moorefield Hardy for Conrad Moore, land owner there
Morgantown Monongalia for Col. Zackquill Morgan, son of Morgan Morgan
Moundsville Marshall for the Mammoth Grave Creek Indian Mound there
Mount Hope Fayette for Mount Hope School, an early country school there
Mullens Wyoming for Andrew Jackson Mullins (1857-1938), land owner there (the name was inadvertently misspelled; later, residents of the town voted to retain the "incorrect" spelling)
Newburg Preston because a "new" town was being established on the Baltimore and Ohio lines
New Cumberland Hancock because the purchasers of land preferred this name over the older names Cuppy Town and Vernon
New Haven Mason for New Haven, Connecticut
New Martinsville Wetzel for Presley Martin, early settler
Nimitz Summers for Admiral Chester Nimitz
Nitro Kanawha/Putnam for the large federal plant to manufacture explosives established during World War I
Northfork McDowell because of its location on the north fork of Elkhorn River at its junction with the south fork
North SpringWyomingProbably because the creek there runs in a northerly direction
Nuttallburg Fayette for Englishman John Nuttall who opened a mine and built 150 coke ovens [Shirey].
Nutter Fort Harrison for Thomas Nutter, who built and maintained an old Indian fort there
Oak Hill Fayette because of a large white oak tree there and the fact that the town is on a hill
Oakvale Mercer for oak trees there
Oceana Wyomingsee note below
Ona Cabell for a girl named Ona who won a beauty contest held to determine the name of the town
Orgas Boone for Orange Gas Co.
Ovapa Clay see below
Paden City Tyler/ Wetzel for the family of Obediah Paden, early settler
Page Fayette for Capt. William N. Page, coal operator
Paint Creek Kanawha/Fayette because Indians painted the trees to mark their trail
ParcoalWebsterfor Pardee Curtin Lumber Co., which owned and mined the town
Parkersburg Wood for Alexander Parker, whose daughter, after his death, donated the land for the site of the courthouse and the county building
Parral Fayette for a mine in Mexico visited by Samuel Dixon, coal operator
Parsons Tucker for Ward Parsons, landowner there
Paw Paw Morgan for the paw paw, a wild fruit which formerly grew in abundance there
Pax Fayette for the Pax Branch stream, which was named for hunters who had camped near there earlier
Peach Creek Logan for the large peach grove there
Pennsboro Ritchie for Penn, a Baltimore surveyor who made the first plat of the town
Petersburg Grant for Peterson, the operator of the first general store there
Peterstown Monroe for Christian Peters, Revolutionary soldier who founded the town
Philippi Barbour for Phillip Pendleton Barbour, Supreme Court justice
Pie Mingo named by postmaster Leander Blankenship (b. about 1870) because he liked pie (information from Kathy Deskins, his granddaughter)
Piedmont Mineral because the town is at the foot of a mountain
Pine Grove Wetzel for a large pine thicket there
Pineville Wyoming for a pine forest there
Pluto Raleigh for the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology
Poca Putnam from Pocatalico, Indian name (see note below)
Point Pleasant Mason for Camp Point Pleasant, established there by Gen. Andrew Lewis, which was probably named because it was a pleasant place
PortersvilleLincolnfor David Porter, son of first settler John Porter (Trace Creek & Mud River), orig. in Cabell Co. (info from Rita Holmes, Porter descendant)
Pratt Kanawha for Charles K. Pratt, coal operator
Princeton Mercer for Princeton, New Jersey, where Gen. Hugh Mercer was killed during the Revolutionary War
PrincewickRaleighfor Prince E. Lilly and Thomas Wickham, who established the town
Pruntytown Taylor for John Prunty, state legislator
Pullman Ritchie for George M. Pullman, manufacturer of the pullman cars
Quick Kanawha for the family who lived there having the name Quick
Quinnimont Fayette Latin for "five mountains"
Quinwood Greenbrier for Quin Morton and Walter S. Wood, coal operators
Rainelle Greenbrier for Thomas W. and John Raine, lumber manufacturers (see note below)
Ranson Jefferson for the Ranson family who owned the land where the town was built
Ravenseye Fayette for the flashing dark eyes of Mrs. Maggie Rodes [Shirey]
Ravenswood Jackson for Allan, Lord of Ravenswood, in Sir Walter Scott's "The Bride of Lammermoor"
Raysal McDowell for Raymond Salvati, a superintendent for the Pond Creek Pocahonas Co.
Reedsville Preston for James Reed, owner of land there
Reedy Roane for Reedy Creek, which is named because of the numerous reeds that grew the stream
Renick Greenbrier for Maj. William Renick, from Augusta County, Virginia
Rhodell Raleigh for I. J. Rhodes, one of the founders of the town
Richwood Nicholas because of the wealth of natural resources there
Ridgeley Mineral for the former owners of the land there
Rig Hardy for Elmer Riggelman, founder of the post office and general store (see note below)
Ripley Jackson for Harry Ripley, who was drowned in Big Mill creek in 1830
Rivesville Marion for U. S. Sen. William Cabell Rives
Romney Hampshire for Romney in Great Britain
