Woodsfield is the county seat of Monroe County, Ohio. Founded in 1814, residents named Woodsfield after Archibald Woods, who established the community. Woodsfield has been Monroe County’s only seat of government. According to legend, to clear the town’s main street of trees, in 1814, Archibald Woods purchased a keg of brandy, offering drinks to any man who would help him clear the street. Reportedly, after a single afternoon of work, the street was clean of trees.
Woodsfield grew slowly. In 1830, only 157 people resided in the community, and in 1840, the number of inhabitants had only grown to 262 people. In 1846, only two churches, six stores, one newspaper office, and one private school existed in the community. By 1880, 861 people lived in Woodsfield. Completion of a railroad through the community helped to spur the town’s growth, but Woodsfield remained small. In 1886, the town did boast three newspapers. Two of these newspapers ranked among Woodsfield’s largest employers, with four workers apiece. Four churches and one bank also existed in the community. Most local businesses provided services or products for farmers in the surrounding countryside.
In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Woodsfield experienced some tremendous growth in population. This was principally due to the discovery of oil, natural gas, and coal in the surrounding area. This boom period ended by the early 1900s, and most Woodsfield residents returned to businesses that provided materials to Monroe County’s farmers. With a population of 2,598 people, Woodsfield was the county’s largest community in 2000.