Hancock County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of 2000, the population was 32,667. Its county seat is New Cumberland. Hancock County is the smallest county in the state, and the farthest north, being at the tip of the state’s Northern Panhandle. It was created from Brooke County in 1848, and named for John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Hancock County Demographics
As of the census of 2000, there were 32,667 people, 13,678 households, and 9,506 families residing in the county. The population density was 394 people per square mile (152/km²). There were 14,728 housing units at an average density of 178 per square mile (69/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.42% White, 2.30% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.12% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 13,678 households out of which 26.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.70% were married couples living together, 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.80% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 27.10% from 25 to 44, 26.40% from 45 to 64, and 18.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 92.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $33,759, and the median income for a family was $40,719. Males had a median income of $34,813 versus $19,100 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,724. About 9.00% of families and 11.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.10% of those under age 18 and 7.10% of those age 65 or over.
History of Weirton
The small village called Holliday’s Cove — which is now most of downtown Weirton — was founded in the late 1700s. (It eventually lost the apostrophe.) In 1909, Ernest T. Weir built a steel mill later known as Weirton Steel Corporation just north of Hollidays Cove. An unincorporated settlement called Weirton grew up around the mill, that by 1940 was said to be the largest unincorporated city in the United States. By then Hollidays Cove and two other outlying areas, Weirton Heights and Marland Heights, which as their names suggest were on hilltops or ridges surrounding the “Weir-Cove” area, had also incorporated.
On July 1, 1947, all of these areas — Hollidays Cove, Marland Heights, Weirton Heights, and unincorporated Weirton — merged and formed the City of Weirton as it currently exists. Thomas E. Millsop, the head of the Weirton Steel division of the National Steel Corporation, was elected as the city’s first mayor. The City Charter was approved by voters in 1950.
Weirton Steel Corporation was once a fully integrated steel mill employing over 12,000 people. It was the largest private employer and the largest taxpayer in West Virginia. This is no longer true. Due to reorganization of the steel industry, not only within the United States but worldwide, the Weirton plant, now part of the international giant Arcelor Mittal, currently operates only the tin-plating section of the mill (though still one of the country’s largest tin-plate makers), with only 1,200 workers. During the early 1980′s the employees of Weirton Steel endeavored to purchase the mill from National Steel Corporation as the largest ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) in the nation, saving the mill from bankruptcy.
Weirton in the Movies
Weirton has attracted the attention of Hollywood filmmakers on at least two occasions. Weirton was one of several Ohio Valley towns that served as film locations for the acclaimed 1978 film, The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. Six years later it served as the primary location for filming of Reckless starring Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah. The fictional town of ‘weinerton’ mentioned in Reckless is a thinly veiled reference to Weirton.
Disney featured Weirton briefly in its documentary, America’s Heart and Soul. During the excerpt, employees of Weirton Steel discuss their concerns with foreign imports and what it is doing to their mill.