Ronceverte Greenbrier French for "green brier"
Rowlesburg Preston for James Rowles, engineer in charge of the survey of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad of the region
Rum Creek Logan because a keg of rum was lost in its banks by the settlers
Rupert Greenbrier for Dr. Cyrus A Rupert, founder
St. Albans Kanawha for St. Albans, Vermont
St. Marys Pleasants for the Virgin Mary
Salem Harrison for Salem, New Jersey
Sam Black Church Greenbrier for a church named in honor of Rev. Samuel Black (1813-1899), a native of Greenbrier county
Sand Fork Gilmer for the creek there, which was named for the numerous sand bars found along the course of the stream
Saulsville Wyoming for James Sauls, the mail carrier of the route between Oceana, Pineville, Spanishburg and Raleigh
Scarbro Fayette named by Samuel Dixon for the English town of Scarborough. The Post Office later shortened the name.
Scott DepotPutnamGen. Winfield Scott
Seymourville Grant for Felix Seymour (1725-1798), early settler
Shepherdstown Jefferson for Thomas Shepherd, founder of the town
Shinnston Harrison for the Shinn family, pioneer settlers from New Jersey
SimodaUnionfor Simon Dolly, in whose house the post office was established
Simpson Taylor for John Simpson, renowned hunter and pioneer who arrived in the area in 1763
Sissonville Kanawha for founder James Sisson, according to his descendant John M. Cox
Sistersville Tyler for two sisters, Sarah and Delilah Wells, owners of the land there
Skelton Raleigh named by coal operator Samuel Dixon for his birthplace, Skelton, England
Slab Fork Raleigh for the creek near the town
Smithers Fayette for James Smithers, early settler
Smithfield Wetzel for Henry Smith, who established a store there
Sophia Raleigh for Sophia McGinnis, early resident
South Charleston Kanawha because it is located south of Charleston
Spanishburg Mercer for Spanish Brown, early settler
Spencer Roane for Spencer Roane, Virginia jurist
Sprague Raleigh for Phineas W. Sprague, head of C. H. Sprague Co. and a major stockholder in the New River Co.
Spurlockville Lincoln for the Spurlock families who were prominent in Lincoln and Wayne Counties
Stanaford Raleigh for the creek branch on which it is located
Star City Monongalia for the Star Glass Company there
Stone Coal ...from a name formerly used for coal to distinguish it from charcoal
Stonewood Harrison for two small towns formerly known as Stonewall and Norwood; name was chosen by a contest in an eighth-grade class
Stotesbury Raleigh for Edward T. Stotesbury, president of the Beaver Coal Co., named by E. E. White, coal operator
Summersville Nicholas for Judge Lewis Summers, who introduced the bill in the Virginia Assembly creating Nicholas County
SurosaMingofor Sue and Rose, the wives of the president and vice president of the Dayton Coal Corp.
Sutton Braxton for John D. Sutton, founder of the town
Talbott Barbour for Robert R. Talbott, early settler
Ten Mile Upshur see note below
Terra Alta Preston Latin for "high land"
Thomas Tucker for Col. Thomas Davis, pioneer railroad and mine owner there
Thurmond Fayette for Capt. W. D. Thurmond, who acquired the land in 1873 as payment for surveying work
Triadelphia Ohio for (probably) the three sons of Col. Josias Thompson, who donated the land upon which the town was originally laid out
Triune Monongalia because three roads joined at the town
Tunnelton Preston because of the railroad tunnel there
Union Monroe because the site of the town was a rendezvous for troops during the Indian wars
Upper Falls Kanawha for the cascading waters of the adjacent Coal River
Ury Raleigh for Uriah Cook, land owner
Vienna Wood for Vienna, Virginia
War McDowell for War Creek, named by the Indians because of a battle that occurred near the source of the creek
Wardensville Hardy for Jacob Warden, the first merchant
Webster Taylor for Daniel Webster, a miller
Webster Springs Webster for Webster County and the various sulphur springs there
Weirton Hancock/ Brooke for E. T. Weir or David M. Weir
Welch McDowell for Isaiah A. Welch, a captain in the Confederate army
Wellsburg Brooke for Alexander Wells, son-in-law of Charles Prather, builder of the first large flour warehouse in the east
West Milford Harrison because of a mill on the west side of the West Fork River, near a much-used ford
Weston Lewis unknown
Westover Monongalia because the town is west of Morgantown, across the Monongahela River
WevacoKanawhafor the West Virginia Collier Co. there
Wheeling Ohio from an Indian word (see note below)
White Sulphur Springs Greenbrier for the sulphur springs there
Whitesville Boone for B. W. White, early settler
Wickham Raleigh for coal operator Thomas Wickham
Williamson Mingo for Wallace J. Williamson, founder of the town
Williamstown Wood for Isaac Williams, founder of the town
Winfield Putnam for Gen. Winfield Scott
Worthington Marion for Col. George Worthington, early settler
Wyco Wyoming for Wyoming Coal Company; or for Wyoming and county (it is a mile from the Raleigh County line; on maps the county line was sometimes marked Ral-Co and Wy-Co on the two sides)

