In addition to the Native Americans who lived in Berkeley County, early Europeans saw it as a new frontier. John Lederer, a German physician and explorer and employed by Sir William Berkeley, became the first European to settle in present-day Berkeley County. That was in 1670. A couple other early settlers included John Howard and his son, and John Van Metre, who came across the Potomac River at what is now known as Shepherdstown. In 1726, Morgan Morgan II founded a settlement on Mill Creek, near the present site of Bunker Hill in Berkeley County.
Berkeley County was reduced in size twice during the 1800's. On January 8, 1801, Jefferson county was formed from the county's eastern section, and on February 9, 1820, Morgan County was formed from Berkeley's western section.
The arrival of the Baltimore &Ohio Railroad in the 1840's gave Martinsburg and Berkeley County a big boost. The railroad would also prove to be of great important to both the North and the South during the Civil War (1861-1865). The county, and its county seat, Martinsburg (named for Thomas Bryan Martin, Lord Fairfax's nephew, and incorporated in 1778), lay at the northern edge of the Shenandoah Valley. The main line of the railroad ran right through Martinsburg and that city was close to the Union arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Control over Martinsburg changed hands so many times during that war, it was difficult to keep track; however, after the Battle of Gettysburg, the city remained mostly in Union hands. By November 1863, Berkeley became part of the new state of West Virginia.
After the war, the railroads were repaired and rebuilt and in 1872, The Pennsylvania Railroad came to the area, providing an even greater transportation base. Earlier, a major source of the area's income came from selling flour produced by the area's water-powered mills to the Alexandria, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland markets. Electricity, replacing water power, soon followed, and the area became a large textile milling center. Woolen goods, clothing, socks, paper boxes, brick, tile, and furniture are some of the products produced today. In the remainder of the county, dairy products, livestock and fruit farms make up some of the economic base, as well as limestone quarrying.
The county is located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia partly in the Great Appalachian Valley. It is bounded on the northeast by the Potomac River. Martinsburg continues to be the focus of the business area of Berkeley County. Many of the city's historic and architecturally important buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, other structures, homes, and even cemeteries are on the Register. Below is a listing of some of those historic locations of our past.