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Harrisville, the county seat of Ritchie County, is located at the junction of State Routes 31 and 16, five miles south of U.S. 50. The town was laid out in 1822 by Thomas Harris, who had moved his family there in 1807. The town was chartered in 1832, and the first post office opened in 1833, under the name Solus. The name changed several times until 1895, when the town was named Harrisville for Gen. Thomas M. Harris, nephew of the founder. Ritchie County was formed in 1843, and the first courthouse was built in 1844. It was replaced by a brick structure in 1874. The present courthouse, a Harrisville landmark, was completed in late 1923.

The Pennsboro & Harrisville Railroad was built in 1875, operating between the two communities of its name. The broad-gauge Harrisville Southern Railroad ran to Cornwallis between about 1909 and 1929. A high school was established on the west end of town in 1894. That structure now houses the General Thomas M. Harris School Museum. A school built overlooking Harrisville in 1924 served students until 1994. Within the community are an elementary school, many businesses, two banks, a library, offices of the Ritchie Gazette and The Pennsboro News, a municipal park, and North Bend Golf Course. Harrisville is 870 feet above sea level, and the population was 1,661 in 2020, an 11.5 percent decline from its historic peak of 1,876 in 2010. Municipal elections are held every two years.

General Harris, Harrisville’s most distinguished citizen, died there in 1906. A medical doctor, Union officer, and state adjutant general (1869-1871), he served on the military commission that tried the conspirators responsible for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His son, John T. Harris, long-time clerk of the state Senate, founded the West Virginia Blue Book in 1916. The Harrisville Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by D. J. Allen

Last Revised on February 15, 2023

Related Articles


Lowther, Minnie Kendall. Ritchie County in History and Romance. Wheeling News Litho. Co., ca. 1911, Reprint, McClain, 1990.

Ritchie County Historical Society. The History of Ritchie County. Harrisville: 1980.

Cite This Article

Allen, D. J. "Harrisville." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 15 February 2023. Web. 20 July 2024.


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