Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

New Cumberland

New Cumberland, on the Ohio River north of Weirton, is the county seat of Hancock County, West Virginia’s northernmost county. The town was laid out in 1839 by John Cuppy on the site of Fort Chapman and received its charter in 1849. The original name was either Vernon or Cuppytown, but Cuppy changed it to New Cumberland to please those who purchased lots in the town, some of whom came from Cumberland, Maryland. John Chapman erected the first house in the spring of 1840, and other houses, businesses, a church, and a school quickly followed.

When Hancock County was formed in 1848, New Cumberland competed with New Manchester to become the county seat. A referendum resulted in New Cumberland being chosen, but the county government refused to comply. Additional elections were held until New Manchester won the popular vote. In 1884, another election finally resolved the matter, and New Cumberland became the permanent county seat. In 1862, during the Civil War, Company I, 12th Regiment, West Virginia Volunteer Infantry was organized in New Cumberland. Among the oldest newspapers in Hancock County are the Independent and the Hancock County Courier.

The town has not experienced the industrial growth that early leaders anticipated, and the population peaked at 2,305 in 1890. It serves now, in addition to being the county seat, as a residential community for larger cities such as Pittsburgh, Weirton, and Wheeling. The 2020 population was 1,020.

Written by Kenneth R. Bailey


  1. Newton, J. H. History of the Pan-Handle. Wheeling: Caldwell, 1879.

  2. New Cumberland Area Chamber of Commerce. "Good People Make a Good Town," Pamphlet. .