Charles Town, West Virginia

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Charles Town is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States.[3] The population was 2,907 at the 2000 census. Due to its similar name, travelers have sometimes confused this city with the state's capital, Charleston.



Charles Washington, the founder of Charles Town, was born in Hunting Creek, now Fairfax County, Virginia on May 2, 1738. He was the youngest full brother of George Washington. He came to present Jefferson County between April and October 1780.

The home of Charles Washington, Happy Retreat, was erected in 1780. In 1786, on 80 acres (320,000 m²) of his adjoining land, Charles laid out the streets of Charles Town, naming many of them after his brothers and one after his wife, Mildred. He donated the four corner lots at the intersection of George and Washington Streets for public buildings of the town and county, provided the town become the seat of the county separated from Berkeley County. Charles Town was officially chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in January 1787.

In 1794, James Madison married "Dolly" Todd at Harewood, the home of George Steptoe Washington, son of Colonel Samuel Washington, just outside of Charles Town.

Jefferson County was formed in 1801 as Charles Washington had anticipated. The county court house stands on one of the lots he donated, as did the jail until 1919 when it was demolished to be replaced by the post office.

Charles Washington died sometime between July and September, 1799, only a short while before the death of his brother George. Charles' and his wife Mildred's grave sites near Evitts Run have recently been located and surrounded by a stone wall.

In 1844, the first issue of the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper was published in Charles Town by James W. Beller. It is still published as the Spirit of Jefferson-Advocate, making it one of the oldest newspapers in the state.

On October 16, 1859, John Brown and his followers raided the Federal arsenal at nearby Harpers Ferry. The insurrection was ultimately put down and John Brown was tried for treason. On December 2, 1859, he was hanged in Charles Town at the Gibson-Todd House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1883, the Valley Telephone Company was incorporated in West Virginia and began installing telephone lines throughout Jefferson County. The company's main office was in Charles Town.

In 1922, William Blizzard, a leader of striking coal miners, was charged with treason and murder for engaging in warfare against state and federal troops in Mingo and Logan counties. He was tried in the Jefferson county courthouse in Charles Town and was found not guilty.

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