Settlement in the area that later came to be known as Kearneysville began in the mid-18th century. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron sold land to various settlers, the first of whom was Nicholas Lemen in 1756. The next settler was General Horatio Gates, an American Revolutionary War general who named his holdings Traveller's Rest. Following him were Uriah and James Kearney, Sr., for whose family the village was named. The town grew slowly at first, but with the coming of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the 1830s, the population increased throughout the county and local farmers began to take advantage of this faster means of transportation. In 1876, Kearneysville was the site of Jefferson's first commercial apple orchard. Because of its central location in the Panhandle, today Kearneysville is home to the Burr and Bardane Industrial Parks and is one of the fastest growing areas of Jefferson County with its many expansive residential communities such as Chapel View and the Village of Washington Trail.
Sites on the National Register of Historic Places