Beckley. According to The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States (1905) by Henry Gannett, Beckley was named for Alfred Beckley. However, other accounts say Alfred named the town for his father.

Coco - A child named Forest Rose Myers won a contest to name the post office, suggesting the name Poco, which was the name of her pet rooster. There was an error and the town ended up as Coco. This information was supplied by her daughter.

Hinton - According to A History of Clayton Community (1923) by C. H. Graham, “In 1872 Summers County was formed, taking into its territory that part of Monroe to which we belonged. The first sheriff to whom we paid taxes in the new county was Evan Hinton, after whose family the town of Hinton was named and who also was the chief promoter in having the new county formed.” According to the city's web site in 2007, “Hinton was laid out on the land of Avis Gwinn Hinton by her husband, John Hinton, in 1831. The town grew very slowly until 1871 when the Chesapeake & Ohio River Railroad company blasted a path through the New River gorge and made Hinton the division terminal. The town then started to grow and was incorporated on September 21, 1880. Some historians claim that the town was named for Evan Hinton, who was active in the movement to create Summers County. Others suggest that it was named for John (Jack) Hinton, who was a prominent lawyer in the county and laid out the town in 1831.”

Jenkinjones and Freeman - Jenkin Jones was born at Glyn Neath, Wales on Sept. 25, 1839. He came to the U. S. in 1863, and worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania before moving to West Virginia, where he developed coal mines. Jones and John Freeman formed a partnership which opened the Caswell Creek Coal and Coke Co. and later, with Isaac T. Mann, they operated Pocahontas Consolidated Coal Co.

Lizemores. According to this web page, the town was first called "Adonijah" after King David's fourth son in the Bible. According to local residents, the name was changed to "Sizemores" during the Civil War period, but a spelling error was made in the recording documents and the town has been "Lizemores" ever since.

Mannington. According to Wikipedia, “It was not until 1856 that the village officially became known as Mannington, named after Charles Manning, a civil engineer with the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. Manning was well liked by the community and the inhabitants were eager to have a more "dignified" name for a growing town on the new railroad line.” However, Semi-centennial History of West Virginia has: “In 1852 the place was renamed Mannington for James Manning, a civil engineer of the new railroad; and in 1856 it was incorporated by the assembly.”

