West Union, the county seat of Doddridge County, is located near the junction of State Route 18 and U.S. 50. West Union sits alongside Middle Island Creek, which is the longest creek in the state and one of the finest for muskie fishing.
The area was first settled in the late 1700s by James Caldwell, who owned 20,000 acres of land that included present West Union. Caldwell sold this land to Nathan Davis and his brothers about 1807. They in turn sold 16,000 acres to Lewis Maxwell, a Virginia congressman. Nearby Maxwell Ridge is said to have a cave that was later used by the Underground Railroad.
Landowner Davis supposedly suggested the name West Union, in deference to a proposed town of Union to be built on the eastern side of the creek. Union has disappeared, if it ever existed, but West Union was incorporated in 1881. It was home to Matthew M. Neely, grandfather of West Virginia’s 21st governor. Governor Matthew Mansfield Neely himself was born just south of West Union.
Doddridge County’s oil and gas industry was a boon to West Union. By 1906, the Ideal Glass Factory opened to take advantage of the abundant gas. It was followed by the Doddridge County Window Glass Company. The two plants employed about 300 people. In later years a garment factory opened, but closed in the 1970s. Today farming, timbering, oil and gas, and the business of county government and public education support the area, and many people commute to jobs in Salem, Clarksburg, and Parkersburg, or to the North Central Regional Jail in Greenwood.
West Union’s 2010 population was 825. The town has a library, high school, the Doddridge County volunteer fire department, and two banks. The West Union Downtown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Read the National Register nomination.
This Article was written by Frank Engle McCallum
Last Revised on January 24, 2013