McDowell County, West Virginia
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McDowell County is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,113. Its county seat is Welch. McDowell county is the southernmost county in the state. It was created in 1858 by the Virginia General Assembly and named for Virginia Governor James McDowell. It became a part of West Virginia in 1863, when several counties seceded from the state of Virginia during the American Civil War.
|McDowell County, West Virginia|
McDowell County Courthouse in Welch
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
|Founded||February 28, 1858|
|Named for||James McDowell|
|• Total||535 sq mi (1,386 km2)|
|• Land||533 sq mi (1,380 km2)|
|• Water||1.4 sq mi (4 km2), 0.3%|
|• Density||38/sq mi (15/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC−5/−4|
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Five years later, the Legislature decided to allow county residents to determine where the county seat should be. They chose Perryville (now called English), which was then the most populated town. "The "Restored Government" commissioners, in October 1866, located the county seat on a farm near the mouth of Mill Creek, where it remained until it moved to Perryville in 1874." The debate over the location of the county seat continued until 1892. The town of Welch became the county seat.
McDowell county, while still a part of Virginia, voted in favor of secession from the United States. It, along with Greenbrier, Logan, Mercer, Monroe, Pocahontas, Webster, and Wyoming; did not participate in voting for the secession of West Virginia from Virginia. These 8 counties would be discussed in the Supreme Court case Virginia v. West Virginia.
The county is popularly referred to as the "Free State of McDowell," a name originally coined by a local newspaper editor to refer to the unusual politics and demographics of the area.
Increasing rates of poverty in McDowell County led U.S. President John F. Kennedy to remark in a speech in the city of Welch in May 1963:
I don't think any American can be satisfied to find in McDowell County, in West Virginia, 20 or 25 percent of the people of that county out of work, not for 6 weeks or 12 weeks, but for a year, 2, 3, or 4 years.
McDowell County, the southernmost county in West Virginia, is located at Coordinates: . It is bordered by Tazewell County, Virginia, to the south; Buchanan County, Virginia, to the west; Mingo County to the northwest; Wyoming County to the north; and Mercer County to the east. The Appalachian Mountains determine most of the borders of the county.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 535 square miles (1,390 km2), of which 533 square miles (1,380 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.3%) is water. The county is roughly in the shape of a semi circle, with the border following the mountains around the county.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 22,113 people, 9,176 households, and 6,196 families residing in the county. The population density was 41.5 inhabitants per square mile (16.0/km2). There were 11,322 housing units at an average density of 21.2 per square mile (8.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 89.1% white, 9.5% black or African American, 0.2% American Indian, 0.1% Asian, 0.0% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 0.4% of the population. The largest ancestry groups were:13.7% Irish, 12.0% German, 11.5% English, 8.0% American, 2.8% Sub-Saharan African, 2.7% Italian, 2.0% Dutch, 1.1% Scotch-Irish 
Of the 9,176 households, 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.5% were non-families, and 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.86. The median age was 43.8 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $22,154 and the median income for a family was $28,413. Males had a median income of $31,229 versus $26,776 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,955. About 27.5% of families and 32.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.3% of those under age 18 and 20.1% of those age 65 or over.
Of 3,142 counties in the United States in 2013, McDowell County ranked 3,142 in the life expectancy of both male and female residents. Males in McDowell County lived an average of 63.5 years and females lived an average of 71.5 years compared to the national average for life expectancy of 76.5 for males and 81.2 for females. Moreover, the average life expectancy in McDowell County declined by 3.2 years for males and 4.1 years for females between 1985 and 2013 compared to a national average for the same period of an increased life span of 5.5 years for men and 3.1 years for women. High rates of smoking and obesity and a low level of physical activity appear to be contributing factors to the declining life expectancy for both sexes.
In 2015, McDowell County had the highest rate of drug-induced deaths of any county in the United States, with 141 deaths per 100,000 people. (The rate for the United States as a whole was 14.7 per 100,000 people.) Neighboring Wyoming County had the second highest rate.
The power of industrial and mining political systems turned it strongly towards the Republican Party between 1890 and 1932 – being strongly Republican enough to even support William Howard Taft during the divided 1912 presidential election.
|Commissioner, President||Harold McBride|
|Prosecuting Attorney||Ed Kornish|
|County Assessor||Dennis Altizer|
|County Clerk||Donald Hicks|
|Circuit Clerk||Francine Spencer|
McDowell County Schools operates the county's public K-12 education system of 7 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 public high schools in McDowell County including Mount View High School, and River View High School. The county also has a private school, Twinbranch Pentecostal Christian Academy which is located in Twinbranch. The current superintendent of schools is Nelson Spencer.
McDowell County Schools were under state control as a 'take-over' county from 2001 to 2013.
- U.S. Route 52
- West Virginia Route 16
- West Virginia Route 80
- West Virginia Route 83
- West Virginia Route 103
- West Virginia Route 161
- West Virginia Route 635
The county also had one airport, Welch Municipal Airport, which is now closed indefinitely.
- Apple Grove
- Big Four
- Bishop (partial)
- Black Wolf
- Bottom Creek
- Isaban (part)
- Jacobs Fork
- Sandy Huff
- Twin Branch
- Union City
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