Harrison County, created in 1784 from Monongalia County, is named for Benjamin Harrison V, a Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence, governor, and father of U.S. president William Henry Harrison. Early observers commented on its varied topography and timbered hills, and as early as 1835, Joseph Martin noted that the area around Clarksburg, the county seat, was “furnished with inexhaustible supplies of coal.” As the nineteenth century progressed, gas and petroleum joined coal as major factors in the area's economy. All of these resources continued to be developed throughout the first half of the twentieth century as well, accounting for continual increases in population through 1950. That year the U.S. Census counted 85,296 inhabitants, making Harrison County the state's fifth-largest in population. In 2000, the county's population was 68,652, dropping it to seventh place.
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