Mineral County, founded in 1866, is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is part of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the population was 28,212. Its county seat is Keyser.
Indigenous peoples lived throughout the highlands along rivers in this area for thousands of years. Archeologists have identified artifacts of the Adena culture, dating from 1000 BC to 200 BC. They were among the several early Native American cultures who built major earthwork mounds for ceremonial and burial use. Remnants of their culture have been found throughout West Virginia. They were followed by other indigenous peoples.
With the growth of fur trading to the north after European encounter in the coastal areas, the nations of the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois Confederacy), based in present-day New York, moved into the Ohio Valley in search of new hunting grounds. By the 17th century they had conquered other tribes, pushed them out to the west, and preserved the area for hunting.
Colonial Virginia history
John Lederer, a German physician and explorer employed by Sir William Berkeley, colonial governor of Virginia, is believed to be the first European to set foot in present-day Mineral County. He explored the area in 1669.
The first recorded grants of land in West Virginia were made to two Dutch-American brothers — John (1683-1745) and Isaac (1692-1757) Van Meter — in 1730. This was in the Frankfort district of Mineral County. In 1749 English colonists built the first frontier fort, Fort Ohio, at Ridgeley. They constructed Fort Ashby in 1755, which is the last standing unit in the chain of forts built under the orders of George Washington. Fort Sellers was built near present day Short Gap, and Fort Cocke near Headsville. In 1750 a frontier blockhouse, New Creek Blockhouse, was built about west of New Creek to protect local settlers.
Prior to 1738, the Orange County, Virginia, today located on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, included all of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge. In that year, the Virginia Assembly passed an act dividing this territory into two counties: Frederick and Augusta. Hampshire County was formed from those two counties in 1753.
Virginia state history 1776 to 1863
Ultimately Hardy County in 1785 and part of Morgan County in 1820 were formed from Hampshire County.
West Virginia history 1863 to present
It was not until after West Virginia became a state in 1863 that present-day Mineral County was organized. It was created in 1866 by an Act of the West Virginia Legislature from the existing Hampshire County. The name was selected due to its reserves of minerals, especially coal (although, technically, coal is not a true mineral).
Notable people from Mineral County