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Wirt County is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,717, making it the least populous county in West Virginia. Its county seat is Elizabeth. The county was created in 1848 by the Virginia General Assembly and named for U.S. Attorney General and presidential candidate William Wirt. The county is serviced by one high school, Wirt County High School.

History           
                                
William Wirt

Wirt County was created from parts of Jackson and Wood counties on January 19, 1848. The county was named for William Wirt (1772–1834).

The first European pioneer was William Beauchamp (1743-1808), a veteran of the Continental Navy and a Methodist minister. Beauchamp arrived in 1796 with a claim to 1400 acres on the Little Kanawha river. He farmed, built a mill, and laid out the town of Elizabeth, named after his daughter.

Burning Springs was the site of an oil rush in the 1860s. In 1863 the town was burned, along with 100,000 gallons of oil, by Confederate cavalrymen.

On June 20, 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Wirt County was one of fifty Virginia counties admitted to the Union as the state of West Virginia. Later that year, West Virginia's counties were divided into civil townships, with the intention of encouraging local government. This proved impractical in the heavily rural state, and in 1872 the townships were converted into magisterial districts. Wirt County was divided into seven districts: Burning Springs, Clay, Elizabeth, Newark, Reedy, Spring Creek, and Tucker. Except for minor adjustments, the seven historic magisterial districts remained largely unchanged for over a century. In the 1980s, they were consolidated into three new districts: Central, Northeast, and Southwest.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 235 square miles (610 km2), of which 233 square miles (600 km2) is land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) (1.0%) is water.

 

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