Lewis County, named for Colonel Charles Lewis, a western Virginia pioneer killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant, was established in 1816 from territory formerly in Harrison County. A good idea of pioneer life is gleaned from a letter, postmarked Lewis County, Virginia, that William Prentiss wrote to Thomas Jefferson on March 4, 1820: “When this part of Virginia was first settled the inhabitants was mostly Hunters and their descendants most of them follows the same practice—to Hunt Bears etc. etc. in the winter and nearly starve in the Summer is too much the case as the[y] neglect to cultivate the lands. A garden is hardly known here.” On a more positive note, Prentiss remarked on a settlement of “New England people” at French Creek (now in Upshur County) and added that he was “much pleased to see this regular society.” He also informed Jefferson that he was establishing an academy, having “built a convenient house for boarding children with necessary outhouses.” Obviously, civilization was on its way.
During the twentieth century, coal became an important part of the economy, and a great deal of surface mining has been carried out in recent years. Lewis County's population peaked in 1940 at 22,271. The 2000 census counted 16,919 residents. Although the county is predominantly rural, its major architectural resources are focused in Weston and nearby Jackson's Mill.
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