Mason. Some sources say that Mason County was named for George Mason. However, recent research by Keith Biggs of Point Pleasant suggests that the county was actually named for Stevens Thomson Mason, a member of the Virginia Assembly and a U. S. Senator from Virginia.

Oceana - One claim is that the town is named for Oceana, younger daughter of Cornstalk. Another theory is that it comes from an Indian word meaning big bottoms or level land. A third theory is that it is named for Ocie Anna, the Indian-stolen daughter of “old” William Cooke. Hamill Kenny of WVU believed this last explanation is most likely, pointing out that Ocie was a common West Virginia given name in earlier times and that the local pronunciation is oh-see-an-uh, not o-shee-an-uh.

Ovapa - Quincy Potasnik writes, “I was always told that Ovapa (pronounced oh-VAY-puh), Clay County, WV, was named after the gas well companies from Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, (year unknown) who went there to drill the rich gas supplies in that area.”

Poca - according to Poca city councilman Arnold G. Stephens, Pocatalico was a local Indian who lived in the area, supposedly shot by settlers whom he was harassing. He was shot on one bank of the river, swam across and died on the other. However, other sources indicate Pocatalico was an Indian word meaning "land of the fat deer." A reader of this page says, as he heard it, the story of the Indian claims he jumped off a rock cliff into the river and swam across. He says he knows of no rock cliff near enough to the river to jump into it, and he believes the "land of the fat deer" is the more likely origin.

Rainelle - The origin of the town name shown above is taken from the West Virginia Blue Book. Warren Napier writes, "Jeff, I grew up in Rainelle, as did my older brothers, and my father knew the Raines pretty well. You're right about it being associated with the Raines, of course, but, as we were told, it also is from the wife of one of the gentlemen, 'Nelle' Raine."

Rig - Shawn Simon of Altus, Oklahoma, writes, "There is a small town between Moorefield and Petersburg called Rig. My grandfather, Elmer Riggelman, founded the post office and general store there. In order for the place to have a post office it had to have a name, so the Post Master General called it Rig after my grandfather. There is no longer a post office there, so they get their mail from a rural route using the Moorefield zip code. Just though I'd share with you my family's little piece of WV history."

Ten Mile - According to A Brief History of Ten Mile Community (1927) by Artie J. Norvell and Ruth Spiker, "There seems to have been a double reason for the naming of the village. The old settlers thought that the little stream flowing into the river was ten miles long so they named it Big Ten Mile Creek and its main branch they called Little Ten Mile Creek. They estimated the distance from the mouth of the stream to Buckhannon at ten miles so they named the village Ten Mile. About the year 1888 a post office was established near the mouth of Big Ten Mile Creek and named Sellars in honor of Colonel Sellars from Ohio who was a pioneer in the lumber industry in the community and at that time was operating one of the first saw mills in that section. A few years later the people had the name of the post office changed to Ten Mile."

Wheeling - said to be from a Native American word for "place of the skull" According to an Internet website, "In an effort to warn and intimidate intruders, the chief and his warriors placed the decapitated head of a prisoner on a pole near the mouth of a small creek. Nothing could be clearer in meaning than a sun-bleached skull placed near the pathway into one of the richest hunting grounds existing in that time. Historians claim that the Delaware word Wihling,or Wih for head and -ling for place, has evolved to become Wheeling. Other variations reported are Weel-ung or Wih-lunk. Most writers agree that these are documented facts and are the origin of the name of Wheeling Creek and eventually of the city itself." A reader of this web page writes, "It's an Iroquois word (originally spelled 'Wheling') meaning 'the place of the skull,' and the reason for the name is that the heads of the first five white people in the area wound up on stakes at the mouth of what is now known as Big Wheeling Creek as a rather emphatic 'NO TRESPASSING' sign. Doesn't seem to have worked."

Wyoming. According to this web page, “There is no record of the name’s origin, though some say Wyoming County took her name from the Wyoming Indian tribe. Other historians believe that the name was suggested by its use in a poem written by Thomas Campbell entitled ‘Gertrude of Wyoming.’ Others suggested that the county’s name came from a loose translation of the Delaware Indian work Maughwauwama, meaning ‘large or extensive plains.’”

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