Jackson County History

West Virginia


Ripley was originally owned and settled by William, John, and Lewis Rodgers. They received a grant of 400 acres in 1768 where "Sycamore Creek joins Big Mill Creek". The land was later sold to Jacob and Ann Starcher around 1803. Jacob Starcher erected a grist mill in 1824 and laid out the town in 1830, naming it in honor of Harry Ripley, a young minister who was to be married. But before the wedding took place he drowned in Big Mill Creek, about one and a half miles north of town.

When Jackson County was formed in 1831, the residents of the county could not decide where to locate the county seat. The people who lived along the Ohio River near the Ravenswood settlement favored that location. The people who lived farther inland objected. The Virginia General Assembly appointed an independent commission to make the final decision which selected Ripley. In 1832, the Starchers donated 8 acres of land to the county, 2 acres for the location of the county courthouse and jail, and six for the general use of the new county. A public school and a cemetery were later located on the land. The town was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1832.

The post office was established in 1832 with the name Jackson Court House. The name was shortened in 1893 to Jackson. In 1897 the name became Ripley.

During the Civil War, Ripley remained under control of the Union except for a brief incursion by Confederate General Albert G. Jenkins in September 1862.

The last public hanging in West Virginia took place in Ripley in 1897, when John Morgan was hanged for murder.

Ripley 4th Of July

The Last Public Hanging in West Virginia 1897

Albert G. Jenkins

 Albert G. Jenkins (November 10, 1830 – May 21, 1864) was an attorney, planter, representative to the United States Congress and the first Confederate Congress, and a Confederate brigadier general during the Civil War.The commander of a brigade of cavalry from what would become West Virginia, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain, Dublin VA.


With the outbreak of the Civil War and Virginia's subsequent secession, Jenkins declined running for a third term and resigned from Congress in early 1861. He returned home and raised a company of mounted partisan rangers. By June, his company had enrolled in the Confederate Army as a part of the 8th Virginia Cavalry, with Jenkins as its colonel. By the year's end, his men had become such a nuisance to the Federals in western Virginia that military governor Francis H. Pierpont appealed to President Abraham Lincoln to send in a strong leader to stamp out the rebellion in the area. Early in 1862, Jenkins left the army to become a delegate to the First Confederate Congress. He was appointed brigadier general August 1, 1862, and returned to active duty. Throughout the fall, his men performed well, continuing to harass Union troops and supply lines, including the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

In September, Jenkins's cavalry raided northern Kentucky and now West Virginia. They briefly entered extreme southern Ohio near Buffington Island, becoming one of the first organized Confederate units to enter a Northern state. In December, Robert E. Lee requested that Jenkins and his men transfer to the Shenandoah Valley.

After spending the winter foraging for supplies, he led his men on a raid in March 1863 through western Virginia. During the Gettysburg Campain, Jenkins' brigade formed the cavalry screen for Richard S. Ewell's Second Corps. Jenkins led his men through the Cumberland Valley into Pennsylvania and seized Chambersburg, burning down nearby railroad structures and bridges. He accompanied Ewell's column to Carlisle, briefly skirmishing with Union militia at the Battle of Sporting Hill near Harrisburg. During the subsequent Battle of Gettysburg, Jenkins was wounded on July 2 and missed the rest of the fighting. He did not recover sufficiently to rejoin his command until fall.

He spent the early part of 1864 raising and organizing a large cavalry force for service in western Virginia. By May, Jenkins had been appointed Commander of the Department of Western Virginia with his headquarters at Dublin. Hearing that Union Brig. Gen. George Crook had been dispatched from the Kanawha Valley with a large force, Jenkins took the field to contest the Federal arrival. On May 9, 1864, he was severely wounded and captured during the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain. A Union surgeon amputated Jenkins' arm, but he never recovered, dying twelve days later. He was initially buried in New Dublin Presbyterian Cemetery. After the war, his remains were reinterred at his home in Greenbottom, near Huntington, West Virginia. He was later reinterred in the Confederate plot in Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington.

Ripley Train Depot

Ripley, West Virginia - Fourth of July 1965

Ripley during the 1890's

Ripley during the 1950's

Ripley, year unknown

B&O Ripley Branch-Millwood to Ripley

Click here to visit B&O Railroad Ripley Branch - Millwood to Ripley.