Tazewell County, Virginia and Mercer County, West Virginia were once part of Virginia’s large West Augusta region, but the region became part of one political entity called Tazewell County on December 20, 1799. The county was named for Henry Tazewell, a Virginia political leader who was among the framers of the Virginia Constitution in 1776. He was also a U.S. Senator when the county was established.
The original Tazewell County was formed from portions of Wythe and Russell counties, and included parts of what are now Giles, Bland and Buchanan counties in Virginia and Logan, Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties of West Virginia.
Land in the region was granted to soldiers of the Continental Army in return for service during the American Revolution, but several tracts of land were subject to the land speculation boom of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
As population grew in various parts of the huge county, new political entities were created. Mercer County, Virginia was formed in 1837, and a major change in the parallel development of both counties occurred during the American Civil War when Mercer County joined the group of 55 western Virginia counties that broke off from the Old Dominion to form the 35th state on June 20, 1863.
Virginia, a commonwealth, is the nation’s oldest representative democracy. Thus, the state’s governing body is a General Assembly with a senate and house of delegates. The governor is limited to a single four-year term; the other two statewide positions are lieutenant governor (who presides over the senate) and attorney general. The local elected constitutional officers include a county board of supervisors, a sheriff, a commissioner of revenue, a circuit court clerk, a treasurer, a commonwealth attorney and school boards. Circuit court judges are appointed by the general assembly.
West Virginia has a state legislature, and statewide office-holders include senate and house of delegates, a governor, a secretary of state, a treasurer, an attorney general and a commissioner of agriculture. County elected officials include three county commissioners, a sheriff, a circuit court clerk, a county clerk, assessor, two circuit court judges, a family law judge, magistrates, a prosecuting attorney and the board of education.