A Closer Look
Jackson County, West Virginia
Jackson County was formed in 1831. The county was created from parts of Kanawha, Mason and Wood Counties. The new county was named for then President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
Located along the Ohio River and heavily wooded, early settlers traveled mostly by water. Roads were little more than Indian trails suited best for packhorses. Jackson Smith built the first actual road in 1832. It serviced travelers between Ripley and Millwood. Within twenty years, several turnpikes crossed the county. Although transportation was improved during the 1850’s, heavy use during the Civil War greatly damaged them. Many were not repaired until the ‘70s. By the 1880s, railroad travel became the primary means to transport goods.
During the Civil War, Jackson County was under Union control except for a brief period in 1862 when Confederate forces controlled the county.
Ripley is the County Seat of Jackson County and centrally located away from the Ohio River. The city was originally chartered in 1832. It was named in honor of Harry Ripley. The last public hanging in the state of West Virginia was executed in a field outside the town. More than 5,000 people attended the hanging of John F. Morgan. He had been tried and convicted of murdering Mrs. Chloe Green and her daughter with a hatchet. He also attacked a second daughter but she escaped and identified him as the murderer.
Ripley is now better known for the Cedar Lakes Conference Center, home of the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair. West Virginia’s oldest traditional art and craft fair, this event hosts the best artisans in the region and is held every year around the 4th of July weekend.
Ravenswood, another Jackson County community, is located upstream on the left bank of the Ohio River. It is built on land that originally belonged to George Washington. The 1450-acre tract was inherited by six of his grandnieces, one of whom was Henrietta S. Fitzhugh. In 1836, Henrietta and her husband, Henry, arrived to lay out the town on the section of Washington’s tract.
It is claimed that the town was named by one of Mrs. Fitzhugh’s sons who was reading the novel, The Bride of Lammermore, whose romantic hero was named Lord Ravenswood.