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Shepherdstown is a town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, in the United States, located in the lower Shenandoah Valley along the Potomac River. Home to Shepherd University, the town's population was 1,734 at the 2010 census.
Established on December 23, 1762, by consecutive acts passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses and approved by the governor, Mecklenburg (later renamed Shepherdstown), and Romney in Hampshire County are the oldest towns in West Virginia. On a list of more than 30 approved "publick and private bills" of that date, the bill containing An Act for establishing the town of Mecklenburg, in the county of Frederick immediately follows An act for establishing the town of Romney, in the county of Hampshire, and for other purposes therein-mentioned.
The first British colonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 18th century. Many crossed the Potowmack (now spelled Potomac) River at Pack Horse Ford—about one mile (2 km) down river from the future site of Shepherdstown. The Colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s. In 1734, Thomas Shepherd (1705–1776) was granted 222 acres (898,000 m2) on the south side of the Potomac, along the Falling Spring Branch (now known as the Town Run). From that tract he selected 50 acres (202,000 m2) and laid out a town. Naming his town Mecklenburg, he petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for a charter, which was granted in 1762.
Shepherd was the sole trustee, owning the town and being responsible for its government.