|Tuesday, 15 May 2007 00:02|
Morgantown is the site for the government of Monongalia County. It is the trading center for a large area of coal mining fields. Coal stretches north, south, and west of the city.
The town was first settled by Thomas Decker, who led settlers to Decker's Creek near the present site of Morgantown in 1758. However, the following spring a band of Delaware and Mingo Indians destroyed the settlement and captured or killed all the people, except one who escaped to Fort Pitt to tell the story.
Nine years later, in 1767, Zackquill Morgan, son of Morgan Morgan, arrived at Decker's Creek and claimed some land. He and his people erected log houses and two forts. Indian raids were frequent, but the town was well defended.
In 1781, 400 acres of Morgan's land was platted. By 1783 the county seat had been established there. George Washington came in 1784 to consult with Col. Morgan on the possibility of an inland water way for commerce going west. It took until 1785 to incorporate the town and officially name it for its founder.
The Pittsburgh Gazette delivered its papers by private riders and in 1793 Morgantown became the southern terminus of a road opened by the newspaper. The town prospered because many pioneers going west went through it and purchased supplies. In 1814 the Monongalia Academy for Boys was established and in 1839 the Morgantown Female Collegiate Institute.
When the first steamboat arrived on April 29, 1826, the Sunday morning church-goers left their ministers standing in their pulpits and rushed to the river dock.
The townspeople opposed having the railroads built near their community. They called the railroad a "...soulless corporation with screeching locomotives which would affect wagon traffic, reduce the price of horse feed, set hay stacks on fire, and frighten to death our hogs and wives." Later they had to eat their words. When the railroad was completed between Baltimore and Fairmont, business and industry slumped badly in Morgantown. They tried hard to get a branch railroad line, but failed. Actually that was good luck. During the Civil War railroad towns were the sites of severe battles.
Morgantown finally got the railroad in 1886.
Monongalia County is in northern West Virginia. It is known for coal, natural gas, oil wells, limestone quarries, and glass sand pits.
Monongalia County is named for the Monongahela River, which flows through the county. The names tends to look like an Indian name rendered with a Latinized name which was something done at the time the county was forced -- 1776. Monongahela was an Algonquin (Delaware) term meaning "high-banks-fall-down." West Virginia University is located here, as well as part of Coopers Rock State Park. The county contains some 369 square miles of land area in the northern part of the state.